It’s not football, but so what? It sure is close. Plus, Coach Rick loved Rugby 7s in the Olympics. It’s Newcastle versus Wests – what the heck kind of team name is Wests? – in round 2 (that would be Week 2 here in the States) of the National Rugby League.
I may not be familiar with the NRL, but I have some insight on how to bet this one.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our FREE picks, no matter what league they come from, are no joke. Our cappers take this very seriously. Yesterday, Scott nailed his AFL free pick by taking the UNDER at 152.5 points, with the final score being 63-57 (120). He is now 4-0-2 since starting with Scores and Stats. And well, Coach Rick is ALWAYS solid!
Game: Newcastle Knights (1-0) at Wests Tigers (1-0)
When: 10:05 PM ET, Saturday, March 21, 2020
Where: Leichardt Oval, Sydney
Moneyline: Newcastle (-120) vs. Wests (-114)
Total: Over 40.5 (-126) vs. Under 40.5 (-114)
Goals: +½ (-119) vs. -½ (-120)
Both teams enter the contest 1-0, which Coach Rick likes. He’s a big fan of teams winning their first game because it sets up them up for success the rest of the year. The Knights went 10-14 in 2019 and finished two spots behind Wests (11-13, 9th).
Benji Marshall vs. Mitchell Pearce
The Tigers get the advantage of playing at home at the Leichardt Oval in Sydney. The advantage won’t be the same without the home crowd. That’s right. Due to the coronavirus, the NRL is playing all of its games without fans.
Don’t worry about the players though. NRL athletes are a lot like Chuck Norris, who was exposed to the coronavirus. Now COVID-19 has been quarantined!
The Tigers’ Benji Marshall is not quarantined and he will battle his Newcastle foe Mitchell Pearce once again. The two have gone up against one another numerous times throughout their careers. The matchup is sure to have an effect on Saturday’s outcome.
MUST SEE: Benji Marshall vs. Mitchell Pearce Fight
The key to whole thing might be the play of Newcastle’s Kalyn Ponga.
Ponga Score Longa
The soon-to-be 22-year-old has outstanding speed and leads the Knights in points with 12. He has become a human highlight reel and is one of the NRL’s best fullbacks. In last week’s victory, Ponga ran for a team-high 235m on 24 runs.
The Newcastle defense was outstanding last week in round 1.
They were able to nil the New Zealand Warriors. That would be NRL-speak for the Knights shutout versus the Warriors 20-0. Head coach Adam O’Brien will stick with the same starting 13. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
On the other end, it was Marshall who was the catalyst in a 24-14 Tigers victory over St. George in round 1. Marshall scored 12 points and leads the Tigers with four goals. Marshall did miss seven tackles, but remember he is 35 years old.
For Coach Rick, a lot of this might not make sense, but it’s all relative.
All Signs Point to the OVER
You have a very exciting young player in Newcastle’s Ponga. He has great speed and makes plays for the Knights. On the other end, you have the grizzly veteran in Marshall who has seen and done it all. He also makes this happen for his Tigers.
Here’s what it all means.
Sure, we can play it safe and bet the moneyline on Newcastle at -116. But, the value is in betting the Total. With two premier offensive players like Ponga and Marshall going at it, expect points to be scored…with or without fans.
In his first-ever attempt at the NRL, Coach Rick likes the Over at -126.
NRL Free Pick: Newcastle Knights at Wests Tigers OVER 40.5
►NOTE: You can find lines for the NRL, other active leagues and various categories at America's Bookie and other premium gaming companies found in our Sportsbook Reviews.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.