THE NRL starts a day early this week when the North Queensland Cowboys take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Thursday night clash pits two of the best teams in the competition with the Cowboys looking to overtake the Broncos in the top spot, and the Rabbitohs need the win to secure a spot in the top four.
There are plenty of other big games this week including the Broncos vs. Dragons on Friday night and the improving Sharks face the Storm on Monday.
Cowboys vs. Rabbitohs
Thursday, August 13, 7:45pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys – $1.52 (-5.5)
Rabbitohs – $2.60 (+5.5)
The Cowboys were well and truly beaten last week against the Sharks and will need to regain their form heading into the finals.
On their home ground they should be tough to beat and the Rabbitohs are coming off one of their worst losses of the season – losing 8-28 to the Manly Sea Eagles.
Both teams need a win to keep their minor premiership and top four hopes alive, so expect a tough battle from the forwards before the outside backs start to open up later in the game.
Tip: Cowboys to win ($1.52) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Over 40.5 points at $1.90
Broncos vs. Dragons
Friday, August 14, 7:45pm, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos – $1.25 (-11.5)
Dragons – $3.95 (+11.5)
The Dragons have had an up-and-down season to say the least. They led the competition in the early rounds before losing seven straight, but they have rebounded nicely with back-to-back wins.
They dispatched the New Zealand Warriors 36-0 at Mt Smart Stadium last week in a flawless display, but the injury to Benji Marshall won’t help their chances.
The Broncos suffered a close loss against the Bulldogs in which they fought valiantly to the end, but their confidence has taken a hit with that loss.
They still lead the competition on 34 points with a superior points differential and we expect them to win this game.
Tip: Broncos -11.5 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Maranta to score first at $7.50
Tigers vs. Knights
Saturday, August 15, 3:05pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Tigers – $1.45 (-6.5)
Knights – $2.75 (+6.5)
The Tigers dug deep to score a 20-18 victory over the Raiders on Monday night and no-one really knows how they will back up for this.
The Tigers still have a solid team on paper and the Newcastle Knights are coming off a 22-38 loss to the Roosters, so the Knights confidence will be dented.
Neither team has a chance of making it into the playoffs and only one win separates the two teams, but the Knights sit in last position on the ladder and they are there for a reason.
Tip: Tigers -6.5 ($1.90) at Bet365.com.au
Exotic: Tigers 13+ at $2.70
Panthers vs. Warriors
Saturday, August 15, 5:35pm, Pepper Stadium
Panthers – $1.35 (-8.5)
Warriors – $3.20 (+8.5)
It wasn’t long ago the Warriors were being talked about as premiership contenders, but it’s now unlikely that they will make the playoffs.
After losing 36-0 to the Dragons last week, the Warriors’ season looks toast and the Panthers, which looked equally bad last week, have a chance to take advantage.
The Panthers lost 4-10 to the Eels in a dismal display of rugby league. They linger near the bottom of the table now, but they can give their home fans something to cheer about.
Wouldn’t expect a high quality game.
Tip: Panthers to win at $1.35
Exotic: Under 40.5 points ($1.90) at WilliamHill.com.au
Roosters vs. Eels
Saturday, August 15, 7:35pm, Allianz Stadium
Roosters – $1.07 (-21.5)
Eels – $8.50 (+21.5)
Good luck Eels – which face one of the biggest points spread lines this season with bookmakers.
The Roosters are coming off a 38-22 rout of the Knights and they have the best points differential in the competition (213).
The Eels did win last week against the Panthers, but punters shouldn’t take much out of that game. They will struggle here and we’re expecting a cricket-like score line.
Tip: Roosters -21.5 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Over 45.5 points at $1.90
Raiders vs. Sea Eagles
Sunday, August 16, 2:05pm, GIO Stadium
Raiders – $2.65 (+6.0)
Sea Eagles – $1.48 (-6.0)
If the Raiders were to make a late run into the playoffs, they probably should have beaten the Tigers last Monday night.
They now face a tougher task against the in-form Sea Eagles which have turned their dismal season around with some impressive recent form.
The bookmakers have favoured the more in-form team for this game and many punters are latching onto the head-to-head price available. It has been a popular pick for NRL multi-bets this week and they should get the job done.
Tip: Sea Eagles to win ($1.48) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Sea Eagles 1-12 at $3.10
Bulldogs vs. Titans
Sunday, August 16, 4:10pm, Central Coast Stadium
Bulldogs – $1.14 (-15.5)
Titans – $5.75 (+15.5)
After winning a must-win game last Friday night against the Broncos, the Canterbury Bulldogs have forced their way into the top eight and beating the Titans shouldn’t pose any problems for them.
The Titans got smoked by the Storm 36-14 last weekend and they should be expecting more of the same here against a Bulldogs forward pack that doesn’t look like stopping.
The 15.5 line could be decided by half-time so stick with the team that is heading in the right direction.
Tip: Bulldogs -15.5 ($1.90) at Bet365.com.au
Exotic: Brett Morris to score first at $10
Sharks vs. Storm
Monday, August 17, 7:00pm, Remondis Stadium
Sharks – $1.75 (-2.0)
Storm – $2.08 (+2.0)
The Sharks haven’t won an NRL premiership, but they are certainly making a run this year after beating the Cowboys 30-18 last weekend.
The Sharks have been impressive all season and most of their losses came by small margins. They sit in fifth position on 28 points and the only thing counting against their record is their -6 differential margin.
The Storm are no easy beats and they will be wanting to leap-frog the Sharks into fifth or fourth place with a victory.
They cruised to a 36-14 win against the Titans and as the market suggests, this game should be a close one. We’re favouring the Sharks at home.
Tip: Sharks to win ($1.75) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Sharks HTFT at $2.25
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