Players and fans will be salivating at this Friday night semi-final, with the winner set to face Melbourne in a Grand Final qualifier. The game will reignite the ongoing debate of which side got the better deal in the player swap between James Maloney and Matt Moylan in the offseason. Interestingly, Moylan scored his first try as a Shark when he faced his old side in Round 18.
James Maloney was instrumental in Penrith’s 15-point victory over the Warriors. Cameron Ciraldo said that Maloney “is born for this time of year”. A huge blow for the Sharks is the loss of their star back-rower, Wade Graham after succumbing to an ACL injury against the Roosters.
The Sharks have a six-day turnaround after their 21-12 loss to the Roosters. The nine-point margin gave Cronulla their 21st game this season decided by 12 points or less.
The Sharks have won the past five matches over the Panthers, but without Wade Graham, we see the Panthers as great value.
Valentine Holmes was quiet last weekend, but we think a big game is in store for him as Val scored a double when he last faced Penrith.
Best Bet: Penrith (Win)
Value Bet: Valentine Holmes to score 2+ tries
The Dragons scored a stunning 48-18 upset last week over Brisbane but can they double up this week against the Rabbitohs?
Injuries to key players such as captain Gareth Widdop are ultimately going to play against them here because Kurt Mann isn’t a suitable replacement for the five-eighth. There are also concerns over Jack de Belin and James Graham while they are already without Paul Vaughan.
Souths look to have too much firepower for the Dragons who are scraping the barrel for players.
The Rabbitohs were good last week against the Storm but it was their defence after scoring a try that let them down, ultimately conceding points on a number of occasions after putting points on the board.
Souths have the mental edge over Stgeorge Illawarra having beaten them in 10 of the past 13 clashes. This season the record is one win apiece.
ANZ Stadium could be the determining factor as the merged entity has only won 11 of 30 matches at the venue since winning the 2010 Grand Final. On the flip side, Souths have won nine of their 12 matches there this year.
In what should be a cracking game in front of a bumper crowd, our money is with Souths but we can’t see it being a blowout.
Best Bet: Dragons +14 (Line)
Value Bet: Campbell Graham / Souths 1-12 (1st Tryscorer/Margin)