Tue, May 7, 12:36pm by Rob Sheeley
After an exciting Round 8 that included some fantastic, frenetic and fabulous football, including the upset of the season so far, we turn our attention to Round 9.
The Storm showed they are human with their first loss in sixteen matches, meaning the premiership betting is now out to $3.75 the field. In the other major upset of Round 8, the Sharks managed to win when they were given next to no chance. What surprises will this week hold?
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The high flying South Sydney Rabbitohs look to continue their scintillating start to the season as they take on the resurgent North Queensland Cowboys this Friday.
The Rabbitohs machine rolled on last week with a convincing fourteen point win over the Broncos in Brisbane by 26-12. They now boast the same record as the league leaders (Melbourne) and only trail on point’s difference. Bookmakers are taking no risks on the myrtle and greens and currently have them at $5 in premiership markets.
The Cowboys made it two in a row last Saturday night when they snuck home by four points (14-10) in a thriller against the Eels. It may not have been the prettiest victory but they registered a much needed win away from home and have some momentum to build on from the victory.
The Cowboys are currently in eighth place and in a congested part of the competition with four sides all on eight points. This means that every win is vital and will be telling come the business end of the season. Bookmakers have the Cowboys at $15 in premiership markets.
Will the Cowboys be able to come to Sydney and stop the Rabbitoh Juggernaut?
The Tigers have been heavily decimated by injury in recent times and will this week host the Sharks who defied all odds to defeat the Knights in Newcastle last Sunday.
The Tigers were missing more than half of their regular starting side when they took on the Bulldogs last weekend and were unable to be competitive. In the end it was a heavy thirty six point defeat (40-4). They will desperately want to atone for that.
The Tigers currently languish at the bottom of the NRL ladder and are $201 premiership chances. They have not won since way back in Round 3.
The Sharks were long priced outsiders to win against the Knights in Newcastle last Sunday. After losing their star forward Paul Gallen in the opening minutes, their chances looked forlorn. The Sharks defied all the odds to win in a golden point thriller.
They may well be missing Gallen again this week but will still be expected to win. The Sharks are currently in eleventh and rated a $41 premiership hope by bookies.
Will the Tigers cause an upset? Or can the Sharks go back to back?
Tenth place up against fourteenth may not sound too exciting on paper, but this contest looks an enthralling match up. The Warriors take this week’s game to Wellington where they face a much improved Bulldogs outfit.
The Warriors looked solid in their win over the Titans last weekend although it was not without a few anxious moments. They did seal the victory with a field goal in the dying minutes which gave them a seven point lead. A Titans try on the bell meant that the Warriors only won by a solitary point (25-24).
The win again showed the Warriors are tough to beat in New Zealand and although this game is not at their regular home ground, they are still not too far away. The fourteenth placed Warriors are currently rated as $81 premiership chances.
The Bulldogs have managed to pull their season out of the doldrums and get it back on track in the last two weeks. After a 24-8 win over the Sharks two weeks ago, they backed it up with a 40-4 annihilation of an under strength Tigers last week.
The Bulldogs now find themselves in tenth place and bookies are taking no risks on them. They are currently just $11 in premiership markets.
Will the Bulldogs season continue to improve? Or can the Warriors win again in New Zealand?
The Broncos will be looking to return to their winning ways in this clash against the Eels who almost pulled off a Houdini act last weekend.
Parramatta find themselves at home for the second week in a row. They almost grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat last week when a desperate lunge at the try line saw the ball come loose right on full time. That would have saw the Eels with a conversion attempt to win the game or at the worst, in a golden point game.
Alas, the Eels now sit in fifteenth place and are $251 premiership chances.
The Broncos were far from disgraced against the white hot South Sydney team last weekend. Despite the late withdrawal of both Justin Hodges and Josh McGuire, the Broncos remained right in the match. The Rabbitohs eventually over powered them but they certainly look top eight candidates.
Brisbane now find themselves in seventh place on the NRL ladder. Bookies rate the Broncos as $15 chances to take out the 2013 title.
Can the Eels atone for last week’s narrow loss? Or will the Broncos be back in the winner’s circle?
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Last weeks giant killers take on the killed giants in this intriguing clash. The two sides had virtually opposite results in contrasting scenarios last weekend, both were major upsets.
The Raiders produced what many thought was all but impossible in 2013; A win over the Storm in Melbourne. They were given little hope but produced the goods and played like it was they who were the short priced favourites.
The Canberra side have now snuck up into ninth place on the ladder and are $26 premiership chances. They will now look to consolidate that upset win.
The Knights started last week’s game as red hot favourites against the Sharks. Despite the Sharks losing key players and the Knights looking to have the match won, they managed to lose.
Wayne Bennett would have been far from impressed with the serving his team dished up and you can bet there will be no encore performance here. The Knights still sit in fifth and are $15 to win this season’s premiership.
Will the Raiders great form continue? Or will the Knights bounce back for last week’s embarrassment?
This could turn out to be one of the matches of Round 9, it is a clash between two teams coming off narrow losses, both will be desperate to atone. The sides sit just two competition points apart on the competition ladder too, so there is plenty at stake.
The Titans finished fast to almost run down the Warriors in New Zealand last Sunday. The final margin was only one point (25-24). It was a big effort by an Injury plagued side who also lost their half back Albert Kelly early in the game.
The Titans are still inside the top eight, on the back of their great early season form. They currently sit in sixth and are $51 with the bookies to win the title.
The Dragons began woefully against the Sea Eagles last Monday night and appeared to be headed for a hiding when they trailed 18-4 at half time. Yet they fought back and at a one stage levelled the score. Eventually they went down by six points (24-18) but showed plenty of fight in the process.
The Dragons have now suffered back to back losses and will be very keen to reverse that form. They currently sit in eleventh place and are $81 to win the premiership.
Will the Titans be too good at home? Or can the Dragons fire on the Gold Coast?
The NRL’s rank outsiders clash with the favourites in this mismatch of gargantuan proportions. Wins have been scant for the Panthers whilst the Storm suffered their first loss for sixteen matches last week.
The Panthers have managed to win just one of their last seven matches and face a daunting task here. The last thing any team would want is to face the Storm coming off a loss.
The Penrith team are in thirteenth place on the competition ladder and at $251 to win the competition. A win here would be a massive boost to their top eight aspirations.
The Storm’s golden run finally ended at the hands of the Raiders last weekend and they will be smarting from that loss. Don’t be surprised to see the Melbourne team as clinical as ever this weekend.
The Storm still sit atop the premiership ladder and have blown slightly in premiership markets. They are now $3.75 which is the best price that has been available for some weeks.
Can the Panthers make it back to back losses for Melbourne? Or will the Storm hit back with a vengeance?
In the immortal words of the late great Whitney Houston, the NRL in Round 9 has “gone and saved the best for last”. Third place takes on fourth place in a clear match of the round.
The Sea Eagles managed to defeat the Dragons last Monday despite a raft of injuries and suspensions forcing changes to their line up. The Manly side showed they had enough tenacity and depth to hang on in a tight situation.
The fourth placed Sea Eagles are currently $7 to win the title this year. They should be boosted by the return of international centre Steve Matai this week.
The Roosters racked up their third big win in succession last weekend really are on the crest of a wave. If there is a question mark on the Roosters, it is their form against the top teams. This will be their chance to confirm their credentials against such competition.
The Roosters are $6 to win the title in 2013 and are currently in third place on the ladder.
Will the Sea Eagles successfully defend fortress Brookvale? Or will the Roosters run of big wins continue?
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