The 2015 NRL regular season is over which means it is finally the business end of the year and it is Finals footy! The top four sides are guaranteed a second week whilst the bottom four sides of the top eight are required to play elimination rugby league. Here’s our NRL Week 1 Finals Betting Tips and Preview.
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Sydney Roosters (1st) vs Melbourne Storm (4th) (Friday 7.45pm AEST)
The weekend kicks off with a great clash as the two inform sides of the competition come up against each other. The Roosters are on an incredible 12 match winning streak whilst the Storm have defeated the third-placed Cowboys at home and backed it up with an even more impressive win against the second-placed Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. They were able to manage the two wins on the back of their defence, which is exactly how you win finals football.
However, they come up against the Easts who have the best attack and defence in the competition. Despite losing Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to a season ending injury when he was playing his best football, the Roosters have had other players step up and fill the void left by the New Zealand international.
Mitchell Pearce has not been named for this weekend, however it is highly likely that he will play. During his absence James Malloney has stepped up and Jackson Hastings has been able to fill the hole very well considering his inexperience.
The Roosters will come away with a narrow victory as they demonstrate their dominance and they will be one win away from a second grand final in three years.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs (5th) vs St George Illawarra Dragons (8th) (Saturday 5.50pm AEST)
The Bulldogs have won five of their past six matches and are the second most inform side behind the Roosters heading into the Finals series. Aiden Tolman returns to the starting side as their forward pack is now at full strength. They should be dominant in the middle of the field and it will be hard to contain for the Dragons despite the fact they have been a strong defensive side throughout the season.
Joel Thompson and Gareth Widdop haven’t been named to play in what is a massive blow to the chances for the side. Thompson holds up the left edge in defence and is a weapon in attack whilst Widdop bring stability to the side and has partnered Benji Marshall in the halves well for the last season and a half. With or without Widdop though, the Dragons don’t stand a chance as they have lost or only struggled to defeat the teams on the bottom of the ladder in recent weeks and haven’t defeated a top 8 side since round 12.
Brisbane Broncos (2nd) vs North Queensland Cowboys (3rd) (Saturday 7.55pm AEST)
The Cowboys have received a massive boost as Michael Morgan was named to return at five-eighth. They have been without the services of Morgan for the past two weeks and have looked a bit off in their attack despite scoring 40 points against the Titans on the weekend. His return will also help Johnathan Thurston in attack as it takes a massive load off of his shoulders.
The Broncos have had an injury scare throughout the week with Corey Parker stopping halfway through a training session on Wednesday with a twinge in his hamstring. If he is forced to miss this weekend's clash it will be a massive boost for the Cowboys as they won’t have to fear the constant threat of his offloads and also the load he does in attack and defence will have to be picked up by another player.
This match will be a massive battle across the field with the teams very equal in the forward pack and outside backs but where the Cowboys gain a massive advantage is in the halves. Despite Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford both having great seasons, the Cowboys have the experience of Thurston along with the x-factor of Morgan at their exposal. Lachlan Coote has also had a tremendous season and he has six tries and 13 try assists to his name compared to Darius Boyd’s 2 tries and 7 assists.
The way the Broncos defend is by letting the opposition forwards make the most of there metres before tackling them to the ground on the back foot and they don’t utilise much wrestling. This will be their downfall in this match as on the back of a strong roll on the Cowboys will be dangerous in attack.
TIP: Cowboys @ $2.30 with Ladbrokes - (using promo below)
Cronulla Sharks (6th) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (7th) (Sunday 4.10pm AEST)
The Rabbits have been their own worst enemy heading into the Finals as they will be without two star players due to suspension. Issac Luke will miss his second match in a row this Sunday whilst George Burgess will be sidelined for the next two matches if Souths make it that far due to throwing a water bottle at Kane Evans in their loss last weekend. The forward will be a massive loss this weekend as they come up against the Sharks outfit that bases their attack up the middle of the field.
Whilst the Red and Green forward pack gets worse, the boys from the Shire welcome back their star forward Andrew Fifita after he has spent six weeks on the sideline due to suspension for his off field indiscretions. The big fella will be well rested and he could provide the x-factor the side needs to get themselves over the line. He will bring much needed impact and energy off the bench.
Despite the return of Greg Inglis, his involvement may be limited because he only went under the knife two weeks ago on his knee injury. The Bunnies won’t be able to match it up front with the Sharks as the defending champions will bow out of the finals in the first week.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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