NRL Opta facts: Roosters seeking more home comforts against Warriors

By Sports Desk August 14, 2019

The SCG has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Sydney Roosters.

The reigning champions will face a team that has caused them problems though, with New Zealand Warriors their opponents.

Melbourne Storm, six points clear of the Roosters at the top of the table, could potentially wrap up the minor premiership this weekend and they face Canberra Raiders.

We take a look at the key statistics, courtesy of Opta, ahead of round 22.

Thursday

Manly Sea Eagles (12-8) v Wests Tigers (9-11)

- Wests are on a four-game winning streak against Manly, even though they have only led once at half-time across those victories.

- Manly have missed just 27 tackles per game in this season's NRL, the fewest of any team in the competition.

Friday

Gold Coast Titans (4-16) v Parramatta Eels (12-8)

- The Titans have not lost a home game to the Eels since 2014, with each of the past half a dozen matches between the two won by the team hosting the fixture.

- No team has gained more metres per restart than the Eels, who have accrued 12.3m.

Brisbane Broncos (9-1-10) v Penrith Panthers (10-10)

- Brisbane wing Corey Oates has made five successful interceptions in 2019, two more than any other player.

- The Broncos have only suffered only two regular-time defeats to Penrith in their previous 13 meetings.

Saturday

Newcastle Knights (8-12) v North Queensland Cowboys (7-13)

- The Cowboys are on their longest winning streak against the Knights having won four in a row.

- They will need to be mindful of Shaun Kenny-Dowall, though, given he has scored five tries in his past seven NRL appearances.

Melbourne Storm (17-3) v Canberra Raiders (13-7)

- Melbourne will win the minor premiership if they beat Canberra and the Roosters lose to the Warriors on Sunday.

- The Storm have won their last five successive NRL games against the Raiders, conceding an average of just 10 points per match in that span.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (13-7) v Canterbury Bulldogs (7-13)

- Souths are on a four-game winning streak against the Bulldogs, their longest sequence since an eight-match run between 1967 and 1969.

- After scoring a hat-trick for the Rabbitohs last time out, Campbell Graham took his tally to six scores in his previous five appearances.

Sunday

Sydney Roosters (14-6) v New Zealand Warriors (8-1-11)

- The Warriors have lost only three of their past 10 NRL games against the Roosters in New South Wales, yet they have lost nine of their previous 10 contests played on a Sunday.

- Trent Robinson's Roosters have won six on the bounce at the SCG, scoring an average of 40 points per game in that span.

Cronulla Sharks (9-11) v St George-Illawarra Dragons (7-13)

- Only the Raiders (16) have scored more tries from kicks this year than the Sharks (14).

- Cronulla's Shaun Johnson needs 11 more points to reach 1,000 in NRL, a milestone that only six active players have reached.

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    Eight uphill finishes will sort the men from the boys in the battle to be crowned Vuelta a Espana champion.

    The final Grand Tour race of the year gets under way with a 13.4-kilometre team time trial in Las Salinas de Torrevieja on Saturday.

    There will be four summit finishes in the opening nine days and the general classification tussle could really take shape in Andorra during week two of three.

    We pick out a selection of what could be the key stages in the fight for the red jersey, with Primoz Roglic the favourite in the absence of the likes of Tour de France winner Egan Bernal, Chris Froome, defending champion Simon Yates and the injured Richard Carapaz.

     

    STAGE NINE -  ANDORRA LA VELLA TO CORTALS D'ENCAMP

    The riders will be in need of a first rest day in Pau after tackling a 94.4km route which is rated as one of the queen stages.

    There will be as many as four lung-busting climbs before a final ascent of Cortals d'Encamp.

    Vuelta stars face an ascent of the Coll d'Ordino and will climb to almost 2,000 metres on an 'especial' category climb of Coll de la Gallina, before a four-kilometre gravel section precedes a gruelling final push to the finish.

     

    STAGE 10 - JURANCON TO PAU

    After putting their feet up for a day, a 36.2km individual time trial will provide another big challenge and could have a big say in who takes the red jersey.

    Winding, often steep slopes will give the time-trial specialists an opportunity to claw back some time which they may have surrendered in the mountains.

    With more major tests to come in the mountains, the likes of Roglic and Wilco Kelderman will look at stage 10 as a chance to make gains.

     

    STAGE 13 - BILBAO TO LOS MACHUCOS

    Another huge stamina test awaits on a 166.4km trek through the mountains to the top of Los Machucos.

    With seven mountain passes on a hugely challenging day, teams will have to get their tactics right as they attempt to prevent potentially pivotal moves.

    Four third category ascents, two second category climbs and a daunting finish will provide a major examination of GC credentials.

     

    STAGE 16 - PRAVIA TO ALTO DE LA CUBILLA

    The second of three days in Asturias may also have a big say in who stands on top of the podium in Madrid.

    A 144.4km stage in the mountains will include three climbs, providing magnificent views for spectators but potentially some agony for those in the saddle.

    The 27km final ride up the Alto de la Cubilla is sure to lead to some heavy breathing and whoever is wearing red at the end of the day will go into the second rest day with the title in their sights.

     

    STAGE 18 - COLMENAR VIEJO TO BECERRIL DE LA SIERRA

    The penultimate mountain stage on Wednesday in the final week takes place in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, where Fabio Aru replaced Tom Dumoulin as race leader four years ago.

    Another brutal day will be in store for the riders, who face a 177.5km ride with a downhill finish after demanding climbs of Navacerrada and La Morcuera.

    They can expect high temperatures on an energy-sapping day, with a technical descent to the line after a fourth first-category climb.

  • US Open 2019: Medvedev in form, time for Thiem's breakthrough? The non-big three contenders US Open 2019: Medvedev in form, time for Thiem's breakthrough? The non-big three contenders

    For the vast majority of the 21st century, grand slam finals have largely been the domain of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

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    Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka have each prevailed in the past five years at Flushing Meadows, with Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro all reaching the final in that time.

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    His heavy 6-3 6-0 defeat to Nadal in that final may have provided cause for reticence. However, Medvedev continued his outstanding US hard-court swing by coming from a set down to defeat Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open, before going on to beat David Goffin in the final.

    His fightback against the best player in the world should raise confidence he can upset the established order. It will be tougher over five sets but on current form Medvedev appears the most credible threat to the big three.

    Karen Khachanov

    Khachanov's year has not been quite as impressive as his Russian compatriot Medvedev. However, he too resides in the top 10 and has a victory over Djokovic to his name, having beaten the Serbian in the Paris Masters final last year.

    He was impressive in seeing off Stan Wawrinka, rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev at the Rogers Cup and showed signs he could form a grand slam challenge at his run to the quarter-finals of the French Open this year.

    Marat Safin, the last Russian man to win a grand slam, was Khachanov's idol growing up. He has the game to potentially emulate his hero, but a 1-8 record against the big three will leave plenty sceptical of his prospects.

    Dominic Thiem

    Though not in the same vein of form as Medvedev, Thiem deserves his place on the list having been the most consistent challenger to Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in recent times.

    He has reached the last two French Open finals, losing to Nadal on each occasion. However, he defeated Djokovic in five sets at Roland Garros this year and played at a level in the final that would have seen him victorious were he facing anyone other than the 'King of Clay'.

    The hard court provides more of a level playing field and Nadal needed a tie-break to beat him in five sets in the quarter-final at Flushing Meadows in 2018. Thiem also holds a 4-2 record against Federer, whom he beat at Indian Wells this year. 

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    Roberto Bautista Agut

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    He was a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, where he showed his endurance with three five-set victories and pushed Djokovic to four sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

    The 31-year-old has since found some consistency on the hard court, reaching the last eight in Montreal and Cincinnati, and came from a set down to beat Djokovic in Miami back in March.

    That win, however, marked his only success against a big-three opponent. Bautista Agut has proven he can reach the latter stages of majors but, if the draw does not somehow open up for him, would need to overcome the history books to earn a first slam final berth.

    Lucas Pouille

    Pouille's thrilling 2016 fourth-round triumph over Nadal at Flushing Meadows had the look of a breakthrough moment for the Frenchman, but since then he has not been able to record a single victory over the Spaniard, Djokovic or Federer.

    The 25-year-old does, however, seem to enjoy himself on the hard court, securing the best slam result of his career on the surface as he progressed to the last four at the Australian Open before running into a rampant Djokovic.

    He beat Khachanov before being thumped by Djokovic in Cincinnati and, though he has endured an inconsistent year, the high-points Pouille has experienced should leave him with nobody to fear outside of the three favourites. 

    Pouille is unquestionably an outsider, but if he can harness the form that saw him stun Nadal then he can at least afford to have hope of pulling off another shock and giving France a grand slam finalist to celebrate.

  • Vuelta a Espana 2019: How are Team INEOS shaping up without star riders? Vuelta a Espana 2019: How are Team INEOS shaping up without star riders?

    For the second time this year, the dominant Team INEOS are heading into a Grand Tour without their three star riders.

    Both Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas sat out the Giro d'Italia, while a broken collarbone saw Egan Bernal denied the opportunity to step up.

    Seven-time Grand Tour winner Froome then left Thomas and Bernal in charge for the Tour de France as he missed out with fractures to his right femur, elbow and ribs sustained in training during the Criterium du Dauphine.

    But after Bernal claimed his first title in the veteran's absence, the Colombian opted not to enter the Vuelta this year.

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    TAO GEOGHEGAN HART

    This is a second big opportunity for Geoghegan Hart, who was one of those selected to lead the way for a youthful INEOS team at the Giro.

    It was not a particularly successful outing for the team and a large part of that was due to Geoghegan Hart's crash on stage 13 that ruled him out of the race with a broken right clavicle. Co-leader Pavel Sivakov finished ninth in the general classification.

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    WOUT POELS

    Where Geoghegan Hart is still raw, climber Poels provides real experience.

    "The opportunity for Tao to learn from Wout as they lead our team is a special one and we have faith that both of them can leave their mark on this Vuelta," lead sport director Nicolas Portal said.

    Poels has often played a supporting role in the bigger races during his INEOS career, but his best Grand Tour GC performance came at the Vuelta in 2017, a sixth-place finish. His only stage win at a Grand Tour was in Spain, too, with Vacansoleil in 2011.

    The Dutchman has the talent to go on and challenge himself, as well as the experience to assist Geoghegan Hart, depending on how the race pans out for INEOS.

    THE SUPPORTING CAST

    INEOS hailed a contrast of youth and experience when they named the team and Owain Doull is the one Grand Tour debutant in the line-up, having played a role in four winning squads this year.

    At the other end of the scale, the know-how comes in the form of Vasil Kiryienka, Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard. Kiryienka is 38 and making his 20th Grand Tour appearance, with the other two regulars in winning teams.

    Sebastian Henao has taken on five Giros with relative success and will get a first Vuelta opportunity.

    There was one last, late change to the team, meanwhile, as Kenny Elissonde – a former Vuelta stage winner – was replaced by David de la Cruz, who finished seventh in 2016 and 15th last year.

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