The following are previews with betting tips for Round 26 of the 2017 NRL season.
Cowboys v Broncos
Thu 31 Aug, 7:50 pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
The last round of the NRL’s 2017 regular season will kick off as a wounded Broncos outfit travels North to take on the Cowboys at home in a match crucial to the make-up of the top-four. After an embarrassing performance last week in which the conceded over 50 points, the Broncos will be looking to take form into the finals with a win against the Cowboys, who could be bundled from the finals with a loss.
The Broncos have lost Korbin Sims for the season in a massive blow, but will welcome Benji Marshall, Joe Ofahengaue, Jordan Kahu and Tevita Pangai Jr for the clash to cover their depleted forward stocks. The Cowboys have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
What would have been a mouth-watering blockbuster clash in the pre-season has become far less intense with both teams enduring terrible injury tolls for 2017. The Cowboys’ squad are a shell of their 2015 premiership-winning outfit and expect Brisbane to capitalize on their northern rivals’ vulnerability, particularly given the Broncos’ terrible loss last week. Broncos to get the points.
Betting Tip: Broncos -5.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Eels v Rabbitohs
Fri 1 Sept, 7:50 pm, ANZ Stadium
Despite their massive win over the Brisbane Broncos last week, Eels coach Brad Arthur was unhappy with his outfit’s performance as they conceded 34 points over the whole game. It was a wonderful attacking display, and Parramatta will be hoping for a repeat performance after their opposition in the Rabbitohs felt the full force of the Storm with a 64-6 defeat last week.
Souths will replace the suspended Zane Musgrove with Dean Britt on the bench in their only change, while the Eels will welcome Manu Ma’u in the back-row as Kenney Edwards shifts to the bench.
The Eels have displayed wonderful form in recent times and have been rewarded with a top-four berth. Sitting two premiership points clear of the Sharks at fifth, the Parramatta club is guaranteed a top-four position in the finals if they win this week. Souths have struggled to compete against top-sides this year and while they may improve after a shocking performance last week, expect the Eels to get the win.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 42.5 @ $1.91 (Topbetta)
Roosters v Titans
Sat 2 Sept, 3:00 pm, Allianz Stadium
The Roosters will be looking to consolidate their position on the competition ladder with a win over the struggling Titans this week after a controversial victory against the Sharks launched them into second position. Their Queensland opposition have struggled in the wake of former coach Neil Henry’s sacking, producing a poor performance against a lowly Bulldogs outfit in their last game.
The Titans have again been hit by massive changes this week with Jarrod Wallace, Dale Copley, Tyrone Roberts, Nathan Peats and Pat Vaivai all set to miss the clash. Kane Elgey, Morgan Boyle, Pat Politoni and Joe Greenwood will join the side as cover. The Roosters have elected to make no changes to their squad from last week.
The Chooks will go into this match as clear favourites and can secure a home-ground qualifying final with a win. While they will be eager to tie-up second position, coach Trent Robinson will be looking more for a good performance from his troops as they head into the finals.
Betting Tip: Roosters -21.5 @ $1.89 (Topbetta)
Sea Eagles v Panthers
Sat 2 Sept, 5:30 pm, Lottoland
The result of this match will play a big part in the make-up of the top eight with the loser likely to give the 9th placed Dragons the opportunity to play finals football. The Panthers were edged by St George last week but have otherwise maintained solid form heading into the finals, although their lack of results against top-four outfits is a big concern for the Penrith club. The Sea Eagles will be confident heading into the match after an impressive win last week but will be wary of a Panthers outfit who have made winning a habit.
Manly will make a single change after their last-start win over the Warriors as Curtis Sironen returns in the second-row. The Panthers have named Dean Whare to replace the injured Dylan Edwards, despite the Kiwi centre last playing the position in first-grade in 2013. Matt Moylan could also be a late inclusion after he was named in the reserves.
Despite their recent form, the Panthers will not enter the match as favourites with their injury toll and their opposition’s home-ground advantage giving Manly the edge. Belief may be building after their field-goal victory last week, and with the return of Curtis Sironen, expect the Sea Eagles to win.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles Head to Head @ $1.82 (Crownbet)
Storm v Raiders
Sat 2 Sept, 7:30 pm, AAMI Park
The competition leading Storm added to their already healthy for and against last week after a massive 64-6 win over the Rabbitohs once again proved their status as premiership favourites. They will face a Raiders outfit who have now been completely ruled out of finals contention after results did not fall in their favour, despite a good win over the Knights last week.
Melbourne have elected to field the same outfit for this match, while the Raiders will welcome back Sia Soliola at the expense of Clay Priest in their only change.
On recent form, it would be madness to tip against Melbourne. Boasting the Queensland Maroons’ spine and a team with the discipline and intensity typical of a Craig Bellamy outfit, the premiership is the Storm’s to lose. If the Raiders forwards can ensure an even contest in the ruck and dominate the middle with their massive forward rotation, they stand a chance – but with the Storm being one of the fittest and most discipled sides in the competition, expect the Victorians to take the points.
Betting Tip: Storm -9.5 @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Knights v Sharks
Sun 3 Sept, 2:00 pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
The Sharks will take on a lowly Knights outfit this week in a desperate bid to break back into the top-four after being leapfrogged by a resurgent Eels. Their opposition in Newcastle endured a disappointing loss to the Raiders last week, but will look to finish the 2017 season on a high-note. Fifth placed Cronulla lost in controversial circumstances to the Roosters in their last game, but will look to take good form into the finals, particularly coming from outside the top-four.
The Knights will be without Daniel Saifiti as Tyrone Amey joins the interchange, while the Sharks will bring in Jeremy Latimore on the bench in the only change for both teams. Jack Bird could also make a return from injury after being named in the reserves.
The Sharks will enter the match as heavy favourites and will hope to dominate their inexperienced opposition across the field. After another disappointing loss last week, expect the Knights to fight hard but the Sharks’ execution should see them get the points.
Betting Tip: Sharks -9.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Dragons v Bulldogs
Sun 3 Sept, 4:00 pm, ANZ Stadium
The Dragons’ season will hinge on their performance this week as they sit two premiership points out of the top-eight but victory against the Bulldogs will see them leap-frog the loser of Penrith vs Manly. Their opposition in Canterbury have found some late-season form and will be looking for their third consecutive win. After a difficult season, the players will be eager to go out on a high note, particularly with several set to exit the club at season’s end.
Josh Dugan has been named to make his return in the centres for the Dragons, while the Bulldogs will replace the injured Brett Morris with Chase Stanley on the wing in the only change for both teams. Josh Reynolds could also be a late inclusion after he was named in the reserves.
Given their recent form and that of their opposition, the Dragons will enter the match as favourites and the St George club will look to continue their good form after an impressive win over the Panthers last week. It’s a tough one to call but expect the desire within the Dragons’ squad to get them the win.
Betting Tip: Bulldogs +8.0 @ $1.95 (Palmerbet)
Tigers v Warriors
Sun 3 Sept, 6:30 pm, Leichhardt Oval
Both the Tigers and Warriors have endured unsuccessful seasons, although the joint-venture Sydney club is undoubtedly in a better position than their New Zealand opposition going forward with a full pre-season under new coach Ivan Cleary sure to benefit his roster enormously. The Tigers are backing up from another loss against the Cowboys last week, while the Warriors were left heartbroken in a field goal loss to the Sea Eagles.
Kevin Naiqama, Luke Brooks and Elijah Taylor will all return to the 17 in a big boost for Wests, while the Warriors have elected to name an unchanged squad for the clash.
Off both teams’ recent form, the Tigers will enter the match as heavy favourites. The Kiwis will be looking to avoid their ninth consecutive loss after a late-season collapse derailed their season, but expect the Tigers to end season 2017 on a positive note with a win at their home-ground.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 44.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Roosters -21.5 @ $1.89 (Topbetta)