Gold Coast Titans v Parramatta Eels
The Titans kept their slim finals hopes alive when they broke a four-game losing streak last round with a huge away win against the Raiders. Despite coming back to the Gold Coast for this clash, it’s a vastly different task here as they face the Eels. While the Eels have somewhat slumped in recent weeks to win only three of their past six, all three losses have been against quality sides (Penrith, Souths and Manly). The Eels have also won their past four over the Titans, including two big wins in recent outings at Cbus Stadium (46-6 and 36-12). The Eels will be without Junior Paulo but regain Reed Mahoney, while the Titans’ Origin trio Moeaki Fotuaika, Tino Fa’asumaleaui and AJ Brimson look set to back up. David Fifita will also return. I’m surprised the Eels aren’t shorter given their recent record against the Titans. They’ve also been a far more consistent side in 2021. The Titans would have to pull out a huge performance (they are capable of doing so) to score an upset, so happy to back the Eels.
Suggested bets – 3u Eels win at $1.58 and 2u Eels -4 at $1.90
Manly Sea Eagles v St George Illawarra Dragons
Manly go into this as red-hot favourites despite the hiccup last round when unexpectedly going down to the Raiders. They now face a Dragons outfit which has won three of its past five but now battles a period without axed prop Paul Vaughan and three other players following the Shellharbour COVID breaches. There’s a few queries for the Sea Eagles too though, with fullback Tom Trbojevic highly unlikely to back up from Origin, joining his injured brother Jake on the sidelines. Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans will back up from Origin, but this is a tricky match to assess. How will the Dragons respond to the scrutiny of the COVID breaches? Can Manly win despite missing the Trbojevic brothers? The Sea Eagles have struggled against the Dragons in recent years, winning just twice in their past nine outings – and only two of those seven losses has been close, which makes this one even more difficult to assess.
No suggested bet
Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks
After winning just twice from their previous 11 games, the Raiders produced a shock win over the flying Sea Eagles last round. They now face the Sharks who made it five wins from their past six matches by beating the Warriors. This is an important clash for the Sharks to continue their finals charge. When these sides met back in round two it was the Raiders scraping home 12-10, but if it wasn’t for Chad Townsend’s poor kicking on that occasion, the Sharks would’ve likely came out on top. The Raiders should retain Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii who are named to back up from Origin, while the Sharks have the luxury of naming the same 17. The stats from recent encounters between these two aren’t in favour of the Sharks, with the Raiders looking to extend a five-game winning streak. Cronulla also haven’t beaten Canberra since winning home and away in 2018. Despite these stats, the Sharks are finding their groove late in the season, while the Raiders are still struggling for consistency.
Suggested bet – 1u Sharks win at $1.77
North Queensland Cowboys v Sydney Roosters
The Cowboys are one team with genuine home ground advantage this week and will be hoping to bounce back after four straight losses. The losing streak has put a big dent in the their finals aspirations and they need to start turning things around quickly. As for the Roosters, they just snapped a two-match losing streak with a tradesman-like 22-16 win over the Bulldogs last weekend. They should get James Tedesco back from leading NSW to an Origin series win, while the Cowboys are likely to be without injured fullback Valentine Holmes. Fellow Origin reps Francis Molo and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow have all been named to play. I think the Cowboys will struggle to fill the void of Holmes here.
Suggested bet – 1u Roosters -10.5 at $1.90
Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights
Both sides come off big wins, with the Storm thumping the Roosters 46-0 and the Knights dominating the Cowboys 38-0. A lot will depend on how Kalyn Ponga pulls up from Origin duties – he will be a huge factor in whether the Knights can trouble the Storm. Star duo fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen and hooker Harry Grant remain on the sidelines, while a bevy of key players (Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch) will be monitored for fitness. There’s no shortage of depth at the Storm however, and they should be able to field a more than capable outfit.
Suggested bet – 1u Storm -17.5 at $1.90
New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers
The Warriors have lost five on the trot, and despite being competitive in numerous clashes this year, they are simply no longer a betting prospect. As for the Panthers, they have regrouped after two losses to start the Origin period to record back-to-back wins over Sydney and Parramatta. The stats are in favour of the Panthers, who have not lost form their past eight day games, while the Warriors have not won in Queensland since 2019. Both sides are likely to have key personnel changes. But unsurprisingly, it’s the Panthers who have the best depth and they should prove too clinical for the patchy Warriors.
Suggested bet – 1u Penrith -7.5 at $1.85
Brisbane Broncos v Wests Tigers
Two sides are languishing towards the bottom of the table, but the Broncos have home ground advantage and go into this as favourites. They will be fresh after the week off following their shock win over the Sharks. The Tigers have lost their last three but hung in there well in their last match, outscoring the Rabbitohs in the second half in a 38-22 loss. Payne Haas, Xavier Coates and Thomas Flegler have been named to back up from Origin III. The Tigers have won their last two against the Broncos, including the most recent 48-0 win at Leichardt.
No suggested bet
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canterbury Bulldogs
Easily the biggest mismatch of the round with the Rabbitohs rightful short-priced favourites to beat the lowly Bulldogs. The Bulldogs responded from their 66-0 loss to the Sea Eagles a week earlier to push the Roosters last week, but they were ultimately outgunned 22-16. Interestingly, if you forget the Bulldogs most recent clash with the Rabbitohs, when beaten 38-0, their record in this fixture is quite acceptable. The problem is, Rabbitohs guns Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds will be hungry, and fresh, after missing out on an Origin call-up. All four of the Rabbitohs Origin stars – Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Murray, Damien Cook and Dane Gagai have also been named.
Suggested bet – 1u Rabbitohs -25.5 at $1.90