Wed, Sep 5, 10:27am by Staff Writer
The 2018 NRL finals series begins on Friday night with the Melbourne Storm hosting the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The winner of that match will host a preliminary final and be just one game away from playing in the Grand Final.
Melbourne Storm versus South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday, 7 September 2018 at 7:50pm AEST at AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm relinquished the minor premiership last weekend after losing to Penrith and the Sydney Roosters’ big win against Parramatta.
Melbourne is a $1.78 favourite to win their match up against South Sydney who is $2.05 outsiders.
The Bunnies have never won at AAMI Park in seven attempts, but did beat Melbourne in their most recent encounter in round 21 this season.
Both teams finished the home and away season with 16 wins and eight losses. South Sydney had a nine match winning streak during the season, while Melbourne had an eight match winning streak.
The Storm’s 30-20 round 21 loss to Souths ended their winning streak, which was their first during the State of Origin period.
Damien Cook ran for nearly 200 metres and scored a try the last time these two sides met, as he and Sam Burgess tore the Storm apart.
Melbourne was starved of second half possession and territory and surrendered a 16-6 lead in the first half to lose the game.
The Storm welcome back a number of key players from injury including Suliasi Vunivalu, Cameron Munster and Brandon Smith.
Souths are at full strength, with Greg Inglis preparing to play his third match since injuring his thumb and Robert Jennings returned to their backline last weekend.
The Storm to win this match by a margin of 1-12 points is the shortest priced option in margin betting at $2.80. Souths to win by that same margin is $3.10
Josh Addo-Carr is leading the way in the first tryscorer market at $8.50, with opposite winger Suliasi Vunivalu at $9. For the Bunnies it is Robert Jennings at $10 and Alex Johnston at $15.
The handicap is set at 1.5 points favouring Melbourne at $1.90 and the total match points is over/under 39.5 at $1.90.
This is sure to be a close game between two sides that were evenly matched throughout the season. Home ground advantage will be pivotal in this one, so we are giving the Storm a slight edge.
Best bet- Melbourne Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2.80
Penrith Panthers versus New Zealand Warriors
Saturday, 8 September 2018 at 5:30pm AEST at ANZ Stadium
Penrith and New Zealand will clash for only the second time ever at ANZ Stadium when the two sides meet in an elimination final on Saturday night.
The Panthers are $1.71 favourites at Sportsbet, while the Warriors are $2.15 outsiders.
Both teams finished the home and away season with 15 wins, with the Panthers’ superior points differential meaning they finished in fifth and the Warriors finished in eighth.
Each team had a win in round 25, with the Panthers defeating Melbourne 22-16 and New Zealand getting the better of Canberra 20-16.
These sides met just a fortnight ago in Auckland and it was the Warriors who came away with a 36-16 win.
They dominated the match from the outset, controlling possession for the first 10 minutes of the match and never looking back.
New Zealand led 18-0 inside 30 minutes and was never headed.
Penrith got the better of the Warriors in round 17 at Panthers Stadium.
A six tries to one demolition; led by youngster Jarome Luai stunned the highly-fancied Warriors.
Without their trio of New South Wales State of Origin players, Penrith put on a clinic in one of their most dominating performances of the season.
New Zealand welcomes back five-eighth Blake Green into their side, while the Panthers were last week strengthened by the return of James Maloney to their ranks.
The Panthers to win by a margin of 1-12 points is the shortest priced option at $2.80, with the Warriors to win by the same margin paying $3.30.
One of the NRL’s leading tryscorers David Fusitua is the favourite to cross first on Saturday night at $9, with a trio of Panthers players the next best, led by Josh Mansour at $11.
The Panthers will start the match as 2 points favourites on the handicap at $1.90, with the total match points set at over/under 38.5.
Matches between these two teams have cleared the starting total points on both occasions and despite this being finals footy, we see little reason why they won’t try and play a flamboyant, attacking style of football.
The Warriors are in better form and have won eight matches on the road this season, so we are tipping them to extend their season by one more week.
Best bet- New Zealand Warriors 1-12 at $3.30
NRL Finals Week 1 Odds – Sportsbet
Melbourne $1.78 v South Sydney $2.05
Penrith $1.71 v New Zealand $2.15
Sydney $1.55 v Cronulla $2.45
Brisbane $1.28 v St George $3.70
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