NRL Round 25 Preview and Tips


Bulldogs v Rabbitohs

Thu 28 Aug, 7:45PM, ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs:  1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 6. Moses Mbye 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Ennis 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood
Interchange: 14. Reni Maitua 15. Dale Finucane 16. David Klemmer 17. Pat O’Hanlon 19. Harlan Alaalatoa
Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a  5. Lote Tuqiri 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Chris McQueen 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Ben Lowe 16. Luke Burgess 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Bryson Goodwin 19. Joe Picker


It’s easy to pick that the Rabbitohs would be favourites for this encounter against the Bulldogs, especially having been the superior side throughout the year and even more so in the last six weeks.

The neutral venue brings the side a bit closer although having a home ground advantage last week against the Cowboys, a team that struggles on the road, meant nothing.

It was difficult to see where the Rabbitohs failed against the Cowboys and it would appear they were simply out enthused in the early stages and were unable to peg back the margin in the latter stages.

With only two rounds remaining, a top two spot and a valuable home final up for grabs, it’s unlikely the Rabbitohs will put in anything less than 100%.

One hurdle in the way of Souths’ bid for victory is the loss of halfback Adam Reynolds to a hamstring injury. With John Sutton already on the sidelines with an injury of his own it’s likely that young Dylan Walker will move from the centres into five-eighth with Luke Keary moving to halfback.

Walker has already played five-eighth in a few games this year so it won’t be a completely foreign experience to him, but it’s only fair to note that the Rabbitohs struggled on those occasions.

The Bulldogs did indeed beat the Tigers last week although there wasn’t much to write home about with the way the Tigers have been playing in the last month.

This game represents a perfect chance for the Bulldogs to prove to the other 15 teams in the competition that they have what it takes to beat the tops sides and ultimately make the Grand Final.

I’m tipping the Rabbitohs here and support in betting rings is coming pretty much one way for the South Sydney side. No best bets however as any value that existed before for the Rabbitohs in head to head markets has been lost since their price shortened.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Rabbitohs/Rabbitohs Half Time/Full Time @ $1.72 (Centrebet)



Broncos v Dragons

Fri 29 Aug, 7:40PM, Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: 1. Justin Hodges 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jack Reed 4. Dale Copley 5. Lachlan Maranta 6. Ben Barba 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Corey Parker 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Sam Thaiday
Interchange: 14. Jarrod Wallace 15. Martin Kennedy 16. Ben Hannant 17. Corey Oates 18. Todd Lowrie
Dragons: 1. Gerard Beale 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Dugan 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Ben Creagh 9. Mitch Rein 10. Jack de Belin 11. Leeson Ah Mau 12. Joel Thompson 13. Trent Merrin
Interchange: 14. Tyson Frizell  15. Mike Cooper 16. Will Matthews 17. Kyle Stanley 19. Nathan Green 20. Bronson Harrison 25. Jack Stockwell


The Broncos did themselves plenty of favours with a huge win over the Knights last week that moved them into 9th on the ladder with a vastly improved points differential and improved chances of making the finals.

This week they get another chance to do themselves a favour when they take on the Dragons who sit two places below them in 11th place on the ladder.

The Broncos go into the encounter as $1.42 favourites and that’s no surprise with the home ground advantage likely to play a huge part in them nabbing another two competition points.

Justin Hodges moved into the number 1 jersey last week which no doubt payed dividends for the Broncos, but don’t be fooled into thinking it was a traditional fullback role he was playing. Hodges was seen slotting into the line during attacking raids as nothing less than a five-eighth and he certainly helped to make Ben Barba look good.

The Dragons had a bit of a scare during last week’s win over the Titans when Benji Marshall suffered an ankle complaint but all reports so far suggest the injury was minor and that he will be right to take the field for this one. Regardless, they’re going to have to work very hard to overcome the Broncos under the lights of Suncorp Stadium and I for one don’t think the Dragons can pull it off.

I won’t be having a bet in this one as the odds seem about spot on and I can’t identify much value here.


Mike’s Tip: Broncos

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Broncos -7.0 @ $1.95 (Pinnacle Sports)



Knights v Eels

Sat 30 Aug, 3:00PM, Hunter Stadium

Knights: 1. Kurt Gidley 2. Chanel Mata’utia 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joey Leilua 5. Sione Mata’utia 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. David Fa’alogo 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Adam Cuthbertson
Interchange:  14. Travis Waddell 15. Korbin Sims 17. Chris Houston 18. Timana Tahu
Eels:  1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. William Hopoate 4. Ryan Morgan 5. Vai Toutai  6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Junior Paulo 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Joseph Paulo
Interchange: 14. Peni Terepo  15. David Gower 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Ben Smith 18. Pauli Pauli


The Knights’ late season form rise bottomed out sharply last Friday when they were handed a comprehensive 42 point pummelling by the Brisbane Broncos.

The defeat takes their recent record to six wins from their last nine games and off the back of some wins over some of the top 8 teams, the Knights players will relish the chance to rack up another win in front of the Newcastle faithful in their penultimate home game for 2014.

All too late in 2014, the Knights have become a tough opponent when hosting at Hunter Stadium and on the contrary, the Eels, more often than not, have failed to put up any sort of fight when playing away from home.

I expected the Eels to get close to the Sea Eagles last week thanks to the benefit of the home ground advantage and they even managed to pull off an emphatic win.

Travelling to Newcastle is a different kettle of fish for the Eels and after handing out the shocks last week, Parramatta might be in for a shock of their own.

So get on the Knights here but for the best value do it on Ladbrokes just before the game when the line is paying $2.00
It’s currently at +4.0 for the Knights and if it moves I can only see it getting longer, not shorter.


Mike’s Tip: Knights

Mike’s Best Bet: Knights +4.0 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes)

Mike’s Casual Bet: None



Raiders v Tigers

Sat 30 Aug, 5:30PM, GIO Stadium

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jeremy Hawkins 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Mitch Cornish 8. Shannon Boyd 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Dane Tilse 11. Josh Papalii 12. Jarrad Kennedy 13. Joel Edwards
Interchange: 14. Josh McCrone 15. Matt McIlwrick  16. Kyle O’Donnell 17. Paul Vaughan
Tigers:  1. Jy Hitchcox 2. Sitaleki Akauola 3. Cory Paterson 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Blake Austin 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Matthew Lodge 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Jack Buchanan


Whatever the opposite of a battle of the heavyweights is: well that’s what this is.

Playing at home used to be an advantage for the Raiders but in 2014 they have won just two of the ten games played there this year and they were very lucky in those two wins. One was off the back of some dubious decisions against the Storm and the other being against a depleted Cowboys line up without all of their Origin representatives.

Recent history doesn’t do the Raiders any favours either having lost 10 of their last 11 matches against the Tigers, and the last 5 consecutive played in Canberra.

Even since the Magpies and Tigers merged in 2000, the Raiders have never beaten the Tigers by more than 20 points which was back in 2002.

The Tigers continue to bludge their way through their remaining games with their eyes set firmly on nothing other than the 8th of September: Mad Monday.

The total points line sits at 46.5 for this match and I’m rating this a 40 point game which means we’ll be taking the unders.

A major factor in deciding this bet is that both sides are without their primary play makers with Luke Brooks not being named for the Tigers and Mitch Cornish taking the number 7 jersey for the Raiders.

I have no doubts all the wraps on Cornish are justified and that he will be a star for the Raiders in future, but at the moment he looks like he is still adjusting to the pace of NRL.


Mike’s Tip: Raiders

Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points under 46.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Roosters v Storm

Sat 30 Aug, 7:30PM, Allianz Stadium

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange: 14. Mitchell Aubusson 15. Isaac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala
Storm:  1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Ben Roberts 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Tohu Harris 16. Dayne Weston 17. Jordan McLean 18. Junior Moors 19. Justin O’Neill


I’m looking forward to this clash which should be a little beauty with some top 4 action on the line for both sides to play for.

The Roosters will guarantee themselves a top 4 finish if they defeat the Storm and if the result goes the other way then the Storm could finish the round in 4th position.

The Roosters appear to be peaking at the right time of the year and confirmed that they fear no side when they travelled all the way to New Zealand last week and absolutely trounced the Warriors notching up 48 points in the process.

This match could prove to be the Roosters’ biggest test since round 19 and will give them a good idea of where they truly stand at the end of the 80 minutes.

The Storm are also building a timely charge towards the finals and have won five of their last six matches with that one loss being against the Knights when they lead by 10 points with four minutes to go and somehow threw it away.

The Roosters hold the advantage in the forwards here but with wet conditions looking likely they should be brought closer to the Storm in that department.

The Storm on the other hand hold the aces with the likes of Cronk and Slater in the backline but the soggy conditions might put paid to any sweeping backline movements.

Expect a close one.


Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Best Bet:
1. Total match points under 38.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)

2. Storm +4.5 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes 2 hours prior to kick off)

Mike’s Casual Bet: None




Warriors v Titans

Sun 31 Aug, 2:00PM, Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. Ngani Laumape 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Dominique Peyroux 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Ben Matulino  11. Ben Henry 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sione Lousi
Interchange: 14. Sam Rapira 15. Sebastine Ikahihifo 16. Jayson Bukuya 18. John Palavi
Titans:  1. William Zillman 2. Kalifa Faifai Loa 3. James Roberts 4. Brad Takairangi  5. Anthony Don 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Luke Bailey 9. Beau Falloon 10. Matt White 11. Mark Minichiello 12. Paul Carter 13. Greg Bird
Interchange: 14. Mark Ioane 15. Cody Nelson 16. Tom Kingston 17. Maurice Blair 19. David Mead


Can someone please explain to me what the Warriors were doing against the Roosters last week?
I can tell you what they weren’t doing and that was playing football.

It was one of the laziest performances I’d seen from a football side which is bizarre considering the Warriors were playing for a place in the top 8 and the resulting loss could potentially end their season.

If the Warriors lose this match they can start looking ahead to mad Monday but one would think they have an excellent chance of winning against a Titans side that have little to no motivation to perform well in New Zealand.

Recent history says likewise with the Warriors having defeated the Titans in the last seven straight games. Even more recently, the Titans haven’t won a game in the last six weeks and I find it unlikely that they will suddenly rise to win off the back of a flight across the Tasman.

With motivation levels at an all time low, the margin will be high and the line is drifting out by the day as punters clamber to back the Warriors to cover the spread.

I suggest you do the same with Luxbet currently offering the best odds for a 15.5 point line.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet: Warriors -15.5 @ $1.88 (Luxbet)

Mike’s Casual Bet: None



Sea Eagles v Panthers

Sun 31 Aug, 3:00PM, Brookvale Oval

Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. Peta Hiku 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Starling 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brenton Lawrence 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Tom Symonds 13. Jamie Buhrer
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. Justin Horo 16. James Hasson 17. Jason King
Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Will Smith 7. Jamie Soward 8. Nigel Plum 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Sam McKendry 11. Sika Manu 12. Matt Robinson 13. Adam Docker
Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Tim Grant


This game presents the Sea Eagles a big chance to defeat a wounded Panthers squad and guarantee themselves a top 2 finish which means an all important home semi final in the first week of finals footy. (Although there is a good chance that the Sea Eagles just might move their game to Allianz Stadium once more.)

The Manly players’ form has troughed a little in the last few weeks but even a Sea Eagles side playing at 80% can prove to be a formidable unit to oppose.

The Panthers have proved to be very formidable themselves as they continue to defy opinion and injury to maintain their place in the top 4 of the competition.

They went down gallantly to the Storm last Monday but I was still very impressed by just how hard the Panthers played, with high intensity levels that some of the lower teams could learn from.

Unfortunately for Penrith the injuries and losses keep coming. This week James Segeyaro is out of the side on personal leave and once more Kevin Kingston takes the field as the Panthers starting hooker.

Manly should be too strong for the Panthers in front of their home crowd at Brookvale oval but I can’t say I’m at all interested in backing them at the short odds of $1.21.

Even the line of 12.5 is too high for my liking and I was hoping for something at 9.5 or less although that was always going to be highly unlikely.

I think it’s best to stay out of this one in betting but if you’re keen to have a wager I think your best option could be in the first try scorer department. If it were me I’d take Peter Hiku.


Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles  

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Peter Hiku first try scorer at $8.50 (Luxbet)



Cowboys v Sharks

Mon 1 Sep, 7:00PM, 1300SMILES Stadium

Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Tautau Moga 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui  7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matt Scott 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. Ashton Sims 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. Glenn Hall 17. James Tamou
Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Daniel Holdsworth 7. Jeff Robson 8. Tim Robinson 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Matt Prior 11. Tinirau Arona 12. Tupou Sopoaga 13. Chris Heighington
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Junior Roqica  16. Sione Masima 17. Scott Sorensen


The final instalment of round 25 sees the NRL road train travel to Townsville for a game that looks to be a foregone conclusion with the Cowboys taking on what looks like Sharks 3rd division side.

The Cowboys have won five of their past six games at home, plus four of their last five games against the Sharks and if they can manage, (and it doesn’t seem impossible) a victory by a margin of 53 points or more, they will be the team with the highest points differential in the competition after 25 rounds.

With injuries and ASADA bans having ripped through the Sharks line up like a dodgy curry, they are left with a starting 17 that has amassed a mere 193 games in 2014 compared to the total of 304 games for the Cowboys so far this year.

The line for the Cowboys to cover is a whopping 31.5 and I believe this is the biggest line of the year so far.

I expect the Cowboys will be more than good enough to cover the spread and I even think they will go on to win by 40+ so get your bets on asap before the line drifts anymore as it has literally drifted by a point a day from its starting point of 24.5 on Tuesday.

Pinnacle Sports are offering the best odds at $1.99.


Mike’s Tip: Cowboys     

Mike’s Best Bet: Cowboys -31.5 @ $1.99 (Pinnacle Sports)



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