The Eels convincingly beat the Broncos just 4 weeks ago, yet find themselves as 10-point underdogs heading into this clash. The Broncos have the home-ground advantage this time around, and are claiming the honourable title of being the in-form team of the competition. Since their last clash, the Eels have lost fullback Bevan French and are still without their first-choice fullback, Clint Gutherson.
The Broncos have been blowing teams away with their unstructured all-out attack, though have mostly faced weak opposition since State of Origin. While the Broncos are the better team, the Eels look to be presenting some value given a 12-point start.
Canberra’s finals hope ended last week with another disappointing loss while the Knights' three game winning streak was comprehensively ended by a relentless Melbourne Storm. The Knights beat the Raiders by 14-points in round 10 this season, yet find themselves as 15.5-point underdogs for this clash. The long odds would be partly explained by Newcastle losing stand out young-guns Sione Mata'utia and Brock Lamb. All the same, the Knights tend to lift against the Raiders, taking them to golden point twice in 2016. We feel a 16-point start is too many points and will be having a wager on the Knights.
The Tigers have performed above people’s expectations in recent weeks, while the Cowboys have had a run of disappointing results. The Cowboys are playing to save their season and are set to get some of their more experienced players back from injury. Antonio Winterstein has been named to return on the wing, while Gavin Cooper and Lachlan Coote have been named in the 21-man squad.
If these players are included in the final squad we will be looking to back the Cowboys.
NRL teams have a history of pulling off unexpected wins the week after losing a coach. The Titans coach has been sacked this week, though a win wouldn’t exactly be unexpected as the Titans are 3.5-point favourites for this clash. No other teams in the comp have been as disappointing in recent weeks as these two. We think the two teams should be around even-money and that the Bulldogs represent some value given a 4.5-point start. To help their claims, the Dogs have had Greg Eastwood, Josh Reynolds and Sam Kasiano all added to their 21-man squad. The Titans are set to see the returns of Jarryd Hayne, Agnatius Paasi and Jarrod Wallace.
The Rabbitohs lost leading try-scorer Alex Johnston last week (hamstring), and have this week named what looks the be one of the weakest backlines seen in the NRL all season. The Storm’s Suliasi Vunivalu is only 3 tries behind Johnston as the lead try-scorer of the year and could possibly catch Johnston in this match. The Storm should clear the 14.5 line without difficulty, the only risk being if players are rested.
To put it kindly, the Sharks destroyed the Roosters just six weeks ago. The Roosters were full-strength at the time, yet could do little to stop the Sharks. Both teams are vying to cement a spot in the top four and there’s no doubt the Roosters will be fired up for this game. Likewise, the Sharks will be treating this like a finals match. We will be expecting a high quality, tightly fought game.
Shaun Johnston is set to return for the Warriors last home game of the year. While the Warriors have simply been awful this year, this game presents itself as the last chance to finish the season on a high. Manly are desperately holding onto their place in the top 8, and are just as desperately trying to plug the holes in their defensive line. The half-back battle between Shaun Johnston and Daly Cherry-Evans will go a long way to deciding this game. We expect DCE to come out on top.
Matt Moylan (hamstring) will once again be missing for the Panthers who are coming off a big win over the Raiders. We liked the Panthers last week, and won some money backing them but think we are going to have to switch sides this round. The Dragons get back Nene Macdonald, who provides plenty of valuable metres running it out of their own end and is terrific under the high-ball. Panthers locked in their place in the top-8 last week, while the Dragons need a win here to keep their season alive.