THAT was some State of Origin win by Queensland, winning by a record margin, but the NRL continues on with six games this week.
There are three marquee games this week, starting with the improving Bulldogs vs. the league-leading Broncos, the Warriors will take Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium, with the week ending with an interesting clash between the Titans and the Sea Eagles on Monday.
Four teams have a bye this week – the Eels, Tigers, Cowboys and the Rabbitohs – and all are sure to benefit from the break as we get towards the business end of season 2015.
As always, there are plenty of short-priced favourites this week, but that means there is great value for the outsiders with our recommended online bookmakers.
The Friday stand-alone game kicks off at GIO Stadium where the Raiders play the Knights.
Raiders vs. Knights
Friday, July 10, 7:45pm, GIO Stadium
Raiders – $1.45 (-6.5)
Knights – $2.75 (+6.5)
Both teams are coming off a much needed bye after losing heavily in Round 16.
The Raiders are short favourites to win this game at home, but they are coming off a 30-8 loss at the hands of he Warriors and will need to improve significantly.
The Knights are also coming off a bad loss, losing by 22 points to the Broncos and they are dangerously close to the wooden spoon.
Both teams are very inconsistent so this game could go either way, but we fancy the Raiders to win narrowly at home.
Tip: Raiders to win ($1.45) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Over 38 points at $1.90
Panthers vs. Roosters
Saturday, July 11, 5:35pm, Pepper Stadium
Panthers – $2.75 (+6.5)
Roosters – $1.45 (-6.5)
The Panthers returned to their best form last Friday night with a 20-6 win over the Rabbitohs without Greg Inglis.
They would have derived great benefit from that win, but it doesn’t get much easier as they face the Roosters off a bye and with their Origin stars back in action.
The Roosters have been well backed into $4 to win the NRL premiership, but they have shown inconsistencies this season and punters have been burned on many occasion.
This looks like a good time to support the underdogs as the Panthers should play well in front of their home crowd.
Tip: Panthers +6.5 ($1.90) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Waqa Blake to score first at $12
Bulldogs vs. Broncos
Saturday, July 11, 7:35pm, ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs – $1.60 (-4.5)
Broncos – $2.35 (+4.5)
The Bulldogs roared back into premiership contention with a Round 16 win over the Melbourne Storm.
They sit in eighth position on the ladder, but are paying only $1.60 against the table-topping Brisbane Broncos which will be very tough to beat.
Both teams get their returning Origin players and the Broncos will have some very tired legs in their camp, but they have overcome barriers all season.
If the Bulldogs big forward pack can get a roll on against the Broncos then it will be lights out, but the Broncos classy back line, which includes the likes of Justin Hodges, has the ability to run around the bigger Bulldogs.
This has classic written all over it and we’re expecting a very close game.
Tip: Broncos +4.5 at $1.90
Exotic: Broncos +7.5 ($1.62) at Sportsbet.com.au
Warriors vs. Storm
Sunday, July 12, 2:05pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors – $1.50 (-6.0)
Storm – $2.60 (+6.0)
The Warriors find themselves in the top eight after beating the Raiders at home in Round 16 and they now face their fierce rivals, Melbourne.
The Warriors vs. Storm clash is always an instant classic and the Warriors are one of the few teams with a good record against the Storm, which are coming off a last game loss to the Bulldogs.
With Origin hero’s Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk at the helm for the Storm, they will always be tough to beat, so we’re expecting a tight game and the Warriors will only have a chance if they bring their very best form.
Look for Shaun Johnson to have a big game for the Warriors and with fine weather expected there should be plenty of points in store for both teams.
Tip: Storm +6 at $1.90
Exotic: Vatuvei to score ($1.72) at CrownBet.com.au
Sharks vs. Dragons
Sunday, July 12, 4:05pm, Remondis Stadium
Sharks – $1.90
Dragons – $1.90
The bookmakers can’t separate these two sides, but it was only two weeks ago that the Dragons were being discussed as premiership contenders.
A couple of poor outings later and they find themselves as equal favourites with the Sharks which are sitting at 10th on the ladder.
The Sharks are coming off a loss to the Sea Eagles, but the bookmakers are confident that they can compete with the better-performed Dragons.
We tend to think the Dragons can’t put a string of poor performances together and that their halves pairing of Garreth Widdop and Benji Marshall will return to their best form.
We see good value with the Dragons at $1.90.
Tip: Dragons to win ($1.90) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic: Dragons HTFT at $2.80
Titans vs. Sea Eagles
Monday, July 13, 7:00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Titans – $2.85 (+7.5)
Sea Eagles – $1.43 (-7.5)
Daly Cherry-Evans returns to the Gold Coast, his supposedly new home for next season, until his infamous back flip.
The star play maker for the Sea Eagles chose to stay at the Sea Eagles, but it has been his on-field play that has people scratching their heads of late.
The million dollar man will need to be at his best against a Titans team that will be looking for revenge. Instead of signing DCE they opted to buy Chris Sandow and that’s enough to get any crowd riled up.
The Sea Eagles have looked better in recent weeks and the Titans have also shown some positive signs.
Monday night games often pull upsets out of the bag, but we’re siding with the favourites here.
Tip: Sea Eagles to win at $1.43
Exotic: Matai to score ($1.91) at CrownBet.com.au
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