The following are previews with betting tips for Round 24 of the 2017 NRL season.
Eels v Titans
Thu 17 Aug, 7:50 pm, ANZ Stadium
Parramatta will be looking to bounce back after a poor loss to the Knights last week ended a long winning streak for the club and blocked their entry into the top four. Their opposition in the Titans face their own club-crisis with the tension between coach Neil Henry and star fullback Jarryd Hayne spilling into the media as the club searches for answer over their failed premiership campaign.
Bevan French will return for the Eels at fullback in a boost for the Parramatta club, while the Titans have named the same 17 as Tyrone Roberts and Max King shift to the starting-side.
The Eels will rue their missed chance to break into the top four and with only three games remaining this year they will be eager to make amends. Expect the Titans’ off-field drama to impact their performance with persistent rumours circulating coach Neil Henry has lost the dressing room. Boosted by the returning Bevan French, expect the Titans to struggle against a highly motivated Eels outfit with Parramatta to get the win.
Betting Tip: Eels -12.5 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Fri 18 Aug, 6:00 pm, ANZ Stadium
The Rabbitohs will look to continue a late-season run of form to grab their third consecutive win against the Warriors as the New Zealand club continue to falter after a terrible performance against the Raiders last week. The Kiwis injury toll has hindered any late season form-surge, but new coach Stephen Kearney will make yet another attempt to overhaul the club’s culture for season 2018 in a desperate bid to bring the premiership trophy across the ditch.
The Rabbitohs will name the same 17 with a reshuffled forward pack after their last-start win over the Bulldogs last week, while the Warriors will welcome back Kieran Foran but will lose Ben Matulino and Nathaniel Roache for the clash with Charlie Gubb joining the side as cover.
The Warriors have under-performed in past seasons but there will be enormous pressure after the unification of the New Zealand international spine has proved fruitless as the club searches for its maiden premiership. The Rabbitohs have been strong in recent weeks, and look to be taking a disciplined approach to their remaining games. Expect that mindset to give Souths the edge.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -9.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Broncos v Dragons
Fri 18 Aug, 7:50 pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane made another statement to the competition last week with their big win over Cronulla pushing them to second on the competition ladder. The Broncos are yet to be guaranteed a spot within the top-four, but even so Wayne Bennett’s focus will be on good form as the master-coach looks to develop Dragons bound halfback Ben Hunt into a premiership-winning hooker in a short space of time. Their opposition in the Dragons will be buoyed by a big win over the Titans last week and still sitting one win outside the eight, expect the St George club to be highly-motivated.
Both teams have elected to name unchanged sides for the clash after impressive performances last week has their top squad settled heading into the finals.
Brisbane will enter the match as favourites but should be wary of a Dragons outfit desperate for premiership points. Expect both teams to execute well as they search for premiership-winning consistency, but the classier Broncos to get the win.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 40.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Knights v Storm
Sat 19 Aug, 3:00 pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Despite being favourites to take out the wooden spoon, the Knights will be elated as they look for their fourth consecutive win in an impressive run of form for the Newcastle club. They will face a competition leading Storm outfit who have only dropped four games this season but the Knights will be confident they can produce an upset after a comprehensive win over the high-flying Eels last week.
Cameron Munster will return in the halves in the only change to the Storm’s line-up as coach Craig Bellamy looks to restore his prized spine combination. Newcastle have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
The Storm will enter the contest as heavy favourites, and with victory all but guaranteeing the minor premiership for the Melbourne club – expect a typically disciplined performance from the Victorians. The Knights will perform well as they have done in recent weeks, but they will struggle to match the execution, discipline and experience of their opposition. Storm to get the points.
Betting Tip: Storm -12.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Roosters v Tigers
Sat 19 Aug, 5:30 pm, Allianz Stadium
The Roosters will look to restore the defensive steel that saw them win the competition in 2013 after disappointing consecutive losses against Manly and Melbourne. Their opposition in the Tigers will be confident of producing an upset after beating the Sea Eagles last week in an impressive performance from the struggling club – giving hope to long-suffering fans of the joint-venture.
Michael Gordon will return for the Chooks to restore their full-strength spine in a big boost for the club, while the Tigers will welcome back Chris Lawrence in the back-row in their only change.
The Roosters will enter the match as heavy favourites, and with their last-start loss relegating them to equal fifth on the competition ladder, Trent Robinson’s outfit will be eager to sure-up their top-four berth as the club looks for premiership success. Despite losing last week, their performance against the Storm was a step in the right direction for the Sydney club. Expect both sides to play well but the Roosters’ class should see them get the points.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 43.5 @ $1.93 (Topbetta)
Cowboys v Sharks
Sat 19 Aug, 7:30 pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
After disappointing losses last round, both the Cowboys and Sharks will go into this clash desperate to resurrect their seasons after failing to produce premiership-winning form in recent times. Cronulla were embarrassed by the Broncos last week in a performance in which their defence was fragile, while the Cowboys’ injury crisis worsens as they face the prospect of missing the top eight after their last-start loss to the Panthers saw them drop to eighth on the ladder.
North Queensland will be without Justin O’Neill and Shaun Fensom. Kalyn Ponga and Te Maire Martin will return for the Cowboys, while the Sharks have named an unchanged squad.
With their opposition missing the better part of a dozen first-grade players, the Sharks will go into the contest as heavy favourites. The Cowboys have been brave in the face of such an enormous injury toll, and will hope to capitalize on their opposition’s fragility after consecutive losses to the Raiders and Broncos. The Sharks have a long way to go before they reach top-form again, so expect a sloppy contest between two typically high-performing outfits with the Cowboys injury toll likely to gift Cronulla the win.
Betting Tip: Sharks -4.0 @ $1.94 (Crownbet)
Raiders v Panthers
Sun 20 Aug, 2:00 pm, GIO Stadium
The Panthers will look for their seventh consecutive win against the Raiders after the ‘Green-Machine’ failed to match the success of their opposition’s late season form surge. Sitting two wins outside the top eight with only three games remaining, Canberra’s finals hopes rest heavily on external factors, but Ricky Stuart will have his men primed for an in-form Penrith outfit backing up from a win over an injury depleted Cowboys squad.
The Raiders have named an unchanged squad from their last-start win over the Warriors, while the Panthers will bring in Sione Katoa for the injured Peter Wallace in their only change.
The Raiders will go into the match as favourites given their home-ground advantage and recent form. Their opposition have enjoyed a run of wins against struggling teams that has seen them rise to sixth on the competition ladder but face their biggest test in some time against a Canberra outfit still desperate to make the finals. Expect Penrith to struggle without Peter Wallace as the Raiders get the points.
Betting Tip: Raiders -5.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
Sun 20 Aug, 4:00 pm, ANZ Stadium
Both Manly and the Bulldogs produced disappointing performances last round as vultures circle Canterbury coach Des Hasler. There are persistent rumours Hasler faces the axe at the end of the year and the Sea Eagles will hope to capitalise on their opposition’s woes as they look to solve the defensive fragility that has plagued their recent performances.
The Bulldogs will be without Josh Reynolds and Sam Kasiano as Michael Lichaa and Francis Taulau join the bench, while Brian Kelly returns to the centres for Manly in place of the injured Brad Parker.
The Sea Eagles recent performances have been riddled with poor execution and defensive brittleness but they will enter the match as favourites with their opposition struggling to excel in the fundamentals of rugby league. If the Sea Eagles hold any hope of taking the premiership, they must vastly improve on their execution and defence, otherwise they will be unable to match the competition’s best. Anything short of a comprehensive win for the Sea Eagles will be a disappointment against the struggling Bulldogs. Manly to get the points.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -10.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Broncos v Dragons Total Match Points Over 40.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Raiders -5.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)