Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
LeagueUnlimited.com looks at the 2019 NRL Draw - who wins, who loses and how the timeslots are distributed.
Invariably when the NRL draw is released ahead of each new season, the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to complain that their team got the rough end of the stick, or worse still, that the entire draw is lopsided or unfair.
Looking purely at allocations of timeslots and opponents, we've decided to separate myth from fact. Let's shake.
Thursday night: Broncos 7, Wests Tigers 5, Cowboys Sharks Storm Rabbitohs Dragons 4, Roosters Bulldogs Panthers 3, Eels Sea Eagles 2, Warriors Titans Raiders 1, Knights 0
For the second straight year, Brisbane are the dominant team in this timeslot. The Wests Tigers are next highest, while down the other end Newcastle escape with none.
Friday 6pm: Warriors & Titans 7, Panthers 5, Cowboys & Knights 4, Raiders & Sea Eagles 3, Wests Tigers, Sharks, Rabbitohs & Eels 2, Storm, Dragons & Bulldogs 1, Broncos & Roosters 0
The Knights get a welcome respite from this timeslot after a glut of them last season. The Warriors remain well-used in this area due to the time difference, while the Titans have an increased presence. Brisbane and premiers the Roosters have avoided any 6pm Friday contests overall.
Friday night: Broncos & Roosters 7, Rabbitohs & Storm 6, Panthers 5, Wests Tigers & Cowboys 4, Eels 3, Sharks, Knights, Dragons & Bulldogs 2, Sea Eagles & Raiders 1, Titans & Warriors 0
Brisbane are back on top of this timeslot along with the Roosters. The scheduling for this slot mirrors the 6pm one with the Titans and Warriors at the other end of the scale, not featuring at all on Free To Air Friday nights.
Sunday 4pm: Eels 7, Bulldogs & Dragons 6, Sharks 5, Panthers 4, Raiders, Wests Tigers & Sea Eagles 3, Rabbitohs, Storm, Cowboys, Knights, Broncos & Roosters 2, Titans 1, Warriors 0
Once again the Sydney teams dominate the timeslot. Parramatta are a strong presence here along with Canterbury and the Dragons. 17 of the 25 weekends will feature an all-Sydney match in this timeslot.
Overall free to air coverage: Broncos 16, Roosters & Dragons 14, Bulldogs, Panthers, Wests Tigers & Rabbitohs 13, Storm & Eels 12, Sharks 11, Cowboys 10, Sea Eagles 6, Raiders 5, Knights 4, Titans 3, Warriors 1
Brisbane sit atop this one as always, with premiers the Roosters next closest along with the Dragons. The Raiders, Knights, Titans and Warriors all struggle to attract Channel 9's cameras, however.
There are a few issues that have not helped the piecing together of the draw.
First up is are questions over the availability of the Roosters' home ground at the SCG, which the premiers will use while Allianz Stadium is rebuilt. There are five matches the Tricolours have scheduled at the venue, with a further five remaining TBC. The club will host a Magic Round match and a home game in Gosford, however the matches to be confirmed are dependent on the availabilty of the SCG due to the Sydney Swans' priority at the venue which is normally used for AFL in winter. Should the venue not be available, there is scope to play more games in Gosford, as well as the possibility of a trip to Adelaide.
Parramatta Eels fans will be disappointed that they will only enjoy 9 matches at the new Western Sydney Stadium, forced to remain at ANZ Stadium for home games in Rounds 2 and 4 before they open the rebuilt venue in Round 6. They will continue to play one game in Darwin.
The NRL has done its best to limit the number of five-day turnarounds again but it's not gone perfectly. The Dragons and Wests Tigers will both suffer through three of them across the season, with the Broncos, Raiders, Bulldogs, Sharks, Titans, Storm, Eels and Roosters all copping two of them.
Manly, Newcastle, North Queensland and the Warriors have one each while Penrith and the Rabbitohs escape without any five-day turnarounds.
Overall there are 26 five-day turnarounds across the season, up two from last season.
Several factors have forced clubs to take games away from traditional homes, most notably the Suncorp Stadium event in Round 9 - Magic Round Brisbane.
Key venues include Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Darwin, Bathurst, Mudgee, Wellington, Christchurch and the Sunshine Coast.
Below is a breakdown of every clubs' home venues:
Interestingly enough, the number of matches at ANZ Stadium will decrease massively in 2019, with only 20 matches in the draw next season. This follows a season where the Olympic venue hosted 36 games in 2018.
It might have a clunky corporate name now, but 1300SMILES Stadium - the old 'Willows Sports Complex' will host its final 12 NRL matches in 2019. Home to the North Queensland Cowboys since their admission to the premiership in 1995, the club will likely farewell the venue (save for hosting a home final) in Round 24, where in a nice touch they'll play Canterbury - the same club they played on the opening weekend of the '95 ARL season.