Luke Slater @Luke_Slats
NRL Finals begin now
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters | 5:50am EST Friday |Penrith
Panthers -1.5 (-115) Roosters +1.5 (-105)
Panthers come into the first week of the NRL finals on a 15-game winning streak, finishing on top of the competition ladder. It has been an incredible season for the club, and if they continue this performance, there is every chance they will be playing the Grand Final on October 25th. They have beaten the three other teams that make up the top four yet, are second favorite to win (+250) behind the Melbourne Storm. Panthers have rewarded bettors this season, going 14-6 ATS, the best in the league.
Roosters produced one of the more shocking score lines last week against Rabbitohs, going down 60-8. No team has conceded 50 points in a game and won the competition in the same season. It’s hard to see a team comeback from a 52-point loss to then compete with the minor premiers.
Tip: Confident on Panthers -1.5
Canberra Raiders vs Cronulla Sharks | 3:40am EST Saturday | Canberra
Raiders -13.5 (-110) Sharks +13.5 (-110)
Raiders and Sharks will play each other in back-to-back weeks, facing off in this weekend’s elimination match. Raiders piled on 38 points against a poor Sharks outfit last Saturday. Both sides welcome back a host of players who were rested last week, although whether this will aid a Shark’s side that has not beaten a top-eight side all season, I am not convinced. Defense has been the key issue, as Sharks have conceded the most points of the top eight sides this season and are ranked 11th overall for the season.
Anything can happen in elimination finals; however, I cannot see Sharks surviving this one.
Tip: Over 42.5
Melbourne Storm vs Parramatta Eels | 5:50am EST Saturday | Brisbane
Storm -12.5 (-120) Eels +12.5 (-110)
Storm rested six starters last week in hopes of presenting a fresh side for the first week of finals, so the 30-22 loss to Dragons last week can be excused. Storm finished the season with 16 wins and four losses – one of those losses to Parramatta, 14-0. However, Storm boast the best Finals records out of the top eight sides, with 30 wins, 19 losses, and 61% win rate. This season, Storm were 13-7 ATS, second best out of any team. In contrast, Eels were 7-13 ATS, equal worst for the season.
After Eels 14-0 win over Storm in late August, Parramatta failed to beat another top eight side, losing to Rabbitohs 38-0 and Panthers 20-2. Despite Eels finishing the season in third position, their results have been patchy at best; with last week’s win only coming from behind to get a win over a depleted Tigers side, who finished in 11th, 28-24
Tip: Storm -12.5 and over 39.5
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights | 1:05am EST Sunday | Sydney
Rabbitohs -8.5 (-105) Knights +8.5 (-115)
Last week, Rabbitohs put on the best attacking display of any team this season, defeating Roosters 60-8. Although Roosters were slightly below full strength, Rabbitohs sent the message they are not simply making up the numbers in this Finals season. They also have a 38-0 win over Parramatta under their belt and are probably the League’s best chance to make the Grand Final of the teams not in the top four.
Knights had the chance to secure a home ground advantage for week one of the Finals with a win over 9th placed Titans. Knights not only failed to cover the -4.0 spread, they were embarrassed 36-6 by Titans. Knights only have to look back to mid-July to their 20-18 win over South Sydney Rabbitohs. However, both sides have changed dramatically since then.
Tip: Over 43.5, South Sydney -8.5