Two of the NRL’s best teams battle it out in a preview to a future blockbuster final. Get your tips for first try scorers and margins for the game here.
Who: Melbourne Storm vs. North Queensland Cowboys
When: Saturday, September 26th, 7:45pm
Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
A SPOT in the 2015 NRL grand final is up for grabs as the Melbourne Storm host Johnathan Thurston and the North Queensland Cowboys.
The story couldn’t be more different for two sides that are used to varying successes. The Storm are looking to book their sixth final berth in the last 10 years, whereas the Cowboys last made the final 10 years ago.
From the outset, this season was tipped to be the year the Cowboys got their premiership, but standing in their way is the professional Storm outfit which holds a very good home record at AAMI Park.
The Storm not only hold a good home record (54 wins from 64 games), but they also hold dominance over the Cowboys with a 20-9 record.
There are some injury concerns for the Storm with Marika Koroibete suffering a lacerated Achilles in the qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters. Christian Welch Nichol and Dayne Weston have been named on an extended bench to cover.
This game is one of contrasting styles as the Storm will be looking to slow the ruck down and the Cowboys will be vying to play as quickly as possible. If referees Matt Cecchin and Ben Cummins let Melbourne get away with a slow play-of-the-ball, then the Storm might get the better of the Cowboys in this pivotal game.
Betting the Storm vs. Cowboys
Melbourne Storm – $2.05 (+1.5)
North Queensland Cowboys – $1.80 (-1.5)
The Cowboys opened as shorter favourites at $1.70, but there has been 50 per cent more money invested on the Storm according to Sportsbet.com.au.
Both sides have been backed to win 1-12, which isn’t surprising as it’s a good way to return a profit, but seeing as this is do-or-die, we’re focusing purely on the head-to-head market.
On paper, this game is effectively a coin-toss as you can make positive and negative statements for both teams this Saturday.
The Storm are the older brother; they have been there before and most of the players have big-game experience in the NRL. They took down the Sydney Roosters away from home in their last game and the Roosters have since manhandled the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The Storm are vying for their sixth final berth in 10 years and when you have the experience and class of both Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, it makes them awfully tough to beat.
The negatives for the Storm is that their flying winger Marika Koroibete could miss the game due to a nasty laceration of his Achilles, and they don’t really have a top-class replacement.
The Storm’s expectations have also been reached, according to some NRL insiders, and many believe the Cowboys have built into this season with more momentum.
The Cowboys have had an interesting season to say the least. They started very poorly before going on a long winning streak which was only broken due to State of Origin duties. They have also given some teams very big leads, but they flexed their muscles by storming back into contention and eventually winning those games.
There were doubters that the Cowboys would allow teams to get big leads in the finals, but they have been staunch on defense and their offense looks stellar.
It’s obvious to say this game could go either way and there is no real bad bet in this. You should feel confident in backing both the Storm and the Cowboys as they both have every reason to win on Saturday night.
First tryscorer lineups and odds
There is still no report on whether Marika Koroibete will line up for the Storm and that potential exclusion will likely have an effect on the betting markets.
Korobiete is the stand-alone favourite at $9 to score the first try and the Storm need his attacking prowess. Filling in for the injured Billy Slater has been one thing, but covering for a potent try-scoring winger is an added worry coach Craig Bellamy will not want.
“He has really improved a lot in the last 24 hours, we were all a bit doomy and gloomy on Monday to be quite honest,” Bellamy said.
“We haven’t really made a decision there yet, I don’t want to have to make a decision if we don’t need to.
“We will just see how Marika goes today [Thursday] and if it doesn’t look so good we will probably make a decision from there.”
The Cowboys remain unchanged and Kyle Feldt has seemingly come through his injury scare with a full bill of health. Rap Thompson has been added to an extended bench.
1. Cameron Munster – $15
2. Marika Koroibete – $9
3. Will Chambers – $14
4. Kurt Mann – $18
5. Matt Duffie – $10
6. Blake Green – $0
7. Cooper Cronk – $26
8. Jesse Bromwich – $31
9. Cameron Smith – $35
10. Tim Glasby – $51
11. Kevin Proctor – $26
12. Tohu Harris – $34
13. Ryan Hinchcliffe – $41
14. Ken Bromwich – $34
15. Dale Finucane – $61
16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona – $41
17. Jordan McLean – $61
18. Christian Welch Nichol – $0
19. Dayne Weston – $0
North Queensland Cowboys:
1. Lachlan Coote – $15
2. Kyle Feldt – $10 at CrownBet.com.au
3. Justin O’Neill – $19
4. Kane Linnett – $18
5. Antonio Winterstein – $9.50
6. Michael Morgan – $0
7. Johnathan Thurston – $23
8. Matthew Scott – $41
9. Jake Granville – $18
10. James Tamou – $56
11. Gavin Cooper – $21
12. Ethan Lowe – $26
13. Jason Taumalolo – $26
14. Rory Kostjasyn – $0
15. John Asiata – $26
16. Scott Bolton – $34
17. Ben Hannant – $61
18. Ray Thompson – $0
Storm vs. Cowboys – who wins?
If you can detect some uncertainty in this article, you’d be on the money. We simply think this game is too close to call as both sides match up evenly.
Put a gun to our head and we will tip the Cowboys at $1.80.
Why? As previously mentioned, they were expected to make the final this year and they haven’t done anything to push us off that idea.
We would be very surprised if either team won by a big margin, but that threat does lie with the Cowboys. They have the potential to blow teams away like the Sharks last week, but the Storm usually keep it close and try score the ugly win.
Enjoy the game and we’ll be back to preview the NRL final next week.
MELBOURNE Storm halfback Cooper Cronk says their late-season losses turned out to be blessings as they prepare for the preliminary final against the North Queensland Cowboys this Saturday.
When the Storm lost to the Tigers in Round 21 and Knights in Round 24, things didn’t look so good for the Storm, but those losses galvanised the franchise.
“It’s taken a few losses for our players to realise that we’re a super good team if we have 17 people contributing and we’re not so if we don’t talk,” Cronk said.
“Those two losses galvanised the group and to go up to Brisbane and then play the Cowboys in the last two weeks, and play the way we did, I think is a result of losing games to the Knights and West Tigers in the rounds before.”
The Storm play the Cowboys at AAMI Park this Saturday where they are currently $2 outsiders with Sportsbet.com.au. The Storm defeated the Cowboys in Round 25 and Cronk is confident they can repeat that effort.
“I take confidence in that, our last four or five weeks has been ultra-consistent and a really high level,” Cronk said.
“There’s no ceiling on what this team can achieve.”
Cronk will have to oppose likely Dally M Medal winner Johnathan Thurston and the Cowboys, which are coming off an impressive 39-0 win against the Sharks.
“They were red hot; they were probably disappointed about the opportunity they let slip against Brisbane in game one of the finals and they came out of the blocks and played at a really high intensity and they threw the football around.”
Cronk stated that the Storm will need to do more this time around if they are to hold off the Cowboys.
“It does help that we beat them three weeks ago and we’ve done a bit of homework on that, but they’ve done their homework as well.
“We’re going to have to be better than we were last time.”
Cordner shaking off Suncorp memories
The last time Sydney Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner played at Suncorp Stadium, he was playing for the New South Wales Blues which suffered a demoralising 46-point loss.
The mobile forward is looking to avenge that game with a good performance for the Roosters this Friday against the Brisbane Broncos.
“Those not-so-good memories last time I was there,” Cordner said. “I’d like to forget about that.”
“Obviously it was definitely a night to forget. It wasn’t the best of games. You do draw some motivation off it.
“It did hurt, emotionally there, for a while. You just had to put it behind you and forget about it and move on.”
Cordner believes the best way to rid of the bad memories is to go out there on Friday night and beat the Broncos in the preliminary final.
“I’m looking forward to getting up there, looking to make amends to try and wipe that bad memory,” he said.
“We’re confident. As a player, you look forward to playing in games like this. That’s why you play footy.
“Obviously it’s a bit different when you’ve got 50,000 fans booing at you than cheering for you. That’s the biggest difference. But other than that, it’s a good venue to play, it’s a great atmosphere, and I’m sure it’ll be no different on Friday night.”
Cordner isn’t shirking away from the task that awaits them, despite being favoured at $1.70 with CrownBet.com.au.
“They’ve been the benchmark of the competition and that’ll be no different. We know how massive the challenge is for us going up there. But we’re looking forward to it, and we’ll be ready,” Cordner said.
“It’s a grand final every week in the NRL. You can get beat by anyone on your day but then again it’s a semi-final and our full focus is towards that this week. Whatever happens after that happens.”
“Personally too, I’ve been pretty happy with where my footy’s at. I think I’ve been pretty consistent all year, really. But it gets highlighted a bit more when you start to win, and people start to notice you a bit more.”
Thurston ranks top in NRL ranks
North Queensland Cowboy Johnathan Thurston has ranked No.1 in the NRL’s top 50 players poll.
The likely Dally M Medal winner inspired the Cowboys to an 11-win streak this season and he rallied his troops to an enthralling 39-0 victory against the Sharks last week.
He finished the regular season with 28 try assists and 26 line-break assists – the most of any player in the NRL.
Tony Webeck of NRL.com discusses why Thurston has been ranked the best player in the game.
“The players have spoken with a fourth RLPA award and the Dally M judges are sure to soon follow suit; Johnathan Thurston is unanimously the best player in the NRL at present,” Webeck said.
“Highly skilled and blessed with an incessant competitiveness, there is no more involved player in the game with his ability to play both sides of the field separating him from most other halves. His simple act of handing the kicking tee back to the ballboys has also influenced a generation of goal-kickers. Simply the best.”
Fellow finals player Cameron Smith ranked second after playing well for not only the Melbourne Storm, but also the Queensland Origin side.
“The Melbourne, Queensland and Australian skipper is now commonly regarded as one of, if not the, best No.9s of all time,” said NRL’s Chris Kennedy.
“His ability to control the pace of a game is second to none while his durability in one of the toughest positions on the field is unbelievable. He has been central to the amazing success of all three sides he has been a fixture of over his senior career.”
NRL top 10 players:
10. Daly Cherry-Evans
9. Jesse Bromwich
8. Billy Slater
7. Shaun Johnson
6. Corey Parker
5. Paul Gallen
4. Cooper Cronk
3. Greg Inglis
2. Cameron Smith
1. Johanthan Thurston
WHAT a superb first week of finals the NRL dished out on the weekend.
Three games decided by two points or less, punctuated by the Melbourne Storm providing a massive upset against minor premier Sydney.
The 131,794 fans who flocked through the gates at the court finals set a record for week one of an NRL finals series and we’re now left with the Brisbane Broncos as the $3.50 favourites with WIlliamHill.com.au to win the premiership, after they handled state rivals North Queensland, 16-12 on Saturdaynight.
A massive crowd of 50,000 packed out Suncorp Stadium for the derby and the bitter rivals did not disappoint them, The Broncos much vaunted defence holding tight against a North Queensland side that had more possession and ran for nearly 500m more than its opponent.
Ben Hunt broke through for the first try of the match, scything through the Cowboys’ defence, before former Bronco Antonio Winterstein was set up by the great Johnathan Thurston to give North Queensland its first.
Anthony Milford gave the Broncos a 10 point buffer when he made it over thanks to some brilliant work from young buck Kodi Nikorima, but the Cowboys had one last effort in them, Thurston taking matters into his own hands to reduce the margin to four points. But that’s where is stayed and the Broncos will enjoy a week’s break, while the Cowboys must now navigate past the Cronulla Sharks, who whacked the South Sydney Rabbitohs 28-12 to boot them out of the finals, one year after they won it all.
Our friends at sportsbet.com.au have put up the Cowboys as $1.36 favourites to end the Sharks’ finals run in Townsville on Saturday night, with Cronulla the $3.15 outsiders.
“The Sharks are certainly the fairytale side of this year’s finals, but the Cowboys showed enough against the Broncos to suggest they’ll be tough to beat on their home turf,” the bookie’s Christian Jantzen said.
The Sharks have provided a great rags to riches story, going from winning the wooden spoon last season to winning a final this year.
They led 18-0 at half time and at one stage the lead was 24, before the Rabbitohs scored a couple of late tries to give the scoreboard some semblance of respectability.
Jack Bird, Wade Graham, Anthony Tupou, Sam Tagataese scored tries for the Sharks, while Michael Gordon sent six over, while Dylan Walker and Chris Grevsmuhl managed to make it over for the Rabbits.
The Sharks will be sweating on Michael Ennis, after he was placed on report and will hope Valentine Holmes will recover from a corked quad.
The Sharks are the $13 outsiders to win the premiership, but Rabbits coach Michael Maguire has given them a glowing endorsement, comparing them to his side that broke a 43 year drought to win last season’s flag.
“I see Cronulla has a fair bit of belief there amongst their players and it would be great to see a club like that go on and do something special – if they believe they can then they will,” Maguire said.
“I see a team in Cronulla which I really hope they can go on and win the grand final to be honest.
“I think a club who hasn’t had a taste of what we were lucky enough to have last year deserves it.
“It’s not through luck either, it’s through hard work, but just sitting there and watching their fans and how happy they are to see their team aspire to dream I really hope they go on and take the opportunity because they’re a real credit.
“What they have been through, to see that club earn a chance at doing what we did – good on em.”
The Storm provided the boil over of week one, eking out a thrilling 20-18 win over the former premiership fancy, Sydney.
The Roosters could have been forgiven for thinking they’d walk home against a Storm side that hasn’t won a final since 2012.
They’d won 12 straight NRL games and collected top spot at the end of the regular season.
But they got all that they bargained for and more from the Purple army.
And the Storm will be making a bronze statue of prop Tim Glasby, the bruiser scoring just his second try of the season in what would prove to be the match sealer, nine minutes of from time.
His try backed up earlier ones from Marika Koroibete and Kurt Mann and four goals from Cam Smith.
The Roosters had Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Black Ferguson to thank for they tries, while James Maloney converted each of those.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy, always focussed, said his boys needed to improve, but he was quite happy with their performance to restrict the best team in the competition.
“I thought we made it hard on ourselves a few times with the footy,” Bellamy said.
“Our defence, at the end of the game too, but especially in the first half we didn’t build a whole lot of pressure and I thought they built more pressure but our defence was really good.
“We set ourselves some pretty good standards over the past month and we held up those standards.”
The Storm will enjoy the week off, but have concerns about Koroibete, who had a lacerated achilles, which sounds nasty, hero Glasby, who hurt his knee and Jordan McLean, who also suffered a knee complaint.
The Roosters will now have to contend with a fired up Canterbury at Allianz Stadium, but have been installed as $1.38 favourites at Sportsbet.com.au to bounce back from their loss to the Storm, while the Bulldogs are the $3.05 outsiders for the game.
“We’re giving the Roosters another chance and we’re expecting the punters to get behind them against the Doggies as well,” Jantzen said of the finals betting market.
The Bulldogs scraped into the second week of finals by the narrowest of margins – one points – 11-10 in a golden point victory over a depleted St George Illawara side.
The Dragons toiled manfully, despite losing perhaps their best player in Benji Marshall and back rower Joel Hamstring early in the second half.
It was a dour, physical match, that really only came to life when the Dogs ripped the lead off the Dragons in the 78th minute, before Gareth Widdop levelled it up in the 80th after slotting one from an off side penalty decision that left the Bulldogs supporters livid.
Widdop went from hero to villain in exra time, though, missing a field goal and then booting his crack at a 40-20 out on the full, which gave the Dogs the impetus for the field goal that would win them the match.
2015 NRL week two finals markets
Sydney Roosters ($1.38) vs. Canterbury Bulldogs ($3.05)
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.40) vs. Cronulla Sharks ($2.95)
2015 NRL Premiership market
Brisbane Broncos ($3.50)
Sydney Roosters ($3.75)
Melbourne Storm ($4)
North Queensland Cowboys ($5.50)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($11)
Cronulla Sharks ($13)
THE NRL playoffs start with an almighty bang as the minor premiers Roosters take on the Melbourne Storm to see which team advances to the preliminary finals.
This Friday at Allianz Stadium, two of the best teams this season will do battle and the talent on show is mind blowing.
Players such as Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and James Maloney will all take the field and, despite all the attacking prowess, the bookmakers are predicting a low-scoring affair. We think this game will be the most exciting of the weekend and you can make it even more enticing by placing a first try scorer bet with Sportsbet.
They are offering a cash back special (up to $100) if your player scores a try at anytime throughout the game.
Roosters vs. Storm betting markets
As everyone expected, the Roosters are the warm favourites to win as the Storm haven’t won a finals game since 2012.
Roosters backers will take the $1.40 with caution, but a 40 per cent return for the more in-form side is seen as a good bet by many.
Conversely, Storm backers’ eyes will light up at the $3 available as that is the biggest price they have paid all year and when you have Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk as your spine, you should always be confident.
Head-to-head betting market:
Roosters – $1.40
Storm – $3 at CrownBet.com.au
Both prices haven’t changed since the markets opened earlier this week which means there is a steady flow of money for both teams.
Even though the Roosters are probably playing better rugby league at the moment, the price around the Storm is value and punters might latch onto that idea. Expect the $3 quote to drop slightly throughout the week, but there could be a big bet placed on the Roosters to offset that.
Points start/spread odds:
Bookmakers have done the dirty and made the line 7.5. The problem with this line is that if you’re wanting to back the Roosters, but you think 7.5 is too much, you might be forced to back the team you don’t think will win.
If the line was 5.5 then we’d expect about 80 per cent of the head-to-head money to also be on the -5.5 for the Roosters. Covering a 7.5 line means the Roosters will have to win by more than one converted try and a penalty kick, and bookmakers are expecting a low scoring game.
How do we know this? The total has been set at 35.5 which indicates an 18-16 type scoreline. With this understanding, taking the Storm at +7.5 seems the logical play based on what the odds are telling us.
Alternatively, Sportsbet.com.au offer a ‘pick your own line’ option where punters can change the points start margin and odds.
Below are some of the popular alternative line options:
Storm +10.5 – $1.60 at Sportsbet.com.au
Storm +11.5 – $1.59
Storm +6.5 – $1.95
Roosters -5.5 – $1.67
Roosters -9.5 – $2.08
Roosters vs. Storm first tryscorer market
The teams have been confirmed and the first tryscorer market is open. With the Sportsbet special, your player may not score first, but as long as he scores throughout the game, you get your money back.
The beauty of a first tryscorer bet is that it adds some more excitement to the game and the payouts are huge. The current favourite is priced at $7.50 and you can get upwards of $150 for some of the more exotic betting options.
Sydney Roosters team list and first tryscorer odds:
Daniel Tupou – $7.50
Shaun Kenny-Dowall – $9.50
Blake Ferguson – $12
Michael Jennings – $12
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – $12
Boyd Cordner – $17
Mitch Aubusson – $18
Jackson Hastings – $23
James Maloney – $26 ($5 for anytime tryscorer at Sportsbet.com.au)
Kane Evans – $26
Aidan Guerra – $26
Sio Siua Taukeiaho – $31
Sam Moa – $36
Jake Friend – $36
Isaac Liu – $36
Dylan Napa – $41
Suaia Matagi – $51
Melbourne Storm team list and first tryscorer odds:
Marika Koroibete – $11
Matt Duffie – $12 at WilliamHill.com.au
Will Chambers – $17
Cameron Munster – $17
Kurt Mann – $21
Blake Green – $26
Kenneath Bromwich – $26
Tohu Harris – $31
Kevin Proctor – $31
Cooper Cronk – $36
Jesse Bromwich – $41
Cameron Smith – $46
Ryan Hinchcliffe – $51
Nelson Asofa-Solomona – $51
Jordan McLean – $61
Tim Glasby – $76
Christian Welch – $76
Roosters vs. Storm form and history
These two teams have played each other on 29 occasions and the edge is narrowly with the Melbourne Storm. The Victorian franchise have won 15 of 29, but the last time they met they suffered a 24-2 smashing at the hands of the Roosters.
The biggest statistic for the Roosters comes in the stadium stats at Allianz where the Roosters have a 64 percent win rate and the Storm only 36 per cent.
The Roosters come into this match on a very long winning streak and the only team to push them close of late was the Brisbane Broncos 12-10.
They ran away with a 30-0 win over the struggling Rabbitohs last week which ensured they won the minor premiership. A similar thrashing came the week prior when they defeated the Sea Eagles by 36 points.
The Storm have lost one of their past five games – the loss coming shockingly to the Newcastle Knights 6-20.
They rebounded in fine fashion during the sunshine swing where they beat the Cowboys 14-6 and the Broncos 15-8.
The Roosters are on the comeback trail after being knocked out last season and they look the stronger team heading into the playoffs. The Storm have looked good in patches this season and, whilst they don’t look the force of past years, you can never count them out.
We’re suggesting the Roosters at $1.40 with CrownBet.com.au, but we wouldn’t say no to the +10.5 alternative line offered at Sportsbet.
This game has all the makings of a close one and it could come down to which team gets the bounce of the ball late in the piece.
GOODBYE regular season and hello NRL finals!
This is where the fun begins and we have all the latest market updates, odds and form so you can make some money this weekend.
The best eight teams have qualified for week 1 of the finals where the top four and bottom four will play among each other to eventually eliminate two teams.
The two winners of the 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 games will get a bye in Round 2 of the finals and the other four teams will be playing to survive.
The finals kicks off on Friday night where the minor premiers Sydney Roosters take on the always tough Melbourne Storm at Allianz Stadium.
Roosters vs. Storm
Friday, September 11, 7:55pm, Allianz Stadium
Roosters – $1.40 (-7.5)
Storm – $3.00 (+7.5)
The Roosters couldn’t have performed much better over the closing weeks of the NRL regular season if they tried, and they lost one of their major play makers in the process.
Mitchell Pearce is again sitting this game out, but he should be ready to go for Round 2 if they happen to lose this Friday night against the Storm.
The market suggests the Roosters will be too good for the Storm, which are always tough to beat in the finals and with the star duo of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, they have the ability to pull off a major upset.
Bettors will rarely find a better price for the Storm, in fact we’ll challenge anyone to find a price higher than $3 for them this season. That means the value is there for Storm backers, but the Roosters are battle-hardened and will want that vital week off.
Tip: Roosters to win ($1.40) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Tupou to score at $1.80
Bulldogs vs. Dragons
Saturday, September 12, 5:50pm, ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs – $1.30 (-9.5)
Dragons – $3.60 (+9.5)
The Bulldogs find themselves in fifth position on the ladder and that means they get to face the Dragons in Round 1 of the finals.
That also means they get to play the team currently paying $81 to win the premiership and this should be an easy win for the Canterbury side, which comes into this game on the back of a last minute win against the Warriors.
That late try was extremely important as they now face the Dragons which limped into the finals and have really looked out of sorts towards the end of the regular season.
To their credit, the Dragons have enough talent to produce a good performance on their best day, but we expect the big Bulldogs pack to dominate and record a comfortable victory.
Tip: Bulldogs -9.5 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Bulldogs/Bulldogs at $1.65
Broncos vs. Cowboys
Saturday, September 12, 7:55pm, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos – $1.60 (-4.0)
Cowboys – $2.40 (+4.0)
The all-Queensland blockbuster which promises to be a classic where the Broncos take on Johnathan Thurston and the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Brisbane Broncos opened slightly shorter at $1.57 and were quick to drift to $1.60, but there should be plenty of financial support for the team that finished second in the regular season.
The Broncos have suffered some defeats to the likes of the Roosters and Storm in recent times, but they were competitive in both and the style of the Cowboys will suit them better.
Johnathan Thurston has done a great job leading the Cowboys into the playoffs and who knows what to expect from them as we get to the business end of the year.
The Cowboys have been giving teams big starts all year and running them down, but a slow start against the Broncos – which like to lead – could mean the Cowboys will play in week 2.
We expect the odds to drop for the Cowboys, but ultimately the Broncos should be too good across the park.
Tip: Broncos to win ($1.60) at Bet365.com
Exotic: Over 38.5 points at $1.90
Sharks vs. Rabbitohs
Sunday, September 13, 4:10pm, Allianz Stadium
Sharks – $1.77 (-2.0)
Rabbitohs – $2.10 (+2.0)
Probably the closest game of the week as the Sharks take on defending champions South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Sharks enter this game having lost their final regular season game to the Sea Eagles, but that’s history now and they will be focused on the Rabbitohs which get a much needed inclusion into their line up.
Greg Inglis has been named in the Rabbitohs 13 for Sunday’s do-or-die clash and boy has he come back at a good time. The Rabbitohs have been struggling in all aspects of their game and they will call upon Inglis to provide them some spark.
The Sharks are used to fighting out close games and we see this going down to the wire. Most of the Sharks players don’t have that finals experience of the Rabbitohs, but this season just might be their year.
Tip: Sharks to win at $1.77
Exotic: >Draw at $21 with Sportsbet.com.au
WE ARE down to the business end of the NRL season now and well into the race to become 2015 NRL Premiers, with Round 26 set to wrap-up the regular season in style over the next four days.
The week kicks off this Thursday when the Broncos take on the Storm in an extremely important game for both teams. The Broncos are looking to claim the top spot heading into the finals and the Storm want to consolidate their top four position.
There will be plenty more quality where that came from, with the Roosters taking on the Rabbitohs, the Sharks up against the Sea Eagles, while the Bulldogs will be looking to make a late push when they face the Warriors at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Broncos vs. Storm
Thursday, September 3, 7:45pm, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos – $1.83 (-1)
Storm – $2.02 (+1)
What a cracking game to kick off Round 26 where a Broncos win could see them win the minor premiership.
The Broncos currently sit in second position on points differential and a win will put them atop of the ladder. They are in great form after beating the Rabbitohs 47-12 last Thursday and they have had a full week to recover.
The Storm bounced back last week by beating the Cowboys 14-6 and they look to be gaining momentum heading into the finals.
Melbourne have been unusually inconsistent this season, but as the market shows, bookmakers expect this to be a very close game.
Tip: Broncos to win ($1.83) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Broncos HTFT at $2.60
Roosters vs. Rabbitohs
Friday, September 4, 7:45pm, Allianz Stadium
Roosters – $1.32 (-10.5)
Rabbitohs – $3.40 (+10.5)
A classic all-Sydney clash here where the premiership leading Roosters take on the scuffling Rabbitohs which will be looking to find their form again.
The Rabbitohs got an old-fashioned hammering last week and, without Greg Inglis, they simply look like a different team.
Things don’t get easier here, taking on the Roosters which are firing on all cylinders after winning 46-10 against the Sea Eagles.
Typically this game would be close, but we don’t see many weaknesses in the Roosters game and they should cover the spread.
Tip: Roosters -10.5 ($1.90) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Ferguson to score at $2.40
Panthers vs. Knights
Saturday, September 5, 3:05pm, Pepper Stadium
Panthers – $2.10 (+2.0)
Knights – $1.72 (-2.0)
This is a game which has no impact on the finals, but it should still be an exciting match-up.
The Panthers are coming off a Monday night loss to the Raiders, which looks bad on paper, but losing Jamie Soward so early in the game didn’t help their cause.
The Knights have shown some late season form and they pushed the Bulldogs very close last week. The 18-20 score line was indicative of their current form and even though they’re playing away from home, they should be too good for the Panthers.
Tip: Knights to win ($1.72) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Uate to score at $1.83
Dragons vs. Tigers
Saturday, September 5, 5:35pm, ANZ Stadium
Dragons – $1.70 (-2.5)
Tigers – $2.08 (+2.5)
It’s quite simple for the Dragons – win and you’re in the finals – and even though the Tigers came away with a big win against the Warriors, they should simply be too good for them.
The Dragons have limped into the finals so far and they won’t make an impact in the playoffs, but betting on this game looks like good value.
Their defensive efforts should be enough to hold off the attacking-styled Tigers and we think they come away with a low-scoring win.
Tip: Dragons to win at $1.70
Exotic: Under 42.5 points ($1.91) at Bet365.com
Cowboys vs. Titans
Saturday, September 5, 7:35pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys – $1.17 (-14.0)
Titans – $4.90 (+14.0)
The Cowboys are used to covering the big betting spread this year and they face another one here to end the regular season.
They scored only six points last week against the Storm, but they rarely lose two in a row and all the Titans are hoping to do is spoil the party.
With so much at stake for the Cowboys and the home advantage, we expect them to pile on the points and roll into the finals with plenty of confidence.
Tip: Cowboys -14.5 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Coote to score two tries at $8
Eels vs. Raiders
Sunday, September 6, 2:05pm, Pirtek Stadium
Eels – $1.60 (-4.0)
Raiders – $2.35 (+4.0)
The Eels are causing headaches for teams in the finals hunt after beating Melbourne and pushing the Sharks close last week.
They finally face an opponent which has under-performed this season in the Raiders, and this is a spot bet which Eels backers should appreciate.
The Raiders have played better away from home this season, but the Eels’ fans are hopeful of next season and nothing brings them back like a win to end the season.
This could be a points fest and the bookmakers currently have the line at 48.
Tip: Eels to win ($1.60) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic: Over 48 points at $1.90
Sharks vs. Sea Eagles
Sunday, September 6, 4:10pm, Remondis Stadium
Sharks – $1.57 (-4.5)
Sea Eagles – $2.40 (+4.5)
The Sharks have a great chance to win their first ever NRL premiership and winning the final game of the regular season will do their confidence some good.
The Sea Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs are slim as they need a very big win against the Sharks, but they will come out firing and they have the talent in their back line.
The Sharks were pushed hard by the Eels last week, but they would have learned from that experience and we’re expecting the men from Cronulla to grind out a tough win here.
Tip: Sharks -4.5 ($1.90) at Bet365.com
Exotic: Under 42.5 points at $1.90
Bulldogs vs. Warriors
Sunday, September 6, 6:35pm, ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs – $1.06 (-24.0)
Warriors – $9 (+24.0)
We’re just going to put it frankly… the Bulldogs will hammer the Warriors.
The Bulldogs have looked one of the better sides towards the end of the season and the Warriors look like second graders.
The bookmakers have this game on the money at the 24-point line and even though it’s a big line to cover, the Bulldogs should have a field day this Sunday.
Tip: Bulldogs -24.0 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Rona to score two tries at $1.72
THE NRL gods are giving everyone a Thursday night gift this week as the Broncos look to retake the lead for the premiership.
The Broncos square off against the Rabbitohs who are searching for some form heading into the finals, and the winner of this game could well decide the future of all top eight teams.
There are plenty of great games to bet on this week, including the Storm vs. Cowboys and Sea Eagles vs. Roosters this Friday night.
Rabbitohs vs. Broncos
Thursday, August 27, 7:45pm, Allianz Stadium
Rabbitohs – $2.30 (+3.5)
Broncos – $1.62 (-3.5)
Punters don’t really know what to make of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, after they lost 18-32 to the Bulldogs last week.
There is also an injury concern with fullback Greg Inglis so punters are leaning towards the Broncos who lost in a tight battle to the Roosters last week.
The Broncos didn’t do too much wrong in that defeat, so we’re expecting them to reclaim the top spot on the ladder and give the injury-troubled Roosters and Cowboys something to worry about.
Tip: Broncos to win ($1.62) at Sportsbet.com.au
Broncos: Broncos -3.5 at $1.90
Sea Eagles vs. Roosters
Friday, August 28, 7:45pm, Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles – $1.90
Roosters – $1.90
Both teams suffered a blow last week, with the Sea Eagles losing to the Eels and the Roosters losing two star players when beating the Broncos.
For the Roosters, both Jared Warea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce were injured in their 12-10 win over the Broncos and that puts them in a tough spot for the remainder of the season.
They are currently in first position with a superior for-and-against record and winning against the Sea Eagles will take them a long way to wrapping up the minor premiership.
The Sea Eagles were making a great run into the playoffs, but their hopes were significantly dashed when they lost to the Eels on Sunday.
This game could go either way, but we’ll lean towards Manly at Brookvale.
Tip: Sea Eagles to win ($1.90) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Manly 1-12 at $3.25
Eels vs. Sharks
Saturday, August 29, 3:05pm, Pirtek Stadium
Eels – $2.50 (+4.5)
Sharks – $1.53 (-4.5)
The teams that can’t make the playoffs are certainly making it hard on those that can! The Eels have already caused Manly some problems and they will be looking to push the Sharks back down the ladder.
The Eels season is done, but they appear to be playing with more spirit and that inconsistency is what makes them tough to beat.
The Sharks have been rolling and have their best shot in years at winning their first premiership title. They dispatched the Tigers last week and on paper, they should do the same against the Eels.
We’re sticking with the Sharks, which look much more focused this season.
Tip: Sharks -4.5 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Feki to score at $1.91
Knights vs. Bulldogs
Saturday, August 29, 5:35pm, Hunter Stadium
Knights – $3.65 (+8.5)
Bulldogs – $1.28 (-8.5)
Much like the previous game, the Knights are out to cause the upset, much like they did on Monday night against the playoff-bound Melbourne Storm.
This game should and probably will be different, however, as the Bulldogs’ big forward pack should simply roll through the Knights.
The Bulldogs have firmed into $6 for the NRL premiership after some very good form and they welcome back Brett Morris for this clash.
They should be too big and too strong.
Tip: Bulldogs -8.5 ($1.90) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic: Brett Morris to score first at $11
Storm vs. Cowboys
Saturday, August 29, 7:35pm, AAMI Park
Storm – $1.65 (-3.5)
Cowboys – $2.25 (+3.5)
This strikes as one of the most interesting games of the round as the Storm are looking to survive the last two rounds and make the playoffs, whereas the Cowboys are vying to win the minor premiership.
The Storm suffered a big setback on Monday night when losing to the Knights and it really came out of nowhere. Throughout the season they did show some flat patches, but losing to the Knights is not a great confidence builder heading into September.
The Cowboys lost Michael Morgan in their 50-16 win over the Warriors and James Tamou is in serious doubt for the next few games.
The Storm rarely lose two straight, but we can’t find the confidence needed to suggest backing any team in this game.
Tip: Both teams 1-12 at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Draw ($23) at Sportsbet.com.au
Tigers vs. Warriors
Sunday, August 30, 2:05pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Tigers – $1.45 (-6.5)
Warriors – $2.75 (+6.5)
Not a whole lot to get excited about here, but we’ll try. The Tigers and the Warriors both look tired and their fans must be pulling their hair out.
The Tigers are coming off a 18-40 loss to the Sharks and the Warriors, which led by 16-0, suffered a 16-50 loss to the Cowboys.
We think the Warriors have slightly more upside than the Tigers, so the +6.5 looks appealing.
Tip: Warriors +6.5 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Allwood to score first at $12
Titans vs. Dragons
Sunday, August 30, 4:10pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Titans – $2.65 (+6.0)
Dragons – $1.48 (-6.0)
The Dragons are sitting in a precarious position in eighth and a loss could see their top eight hopes fall to the wayside.
Trying to upset them will be the Titans which can’t make the playoffs and they are coming off a strong 28-12 win against the Raiders.
This game is D-Day for the Dragons and we can see them putting their best foot forward and keeping themselves in playoff contention.
Tip: Dragons to win at $1.48
Exotic: Dragons -6.0 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Raiders vs. Panthers
Monday, August 31, 7:00pm, GIO Stadium
Raiders – $1.55 (-4.5)
Panthers – $2.45 (+4.5)
Another dead-rubber here, but this game should at least provide some excitement for bettors.
Both teams can pile on the points so we’re expecting a high scoring game between two sides that couldn’t care less.
The Raiders looked poor against the Titans last week and the Panthers went down by seven points to the Dragons on Thursday night.
With such a big rest in between, we fancy the Penrith Panthers to be fresh and perform better on the day.
Tip: Panthers to win ($2.45) at Bet365.com
Exotic: Panthers HTFT at $3.90
ROUND 24 is upon us and the run to the finals is in full swing.
There’s another Thursday night game this week to kick things off as the Dragons look to stay inside the top eight when they take on the Panthers.
The biggest game of the week could well decide which team wins the minor premiership when the Brisbane Broncos play the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.
Dragons vs. Panthers
Thursday, 20th August, 7:45pm, WIN Stadium
Dragons – $1.50 (-5.5)
Panthers – $2.60 (+5.5)
The Dragons suffered a costly loss to the Broncos last week, but were fortunate enough to find themselves inside the top eight with only three weeks left.
They currently sit on 24 points with a positive points differential and with the Sea Eagles right on their tale, this is a must-win game for them.
The Panthers are coming off a strong win against the Warriors and they played well defensively throughout the game. They aren’t quite in finals calculations, but that doesn’t exclude them from giving teams a fright at this time of the year.
This is a huge game for the Dragons and we see them pulling through in a close one.
Tip: Dragons to win ($1.50 at WilliamHill.com.au)
Exotic: Dragons 1-12 at $2.75
Rabbitohs vs. Bulldogs
Friday, 21st August, 7:45pm, ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs – $2.08 (+1.5)
Bulldogs – $1.75 (-1.5)
Despite sitting two wins above the Canterbury Bulldogs, the Rabbitohs find themselves as underdogs this Friday night.
The Rabbits are coming off a strong 31-18 win over the North Queensland Cowboys, but the bookmakers are giving the slight edge to the Bulldogs which scored an easy 36-14 win over the Titans.
We see the Rabbitohs win over the Cowboys as a much stronger form guide for this and even though the Bulldogs are marching towards the finals, the Rabbitohs are looking to go back-to-back and make another late run for the title.
Tip: Rabbitohs to win ($2.08) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Rabbitohs HTFT at $3.20
Sharks vs. Tigers
Saturday, 22nd August, 3:05pm, Remondis Stadium
Sharks – $1.38 (-8.0)
Tigers – $3.05 (+8.0)
The rolling Sharks suffered a minor speed bump on Monday night when they were easily beaten at home against the Melbourne Storm.
The Sharks had won only one from their last 11 against the Storm so we’ll chalk that loss down to that, and their chances against the Tigers appear much better.
You can’t expect the Tigers to be good enough to topple the Sharks here after losing to the Knights last week. They have been a spent force all season and we think the Sharks put plenty of them.
Tip: Sharks -8.0 ($1.90)
Exotic: Sharks -17.5 ($3.06) at Sportsbet.com.au
Warriors vs. Cowboys
Saturday, 22nd August, 5:35pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors – $5 (+13.5)
Cowboys – $1.17 (-13.5)
The Cowboys did suffer a setback last week against the Rabbitohs, but they haven’t made losing two straight a habit this season and they’re taking on a Warriors side that is searching for answers.
The Warriors lost yet another game last week, succumbing to the Panthers and things don’t get easier for them this week.
The loss of Johnson has been the dagger the Warriors didn’t need and all they can do now is tarnish the hopes of teams they face in the final three weeks.
We can’t see them upsetting the try-happy Cowboys outfit.
Tip: Cowboys -13.5 ($1.90) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Wright to score first at $8.50
Roosters vs. Broncos
Saturday, 22nd August, 7:35pm, Allianz Stadium
Roosters – $1.55 (-4.5)
Broncos – $2.45 (+4.5)
The biggest clash of the week involves two teams vying for the minor premiership.
The Broncos are currently two points clear of the Roosters, but a victory to the Sydney-based side will see them move to the top spot that looked home and hosed for the Broncos a few weeks back.
The Roosters completed a strong comeback win against the Eels after trailing 18-8 in the second half, but they finished hard and kept their good roll alive.
The Broncos put away the Dragons with ease and showed no signs of slowing down heading into the finals.
There won’t be much between these two sides, but we’ll take the home ground advantage into consideration.
Tip: Roosters to win ($1.55) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Roosters 1-12 at $3
Titans vs. Raiders
Sunday, 23rd August, 2:05pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Titans – $2.63 (+6)
Raiders – $1.48 (-6)
This game might come down to desperation and the only team with a chance to make the playoffs is the Canberra Raiders.
An outside chance at best, but still a chance and they’re facing a team that has struggled all year with consistency.
The Raiders have played much better away from home this season which leads us to believe they will be at their best for this clash.
Tip: Raiders -6 ($1.90) at Bet365.com
Exotic: Lee to score at $2.30
Sea Eagles vs. Eels
Sunday, 23rd August, 4:10pm, Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles – $1.07 (-20.0)
Eels – $8.50 (+20.0)
The biggest line of the week is featured here where most punters are expecting the in-form Sea Eagles to decimate the Eels.
The Sea Eagles season looked in tatters mid-way through the season, but since the firing of coach Geoff Toovey, the team has come alive.
They now find themselves in ninth position and a win here could see them squeak into the top eight. They are looking like possible contenders for the premiership and the points start line of 20 doesn’t really look enough at this stage.
The Eels can put up a fight as they showed against the Roosters, but expect them to get rolled by plenty in this.
Tip: Sea Eagles -20.0 ($1.90) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Taufua to score at $1.94
Storm vs. Knights
Monday, 24th August, 7:00pm, AAMI Park
Storm – $1.07 (-19.5)
Knights – $8.50 (+19.5)
Another game that is expected to be over by halftime as the Storm face the lowly-placed Newcastle Knights.
The Storm are coming off an impressive win against the Sharks and the Knights, to their credit, won their last game against the Tigers, but we’re not expecting a similar result here.
These two teams have different aspirations. One team is looking to win a title and the other is looking to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Storm have lost four Monday night games this season, but they should go close to covering the big line.
Tip: Storm -20 at $1.90
Exotic: Uate to score ($2.30) at CrownBet.com.au
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