Previews with betting tips for the NRL Semi Finals.
Roosters v Bulldogs
Fri 18 Jan, 7:55 pm, Allianz Stadium
The Sydney Roosters will take on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs this Friday night in what will be a scintillating contest between two massive forward packs. The loser will be knocked straight out of the Premiership race as the winner goes within one match of the NRL Grand Final.
Both clubs have overcome major injuries in the late part of the 2015 season with the Roosters missing Jarred Waerea-Hargreaves for the season and Mitchell Pearce only now returning from a hamstring injury. Similarly, the Bulldogs have been dangerous even without Michael Lichaa and Trent Hodkinson.
Pearce’s return for the Roosters pushes Jackson Hastings back to the bench at the expense of Suaia Matagi, while the Bulldogs are unchanged from their win over the Dragons last week.
Both teams have dominant packs and the back-line to capitalise on a tired opposing forward rotation. There have been reports Mitchell Pearce is coming into this match injured, and the NSW half’s control will be crucial as the Roosters have struggled in that department. The Roosters may have peaked too early in 2015 and they will struggle to contain the massive Bulldogs forwards. Expect the Bulldogs to find supremacy through the ruck and their back-line to capitalise accordingly. Bulldogs to come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: Bulldogs +7.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Cowboys v Sharks
Sat 19 Feb, 7:40 pm, 1300SMILES Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys will take on the Cronulla Sharks in Townsville this Saturday night as the Queensland club look to break their finals hoodoo for their first Grand Final appearance since 2005. The Cowboys were valiant in their loss against the Broncos last week, but will be looking to make a statement against the Sharks this weekend to stamp their finals credentials.
It will be a tough road-trip for the Sharks playing in a hostile Queensland Stadium. The Sharks have named an unchanged squad as Matt Prior comes onto an extended bench, while Rory Kostjasyn shifts Ray Thompson to 18th man on the Cowboys’ bench.
The Sharks have been one of the form teams in the competition in the last few months, but they will be coming up against a desperate Cowboys team frustrated from years of finals controversy. The Cowboys will bank on their home ground advantage against the Sharks and they will look to put on a disciplined display compared to the Sharks’ looser style. The Cowboys halves will be key in this contest and if Michael Morgan and Jonathan Thurston control the game as they have displayed they are capable this season, the Cowboys will be hard to beat. Cowboys to come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: Cowboys -8.0 @ $1.92 (Palmerbet)