NRL Round 25 Previews and Betting Tips
Bulldogs v Cowboys
Thu 25 Aug, 7:50PM, Belmore Sports Ground
The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs will play the North Queensland Cowboys in a massive Thursday night clash which will go a long way in deciding each team’s finals position. The Bulldogs sit just one win ahead of the Queenslanders, but with a superior points differential, a win from the Cowboys will put them in fourth position on the NRL competition ladder.
Sam Kasiano has been suspended for an ugly incident in which he kicked Broncos captain Corey Parker in the face last week with Danny Fualalo coming into the side as cover. The Cowboys will similarly name one change, with Matt Scott returning at the expense of Ben Spina.
The Cowboys will go into this contest as favourites, particularly after their dominant win over the Warriors last week propelled the Queensland club back into form. The Bulldogs are on the opposite end of the spectrum after failing to impress against the Broncos last week as coach Des Hasler will be desperate not to concede his team’s top four spot. Expect the Cowboys to get the points.
Betting Tip: Cowboys -2.5 @ $1.92 (Luxbet)
Storm v Broncos
Fri 26 Aug, 7:50PM, AAMI Park
The Brisbane Broncos will travel to Victoria to take on the Melbourne Storm this Friday night after the Queensland club produced an extremely impressive performance against the Bulldogs last week. With consecutive wins over the Dragons and Eels, the Brisbane club were tracking well but their win over the Bulldogs last week was a statement the team needed to make heading into the finals.
Both teams have elected to name unchanged lineups from last round.
The Storm will back up from a dominant win over Manly last week, having bounced back after a rare loss to the Raiders in round 23. The Melbourne club will have a significant home-ground advantage and view the Broncos as a good test heading into the finals, while the Broncos will be playing to stay in touch with the search for a top four spot. While Brisbane will be eager for revenge after their capitulation against the Storm in Round 17, expect Melbourne to get the points.
Betting Tip: Storm +6.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Sea Eagles v Raiders
Sat 27 Aug, 3:00PM, Brookvale Oval
The Manly Sea Eagles will play the Canberra Raiders this Saturday afternoon with the Raiders producing yet another impressive performance against the Eels last week. Canberra have been in fantastic form in recent times and will be looking for their 9th consecutive win this week. Conversely, the Sea Eagles were knocked well and truly out of the finals race last round after a poor performance against the Storm.
Manly will bring back Apisai Koroisau and Dylan Walker with Blake Leary moving to 18th man. Edrick Lee, Josh Hodgson, and Paul Vaughan will all return for the Raiders with Shaun Fensom also joining an extended bench.
The Raiders will go into the match as heavy favourites, and rightly so considering their extended winning run. Coach Ricky Stuart will have his men firmly focused on preventing an upset, as the lack of finals experience in his squad may lead to some members looking to the play-offs instead of the task at hand. While Manly will be better with Koroisau and Walker, expect the Raiders to get the points.
LATE MAIL: Blake Austin is out, but the best bet remains the same.
Betting Tip: Raiders -6.5 @ $2.00 (Bet365)
Titans v Panthers
Sat 27 Aug, 5:30PM, Cbus Super Stadium
The Gold Coast Titans will play the Penrith Panthers this Saturday evening in a massive clash between two teams who have stood up amongst tough competition to likely secure the last two spots for the 2016 finals. And with both clubs producing good performances last week and sitting on two and three consecutive wins respectively, expect a tight contest between two evening matched teams.
Ashley Taylor’s return for the Titans will relegate Jarryd Hayne to fullback in his first time playing his preferred position since his return to the NRL. Leivaha Pulu will also join an extended bench for the Gold Coast. The Panthers have elected to go into the match unchanged, with Moses Leota and Jeremy Latimore joining an extended interchange.
The Titans should go into the match as narrow favourites, but the Panthers’ last start win over the Tigers last week will be a massive confidence boost going into the finals, particularly against the less established Gold Coast club. While both teams are likely finals contenders, their respective coaches should be wary of the Warriors and Tigers, who can still mathematically make the top eight. Expect the Titans to get the points in a tough contest.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 42.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Sharks v Roosters
Sat 27 Aug, 7:30PM, Shark Park
The Cronulla Sharks will take on the Sydney Roosters this Saturday night with the former 2015 minor premiers recovering well after a poor start to the season and finding some form heading into the 2017 season. The Roosters will be primed to take on a vulnerable Sharks outfit who have now lost three games in a row. Cronulla will be desperate to regain momentum heading inot the finals, but expect a Roosters outfit who have underperformed for much of 2016 to make their job quite difficult.
Captain Paul Gallen has been named to return at lock with Chich Heighinton shifting to the bench. Sosaia Feki will also come into the side in place of Gerard Beale. The Roosters named an unchanged side.
While the Sharks will go into the match as favourites, it’s clear that the Cronulla club fell into the trap of peaking too early in the season, which is a common issue for teams with little finals experience. With limited time heading into the finals, the Sharks need to string together consecutive wins to give them confidence and momentum. They will face a Roosters outfit playing for pride but expect the Sharks to be improved this week against their rivals. Cronulla to get the points.
Betting Tip: Sharks -4.0 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Warriors v Tigers
Sun 28 Aug, 2:00PM, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors will take on the Wests Tigers this Sunday afternoon after both clubs were virtually ruled out of finals action after disappointing losses last week. While still a mathematical chance, both teams would need to rely heavily on other results and win their remaining two games.
The Tigers are unchanged for the match, with Michael Chee-Kam joining an extended bench, while the Warriors will welcome back Solomone Kata, Tuimoala Lolohea and Bunty Afoa on an extended interchange.
Both teams will look back on their respective 2016 campaigns with disappointment after promising results early in the season gave way to inconsistency heading into the finals. The Warriors will go into the match as favourites and with a number of returning players, the Kiwis should be improved after a poor game against the Cowboys. Expect the Warriors to get the points.
Betting Tip: Tigers +11.0 @ $1.93 (Pinnacle)
Knights v Rabbitohs
Sun 28 Aug, 4:00PM, Hunter Stadium
The Newcastle Knights will play the South Sydney Rabbitohs this Sunday afternoon with Souths’ form recovering after two consecutive wins in the latter stages of the season. Particularly impressive was the Rabbitohs’ win over the Sharks last week. The Sydney club will face a struggling Newcastle Knights outfit who have failed to register a win for the entire season. Much of Newcastle’s squad are inexperienced rookies, and it will take the club some time to start competing for the NRL finals once again.
The Knights will bring back welcome reinforcements for the clash, with Cory Denniss, Jarrod Mullen, Pat Mata’utia and Sione Mata’utia all joining the Newcastle squad. The Rabbitohs are unchanged but have named Cameron McInnes, David Tyrrell and Zane Musgrove on an extended bench.
The Rabbitohs will go into the match as favourites and it’s hard to tip the Knights to produce their maiden win of 2016 at this stage of the season. Souths will view this match as a good opportunity to practice and build momentum heading into 2017, so expect the Rabbitohs to get the points.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -12.0 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Eels v Dragons
Mon 29 Aug, 7:00PM, Pirtek Stadium
The Parramatta Eels will take on the St George Illawarra Dragons this Monday night after the joint-venture club were disappointing in their capitulation against the Roosters last week. There are a number of issues within the St George club, but if the administration can focus on building their roster instead of politics, then there is a bright future ahead for the Dragons.
The Eels will welcome back Beau Scott, Brad Takairangi and Tepai Moeroa for the clash in a massive boost for the struggling Parramatta club. The Dragons will similarly make a number of changes with Drew Hutchison, Jacob Host and Tim Lafai coming into the side.
This will be a game between two teams who are playing for pride but based on the Dragons performance against the Roosters last week, there are a number of issues surrounding form for the St George club. Conversely, the Eels have not struggled to produce results this season despite a massive amount of turmoil and controversy off the field. Expect the Eels to get the points.
Betting Tip: Eels -5.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Raiders -6.5 @ $2.00 (Bet365) (Even with Austin out)