Wed, Aug 1, 10:04am by Staff Writer
Round 21 of the 2018 NRL season is headlined by a top-of-the-table clash on Friday night when the Rabbitohs host the Storm at ANZ Stadium.
South Sydney versus Melbourne
Friday, 3 August 2018 at 7.55pm AEST at ANZ Stadium
The Melbourne Storm have won eight games in a row and will make their first visit to ANZ Stadium this season when they take on South Sydney on Friday night.
The Storm are $1.73 favourites to win the match at Sportsbet and are first on the ladder, equal with the Bunnies.
The Rabbitohs were in blistering form mid-season, but their past two performances against the Tigers and Eels have left plenty to be desired.
The Bunnies dug their way out of a 20-6 deficit against Parramatta in the second half to record a 26-20 win against the bottom-placed Eels, but know that such a performance against a clinical Storm side will not be as fruitful.
Melbourne produced a commanding 44-10 win against Canberra on Saturday night and will relish the chance to cement a top-two position with a win on Friday night.
The Storm has won the past six matches they have played against the Rabbitohs, including a 64-6 thumping in round 25 last season.
On that night, Melbourne ran in 11 tries to one, on their way to the Premiership.
This is the first time the two teams meet at ANZ Stadium since 2014, when the Storm were victorious 27-14.
The Bunnies last win against Melbourne came in the 2013 finals series when they defeated them 20-10.
Melbourne will make this a grind as they do against the better teams in the competition. This is their first and only visit to ANZ Stadium this season, but the less than familiar surroundings shouldn’t pose any concern.
Look for the Storm to target Campbell Graham on the left edge.
Best bet- Melbourne Storm Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $3
Parramatta Eels versus Gold Coast Titans
Saturday, 4 August 2018 at 5.30pm AEST at ANZ Stadium
The Eels and Titans meet on Saturday afternoon in a match featuring two sides at the bottom of the table.
The Titans produced a stunning 36-12 win against New Zealand on Sunday, while the Eels were unlucky to lose 26-20 to the Bunnies on Saturday.
Parramatta start as $1.73 favourites to win the match at Sportsbet, with the Titans $2.12 outsiders.
Gold Coast have shown they are more than capable of wining on the road this season, snaring wins at Leichhardt Oval and Belmore, while going close a few weeks ago in Newcastle.
Parramatta is in last place on the ladder after a dismal season. The Eels played well for 60 minutes last time out, but an 80-minute performance has been lacking from Brad Arthur’s side all season.
The two sides have split their past six matches, which makes this one a tricky one to call.
Gold Coast five-eighth A.J. Brimson has been a revelation for the club, both in attack and defence.
Off-season recruit Bryce Cartwright and former number six Kane Elgey are out of form for the Titans, with Brimson, a Queensland juniors representative showing he is a player of the future on the Gold Coast.
There is little between these sides, but we fancy an upset win to the visitors.
Best bet- Gold Coast to win at $2.12
Penrith versus Canberra
Sunday, 5 August 2018 at 4.10pm AEST at Penrith Stadium
Penrith escaped Brookvale Oval in round 20 with a most improbable win, coming back from 18 points down 13 minutes to play, to win the game.
The Panthers needed that win to steady their season, as a loss would have been their fifth in six games.
They host the Canberra Raiders in the final match of round 21 on Sunday, with the Raiders essentially out of finals contention.
Penrith are $1.40 favourites to win the match, with the Raiders $3 outsiders.
Canberra will be left to regret a number of close losses and tough refereeing decisions that went against this this season as they miss out on the finals for a second straight season.
Penrith look to be a finals team once again, but will need to rediscover their spark if they are to make a mark in September.
When these two sides met earlier this season during the Origin period, a 75th minute Dean Whare try and last minute Nathan Cleary field goal snatched victory by a point for Penrith.
Games between the two sides have historically been close, with a margin of greater than 12 points occurring only once in their past 11 meetings.
Penrith should get the job done at home in a close game.
Best bet- Penrith Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $3.10
Canterbury ($3.55) are big outsiders to make it two in a row against the Broncos ($1.30) on Thursday night, despite beat them in this fixture last season.
Newcastle ($2.08) returns home after a final minute loss to the Cowboys to host the Tigers ($1.75) on Friday night.
St George ($1.46) will be desperate to rediscover their form as they host the Warriors ($2.75) on Saturday.
The high-flying Roosters ($1.22) could finish the round in the top two with a win against the Cowboys ($4.35) on Saturday.
Cronulla ($1.35) should be too strong for a Manly ($3.25) side short of confidence on Sunday.
NRL Round 21 Odds – Sportsbet
Canterbury $3.55 v Brisbane $1.30
Newcastle $2.08 v Wests Tigers $1.75
South Sydney $2.12 v Melbourne $1.73
St George $1.46 v New Zealand $2.75
Parramatta $1.73 v Gold Coast $2.12
Sydney $1.22 v North Queensland $4.35
Cronulla $1.35 v Manly $3.25
Penrith $1.40 v Canberra $3
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