The following are previews with betting tips for the Preliminary Finals of the 2022 NRL season.
Eels v Raiders
Friday, September 23, 7:50pm AEST
The resurgent Raiders produced a stunning last-gasp victory over Melbourne in last week’s elimination final, scoring two tries in the last quarter for an eight-point winning margin in a hugely impressive performance against the Storm juggernaut. They will face an Eels outfit who were outclassed by the reigning premiers in a frustrating loss, particularly given Penrith won the game in the period after star halfback Mitchell Moses left the field with concussion.
Mitchell Moses has been named after his nasty head-knock last week but will need to pass concussion protocols to take the field. His absence would be a devastating blow to the Eels but coach Brad Arthur otherwise has the luxury of naming an unchanged 17. Meanwhile, Canberra will be missing Adam Elliot to injury with Corey Harawira-Naera shifting to lock and Ryan Sutton set to join the bench in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
Parramatta will enter this match as favourites but will need to be cautious of this highly physical Raiders outfit after they bashed Melbourne out of the competition last week. Canberra will be looking to emulate Penrith’s tactics and suffocate their opposition’s middle with intense line-speed, but the Raiders will need to work overtime in defence to limit Parramatta’s ball movement given they are the most prolific offloading team in the competition. Brad Arthur will be expecting a huge response from his forward pack after they were soundly beaten last week. This match will be won through the ruck in the titanic contest between these two dominant middle-rotations. Expect the Raiders’ physicality to prove the difference with Ricky Stuart’s troops to take the win in a narrow contest.
Betting Tip: Raiders +6.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Sharks v Rabbitohs
Saturday, September 24, 8:00pm AEST
Cronulla were left heart-broken after a Valentine Holmes field-goal cost them victory in the 92nd minute of extra-time in an exhausting, frustrating loss for the Sharks, particularly given North Queensland tied the scores to send the match into extra time in the last minute of play. They will face a South Sydney outfit who were dominant over the Roosters in a highly impressive performance in which they were reduced to 11-men through the sin bin at two points in the match.
Cronulla have named an unchanged line-up and coach Craig Fitzgibbon will be hoping the extra 12 minutes of play last week does not impact his team’s energy levels. Meanwhile, Thomas Burgess has been suspended for two games with Michael Chee-Kam set to join the bench as cover in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Souths showed enormous heart to produce such a strong victory over the Roosters despite a whopping four sinbins. With a squad littered with big-game players, the Rabbitohs boast enormous recent finals experience, having played in the preliminary finals in the last four seasons and the grand-final last year. Cronulla were victorious the last time these clubs met in round 20, with a Nicho Hynes field-goal in extra time proving the difference. Souths’ biggest strength this year has been their attack, particularly down their left edge given the combination between Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell. Given they have a worse attacking record than their opposition despite placing second on the competition ladder, Cronulla will be relying on the defensive structures to contain Souths’ playmaking class. This match could go either way but expect another starring performance from Latrell Mitchell to get his team over the line.