NRL Finals Week One Previews and Betting Tips
Broncos v Titans
Fri 9 Sep, 7:55PM, Suncorp Stadium
NRL Finals Week 1 kicks off with the Gold Coast Titans taking on the Brisbane Broncos this Friday night in the Queensland capital to kick of the NRL’s 2016 finals series. Brisbane have a imposing record against the Titans and the Gold Coast club’s momentum has been stunted with consecutive losses to the Panthers and Cowboys in the last two weeks.
Both teams will go into the match unchanged, with Joe Ofahengaue and Jonus Pearson joining an extended Broncos bench, while the Titans will also carry Anthony Don, Will Zillman and Lachlan Burr on an extended interchange.
The Titans will cultivate an underdog status going into the match having observed Brisbane’s underestimation of the Roosters last week. The Broncos looked complacent against the lowly Sydney club, and the Titans will look to start fast and blow the 5th placed Broncos out of the water. The Broncos will go into the match as heavy favourites and also in the knowledge that if they play well, they will win. Expect the Titans to put up a fight but Brisbane should get the win.
Betting Tip: Titans +10.5 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes)
Raiders v Sharks
Sat 10 Sep, 5:35PM, GIO Stadium
The Cronulla Sharks will travel to the Australian capital this Saturday evening to take on the Canberra Raiders in a massive top four clash between two of the premiership heavyweights. Raiders fans will have been relieved at Tuesday night’s news that fullback Jack Wighton was found not guilty of a shoulder charge citation, with controversy around the match review committee’s failure to cite Sharks hooker Michael Ennis for what looked to be a similar offence.
Junior Paulo will return for the Raiders in the front row with Jack Wighton moving to 18th man. The Sharks will welcome back Ricky Leutele to cover for the injured Joseph Paulo with Kurt Capewell joining an extended bench.
Having won ten consecutive games, the Raiders will go into this match as favourites and with a lot of momentum behind them. Their opposition in the Sharks look to have peaked too early in the year with scratchy form in the latter stages of the regular season, which was particularly evident against the Storm last week. With the form of the Raiders, expect the Canberra outfit to get the win.
Betting Tip: Raiders -4.0 @ $1.92 (Luxbet)
Storm v Cowboys
Sat 10 Sep, 7:55PM, AAMI Park
The North Queensland Cowboys will travel south to Victoria this Saturday night to take on the Melbourne Storm after the Queensland club beat out the Broncos to snag a top four spot with a win over the Titans last week. It was an extremely important game and one the Cowboys needed to win, but this week they face an in-form Storm outfit who bounced back from a disappointing performance against the Broncos with a dominating win over the Sharks in the final round of the regular season.
The Cowboys will welcome back Queensland and Australian front-rower Matt Scott in a big boost for the Queenslanders, while the Storm will go into the match unchanged.
While many viewed the Storm’s loss to the Broncos in round 25 as a red flag heading into the finals, a disappointing loss can act as a stark lesson. This seemed to be the case for Melbourne as they were sharp against the Sharks in the following game. The Cowboys face a difficult away trip for the first week of finals, but they will try to emulate the tactics that worked so well for the Broncos against the competition leaders a few weeks ago. Off the Storm’s performance last week and their massive home-ground advantage, expect the Victorians to come away with the win.
Betting Tip: Storm -2.0 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes)
Panthers v Bulldogs
Sun 11 Sep, 4:10PM, Allianz Stadium
The Penrith Panthers will take on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs this Sunday evening with alarm bells well and truly blaring for the ‘Dogs after a poor showing against Souths last week. The Canterbury club could not be entering the finals in worse shape having lost three consecutive games, and a monumental effort will be required from Des Hasler’s men if they are to overcome the in-form Panthers.
Will Hopoate has removed himself from selection once again for religious reasons, with Brett Morris shifting to fullback. Tyrone Phillips will come onto the wing, with Sam Kasiano’s return relegating Danny Fualalo to an extended bench.
Against the Bulldogs’ three consecutive losses, the Panthers will be looking for their sixth win in a row. The Penrith outfit has done extremely well considering the massive changes in their roster throughout the year, and the young outfit will be looking to move the ball as much as possible to tire the ‘Dogs big men. Expect the Panthers to get the win.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 41.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Raiders -4.0 @ $1.92 (Luxbet)
Storm -2.0 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes)