Previews with betting tips for the NRL Preliminary Finals.
Broncos v Roosters
Fri 25 Sep, 7:55 pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Sydney Roosters will take on the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp stadium this Friday night in a massive Preliminary final clash between two of the top teams in the NRL this year. The clubs last met in round 24 when the Roosters edged their opposition despite the loss of Mitchell Pearce and Jarred Waerea-Hargreaves early in the match.
The Broncos remain unchanged from their win over the Cowboys in the first week of the finals, but the Roosters have named a key inclusion in Halfback Mitchell Pearce. His halves understudy, Jackson Hastings, has performed admirably in the NSW half’s absence, but Pearce’s return will bring far more control for the Roosters against the inexperienced Broncos halves duo of Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.
Despite their high position on the ladder, the Broncos have struggled in 2015 to contain the bigger forward packs in the NRL. Wayne Bennett’s team concede a massive amount of metres through the middle of the field and back their goal line defence to compensate. Expect the Roosters to outplay the Broncos in the middle to come up with a lot of ball near the Broncos try-line, and with Mitchell Pearce’s return Trent Robinson will bank on his experienced spine to apply plenty of pressure for points.
The Broncos challenge will be taking their attacking opportunities with both hands. The Brisbane club will struggle to compete with the yardage of the Roosters but expect the offloading of Corey Parker, Adam Blair and Justin Hodges to create second phase play on which Hunt and Milford will capitalise. Expect the Roosters to come away with the points in a tight contest.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Under 36.5 @ $1.90 (William Hill)
Storm v Cowboys
Sat 26 Sep, 7:40 pm, AAMI Park
The North Queensland Cowboys will play the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night in the Victorian capital in a matchup that would surprise many at the start of the year. Both teams were written off at many stages throughout 2015 with the Cowboys starting their year poorly and the Storm losing star Fullback Billy Slater half way through the season.
Both clubs finished the season in the top four and now face one another for a Grand Final berth as they bring very different styles of play to the finals series. The Cowboys demonstrated their free-flowing attacking style last week against the Sharks on the back of a massive performance by their forwards, while the Storm displayed their classic control of the ruck in a surprising win over the Roosters in week one of the finals.
Both clubs have named unchanged sides for the clash.
Melbourne will be looking to slow down the ruck as much as possible and blunt the Cowboys forward momentum, as the Queensland club’s spine rely heavily on the platform laid by their big men to execute their game-plan. If Melbourne can control the speed of the ruck and stay in the referee’s good graces, then they will frustrate an attack-orientated Cowboys team. Expect Johnathan Thurston to lead his side to their first Grand Final since 2005 on the back of a massive performance from his forward rotation. Melbourne will struggle to contain a firing Cowboys pack, so expect the Queenslanders to come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: Cowboys -1.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)