Wed, Aug 28, 5:42pm by Rob Sheeley
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The NRL minor premiership race has been blown wide open again after another week of scintillating rugby league that culminated with the Sharks upsetting the first placed Roosters who had won eight in a row.
The Cowboys fairy tale also continued as they snuck into the top eight on the back of their fourth straight win. But they hold eighth place on points differential alone with four other teams (Titans, Panthers, Warriors and Raiders) all sitting on the same number of competition points as them (24). This means the battle for eighth (and possibly seventh) is still as congested as ever and this week is massive for many of those teams.
We had plenty of collects last weekend including three in the Friday night match, two in the Saturday night match, and another three on Sunday which included the bet of the week. There’s no reason that we can’t continue that form again this week.
There is plenty of vital matches this weekend and we will provide three big feature previews again. The matches will be Saturdays big grudge match between the Sea Eagles and Storm who are placed fourth and third respectively, and the do or die match between the Warriors and Raiders in New Zealand. We will also preview the big Sunday clash where the in-form Sharks take on the eighth placed Cowboys who look to cement their playoffs position.
All previews will include the main betting odds, an in-depth analysis, and free suggested bets. Let’s take a look at round 25, this seasons penultimate round.
7:35, Friday 30th August at Suncorp Stadium
After a loss last weekend, the Knights travel to Brisbane and are still yet to secure their place in the top eight. It is a dangerous game for the Knights as they take on a Brisbane side who all but lost their chance at a playoffs berth last weekend with a loss to the Panthers. They remain a slight hope but would rely on a lot of other teams losing to get there.
The Broncos couldn’t match it with a desperate Panthers last weekend as they fought for their playoff survival. The 28-12 loss means that the Brisbane side will now need to win both games and pray for a myriad of results to fall their way to be any chance of making the top eight. They face the Bulldogs next week so it appears an uphill battle. They still remain in premiership betting markets as rank outsiders at $401 and $13 to make the top eight.
The Knights need at least one win to secure a playoffs position but have thus far been unable to put that final nail in the coffin. After having Kade Snowden sent off last week, they could not match it with the Cowboys. The Knights will be without Snowden for the rest of the season too after he was suspended for seven weeks for a shoulder charge. They do have the luxury of a round twenty six match against the last placed Eels but would not like to be relying on that game to scrape in. The Knights are still considered a premiership chance by punters at $51 in that market and are $1.25 to make the top eight. The Knights look pretty good value in the head to head market here.
Prediction – Knights by 6.
7:35, Friday 30th August at Allianz Stadium
This is probably the biggest mismatch this weekend. The Tigers did manage a win last weekend in a game that had no bearing on the competition at all but they rise sharply in class here.
The Tigers clawed their way up to fourteenth last weekend with a 34-18 win over the Dragons. The Tigers were given a special dispensation to break lower tier salary cap rules in that match due to the game having zero influence on the top eight despite the protests of the Dragons. They will not be afforded such a luxury this week.
The Rabbitohs are right back into minor premiership calculations after a 28-20 win over the Bulldogs last Friday and a loss by the Roosters. If they can win here they will get a crack at the top spot when they take on the Roosters in the final round. The Rabbitohs remain equal premiership favourites at $3.75. They will be looking to replicate their 54-10 annihilation of the Tigers back in round ten here.
Prediction – Rabbitohs by 26.
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3:00pm, Saturday 31st August at Mount Smart Stadium
This could be one of the best games of the week. The winner of this match will keep their playoff hopes alive while the others season will effectively be over. We can expect a vocal crowd to pack into Mount Smart Stadium to cheer their home team on.
The Warriors kept their dreams alive last week when they scraped home 24-22 against the Titans on the Gold Coast. It was a massive win for the team from New Zealand who now appear to be a very realistic playoffs chance. If they can win here they only need to beat the fifteenth placed Dragons next week to secure a top eight position. Punters see the Warriors as $51 chances in premiership markets and they are $2.00 to make the top eight.
The Raiders looked top eight certainties a month ago but have since lost four games in a row and sacked their coach in the process. They now face the daunting prospect of winning in New Zealand to keep their season alive. That is not aided by the fact that their form on the road this season has been mediocre at best. Punters have all but given up on the green machine with the club, seemingly riddled with disharmony now at $251 in premiership betting markets and $8.00 to make the top eight.
Prediction – Warriors by 12.
5:30pm, Saturday 31st August at ANZ Stadium
This looks an interesting match with the Bulldogs, who have secured a top eight place, taking on the Panthers who need to win their last two to be any hope of playing post regular season.
The Bulldogs couldn’t quite match it with South Sydney last weekend and went down 28-20. There are more concerns for the Canterbury side with Frank Pritchard copping a suspension from the match and Ben Barba looking unlikely to play again this season. Punters have gone off the Bulldogs a little in the last few weeks and they have drifted to $17 in premiership markets.
The Panthers have matched it with the best at times this season but have just lacked that consistency. They could be good value of pulling off an upset here at $2.85 if they produce their best. They are unwanted in premiership at $351, probably due to their tough match against Manly next weekend where a loss would end their season even if they win this, for that reason they are $26 in top eight markets. This match could be closer than betting suggests.
Prediction – Bulldogs by 6.
7:30pm, Saturday 31st August at Brookvale Oval
This is the rivalry match of the round. These teams were combatants in both the 2007 and 2008 grand finals and have had many heated battles since that time. This should be no exception.
The Sea Eagles bounced back to winning form with a 38-22 win over the Raiders last week. This was a good sign for Manly fans and proof that the loss the week before was only a slight hiccup. The Sea Eagles are well supported in premiership betting at $5.00.
The Storm made light work of the last placed Eels last weekend with a 64-4 annihilation of them. The Storm look as good as they have in a long time right now and are looming as solid title contenders. Punters love the perennial premiership yard stick that is Melbourne and have backed them into $3.50 competition favourites.
Prediction – Storm by 10.
2:00pm, Sunday 1st September at Remondis Stadium
This match involves two sides who are currently in the top eight but one is playing for their survival. The Sharks sit in fifth and are assured of being a participant in the playoffs. They take on the Cowboys who sit on twenty four competition points with four other sides and only sit in eighth place by virtue of their superior points differential.
The Sharks pulled off upset of the round last Monday when they defeated the competition leaders, the Roosters by 32-22. They set up the win with an explosive first half that saw them lead 26-0 at half time. Despite a much poorer second half, they were able to hang on and almost guarantee themselves a home game in the first week of the semi finals. Punters are keeping the Sharks safe in premiership betting, they currently sit on the sixth line at $31.
The Cowboys catapulted into the top eight with a tremendous win over the Newcastle Knights last week but suffered a major blow in the process. Hooker Ray Thompson, who has been a revelation for the Cowboys in the last month, fractured a cheekbone in an ugly shoulder charge incident from Kade Snowden. Thompson will now be absent for the remainder of the season which is a massive dent to the hopes of the North Queensland team. The Cowboys are currently $41 chances to win the premiership but they need to win here first. They are also $1.55 to make the top eight.
Prediction – Sharks by 10.
3:00pm, Sunday 1st September at Allianz Stadium
Just when many fans and punters had gone the early crow on the Roosters being minor premiers the Sharks came along and added another twist to the 2013 NRL drama. The Roosters now need to win this week to set up a possible final round showdown with the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the title of minor premiers. Punters think a Roosters win is almost as sure as death and taxes in this game with the Sydney siders at the prohibitive odds of $1.04.
After eight straight wins, the Roosters were left shellshocked against the Sharks last week when a twenty six points to nil first half all but sealed the Roosters fate. Despite an improved second half effort, they were unable to make up the leeway and went down 32-22. The Roosters have drifted in premiership betting out to $4.00 on the back of their loss.
The Titans face an uphill battle to make the top eight. If they can win here they will face the Storm next week and will also need to win there to secure a place in the playoffs. The Titans were unlucky against the Warriors last week in a match they desperately needed to win. They went down 24-22 in a torrid and, at times, controversial encounter. The Titans are $501 despised outsiders in premiership betting and $41 just to make the top eight.
Prediction – Roosters by 14.
7:00pm, Monday 2nd September at Parramatta Stadium
Round twenty five concludes with a battle of the two worst teams in the competition. The Eels have made the late decision to move the game away from ANZ Stadium as was originally planned and back to their home base, the much smaller Parramatta Stadium. There will still be plenty of empty seats for this clash of the cellar dwellers. Punters can’t split the teams in betting, possibly through a complete lack of trust in either side.
The Eels have had a year to forget winning just four of their twenty two matches to date. The good news is that they take on a side who isn’t much better this week and will hope to add another one to their lean tally.
The Dragons slumped to a new low last week when they lost to the fifteenth placed Tigers and, in turn, were leap frogged by them on the ladder. They will look to save face this week and restore a modicum of faith in their disgruntled fans.
Prediction – Dragons by 12.
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