The following are previews with betting tips for the Semi-finals of the 2021 NRL season.
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Sea Eagles v Roosters
Friday, September 17, 7:50pm AEST
BB Print Stadium
Manly’s confidence was shaken after the northern beaches club was dominated by the Melbourne Storm in week one of the finals series. While they were widely tipped as a big chance of producing an upset, the Sea Eagles will have gone back to the drawing board after the Victorians contained superstar Tom Trbojevic extremely effectively and blunted his impact on the game. They will face an injury ravaged yet determined Roosters squad who bested a fast-finishing Titans outfit in a scintillating field-goal victory last week with the tri-colours continuing to overperform given the enormous squad disruptions they have endured this season.
Hooker Lachlan Croker has been named to return for Manly in welcome news after he was a late withdrawal last week with a back injury, pushing Karl Lawton to the bench at the expense of Curtis Sironen. For the Roosters, another devastating injury blow came as veteran prop Siosiua Taukeiaho was ruled out with a calf injury. Sam Verrills was unsuccessful in having a high-contact charge downgraded at the judiciary and has been banned for two games in a major test of the Roosters’ hooking depth. Ben Marschke will likely come into the 17 as cover, but Lachlan Lam could also be an option with Trent Robinson carrying rookie halfback Sam Walker on the bench. Nat Butcher will also return on the Roosters’ bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
The loss of Verrills and Taukeiaho is a huge blow to the Roosters’ middle and expect this Manly side boosted by the return of Lachlan Croker to home-in on their opposition’s vulnerability through the ruck. Manly’s forwards were comprehensively out-muscled by Melbourne last week and will head into this game with a point to prove against this depleted Roosters pack. Veteran coach Trent Robinson will no doubt have a clear game-plan in place to compensate for the absences in his squad but expect a big response from this Manly side with Des Hasler’s troops to get the win.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -11.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)
Panthers v Eels
Saturday, September 18, 7:50pm AEST
BB Print Stadium
The Panthers suffered a surprising upset loss to the Rabbitohs last week, albeit by a narrow margin of six points. Ivan Cleary’s troops had last played Souths in round 23 and notched a comfortable victory over the Rabbitohs in that game, but the Western Sydney club failed to adapt their game-plan to target Souths fullback Blake Taaffe with the rookie producing a wonderful performance. Their opposition in Parramatta were impressive in victory over the Knights last week as the Eels continue to recover from a late-season form slump. Brad Arthur will be pushing his squad to find another level against the Panthers with the club desperate to continue their premiership campaign.
Penrith will welcome a number of key players back with Dylan Edwards and Moses Leota returning from injury at fullback and prop respectively in a massive boost. Scott Sorensen has also been named to return from a wrist injury off the bench, with Tyrone May also a possible late inclusion to an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Parramatta’s only change comes with Ryan Matterson’s inclusion on the bench at the expense of Makahesi Makatoa.
While the Eels have done a fantastic job regaining form after such a poor run, it remains to be seen if the club can genuinely compete with the competition’s elite teams in the absence of star hooker Reed Mahoney. Mahoney brings an enormous amount of energy through the ruck, and while Brad Arthur’s troops have rediscovered the brutal physicality that has been the back-bone of their success in recent years, they have struggled to get back to their early-season form. Penrith had a rare poor performance against Souths last week but Ivan Cleary’s young squad will take valuable lessons from the loss. The return of Edwards and Leota will go a long way to ensuring the Panthers can effectively execute their game-plan. Expect Penrith to get the win.
Betting Tip: Panthers -12.5 @ $1.90 (Playup)
Sea Eagles -11.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)