ROUND 20 looms as an important one for the teams deadlocked in fifth position on 22 points, and also for those wanting to break into the top eight.
The key game is between the Storm and Dragons, with the latter looking to rebound after a horrible losing streak which has seen them go from premiership contenders to fighting for a spot in the top eight.
Another key match is the Panthers vs. Raiders clash with the loser all but resigning their fate this season.
The week kicks off with a double header featuring an all-Queensland affair between the table topping Brisbane Broncos and the struggling Gold Coast Titans.
The second game this Friday will see the bottom-of-the-table Wests Tigers play against the impressive looking Sydney Roosters.
Broncos vs. Titans
Friday, July 24, 7:45pm, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos – $1.15 (-15.5)
Titans – $5 (+15.5)
The Brisbane Broncos trounced the Wests Tigers 42-16 last Sunday and they face a similar task against the Gold Coast Titans this Friday.
The -15.5 is the second largest line of the week and with the way the Broncos are scoring at the moment, it simply doesn’t seem big enough.
The Titans appear lost after losing 30-2 against the Knights last week and this points spread line could cover by halftime.
Tip: Broncos -15.5 ($1.87) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Lachlan Maranta to score at $1.72
Tigers vs. Roosters
Friday, July 24, 7:45pm, ANZ Stadium
Tigers – $4.25 (+12.5)
Roosters – $1.20 (-12.5)
The points spread line is a little interesting from bookmakers here. We expected the Roosters to be at a similar line to the Broncos vs. Titans game, but they are giving the Tigers a touch more respect.
The Roosters failed to give up a point against the New Zealand Warriors and they are 48-4 over the last two weeks.
The Tigers look average at best and their talent on paper simply isn’t coming to fruition on the field. They are coming off a heavy loss to the Broncos and playing at ANZ Stadium is hardly a home game against the Roosters.
The -12.5 looks a tricky line so take the $1.20 for the Roosters head-to-head and add it to your multi bets.
Tip: Roosters to win at $1.20
Exotic: Roosters 1-12 ($3) at CrownBet.com.au
Storm vs. Dragons
Saturday, July 25, 5:35pm, McLean Park
Storm – $1.40 (-6.5)
Dragons – $2.80 (+6.5)
This game is being played in Napier, New Zealand, and perhaps a game away from Australia can help the struggling Dragons.
It wasn’t long ago that the Dragons were contesting the top of the ladder, but a string of bad losses has seen them slip outside the top eight.
Facing the Storm is no easy task, which are coming off a 52-10 smashing of the Panthers last week, and the loss of Billy Slater hasn’t seem to have affected them as much as some thought.
We expect the Storm to continue their good run of form and to stay in the top eight. The 6.5 line is awkward, but a win by 10-12 looks likely.
Tip: Storm -6.5 ($1.87) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Storm HTFT at $1.90
Rabbitohs vs. Knights
Saturday, July 25, 7:35pm, ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs – $1.24 (-11.5)
Knights – $3.80 (+12.5)
Another big points spread line here with the Rabbitohs expected to put a big number up on the Knights, which are coming off a good win last week.
The Knights were struggling for form, but found some against the Titans and that could give them the confidence they need moving forward.
The Rabbitohs are coming off an easy 24-8 win over the Dragons and they are starting to look like premiership contenders. They do, however, have a knack of losing against teams they should beat and that’s why the bookmakers are keeping them safe.
They should win this game easily, but the Knights could put up a fight so look towards the spread.
Tip: Knights +11.5 at $1.87
Exotic: Uate to score ($2.40) at Sportsbet.com.au
Panthers vs. Raiders
Sunday, July 26, 2:05pm, Pepper Stadium
Panthers – $1.77 (-1.5)
Raiders – $2 (+1.5)
This is a very important game for both sides as a loss could see their playoff dreams shattered.
The Panthers are still fancied at $26 to win the NRL Premiership, but are on the slide after losing 52-10 to the Storm last week.
The Raiders suffered a disheartening loss to the Sharks in overtime on Saturday and they were outplayed for most of the game, but they do have talent all throughout their team and are a danger for any side coming up against them.
The Panthers appear to be in a funk and the Raiders are playing better away from home this year.
Take the value on offer with the Raiders.
Tip: Raiders to win ($2) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Raiders HTFT at $2.90
Bulldogs vs. Sharks
Sunday, July 26, 4:05pm, Belmore Sports Ground
Bulldogs – $1.35 (-7.5)
Sharks – $2.95 (+7.5)
The Sharks kept their playoff hopes alive with a thrilling 21-20 overtime win against the Raiders and now they face a stiffer test in the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have been heading in the right direction for the last few weeks and are establishing themselves as premiership contenders.
Their massive forward pack has been paving the way for their outside backs to do damage. The Sharks players will have to muscle up in the forwards if they are wanting to keep this one close.
We think the Sharks will struggle against the Bulldogs, but look for them to rebound nicely against the Warriors in Round 21.
Tip: Bulldogs -7.5 ($1.87) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Rona to score first at $5.50
Cowboys vs. Eels
Monday, July 27, 7:00pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium
Cowboys – $1.15 (-16.5)
Eels – $5.50 (+16.5)
There isn’t much to say about the game, other than the Eels will need some divine intervention if they are thinking about beating the Cowboys.
The Cowboys looked simply awesome against the Manly Sea Eagles and the Eels will likely be without their star play maker Chris Sandow.
That doesn’t bode well for the Eels and the Cowboys could put 30-40 points on them here.
Tip: Cowboys -16.5 ($1.87) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Winterstein to score at $1.72
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