4.00pm (AEST), Sunday, April 19
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle’s stellar start to 2015 has come off the rails courtesy of two disappointing losses in the last two weeks, while the promise Parramatta showed in the opening month of the premiership has also gone out the window in a dismal fortnight.
Another week of Newcastle coach Rick Stone pointlessly naming Sione Mata’utia as 18th man, with No.14 Tyler Randell inevitably the player to miss out again. The Eels are unchanged, but Richie Fa’aoso has been included as 18th man.
Newcastle hold a 26-19-1 advantage in 46 clashes with Parramatta since 1988, including a 17-6 record at home. The Knights have won their last seven against the Eels, including a 42-12 drubbing at Hunter Stadium in the penultimate round last season that contributed to the blue-and-golds missing the finals. The Eels’ last win in Newcastle was six years ago.
After winning their first four, the Knights have sunk to insipid losses at the hands of unfancied sides St George Illawarra (13-0) and Cronulla (22-6), slipping to fifth on the ladder with the 14th-ranked attack and third-best defence in the competition. The Eels rolled the Rabbitohs in Round 4, but have been thumped by the Tigers (22-6) and Titans (38-16) since – despite leading both games at halftime. The Eels are in 13th with the worst defence in the NRL and the seventh-best offence.
Newcastle’s fullback double-act of Kurt Gidley and Sione Mata’utia has exceeded its use-by date, with the Knights’ winning run glossing over its ineffectiveness. Mata’utia is struggling to get a genuine feel for the game by being brought on late. The teenage international goes head-to-head with Will Hopoate, who has been solid in Jarryd Hayne’s shoes but probably needs to be offering the Eels more in attack.
Stats That Matter
The Knights are 16-11 at home since the start of 2013 (15-12 against the line), winning and covering in seven of their last eight. As home favourites, however, the Knights are only 9-9 as home favourite (8-10 ATS). The Eels are an abysmal 4-22 away (7-19 against the start) over the last three seasons, including 3-18 as outsiders (6-15 ATS). The Knights’ seven-match winning streak against the Eels has featured five margins of eight points or less and five points totals of 32 or less.
Neither side has shown anything like competent form over the last two weeks, which makes this a difficult clash to get a handle on. But Parramatta’s humiliating record on the road is way too ugly to get on board with the juicy $2.95 about an away upset. Newcastle has a greater capacity for quick improvement, and their strong home record should carry them over the line on Sunday. There is $7.50 on offer for the Eels throwing away a halftime lead for the third week in a row.
How It’s Shaping Up
Newcastle by 12
Newcastle -7.5 ($1.91)
Other Recommended Bets
Under 41.5pts ($1.90)
2015 NRL Round 7 Betting Preview for Newcastle vs Parramatta thanks to William Hill Australia.
Newcastle vs Parramatta Comparison Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 7 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.