Mon, Sep 10, 1:17pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 NRL finals got underway on the weekend, with four cracking matches marking the start of September.
On Friday night, the Melbourne Storm snuck home by one-point against the South Sydney Rabbitohs thanks to a late Cameron Munster field goal.
The Storm is $3.20 to win the Premiership at Sportsbet after finishing the regular season in second position.
Melbourne will now host a home preliminary final in a fortnight’s time against either Cronulla or Penrith.
The Storm looked down and out with six minutes to play as Cameron Murray crossed effortlessly for the Bunnies to put them ahead by six points.
A Cheyse Blair try from a Josh Addo-Carr kick tied the scores with four minutes to play. On the next set, Munster coolly slotted a wobbly field goal from more than 30 metres out to win the game for Melbourne.
The Rabbitohs are $4.25 to win the flag and must back up from a gruelling and physical encounter to take on St George this weekend.
On Saturday, the New Zealand Warriors had a tremendous start against the Penrith Panthers, before the side from the foot of the mountains dominated the final hour of play and won 27-12.
The Warriors scored early tries through Issac Luke and David Fusitu’a before an injury to captain and Dally M favourite Roger Tuivasa-Sheck derailed their night.
Errors, missed tackles and sloppy passing allowed Penrith into the game and they struck three times in eight minutes to lead 18-12 at half-time.
The kicking game of Nathan Cleary and James Maloney pegged the Warriors in their own half for much of the second stanza, as they were starved of field position and possession.
Penrith is $15 to win the Premiership and take on Cronulla this weekend.
The Sharks blew four guilt-edged try scoring chances in its 21-12 loss to the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
By contrast, the minor premiers were lethal in attack on Saturday night and withheld a furious Cronulla onslaught in the final 15 minutes.
When Luke Lewis ran onto a Chad Townsend grubber kick with eight minutes to play and the Sharks down by six-points, the veteran looked certain to have leveled the scores.
He failed to ground the ball cleanly and on the ensuring set, Cooper Cronk slotted a field goal to extend the Roosters’ lead to seven points.
It was a game of missed opportunities for Cronulla, who spurned three other try scoring opportunities with errors on their final pass.
They are $9 to win the Premiership this season. The Roosters have a bye week this weekend before hosting either St George or South Sydney in the preliminary finals. They are $3.20 to win the Premiership.
The biggest upset of the weekend came when the St George Illawarra Dragons trounced the Brisbane Broncos 48-18 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
The Broncos were heavy favourites and after going out to a 10-2 lead, all looked to be going to play.
A hat trick to forward Tariq Sims before half-time changed the game in the Dragons’ favour, as they took a 24-10 lead into the break.
The points scoring did not stop their for the visitors, as they piled on three more tries in the second half to run out comfortable winners.
They take on South Sydney this weekend for a spot in the preliminary finals. The Dragons are $23 to win the Premiership.
It was a soft ending for the Broncos, who came into the finals as one of the in-form sides. They defeated the Roosters and Rabbitohs within the last month, but their defence was poor and their attack stuttered in their biggest game of the season.
NRL Premiership Odds – Sportsbet
Melbourne Storm $3.20
Sydney Roosters $3.20
South Sydney Rabbitohs $4.25
Cronulla Sharks $9
Penrith Panthers $15
St George Illawarra Dragons $23
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