The NRL Finals get underway this weekend with a massive four game slate! We have a preview and betting tips for all four games, kicking off on Friday night with the Roosters taking on the Rabbitohs!
After a brutal Round 25 encounter between the Rabbitohs and Roosters, the two sides meet once again on Friday night. Last week's clash had everything you'd expect from the Souths/Roosters rivalry and we'll be expecting more of the same this Friday. Ultimately, Souths were the better side as they stormed home from a 10-2 deficit in the 16-10 result. From the 24th minute onwards, the Roosters were held scoreless by the desperate Souths defence and after half-time, Souths scored 2 tries in succession to set up the victory. The major difference on Friday will be the venue. Sydney have definitely enjoyed their time at the SCG this season with 8 wins from 9 games.
Interestingly, Souths are the only team to beat them at the SCG this season, which occurred in Round 1 (26-16). The team news does favour the home side as they welcome back Keary, Taukeiaho, Morris and Aubusson. Meanwhile, Sam Burgess will miss the clash and Dane Gagai is also out. But Souths are proving to be the Roosters bogey side in 2019 and we like their chances of keeping this one close for the 80 minutes. Five of the last 6 meetings have been decided by under 10.5 points and we like the trend to continue.
Saturday's doubleheader begins at AAMI Park with a mouthwatering clash between the Storm and Raiders. It's hard to forget the last encounter in Round 22 as Canberra stormed home for a famous victory. They were down 18-0 at one stage on the back of two sin-bins. But they outlasted the Storm in the end with 22 unanswered points. Melbourne will obviously be out for revenge and Craig Bellamy won't have to remind them of the last meeting. The home side welcomes back Munster, Addo-Carr and Hughes has won the halfback position from Brodie Croft.
It's a similar story for the Raiders who welcome back a host of stars after they were rested in Round 25. While the last meeting totalled 40 points, finals are a different story and we like the chances of a low scoring encounter. Both sides prided themselves on defence in 2019 with the Storm allowing just 12.5 ppg and the Raiders just behind them with 15.6 points allowed. The Under has a great finals record at AAMI Park at 10-3 since 2010 and it also had a positive record in 2019 at 7-4.
Brookvale Oval will feature an intriguing elimination final between the Manly Sea Eagles and Cronulla Sharks this Saturday. The Sea Eagles have limped into the finals with a number of injuries to key players and now Martin Taupau is out with suspension. In fact, they had to receive clearance from the NRL to select Tony Williams for his first NRL game since Round 8, 2018. So the money is well with the Sharks despite them playing this final on the road. They qualified for the finals last week with a comfortable 25-8 victory over the Tigers, which was mainly set up in the second half with 3 tries in just 6 minutes. Their squad looks healthy at the right time of the season and they could still add Matt Moylan in the coming days. The interesting part about this matchup is the fact the Sea Eagles absolutely own the Sharks in the head to head.
Manly has won 5 on the trot against them at Brookvale and they hold an impressive 13-2 SU record since 2010. So with a massive injury list, the Sea Eagles only chance is to hold on defensively and use the kicking game of DCE to their advantage. Des Hasler should have them up defensively and hopefully, that will see them stop the Sharks attack and go forward through the likes of Gallen and Fifita off the bench. So we like the chances of the Under, which is 4-1 in the last 5 night meetings.
Bankwest Stadium will host its first NRL final on Sunday afternoon as the Eels take on the Broncos. Parramatta has been a dangerous side at Bankwest in 2019 and it's going to be a tough ask for the Broncos in front of a heavily biased crowd. Last week, the Eels easily accounted for the Sea Eagles at this venue 32-16 and they also smashed Brisbane back in June, 38-10. The Broncos did beat the Eels recently at Suncorp Stadium, 17-16 in golden point. However, they have been pretty awful in Sydney this season. Which includes defeats to Souths (38-6), Knights (26-12), Eels (38-10) and recently last week against the Dogs (30-14). They do welcome back Joe Ofahengaue for this clash.
The young Broncos look to be facing a difficult task of stopping the Eels momentum at Bankwest. So we like the Overs after the Broncos have leaked plenty of points in Sydney this season and they were also thrashed in last year's elimination final at home against the Dragons. Over has hit in 7 of 10 games involved the Eels at Bankwest and that looks the best play.
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