Wed, Aug 14, 9:16pm by Rob Sheeley
AUD $100 Free Bet: www.IASbet.com
As we inch one week closer to the playoffs we now have a competition leader in the Sydney Roosters who sit alone one win clear of their nearest rival. On the other hand, the South Sydney Rabbitohs fall from grace continued last weekend when they made it three losses from their last four outings, and almost certainly guaranteed the Roosters the minor premiership in the process.
The Titans and Broncos kept their top eight hopes alive while the Cowboys also maintained their slight flicker of hope of playoffs football with a convincing win over the Panthers. Upset losses to the Bulldogs and Sharks has also left them having to fight hard to hold their playoffs position.
Round 23 will see plenty more pivotal games as sides jockey for the much coveted top eight positions. This is good news for punters as we get to see sides with everything to play for scrambling desperately for wins in what is virtually sudden-death football.
Let’s take a closer look at Round 23 with previews of the three big matches between the Rabbitohs and Manly, Raiders and Bulldogs, and the Knights and Storm all to be previewed right here. Previews will include all head to head, margin and line betting markets, along with free tips and in-depth analysis.
7:35, Friday 16th August at Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos take on the last placed Eels here in a game that is crucial for the Brisbane based club. The Broncos have lost their star centre Justin Hodges for the season with an Achilles’ tendon injury and come up against a Parramatta outfit who broke a ten game losing streak last weekend.
Brisbane won a hard fought and entertaining match against the Dragons in Brisbane last week and they get the opportunity to make it another win at home and keep their top eight chances alive this week. They may have lost some firepower via the Justin Hodges injury but any team hoping to make the top eight should be beating the Eels. They will also be keen to avenge their shock one point loss to the Parramatta side last time they met.
The Broncos are in eleventh place and some three competition points out of the top eight. They are a mathematical chance of making it but punters are not overly keen on the Brisbane side with them at $5.50 just to make the eight, and a massive $67 to win the premiership.
Parramatta snapped a ten-match losing streak last weekend. But it was more of a drizzle than a monsoon that broke the drought for the Eels. They were four point victors over the heavily depleted Tigers. The star for the Eels was Jarryd Hayne and he will need to be very heavily involved again this week. The Eels sit in last place and no longer figure in top eight for premiership markets.
Prediction – Broncos by 12.
7:35, Friday 16th August at Bluetongue Stadium
This could well be the match of the round, and for the Rabbitohs, the games aren’t getting any easier. After dropping three of their last four matches the South Sydney team still face a slim hope of dropping out of the top two. The good news for them is the pending return of super stars Greg Inglis and John Sutton. South Sydney have elected to take this game to Bluetongue Stadium at Gosford.
The Rabbitohs have had the worst month of their season which was emphasized by their 26-8 loss to the Storm last week. The boys from South Sydney will be hoping that the return of their stars means a return to form for them. Punters are still keeping the second placed Rabbitohs safe and they are currently $4.25 in premiership betting, they may drift a little if they lose here. The Rabbitohs may represent value here should the return of Inglis and Sutton catapult them into form.
The Sea Eagles are shaping up as top premiership hopes after they made it six wins in a row last weekend. The boys from Brookvale were too good for the Warriors in a 27-12 win. Punters have backed the fourth placed Sea Eagles right in to $5.00 and a win here will see them tighten even more.
Prediction – Sea Eagles by 6.
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3:00pm, Saturday 17th August at Canberra Stadium
The Canberra Raiders return to their happy hunting ground that is Canberra Stadium where they take on the Bulldogs who suffered a shock loss last week. The Raiders are clinging to playoff hopes as they sit in ninth place, a loss here would really dent those hopes. The Bulldogs are only two competition points ahead of the Raiders so this match is of great importance to their post season aspirations as well. Punters are finding it hard to split the teams in the head to head market, this should be a gem of a match.
After being embarrassed by the Storm two weeks ago, the Raiders were much better against the Roosters last week when they lost narrowly 28-22. They return to their home ground this week where they have lost just one match this season. Despite sitting in ninth place and on equal points with the eighth placed team, the Raiders are still $2.50 to make the top eight. If you think they can win the competition they are a cool $81.
The Bulldogs charge towards the top four was halted in no uncertain terms last week when they went down to the Titans 26-16 in an upset loss. The Bulldogs still sit in fifth, but a loss here would certainly throw a cat amongst the pigeons in terms of their playoff security. They are still unbackable in terms of top eight markets and punters consider them a top premiership hope at $12. The Bulldogs have a few injury concerns with Greg Eastwood, Sam Kasiano and Ben Barba all out.
Prediction – Raiders by 8.
5:30pm, Saturday 17th August at 1300 SMILES Stadium
Just when it looked as though the a Titans season was sliding away from them, they pulled off an upset win against the Bulldogs last weekend. It is a win that has kept them in with a real chance of a top eight finish this season. They take on a side in the Cowboys who are also a mathematical chance at the playoffs and need to keep winning to maintain any chance of making that a reality.
The Cowboys are the roughest of chances to make the top eight if they can manage to keep winning. Punters have some hope for them to do so and they are currently $7 in that market. They were impressive in their 36-4 win over the Panthers led by their super star five eighth Johnathan Thurston. Yet with all this in mind, the Cowboys are still $101 premiership chances and every game is a last ditch effort to hang on to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
The Titans forced their way back into the top eight last week with an upset win over the Bulldogs. Despite being some six competition points ahead of their rivals here, they are still an astounding $7.00 with IASbet to make the top eight – not a bad price at all considering you’re really backing them to win two of their last four.
They do have a tough run home but they could definitely win this week and then beat the Warriors on the Gold Coast next to secure that place. They have two tough games to finish the season against the Roosters and Storm. Punters give the Titans little chance of winning the competition and they sit on $101. If you like the Titans, they look a massive price here given last weeks terrific victory.
Prediction – Cowboys by 8.
7:30pm, Saturday 17th August at WIN Stadium
The Sharks and Dragons will continue their neighbourly dispute in this match, and what an important one it is for the Sharks. The Cronulla side lost a match they really would have expected to win last week and they now meet a Dragons team who are playing with absolutely nothing to lose. The Sharks are by no means assured of a top eight position and need to get the job done here.
The Dragons were unlucky not to secure a win in an entertaining match against the Broncos in Brisbane last weekend. They eventually went down by just two points, 26-24 in what may have been an indication of the attacking style the Dragons intend on playing for the remainder of 2013. The Dragons have dropped out of top eight and premiership markets as they are no longer a chance of either. The Dragons have also suffered the double blow of losing two of their best players for the remainder of the season. Both Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin suffered season ending injuries last weekend.
The Sharks suffered and upset 18-14 loss at their home ground against the Knights last week. The loss means that instead of sitting comfortably in fifth place, the Sharks now need to win possibly two of their last four to assure themselves of a spot in the playoffs. The Dragons upset the Sharks earlier in the season and fans from the shire will be hoping there is no encore performance in this game.
Punters see the Sharks making the top eight as all but a fait accompli with the Cronulla team $1.05 in that market. The Sharks are currently $34 to win the premiership. They are at very skinny odds in this match as punters think they will prove too good for the Dragons.
Prediction – Sharks by 12.
2:00pm, Sunday 18th August at Mount Smart Stadium
The Warriors return to New Zealand this week desperate for a win to keep their charge for the playoffs alive. They take on a Panthers side who looked destined for the top eight before losing their last four in a row. Punters think the Warriors will win convincingly here given their short head to head price and I agree.
The Warriors were gallant but not quite good enough in a tough 27-12 loss to the Sea Eagles. That was their second loss in a row so they will be hoping that a return to New Zealand will turn that form around. They currently sit in tenth but just two competition points outside the top eight. They are $1.60 to finish in the top eight and $34 to win the premiership.
The Panthers season has gone downhill faster then Alberto Tomba in the last month. The Penrith team has lost four on the trot and conceded over thirty points in every single one of those four losses. The Panthers have dropped to thirteenth and are rank outsiders of the remaining live hopes to make the top eight at a massive $51. Punters give the Penrith team next to no chance of winning the premiership, the are $501 in that market.
Prediction – Warriors by 14.
3:00pm, Sunday 18th August at Hunter Stadium
The Knights pulled off another unexpected win last week and, just like they have all season, they done enough to make sure they kept their position in the top eight. They take on a red hot Melbourne Storm this week in what may well be a preview of finals footy. The Storm remain pronounced favourites for this match based on their scintillating form of the last two weeks.
Newcastle have developed a knack of maintaining their spot on the fringe of the top eight all season and they continued that again last week when they upset the Sharks in Cronulla 18-14. They have now only lost one match in their last five outings and look to be hitting their straps at the right time of the year. The seventh placed Knights are $1.25 to make the top eight and $34 to win the premiership.
The Melbourne Storm will arrive in Newcastle as the hottest team in the NRL in the last fortnight. After a sixty four point win over the Raiders, the Storm backed it up with a 26-8 victory over the second placed Rabbitohs last Friday night. With a top four position all but assured, the Storm are now second favourites for the premiership at $4.00. This should be a super match against a desperate Newcastle team.
Prediction – Storm by 10.
7:00pm, Monday 19th August at Allianz Stadium
The Wests Tigers will take on the Sydney Roosters in this weeks installment of Monday Night Football. On recent form, all indications are that this game could get very ugly on the scoreboard for the Tigers.
The Tigers have taken this home game to Allianz Stadium, the home of the Roosters, not that they needed any advantage. The Tigers slumped to a season low last week when they were defeated by the Eels 26-22. The Tigers appear to be a club up who is up to their ears in turmoil and they do not figure in top eight or premiership markets. A win here would be a minor miracle for the team who is not only decimated by injuries but seemingly in a perennial state of disarray.
The Roosters just keep on winning. The team from the Eastern Suburbs has now won seven in a row and appear to have a mortgage on the minor premiership. They ground out a tough 28-22 win over the Raiders last weekend and sit on top of the competition ladder all alone. They are firm premiership favourites with punters backing the Roosters in to $3.75 with IASbet.
Prediction – Roosters by 22.
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