Week one of the finals saw three games decided by 2 points or less. Three games went unders in points totals betting and all four underdogs cleared the handicap line; highlighting how tight and competitive finals are.
While the games may appear hard to pick, we still went 3 out of 4 in our best bets. Despite the close games last week, we expect the top-4 teams to be standouts this week and will be backing them accordingly.
Broncos Captain Darius Boyd was again named in the squad, but has been recently and once again ruled out from returning. Kodi Nikorima is again named at fullback and will likely start here after Coach Bennett last week made some game-day changes and quickly found his team 14-nil down. Benji Marshal will once again play halfback and should be better for the full game last week, having made some great plays as well as costly mistakes.
There was speculation that Matt Moylan might be considered for a comeback for the Panthers, though this has been put off for at least a week. Bryce Cartright will again play off the bench, though will likely be included early following his best performance of the year, last week. With the Panthers looking like they had little to no attacking options outside of Nathan Cleary, Cartright stepped up scoring two and assisting in another try.
The Panthers bounced back well last week, though we feel Manly were ordinary and the score line flattered the Panthers. The Broncos return to a Friday-night home game at Suncorp, an environment they are very familiar with and comfortable in. They Panthers are still very inexperienced and are lacking in attacking options, we expect the Broncos to bounce back and bounce back convincingly.
The Eels have had question marks around the fitness of hooker Cameron King (elbow), though have named Kaysa Pritchard in the 21-man squad, back from serious injury in recent weeks. The Cowboys may bring in Justin O’Neill to replace Antonio Winterstien, who has practically been playing lame for the past two weeks.
The Eels showed last week that they were good enough –and really had every opportunity- to beat the Storm. They played with a high intensity, and we think they will go away from that game with a steely reserve, wanting another crack at the top team.
The Cowboys held on in the first half against the Sharks, and only found themselves in the lead for the first time in the 85th minute, having pushed the game to extra time with a late penalty. While the Cowboys continue to be an honest team, we feel the Sharks sloppiness let them back into that game. The Cowboys shouldn’t really be in the finals (the Dragon choked their last game of the season to get them there) and now find themselves in week two of the finals. We expect the Eels to be deadly on Saturday night, and looking to blow a team away.