BRISBANE V SYDNEY ROOSTERS Thursday night, Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos go into this game in some form as they have found a bit of mojo coming at the right time of the year. There are a lot of positives – they are fighting for 4th spot on the ladder as well as being near enough to full strength, so it is hard to see anything else other than a Broncos victory. The Roosters went through the motions last week and the Bondi Junction mob love nothing better than a raucous Mad Monday, so maybe minds are more focused on their dress up than footy.
The key for us punters is to determine by how far the Broncos. The odds straight off the bat are short, and with the inept performance put in by the Roosters last week against the Sharks, backing Brisbane 13+ ($1.80 Ladbrokes) looks a smart move.
We expect the Broncos to have the Roosters for breakfast early on, although we will sidestep chicken nuggets and go for the healthier option in the First Try Scorer market: Oates. Corey Oates ($7 Bet365)
CANTERBURY V SOUTH SYDNEY Friday night, ANZ Stadium
I have been waiting for a month now to see if the Bulldogs can hit any sort of meaningful form heading into the finals series, but they haven’t produced it. They are a chance at a Top 4 spot so this game holds some significance. The Rabbitohs have been in fine fettle in the last month, which was the polar opposite to their woeful form prior to that. I expect them to really push the Dogs here but expect the Bulldogs ($1.70 Bet365) to come out on top as they have more to play for.
This will be a great battle in the forwards although you have to slightly favour the big Canterbury pack to just get the better of the Bunnies. Therefore we look to take the Bulldogs 1-12 ($3.10 Ladbrokes) in the margin markets creating some additional value for our loyal band of followers!
I do expect the Bunnies to start well and there is a good chance they might have their paws in front at Half-Time, with the Dogs powering over the top. Let’s have a speculator on the Rabbitohs / Bulldogs HT/FT Double ($8.50 Sportsbet) . I am looking at Hymel Hunt ($21 Ladbrokes) at chunky odds to score first in the game as these two famous clubs battle it out on Friday night.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA V NEWCASTLE Saturday afternoon, Jubilee Oval
Well we have been saying it all season and we have to say it again. Newcastle just aren’t a first grade outfit. They cannot wait until this season is over, it has been a horror for them and you would think it might be Sad Monday instead of Mad Monday coming up, then again it is probably ‘Glad Monday’ for this lot.
The Knights have tried hard but in the best competition in the world you need cattle and they just don’t have them. St George’s season finishes as well but they have so much to play for, with Benji Marshall and that old warrior Ben Creagh saying adios. It is at their traditional home which carries a lot of weight and you cannot see anything else except a Dragons ($1.32 Sportsbet) victory.
The Dragons themselves have had a tough season but they have put together some very good results recently and we have to stick with them 13+ ($2.20 Centrebet) over the hapless Knights.
Looking to First Try Scorer we will go with Jason Nightingale ($11 Bet365), a veteran himself these days who will rise to the occasion to send off his mates in their last NRL game.
NORTH QUEENSLAND V GOLD COAST Saturday night, 1300Smiles Stadium
North Queensland are another side who went off the boil recently. They seem to have regained their mojo in recent weeks and will take that back home to Townsville against a fired up Titans. The Gold Coast have plenty to play for as Wests Tigers are still hoping they can snaffle 8th from them.
The Cowboys could drop from 4th to 6th with a loss, so they too have plenty to play for. The Gold Coast have been gallant this season and pulled off a stunning coup with the signing of Hayne, but I can’t see them toppling the defending premiers whom I am going to take 13+ ($2.25 William Hill) to deal it to the glitter strip boys.
Kane Linnett ($17 Sportsbet) is a strong runner and will benefit from Thurston lobbing it about early doors, so we will side with him as First Try Scorer.
MELBOURNE V CRONULLA Saturday night, AAMI Park
Could this be a Grand Final preview? A Month back it was almost a moral but a month is long time in Rugby League, with the Sharkies getting the wobbles and the Storm copping a battering last week.
I am going to side with the Sharks ($2.95 UNIBET) in this one at the decent odds. I know they have a terrible record down there but last week they showed that they had expelled a lot of their recent wobbly form and this will be a game where they will want to make a statement. Yes the winner takes out the minor premiership but is there the prestige in it that there once was? You pick up an extra 100k but that doesn’t buy a Cameron Smith boot so finishing 1st or 2nd is neither here, nor there.
To add more value to the equation, let’s go with the Sharks 1-12 ($4 William Hill) as there won’t be much in it. I am going to roll with Valentine Holmes ($11.50 LuxBet) to score first and get the Sharks off to a flyer in Melbourne.
WESTS TIGERS V CANBERRA Sunday afternoon, Leichhardt Oval
Wow what a game in prospect here. If the Gold Coast lose against the Cowboys (and I am tipping they will), this leaves the door ajar for the Tigers to sneak into the Top 8 at their expense. If this door is ajar, Tigers supporters are best advised to get there early because Leichhardt Oval will be packed to the rafters in what promises to be an absolute belter of an afternoon.
I am tipping the Tigers ($2.40 UNIBET) here. They were fantastic against the Warriors last week and with so much to play for in front of a packed home crowd at their traditional home, you cannot help but feel this game was made for a Tigers win to sneak into the 8. Added to that there are rumours floating around that both Canberra halves will be out which only helps the Tigers cause.
Jason Taylor has copped plenty of criticism in recent times but he has this side firing on all cylinders with speed out wide and some real grunt up front. They bring that on Sunday, Tigers will go very close. Speaking of close, Tigers 1-12 ($3.75 William Hill) looks a brilliant bet in the whole scheme of things.
First Try Scorer: David Nofoaluma ($18 Sportsbet) has scored 14 times this season and I expect him to set the locals alight by dotting down first in what will be a classic rugby league match at the business end of the season.
NEW ZEALAND V PARRAMATTA Sunday afternoon, Mt Smart Stadium
Neither side can make the semis so hopefully it will be a pretty entertaining game. The Warriors are so hard to follow and you never know where they are at, they will be disappointed (again) with their season and as such, we are looking to Parramatta to finish off their own tough season on a high.
The Eels were excellent on Monday disposing of St George in emphatic fashion in the last ever game at the old Parramatta Stadium.
When the Warriors are this short you need to steer clear of them in a big fashion, this is a 50/50 game and given the Eels ($2.90 Bet365) are a decent shade of odds against, we are on them to topple the Warriors. They look a great bet at sensational value.
I expect the Eels to charge out of the blocks so am going to go for Michael Gordon ($18 Sportsbet) as First Try Scorer.
PENRITH V MANLY Sunday night, Pepper Stadium
Penrith are hitting some dangerous form at the pointy end of the season and they will want to keep that momentum going through this final round. The Eagles have been a major disappointment this season and given everyone loves to hate Manly, this has made a lot of people happy. The Eagles don’t get a Mad Monday unless they tee off on the bus back from Penrith but I expect that bus trip to be relatively more subdued as Penrith give them a hiding to end their season. Panthers 13+($2.10 William Hill).
Penrith will start and finish strong and big Isaah Yeo ($29 Bet365) to deal the first of many blows on an enjoyable night for the Panthers fans.