The NRL preliminary finals get underway this Friday night with a massive game between the Raiders and Rabbitohs. The action continues on Saturday night with Sydney and Melbourne squaring off for the second spot in the Grand Final! We have a full preview and betting tips for both games below.
A sold-out GIO Stadium will feature the first Preliminary final on Friday as the Canberra Raiders take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs. This is the first final in Canberra since 2016 and the home faithful will be desperate to see them reach their first decider since 1994. Canberra has enjoyed the week off after upsetting the Storm in Melbourne and watched Souths battle it out against Manly in a brutal affair. The Raiders haven’t been overly great at home recently with 3 straight losses to the Warriors, Sea Eagles and Roosters. But all 3 games were decided by 4 points so it’s sure to be another close affair this Friday.
Interestingly, the only meeting between these two teams in Canberra also finished with a 4 point margin in Souths favour. The Rabbitohs will look to lean on their forward pack and that will hopefully provide Damien Cook with the space to weave his magic. Last week, the underrated Liam Knight led the way in the forward pack and Cam Murray scored a double. Meanwhile, Sam Burgess played 75 minutes in a positive sign for this meeting against fellow Englishman John Bateman/Elliot Whitehead. The problem could be on the edges where Dane Gagai struggled to stop Moses Suli. So the likes of Leilua/Whitehead/Bateman will look to exploit Gagai’s defensive issues all night. Ultimately, we like the chances of a close final considering all of the last 8 games in Canberra have fallen below a margin of 10.5 points. The Under also has a nice 8-3 record at GIO Stadium in 2019. So it figures to be a close and low scoring affair.
The Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm reignite their rivalry this Saturday night at the SCG. It’s probably the Grand Final most NRL fans want to see but a Preliminary final should be just as good. For the Roosters, they’re going to be well-rested and hard to beat. They crushed the Rabbitohs in the first 40 minutes in Week 1 of the finals. Their record at the SCG is quite scary since they’ve won 9 straight games since Round 1. They do receive a blow in team news with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves suspended. But Isaac Liu is capable of stepping up. There’s also a slim chance of hooker Jake Friend returning. We’d say they won’t risk him if it means he might miss a potential GF. The Storm were hurting after Week 1 of the finals, losing to the Raiders by 2 points and that saw them move into the Roosters side of the finals. However, they smashed the Eels in the first 20 minutes of last week’s semi-final. Josh Addo-Carr started the 32-0 romp with a brilliant solo try and the defensive effort by Melbourne was impressive, considering the Eels were coming off a 58-0 result. They’ll need a similar type of line speed against all of the Roosters attacking weapons. With Hargreaves missing, that really does help Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who was very hard to stop last week. The Storm can win the field position battle and that should help their already elite defence. Bellamy made an interesting late team chance last week as Chambers will now come off the bench.
The move to add Curtis Scott is likely with an eye on tackling Latrell Mitchell in the centres. In the 2 meetings this season, they’ve both been nail-biters. Sydney got the job done in Melbourne in April with a golden point victory thanks to Mitchell’s long-range field goal. Then, Melbourne got revenge in Adelaide with a comeback 14-12 victory. As a result, the Under is set very low for this clash at 34.5 points. Considering the Over has hit in 7 of the Roosters 10 games at the SCG, we like the chances of the trend continuing. It’s a fast track in Sydney and that should help both sides in attack. Melbourne finished the season as the best scoring team (26.3 ppg) and the likes of Munster, Addo-Carr and their forward pack should have success for the 80 minutes. Meanwhile, the Roosters have only scored under 20 points once at the SCG in 2019 and attacking plays with Keary can expose the Storm’s defence, which was the case in last year’s GF.
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