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NRL Finals: Who We Think Will Produce The Goods In An Action-Packed Weekend Of Footy

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NRL Finals: Who We Think Will Produce The Goods In An Action-Packed Weekend Of Footy

We've got four huge games on our hands this weekend.

For some, it's not quite do-or-die just yet, although there's still plenty on the line - mainly a well-deserved week's rest.

Not to mention an easier route to the Grand Final.

But for the others in the elimination finals, they now face the prospect of being sent packing at the very first hurdle.

Here's everything you have to know ahead of Week One in the NRL Finals...

QUALIFYING FINAL: MELBOURNE STORM (1st) vs MANLY SEA EAGLES (4th)

For all your latest TAB odds on Melbourne vs Manly, CLICK HERE.

H2H: Melbourne ($1.37) vs Manly ($3.15)

Line: Melbourne (-8.5 @ $1.95) vs Manly (+8.5 @ $1.85)

Date: Friday, 10 September

Time: 7.50pm

Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium

Last five meetings:

Round 21, 2021 - MEL 28-18 MAN

Round 16, 2020 - MEL 30-6 MAN

Round 1, 2020 - MEL 18-4 MAN

Round 24, 2019 - MEL 36 - 6 MAN

Round 19, 2019 - MEL 11-10 MAN

Best Bets (odds correct as of 09/09/21):

First try scorer:

George Jennings (MEL) - $9

Isaac Lumelume (MEL) - $9

Ryan Papenhuyzen (MEL) - $11

Reuben Garrick (MAN) - $11

Tom Trbojevic (MAN) - $11

Jason Saab (MAN) - $11

Anytime try scorer:

George Jennings (MEL) - $1.72

Isaac Lumelume (MEL) - $1.75

Ryan Papenhuyzen (MEL) - $2.15

Reuben Garrick (MAN) - $2.20

Tom Trbojevic (MAN) - $2.20

Jason Saab (MAN) - $2.20

Match preview:

If there's one team who could upset the odds and knock Melbourne off their perch, it's Manly - besides, the Parramatta Eels proved it's certainly doable. To kick off Finals Week 1, we have a mouth-watering clash on our hands as the Manly Sea Eagles lock horns with minor premiers the Melbourne Storm. And given the history between these two teams, expect nothing but fireworks over on the Sunshine Coast. Despite the Penrith Panthers being hot on their tail for much of the regular season, the Storm have been in cruise control as of late. With 21 wins and just three losses to their name, as well as a points difference of 499, it's hard to look past Craig Bellamy's side as the favourites to win back-to-back Premierships. When you boast the calibre of players like of Brandon Smith, Josh Addo-Carr, Jahrome Hughes, Nicho Hynes, Cameron Munster, Dale Finucane, the Bromwich boys and - of course - Ryan Papenhuyzen, then you're always going to be a tough team to beat. Before their shock loss to the Eels in Round 23, the Storm were on the brink of becoming the first NRL team in history to record 20 straight wins. Now that's special. They'll be hoping the hangover from that disappointing result isn't still lingering though when they take on the Sea Eagles this weekend. Despite a slow start, Manly have been in sensational form throughout the second half of the season - and there has been one man in the thick of all the action. Tom Trbojevic has dragged the Sea Eagles kicking and screaming to the NRL Finals, not only that, but they've also made it into the top 4 too. The star fullback bagged 25 tries, assisted 27 and had 30 linebreaks under his belt. But don't be mistaken, this is far from a one-man team. While Manly's forwards run the ball hard in attack and are resolute in defence, it's their backline which has really stepped up. Reuben Garrick carved his name into the history books last weekend, becoming the first ever player to score 304 points in a campaign to go along with his 21 tries, while fellow winger Jason Saab also crossed the line a whopping 23 times. And if the team's remarkable coast-to-coast try against the Cowboys was anything to go by, then you know what the players have in their locker. It's the 10-year anniversary since the iconic Battle of Brookvale, let's hope these two teams can produce another classic just like that - minus the biff, of course.

Tom Trbojevic. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons
Tom Trbojevic. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

ELIMINATION FINAL: SYDNEY ROOSTERS (5th) vs GOLD COAST TITANS (8th)

For all your latest TAB odds on the Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans, CLICK HERE.

H2H: Roosters ($1.23) vs Gold Coast ($4.20)

Line: Roosters (-11.5 @ $1.85) vs Gold Coast (+11.5 @ $1.95)

Date: Saturday, 11 September

Time: 5.40pm

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Last five meetings:

Round 14, 2021 - SYD 35-34 GLD

Round 12, 2020 - SYD 18-12 GLD

Round 20, 2019 - SYD 58-6 GLD

Round 12, 2018 - SYD 34-14 GLD

Round 17, 2018 SYD 20-12 GLD

Best Bets (odds correct as of 09/09/21):

First try scorer:

Daniel Tupou (SYD) - $7.50

Matt Ikuvalu (SYD) - $7.50

James Tedesco (SYD) - $12

Phillip Sami (GC) - $13

Corey Thompson (GC) - $13

Jayden Campbell (GC) - $16

Anytime try scorer:

Daniel Tupou (SYD) - $1.65

Matt Ikuvalu (SYD) - $1.62

James Tedesco (SYD) - $2.20

Phillip Sami (GC) - $2.30

Corey Thompson (GC) - $2.40

Jayden Campbell (GC) - $2.70

Match preview:

Granted, this isn't the back-to-back Chooks side from a few years ago, but they'll still fancy their chances of clinching another coveted ring. Our second game of the weekend sees the Gold Coast Titans take on the Sydney Roosters. The Titans managed to squeeze into the top eight in emphatic fashion, thrashing the ill-disciplined Warriors 44-0 in their final match of regular season. Many critics expected Justin Holbrook's side to narrowly scrape through, but the Titans proved their doubters wrong. With a forward pack consisting of Jarrod Wallace, Kevin Proctor, David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui at their disposal, the battle in the middle against the Roosters will be a big one. Those from the Tri-Colours camp will also be wary of Gold Coast's new-look halves combination. When Tyrone Peachey partnered Jamal Fogarty in the halves against the Warriors, the Titans' running and kicking game looked deadly. Add in dangerous 21-year-old Jayden Campbell into the mix and the Titans could threaten the Roosters in attack. They'll have to soldier on without injured fullback AJ Brimson, who will be forced to watch his team from the stands while he still recovers from a fractured jaw. As for Trent Robinson's heavily depleted Roosters, they're fresh off the back of a comfortable win over the Canberra Raiders. It's Lachlan Lam who will start in the seven jumper, but expect Sam Walker to make an impact off the bench. The bloke directly next to them proved what he's capable of against the Raiders too. Five-eighth Drew Hutchison's passing game was practically perfect, while his looping kicks were causing all sorts of problems for Canberra's backs. Despite the squad being ravaged by injuries, they still possess incredible talent all over the park. The return of suspended Victor Radley will be a huge boost, while veteran forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will also make an appearance against the Titans. And, of course, they also boast one of the best players in the competition in James Tedesco, who only a few weeks ago produced arguably the solo performance of the season against the Dragons with 4 try assists and 12 tackle breaks in 80 minutes of footy. If the Titans refuse to turn over the ball, unlike the Raiders last week, then they could give the Chooks a real run for their money. The Chooks are still the bookies' favourite to advance to the semi-final, but expect the Titans to get a kick up the bum from the hostile, partisan crowd at Queensland Country Bank Stadium which could very well tip things in their favour.

James Tedesco. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons
James Tedesco. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

QUALIFYING FINAL: PENRITH PANTHERS (2ND) vs SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (3RD)

For all your latest TAB odds on Penrith vs Souths, CLICK HERE.

H2H: Penrith ($1.24) vs Souths ($4.10)

Line: Penrith (-11.5 @ $1.90) vs Souths (+11.5 @ $1.90)

Date: Saturday, 11 September

Time: 7.50pm

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Last five meetings:

Round 23, 2021 - PEN 22-12 SOU

Round 11, 2021 - PEN 56-12 SOU

PF, 2020 - PEN 20-16 SOU

Round 7, 2020 - PEN 20 - 12 SOU

Round 14, 2019 - PEN 19-18 SOU

Best bets (odds correct as of 09/09/21):

First try scorer:

Brian To'o (PEN) - $7

Stephen Crichton (PEN) - $8

Matt Burton (PEN) - $11

Alex Johnston (SOU) - $11

Jaxon Paulo (SOU) - $13

Campbell Graham (SOU) - $21

Anytime try scorer:

Brian To'o (PEN) - $1.65

Stephen Crichton (PEN) - $1.75

Matt Burton (PEN) - $2.20

Alex Johnston (SOU) - $2.15

Jaxon Paulo (SOU) - $2.40

Campbell Graham (SOU) - $3.50

Match preview:

This may only be a qualifying final, but both teams will undoubtedly want to put on a show and secure an easier route to the Grand Final. When it comes to Souths, the absence of one megastar player has left a gaping void in the team. Latrell Mitchell's lengthy suspension for his dangerous hit on Joseph Manu puts him out of action for the entire Finals, which is a huge blow for the Bunnies' title chances. To be frank, Mitchell's omission could see them exit this competition early. His replacement comes in the form of 22-year-old fullback Blake Taaffe, who looked solid in the final game of the season against the Dragons. Up against the Premiership favourites, though, the youngster will need to have the game of his life. As for the rest of the Rabbitohs line-up, they remain a constant threat all over the park. Top try-scorer Alex Johnston will be looking to add to his 27 meat pies, while the likes of Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds still lay claim to being arguably the scariest halves duo in the comp when they're in form. And while the return of the rested Damien Cook to hooker and Keaon Koloamatangi on the edge will be a massive addition to the forward pack, they've still got plenty of firepower coming off the bench too in Jai Arrow and Tom Burgess. Meanwhile, the Panthers were left heartbroken after their Grand Final defeat almost 12 months ago, but in saying that, their hangover from that dark day is now long gone and they've looked electric ever since. Looking at the team on paper, there's no weak links. Star halfback Nathan Cleary is quickly becoming one of the best players on the planet, while his partner Jarome Luai has emerged as a dynamic five-eighth on the brink of superstardom. As for the rest of backs, headlined by the explosive Brian To'o, they're in a league of their own at the moment. To'o alone mustered up a league-best 4510 run metres from 410 carries throughout the season. Not bad, not bad at all. But if we're being honest, it's hard to look past the dominating presence of Penrith's forwards as a potential deciding factor in this game. Moses Leota, James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau, Kurt Capewell and Isaah Yeo - I mean, come on. That's just simply not fair. Sprinkle in a bit of Api Koroisau at hooker, playing against his former team might we add, and you've got the ingredients of a Premiership-winning team. If the Panthers can get the ball in the hands of Cleary and Luai while shutting down both Walker and Reynolds with aggressive defence, then we could very well witness a slaughtering up in far north Queensland.

Adam Reynolds. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons
Adam Reynolds. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

ELIMINATION FINAL: PARRAMATTA EELS (6th) vs NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (7th)

For all your latest TAB odds on the Parramatta vs Newcastle, CLICK HERE.

H2H: Eels ($1.38) vs Knights ($3.10)

Line: Eels (-7.5 @ $1.85) vs Gold Coast (+7.5 @ $1.95)

Date: Sunday, 12 September

Time: 4:05pm

Venue: Browne Park, Rockhampton

Last five meetings:

Round 13, 2021 - PAR 40-4 NEW

Round 9, 2020 - PAR 10-4 NEW

Round 21, 2019 - PAR 20-14 NEW

Round 7, 2019 - NEW 28-14 PAR

Round 18, 2018 - NEW 18-16 PAR

Blake Ferguson. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons
Blake Ferguson. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Best bets (odds correct as of 09/09/21):

First try scorer:

Blake Ferguson (PAR) - $8

Haze Dunster (PAR) - $9

Clint Gutherson (PAR) - $11

Enari Tuala (NEW) - $11

Hymel Hunt (NEW) - $13

Kalyn Ponga (NEW) - $15

Anytime try scorer:

Blake Ferguson (PAR) - $1.72

Haze Dunster (PAR) - $1.75

Clint Gutherson (PAR) - $2.10

Enari Tuala (NEW) - $2.05

Hymel Hunt (NEW) - $2.30

Kalyn Ponga (NEW) - $2.60

Match preview:

At one point in the season, Parramatta were the team to beat. But during their recent slump in form, they looked like the inconsistent Eels of old. For Parra fans, they must be pulling their hair out (or what's left of it) when it comes to watching their team. One week, they're coughing up more errors than you can shake a stick at. The following week, they're producing huge upset victories like their one against the Melbourne Storm a few weeks back to stop them from becoming the first NRL team in history to record 20 straight wins. The Eels, lead by talismanic skipper Clint Gutherson, have it in their locker - it's just whether they decide to turn up on the night. Then again, will the loss of exciting winger Maika Sivo start taking its toll now that we're deep into the nitty gritty end of the competition? We shall have to wait and see. As for the Knights' playing group, many thought they'd be watching the NRL Finals from the comfort of their living room sofas. After a rollercoaster season, they made it into the eight by the skin of their teeth and will be looking to upset the apple cart in Rockhampton by producing a huge victory. Star fullback Kalyn Ponga always has a trick or two up his sleeve, while rugby league veteran Mitchell Pearce finally seems to be gelling with mid-season recruit Jake Clifford in the halves. In-form hooker Jayden Brailey just got locked down on a new three-year contract extension in sunny Newcastle, so he'll want to prove his worth with a monumental win too. But if the Knights hope to make it to a semi-final and send the Eels crashing out, their big boys will need to bring their A-game. That's right, the Saifiti brothers - with the support of Tyson Frizell, Mitch Barnett, Connor Watson and David Klemmer off the bench - will want to get one over their rivals after the Eels thrashed them 40-4 earlier in the season.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Topics: Odds, Analysis, Team News, Rugby League, nrl, Betting, Australia

Max Sherry
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