The Newcastle Knights are four points clear of three teams, but a loss on Thursday to the Gold Coast Titans would tighten the race for the playoffs.
Gold Coast has fallen from seventh to ninth with consecutive losses. It’s not the best time to be losing games, but a win against the Knights would put the Titans into a playoff-bearing position.
Everything is on the line at Sunshine Coast Stadium and the online sportsbook has framed a tight betting market.
Newcastle Seeks Fifth Straight Win
Following heavy defeats to the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters, where they were outscored 76-12, the Newcastle Knights have responded with four consecutive victories.
They scored a 34-24 win over the Canberra Raiders before beating the Brisbane Broncos and Cronulla Sharks in tight contests.
Last week’s win over the Canterbury Bulldogs wasn’t overly convincing, but the six-point victory has the Knights sitting four points clear of the Sharks, Titans and Raiders.
Newcastle Knights one win from the finals after beating Bulldogs 22-16 https://t.co/kqcRHCg6LM
— Newcastle Herald (@newcastleherald) August 21, 2021
The win was a warning to the Knights that they need to improve to have a chance in the finals. We expect them to make it, but if they want to progress past the first round, a better Knights outfit needs to turn up.
League expert and former Hooker of the Year Michael Ennis believes he needs to see more from a top-eight side.
“They’ve dominated possession but they haven’t done a lot with it,” Ennis told Fox Sports. “It’s been a pretty underwhelming half from a side sitting in seventh position up against a side sitting last. But they’re doing enough.a
“I’d like to see more of (Mitchell) Pearce, (Jake) Clifford and (Kalyn) Ponga. They seem to be just rolling through the motions. It’s been a pretty lackluster attacking performance.”
We don’t expect stellar performances from teams trying to hang on for a top-eight spot. Newcastle is a prime example of an inconsistent team, but winning four on the bounce must be a confidence-booster.
It’s much better form than the Gold Coast Titans, which is why NRL betting markets have the Knights as -125 favorites.
Titans Get Tune-Up
Facing two of the best teams in the NRL isn’t easy, as the Gold Coast Titans have discovered over the last two weeks.
Their three-game winning streak ended with a 36-6 loss against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who rampaged the Titans in a one-sided affair.
Gold Coast played well in the first half against the Melbourne Storm last week, but were ultimately defeated 34-20. Seeing how tired they got in the second half is a worry, as the leaders of this team were nowhere to be seen.
Not having Alex Brimson in the squad was a big loss, but they must recoup for a must-win game against the Knights. With only nine wins from 22 games, the Titans don’t deserve to make the playoffs, but it’s possible with a win.
— 9News Gold Coast (@9NewsGoldCoast) August 18, 2021
The online betting market has the Titans at -115, which might seem too short. However, bookmakers look to their clash in Round Five as a betting guide.
The Titans ran rampant on the Knights, winning 42-16. Kevin Proctor scored in the opening minute and David Fifita added three tries throughout the game. Former New Zealand Warrior Patrick Herbert scored two tries and he was also sin-binned in the 36th minute. However, times have changed and the Knights have strengthened up since.
Fifita comes off his worst game of the season and the Knights have added pieces. The win will give the Titans confidence, but it also gives bettors a betting line.
Titans vs Knights Pick
It should be one of the closest games of the year, but we’re picking the Newcastle Knights to come out ahead.
They have been winning close games for the last few weeks, which holds them in good stead against the Titans. It should be a close game and the Knights are used to doing enough to win.
Gold Coast lost confidence after losses to Melbourne and South Sydney. Facing Newcastle is much easier, but losing games is never ideal, no matter the opposition.
Look for Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce to step up and lead the Knights to a playoff spot.