The Good, Bad and Undecided – NRL Round 26

After everything was said and done the top eight didn’t change in the final round of the regular season.

Oddschecker
Mon, 4 Sep, 6:39 AM

 

After everything was said and done the top eight didn’t change in the final round of the regular season.

 

Stgeorge Illawarra had the chance to change things on Sunday afternoon but didn’t play like a team determined to get into the finals. Instead, they allowed the Bulldogs to get the better of them late and end their season two points outside eighth spot.

 

Manly found their form at the right time to guarantee a finals berth on Saturday night when they beat the Panthers and the top four didn’t change after all four sides recorded wins.

 

Melbourne, however, are still the team they all have to beat.

 

THE GOOD

MELBOURNE STORM – are clear top picks to win the 2017 NRL Premiership @ $2.20 (Centrebet).

 

The fact they are so short compared to the rest of the field demonstrates just how far ahead they appear to be. What makes them an attractive proposition is that they will get to play a home final at AAMI Park in Week 1 against Parramatta.

 

Should they get through that assignment they will get a week off and then another game at AAMI Park in the Preliminary Final. Melbourne are 9-3 at home and there aren’t too many sides that have gone down south and come away with the points in the past few seasons.

 

Blessed with the best attack and defence in the competition it would seem only bad luck is standing in their way to claiming the title.

 

An honourable mention has to go to CANTERBURY here who have finished off their campaign with three straight wins. We are all asking the question though of where was that form for the majority of 2017?

 

THE BAD

STGEORGE ILLAWARRA – had to win against Canterbury but turned up like they didn’t care.

 

The Dragons were out enthused by the Bulldogs for the majority of the match but remarkably found themselves in front 18-14 midway through the second half. Appearing to the dogs on the ropes, captain Gareth Widdop chose to go for the two points to stretch the lead to six.

 

That decision seemed to life the Bulldogs who found another gear and scored two late tries to win 26-20 and end the finals hopes of the Red V in the process.

 

Paul Mcgregor’s side has been poor defensively on the flanks the entire season and yet this was where four of the five Bulldog tries came from. The decision to reinstate Josh Dugan to the side after dropping him last week backfired too.

 

It will be a case of what could have been for the Dragons who had a brilliant start to the season, only to throw it all away in the second half of 2017. Several matches came back to bite them including the Souths one a few weeks ago and the Newcastle match a week earlier. A win against either of sides would have been enough to get into the finals.

 

They will be a much stronger outfit on paper next season with the arrival of Ben Hunt in the halves and James Graham in the forwards. Could they be worth a lazy few dollars early to win the 2018 title?

 

THE UNDECIDED

CRONULLA – the premiers are $13 @ bet365 to go back-to-back.

 

Shane Flanagan’s outfit have been off the pace for a number of weeks and struggled to put away the feisty Knights on Sunday before eventually getting the job done 26-18.

 

Has the long season caught up with them? Is the fact they are without two influential members of their premiership squad (Ben Barba, Michael Ennis) exposing a few chinks in the armour?

 

Cronulla finished fifth in the regular season and are now in a sudden-death match against the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Despite struggling in the back half of the regular season, Cronulla should progress to Week 2 of the finals and are $1.37 @ bet365 to do so.

 

The big question is whether they capable of finding an extra gear. Many are predicting that Cronulla are the only team capable of testing Melbourne in the finals series and that would appear true as the Sharks were just one of four teams to beat the Storm this year.

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