The following are previews with betting tips for Finals Week 1 of the 2020 NRL season.
Panthers v Roosters
Friday, Oct 2, 7:50pm AEST
The script could not be more dramatic for week one of the finals series after the Roosters were trounced 60-8 in a massive upset against the Rabbitohs and a devastating result for the club. The reigning premiers will face the competition leaders and premiership favourites in the Panthers after the Penrith club finished the regular season with an astounding 15-game winning streak.
The Roosters will welcome back Brett Morris, Joey Manu, Isaac Liu and Lindsay Collins, all of whom were rested last week. A head-knock to Jake Friend will mean Freddy Lussick comes in at hooker in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Penrith will welcome back their rested stars in Viliame Kikau, Dylan Edwards and Stephen Crichton in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
The Roosters can ill-afford a loss to Penrith on their quest for a third consecutive premiership, particularly after the embarrassing result last week. Penrith will be primed for this contest having had the luxury of resting many of their key players. The Roosters will be reliant on their big-game experience compared to their opposition’s relatively junior squad, but expect the form and potency of the Panthers to get them over the line.
Raiders v Sharks
Saturday, Oct 3, 5:40pm AEST
Canberra will look to start their grand-final run playing their second consecutive game against the Sharks after a heavily under-strength squad defeated Cronulla last week. The Sharks’ inability to overcome a Raiders team missing most of their preferred starting-squad will be a major dent to their morale heading into the finals series.
Canberra will field a new-look team after resting most of their top-squad last week. Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine, John Bateman, Jordan Rapana, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Elliot Whitehead, George Williams, Jarrod Croker and Jack Wighton will all return to the starting-side in a massive boost. Ryan Sutton will be a notable omission from the finals series after suffering a knee injury. Meanwhile, Cronulla will also welcome some reinforcements as Chad Townsend, Sione Katoa, Josh Dugan, Blayke Brailey and Toby Rudolf all join the starting-13, with Siosifa Talakai also included on the bench.
Cronulla will do their best to wipe the slate clean after their loss to Canberra last week. The return of veterans in Townsend and Dugan will be crucial for this inexperienced Sharks line-up, particularly against a battle-hardened Raiders squad. With their preferred squad back on the field, expect the Raiders to hit top-gear for the win.
Betting Tip: Raiders -13.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Storm v Eels
Saturday, Oct 3, 7:50pm AEST
Melbourne’s loss to the Dragons last week would hold little weight for the Victorian club with over 13 players missing from their preferred squad, with coach Craig Bellamy opting rest a massive group for the upcoming finals series. They will face an Eels outfit who have struggled to hit their early-season form with modest victories against the Broncos and Tigers in recent weeks but Parramatta should expect a highly-motivated opposition given their round-15 victory over the Victorian club.
Melbourne will be missing Tui Kamikamica, while Suliasi Vunivalu, Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi, Tino Fa’asiamaleaui, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Josh Addo-Carr, Justin Olam, Brenko Lee, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Cameron Smith will all return from a rest. For the Eels, Dylan Brown has been named to return at five-eighth in a massive boost with Michael Jennings and Reagan Campbell-Gillard both returning at centre and prop respectively after they were rested last week. Marata Niukore will also return on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
On recent form, Melbourne will enter this match as firm favourites but they need to be extremely wary of an Eels outfit who have dominated the Storm in recent contests. While Parramatta’s form has been patchy of late, expect the club to consolidate quickly against the Melbourne powerhouse. Expect the consistency and big-game experience within the Storm to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Eels +13.5 @ $1.90 (PlayUp)
Rabbitohs v Knights
Sunday, Oct 4, 3:05pm AEDT
The Rabbitohs stunned the competition and announced themselves as genuine premiership contenders with a devastating 60-8 victory over the Roosters last week in a dominant performance over the reigning champions. South Sydney have been building nicely in the last few weeks but they should still be wary of a Knights outfit who will make their first finals appearance since 2013 in a huge achievement on its own for the Newcastle club. The Knights’ last performance was a woeful 30-point loss against the Titans, so coach Adam O’Brien will be making desperate moves to restore his squad’s confidence after they produced a poor finish to the regular season.
Jaydn Su’a will return from suspension in the second-row, allowing Cam Murray to shift to lock and Liam Knight to the bench in an otherwise unchanged Rabbitohs’ squad. For the Knights, Lachlan Fitzgibbon will return in the second-row with Sione Mata’utia shifting to the bench in Adam O’Brien’s only change.
Souths will enter this match as firm favourites given their last performance against the Roosters and Newcastle’s poor form. Wayne Bennett has his troops firing on all cylinders with Cody Walker leading his squad’s attack in the absence of the ball-playing Latrell Mitchell. The Knights’ finals appearance is a big achievement given their history and injuries this season, but the Rabbitohs should get the win.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -8.5 @ $1.90 (Pointsbet)
Eels +13.5 @ $1.90 (PlayUp)