Wed, Sep 12, 11:17am by Staff Writer
The Cronulla Sharks take on the Penrith Panthers on Friday night at Allianz Stadium in Sydney for a chance to play the Melbourne Storm in next weekend’s preliminary final.
Cronulla is the favourite to win the match at $1.68 while the Panthers are paying $2.20.
The Sharks are coming off a 21-12 loss to the Roosters last weekend. They wasted a number of try scoring opportunities, but were brittle in defence.
When Luke Lewis latched onto a kick from Chad Townsend late in the game and the Sharks were down a try, the veteran looked certain to score. He failed to ground the ball and on the ensuing set, Cooper Cronk calmly slotted a field goal to ice the game for the Sharks.
They will be without Wade Graham who suffered an ACL injury last weekend, but are otherwise unchanged.
Penrith have shown renewed vigour late in the season and posted a 27-12 win against the New Zealand Warriors last weekend.
The Panthers fell behind 10-2 early in the game, but Warriors errors and slick finishing from Penrith ensured they went into half-time with the lead.
James Maloney’s kicking game was exemplary as the Warriors ran out of ideas in attack.
These sides met two during the home and away season, with Cronulla victorious on both occasions.
In round seven it was the Sharks winning 26-22 at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Two late consolation tries for the Panthers flattered them on the scoreboard, as Sharks centre Jesse Ramien crossed twice.
In round 18, the Sharks were 24-12 winners at Panthers Stadium. The home side was without its Origin players and struggled.
The Sharks to win by a margin of 1-12 points is the shortest-priced option in margin betting at $3. The Panthers to win by the same margin is $3.40.
Valentine Holmes is the favourite to be the game’s first tryscorer at $8. For the Panthers, wingers Christian Crichton and Josh Mansour are each paying $11, while there are plenty of others listed in that market here.
Cronulla are 2.5-point favourites on the handicap at $1.91.
The total match points are set at over/under 38 at $1.90.
Penrith look to be gathering momentum once again after a poor second half of the season. Cronulla should have won last weekend, but without Wade Graham, they do lose something in attack and defence.
We are tipping Penrith in a big of an upset, as their premiership five-eighth James Maloney is a proven winner in finals.
Best bet- Penrith to win at $2.20
NRL Semi Final Odds
Cronulla $1.68 v Penrith $2.20
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