NRL Round 26 Previews and Betting Tips
Broncos v Roosters
Thu 1 Sep, 7:50PM, Suncorp Stadium
The last round of football for the 2016 NRL season will kick off with a resurgent Brisbane Broncos facing the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night. The Broncos were extremely impressive in their win over the competition leading Storm last week as the Brisbane outfit look to be getting back to their top form heading into the finals.
The Broncos will go into the match unchanged from last week, while the Roosters will miss Boyd Cordner and Sio Siua Taukeiaho for the clash. Nat Butcher, Mitchell Frei and Joseph Manu will join an extended interchange for the Sydney club.
The Roosters were thoroughly outplayed by the Sharks last week, and unless they produce a special performance, expect the same result against the Broncos. Brisbane’s embarrassing loss to the Roosters in round 21 will weigh heavily on the Broncos’ minds and the potential to snag a top four position as well as personal pride should motivate Brisbane to get the win.
Betting Tip: Broncos -12.5 @ $1.94 (Crownbet)
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
Fri 2 Sep, 7:50PM, ANZ Stadium
The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs will take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs this Friday night with the 2014 premiers in the Rabbitohs now look for their fourth consecutive win. It has been a late-season form surge from Souths and while too late to push for finals contention, it will hold the Sydney club in good stead for the 2017 season.
Both sides are unchanged heading into the clash.
Canterbury fans will have been disappointed with their team’s performance against the Cowboys last week with consecutive losses against Brisbane and North Queensland putting a serious dent in the Bulldogs’ premiership campaign. Having already conceded their top four spot and now sitting sixth on the competition ladder, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler will know he must get form out of his squad or face an early finals exit. Despite their run of poor form, the Bulldogs should go into the match as favourites but with their slump and the Rabbitohs’ surging form, expect it to be a tight contest. Bulldogs to get the win.
Betting Tip: Bulldogs -3.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Dragons v Knights
Sat 3 Sep, 3:00PM, Jubilee Oval
The St George Illawarra Dragons will take on the Newcastle Knights this Saturday afternoon with each club’s respective premiership campaign likely to be viewed as a disappointment by fans and critics. Newcastle’s last and only win for the 2016 season came against the Tigers in round six, however the Hunter Valley club will be looking to end the season on a positive with a win against the Dragons.
For the Dragons, Ben Creagh, Benji Marshall, Taane Milne and Will Matthews will return with Siliva Havili, Tim Lafai and Luciano Leilua on an extended interchange. The Knights will welcome back Korbin Sims and Nathan Ross as Jaelen Feeney joins an extended bench.
Both teams respective seasons are a lesson to NRL coaches on the danger of poor roster management. There are systemic issues within each team’s playing roster, and by extension, each club’s administration, which need to be resolved in order to move forward. The Knights simply need to focus on their recruitment heading into 2017. While they possess a strong pool of rookie talent, they need far more experience within their roster to be competitive. For the Dragons, their attack has been an issue for a number of years and with Benji Marshall set to move on from the joint-venture club, it is an ideal time for the Dragons to recruit a halfback. Despite the results of 2016, both teams will be better next year but expect the Dragons to get the points on Saturday.
Betting Tip: Dragons -9.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Cowboys v Titans
Sat 3 Sep, 5:30PM, 1300Smiles Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys will take on the Gold Coast Titans this Saturday evening in a crucial clash that will decide the ultimate makeup of the top eight. Both teams will be desperate to win with the Cowboys’ fourth position on the NRL ladder under threat from the Broncos should they lose, while the Titans could slip out of the eight if the Tigers win against the Raiders.
The Titans have named the same lineup to take on the Cowboys this week, with David Shillington, David Mead and Lachlan Burr joining an extended interchange. For the Cowboys, Ben Hannant will come in for the injured Matt Scott with Scott Bolton starting at prop.
The Cowboys should go into this match as favourites and both teams should be highly motivated knowing their finals positions are on the line. After an impressive win over the Bulldogs last week the the 2015 premiers look to be back on track so expect them to get the win.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 41.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Storm v Sharks
Sat 3 Sep, 7:30PM, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm will host the Cronulla Sharks this Saturday night in a massive clash that will decide the minor premiership for 2016. After criticism has surfaced over the limited prize-money for winning the minor-premiership in the NRL, it is ironic the two clubs taking the field will be more concerned with their form than any particular result.
A suspension to Nelson Asofa-Solomona will bring in Chistian Welch and Matt White onto an extended interchange for the Storm, while the Sharks will go into the match unchanged.
The Storm will go into the match as favourites, however with both team’s producing scratchy form of late, expect it to be a close contest. It will be a massive test for each club heading into the finals with the results having little bearing on their finals campaigns. While the Storm are favourites, expect Melbourne to take longer than a week to fix the problems they showed against Brisbane last week. Sharks to get the points.
Betting Tip: Sharks +7.0 @ $1.94 (Pinnacle)
Tigers v Raiders
Sun 4 Sep, 2:00PM, Leichhardt Oval
The Canberra Raiders will take on the Wests Tigers this Sunday afternoon at the home ground for the joint-venture club in a match between two teams who have proven critics wrong in the 2016 season. Rated by many as a likely contender for the wooden spoon, the Tigers have done extremely well to get themselves in a position to be competing for the top eight, particularly with a season ending injury to star fullback James Tedesco.
The Raiders will go into the match unchanged from their last start win against Manly, while the Tigers will welcome back Chris Lawrence and Kyle Lovett at the expense of Curtis Sironen and Michael Chee-Kam.
The Raiders will go into the match as favourites and as the most in-form team of the competition looking for their tenth consecutive win. The Tigers will be desperate for a win knowing that they would likely secure a finals berth if they get the points, however the Raiders should be too good for Wests. Canberra to get the points.
Betting Tip: Raiders -6.5 @ $2.20 (Luxbet)
Warriors v Eels
Sun 4 Sep, 4:00PM, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors will take on the Parramatta Eels this Sunday evening after a poor performance against the Tigers last week ruled the Kiwi club out of finals contention. It was a poor result and a game the Warriors should have won, but New Zealand fans should not be surprised by the infamous inconsistency the Kiwi club repeatedly produce.
Bunty Afoa, Jonathan Wright and Ken Maumalo will all join the Warriors’ squad with Nathaniel Roach joining an extended bench. David Gower will also join an extended interchange for the Eels in the only change for the Parramatta club.
Despite the hardships endured by Parramatta in 2016, fans should take heart in the knowledge that their team has massively out-performed the expectations given the circumstances. With a good roster for next year, expect the Eels to improve significantly next year. Expect the Eels to get the points.
Betting Tip: Eels +4.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)
Panthers v Sea Eagles
Sun 4 Sep, 6:30PM, Pepper Stadium
The Penrith Panthers will take on the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles this Sunday night after last week’s field goal win against the Titans assured the Penrith club of finals action. It has been an impressive season for the Panthers despite difficult circumstances. With a slew of injuries and a massive shift in the makeup of their preferred spine through the year, to recover and consolidate to make the finals comfortably is an impressive feat for the Panthers.
Manly will welcome back Blake Leary and Dylan Walker for the clash, while the Panthers will replace the injured Reagan Campbell-Gillard with Jeremy Latimore as Moses Leota joins an extended bench.
The Panthers will head into the match as heavy favourites, and rightly so considering they will be looking for their fifth consecutive win. The Penrith club has hit their peak at exactly the right time, but they will be looking for a good performance more than any particular result. Expect Penrith to get the points.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 42.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Sharks +7.0 @ $1.94 (Pinnacle)
Raiders -6.5 @ $2.20 (Luxbet)