Fri, Jul 18, 4:35pm by Rob Sheeley
IT’S business time.
After almost eight weeks of disrupted rugby league due to State of Origin, the NRL returns to full rounds as we begin the run into the playoffs.
As punters we can now look forward to teams being at full-strength with no one absent or backing up from mid-week matches.
With seven rounds remaining it is time for teams to try and build some momentum to entrench themselves in the top eight, or for those struggling, it is now or never if they are to make a bid for a playoffs position.This season consistency is more important than ever with a competition that has never been so close in the history of the game.
Just three wins separate the top 11 teams on the ladder so no one can afford to drop a match or two without risking their shot at finals footy.
The Manly Sea-Eagles have moved into first place on the ladder via points difference after they smashed the Wests Tigers 40-8 last week. They sit on 26 points along with the Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs who are in second and third respectively.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors are all on 22 competition points and fill fourth, fifth and sixth in that order.
The top eight is rounded out by the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm on 20 points each.
The Sea-Eagles also dominate the premiership betting market and are the outright favourites at $4.00. The Roosters are hot on their heels at $4.50 with the Bulldogs ($5.00) and the Rabbitohs ($6.00) making up the leading quartet in title punting. The Panthers and Warriors share the fifth line of betting at $13 apiece.
The Cronulla Sharks may have won two of their last three but after a demoralising loss to the Newcastle Knights, they are now shorter than they have been all season in wooden spoon betting. The Sharks are a paltry $1.35 to win fewer games than anyone else and with captain Paul Gallen likely to miss at least the next two weeks of football, it is looking like a probability.
The Canberra Raiders appear to be the solitary threat to the Sharks and are the only other team in single figures at $3.80.
AustralianGambling does all the hard work for you in finding the best prices for each of the suggested selections in this article. It is worthwhile having multiple accounts to allow yourself the opportunity to cash in on the best available odds.
We managed a pretty decent week last week with our selections. We tipped five of the six winners including the Bulldogs upset of the Storm at a juicy $2.65.
Here is a look at all eight Round 19 matches;
7:40pm, Friday 18th July at Remondis Stadium
The struggling Cronulla Sharks will head out in front of their home crowd attempting to save some face after a season to forget when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night.
The Sharks showed a modicum of promise when they pulled off two miraculous come-from-behind wins prior to last week’s match. However it was the complete opposite last week when they led and fell apart faster than a two-dollar toy to lose 31-18 to the Newcastle Knights.
This week they are without Paul Gallen after he ruptured a bicep muscle and is unable to take his place in the team. They will need the likes of Andrew Fifita to find his best in lieu of their hard working captain.
The Cowboys return from a week off due to the bye and welcome back a couple of top-shelf conveyances in the process. Both Johnathan Thurston and James Tamou come back into the team along with Rory Kostjasyn and Ray Thompson. This should be a big boost to the boys from Townsville who are still missing Matt Scott and Brent Tate.
The Cowboys are likely to be a much tougher proposition now that the State of Origin series is over, they look the goods in this game and at $1.60 are bet of the week.
The Cowboys also look a good bet on the line. They are $1.91 (-4) with all bookmakers.
Prediction – Cowboys by 16 @ $1.60 with all bookmakers.
7:40pm, Friday 18th July at Pirtek Stadium
The Parramatta Eels left New Zealand with their proverbial tail between their legs last weekend after a 48-0 thrashing at the hands of the Warriors. This week they host one of the premiership big guns, the South Sydney Rabbitohs who themselves are well overdue for a win.
The Eels were nothing short of embarrassing at Mount Smart Stadium last week as their defensive line did their best impersonation of human turnstiles. They allowed the free-flowing Warriors to attack as they pleased and they can ill afford to put on an encore performance again here.
The Eels will be buoyed by the return of their marquee man Jarryd Hayne this week who should add plenty of potency to their attack. This will also allow Chris Sandow to return to half-back where he should prove more dangerous.
The Rabbitohs return after a bye last week which could not have come at a better time for the boys from Redfern. South Sydney had lost two games in a row, both of which they were expected to win and would have appreciated the week break to regroup.
The return of their fullback Greg Inglis will be a big fillip for the Rabbitohs and should assist them in their quest to return to form. At $1.50 you look to be shopping pretty well here.
The Rabbitohs are another team who look capable of covering the line. They are $1.91 (-5.5) with Sportingbet.
Prediction – Rabbitohs by 8 @ $1.50 with all bookmakers.
3:00pm, Saturday 19th July at Allianz Stadium
A triple-treat of Saturday afternoon rugby league kicks off with what is very probably the match of the round on paper. The fifth placed Sydney Roosters will look to sneak up the ladder when they tackle the second placed Penrith Panthers.
Punters have rallied behind the Roosters despite the form lines leaning heavily in the direction of the Penrith team.
The Roosters have been less than impressive in their last two outings and will look to return from last week’s bye with a bang in this one. After a defeat at the hands of the Sea-Eagles three weeks ago, the Roosters capitulated to go down at the hands of the Cronulla Sharks last time out.
It was a loss that coach Trent Robinson would have been seething at and there is little doubt that the players will be itching to get out and atone for the lacklustre effort.
The Roosters will have Origin forwards Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra back this week to add a bit of punch up front.
The Panthers have been a model of consistency winning seven of their last eight matches. They had to toil hard to get home 35-34 over the Broncos last Monday night after appearing to have the match won with 20 minutes to go.
The Penrith team has undergone a bit of a reshuffle this week with Tyrone Peachey and Josh Mansour both out injured. Those losses could be telling in a match that looks balanced on a knife’s edge.
While the Roosters should win the game, the Panthers look huge value in handicap betting where they have been given a 10.5 point start. Back them with Centrebet at $1.91 and you should be collecting.
Prediction – Roosters by 7 @ $1.26 with Centrebet.
5:30pm, Saturday 19th July at AAMI Park
The second Saturday afternoon match features two teams that were involved in upsets last week. The Canberra Raiders caused one while the Melbourne Storm were defeated in one. It looms as a real danger match for the Storm who have a less than flattering record against the Green Machine in Melbourne over the years.
The Storm have now dropped two consecutive matches and are clinging onto eighth place like Sylvester Stallone did as Gabe Walker in Cliffhanger. A loss here would be detrimental to the Melbourne team’s push for a top four spot and may even put their playoffs bid in danger.
The two Ryans return for the Storm with Ryan Hoffman and Ryan Hinchcliffe sure to improve their forward pack. This should be a good litmus test of where the Storm are at.
The Raiders showed that they were one of the few groups of people not on the Gold Coast for a holiday last weekend when they upset the Titans 36-20 in a win that even Nostradamus would have struggled to predict.
The Raiders will take solace in the fact that in four trips to AAMI Park they have saluted three times, a record that is unrivalled in the NRL.
The Raiders are close to full strength with only Brenko Lee out injured. They will have every chance of making it two upsets in a row this week but face an uphill battle against a classy outfit.
Total match points may be worth betting on in this encounter. The under 43.5 points looks very likely at $1.90 with Sportsbet.
Prediction – Storm by 14 @ $1.20 with all bookmakers.
7:30pm, Saturday 19th July at Suncorp Stadium
A resurgent New Zealand Warriors head to the Sunshine State on Saturday evening to tackle the Brisbane Broncos who are a team well overdue for a win. The sides clashed back in Round 15 in New Zealand where it was the Warriors who saluted 19-10.
The Broncos came home faster than a hungry schoolboy against the Panthers last week only to be sunk by a Matt Moylan field goal in the dying stages and go down by a solitary point 35-34. They showed glimpses of brilliance in the loss but also costly lapses which is something they need to eradicate if they are to be genuine top eight contenders.
They will take the same squad of 17 into this week’s match and look to turn the tables on the Warriors result from a month ago.
Last week the Warriors were at their devastating best when they pasted the Eels 48-0 in a try-scoring procession that would leave most scoreboard attendants with RSI. It was the third win in a row for the New Zealand squad who we nominated as a premiership dark horse last week. They have come in to $13 in title betting but are still worth speculating on given their current form.
They welcome the return of Thomas Leuluai this week after a three-month injury enforced layoff. He will be joined in the line-up by first grade debutant Agnatius Paasi. They are the only new faces in the team from last week and they come in at the expense of Charlie Gubb and Sam Lousi.
An upset could be on the cards here and the Warriors 1-12 looks attractive at $3.40 with Sportsbet.
Prediction – Warriors by 8 @ $2.15 with IASbet (Better than $2.02
2:00pm, Sunday 20th July at Hunter Stadium
An emotion charged day is set to take place at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon as the Newcastle Knights rally behind their injured forward Alex McKinnon. This is sure to give the home team every reason to be at their best and as a result, looks a real danger game for the Gold Coast Titans.
The Knights produced a near flawless second half against the Sharks last week to erase a 12 point half-time deficit and win 31-18. A repeat of that sort of discipline would see them right in this match. It was the third straight win for the Knights who have now snuck up to 14th place and loom as top-eight outsiders.
Wayne Bennett has named the same 17 as the one that defeated the Sharks with Adam Cuthbertson coming in as 18th man.
The Gold Coast Titans’ season took another turn for the worse last week when they lost a home game against the 15th-placed Raiders. It was their fourth loss in their last five matches and things are not looking too rosy for the Gold Coast based team.
This week they will have to cover the loss of zippy fullback William Zillman who has a hamstring issue. Kevin Gordon moves from the wing to fullback with Anthony Don coming in to the team on the wing. Don is often good value as a first try scoring option and worth keeping in mind.
Consider backing the Knights 1-12 at $3.10, it looks the value option in the match.
Prediction – Knights by 10 @ $1.33 with IASbet (Better than $1.28 with Sportingbet)
3:00pm, Sunday 20th July at ANZ Stadium
The Wests Tigers take on the Canterbury Bulldogs hoping to stay in touch with the top eight. It will be no easy task against the third-placed Bulldogs who are in stellar form.
The Tigers have lost three of their last four including last Friday night’s 40-8 flogging at the hands of the Sea-Eagles. This match will not be any easier against a genuine title contender.
Tim Simona and Bodene Thompson come back into the Tigers squad this week but they will be without David Nofoaluma who will be replaced by Keith Lulia.
The Bulldogs showed just how dangerous they are when they travelled to Melbourne without suspended representative five eighth Josh Reynolds and still upset a full-strength Melbourne Storm 6-4. It was their third win in a row and one that oozed toughness.
They will be even more potent this week as Josh Morris returns to strengthen their outside backs.
They look a solid investment to win 13+ in the margin market at $2.35 with Sportsbet.
Prediction – Bulldogs by 16 @ $1.38 with IASbet (Better than $1.34 with Centrebet)
7:00pm, Monday 21st July at WIN Jubilee OvalThe St George Illawarra Dragons will get an opportunity to see just where they are at in terms of their form when they host the competition leaders on Monday night to close off Round 19.
The Dragons have shown strong signs of improvement under the tutelage of interim coach Paul “Mary” McGregor and have won four of their last five. It is a whole new ball game against a full strength Sea-Eagles team who are sure to ask as many questions of the Dragons as Tony Barber did of contestants on Sale of the Century.
Josh Dugan returns for the Dragons in the centres which is a massive boost for them. However it is cancelled out by the injury to Trent Merrin who has been the cornerstone of the red and white’s forward pack all season.
The Sea-Eagles have exhibited top shelf form recently, even when they were depleted due to State of Origin. They have won four of their last five and are deserved premiership favourites. They look set to rack up their 12th victory of the season in this one.
They will have added firepower via the return of both Anthony Watmough in the forwards and Jorge Taufua on the wing which will only make them a tougher proposition here.
The Sea-Eagles look a special in handicap betting at $1.90 (-6.5) with Sportsbet.
Prediction – Sea-Eagles by 14 @ $1.45 with Centrebet.
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