Panthers’ aim: 11th
rugby win in a row
By Luke Slater
Parramatta Eels vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
5:50 a.m. ET Thursday, Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta
Eels -6.5 (-110) Rabbitohs + 6.5 (-125) Over-Under 37.5
Last week the Eels ended the Melbourne Storm’s eight-match winning streak, rolling 14-0. While the Eels kept the Storm scoreless, it was not a performance indicative of a team sitting third on the competition ladder. The Storm were down several key players, but the Eels mustered only two tries for the whole game, none in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs put on a clinic against rival Manly, scoring over 50 points for the first
time this season. The attack has been on point recently for the Rabbitohs, averaging 36 points over the last four games, best in the competition over that span. But the Rabbitohs have yet to
beat a team in the top eight. They have made a habit of beating the poorer teams.
Tip: Taking Over 37.5 points and Eels -6.5
St. George Illawarra Dragons vs. Gold Coast Titans
4 a.m. ET Friday, Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Dragons -10.0 (-110) Titans + 10.0 (-115) Over-Under 44.5
The Dragons’ odd season continued after last week’s four-point win over struggling Brisbane. In contrast, a week earlier the Dragons upset the third-place Eels. Over the last six games, the Dragons have covered the spread only once. They’re a very tough team to trust, especially as they fall out of finals contention.
The Titans have not been much better, going down to Canberra last week 36-16. That makes it
three matches in a row in which the Titans have conceded 30 points or more. It’s been a tough season with only four wins in 15 games. Their effort on defense may be stalling.
Tip: Over 44.5
Sydney Roosters vs. Brisbane Broncos
5:55 a.m. ET Friday, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Roosters -24.5 (-115) Broncos + 24.5 (-115) Over-Under 47.5
The Roosters found their form last week against Wests Tigers after a few disappointing results leading up to the match. Before that win, the Roosters had gone 1-4-0 ATS in their last five. The Roosters covered the spread easily against the Tigers, scoring 38 points and conceding only 16. The Roosters also will welcome back at least two starters to face the Broncos.
News circulating this week indicates that Anthony Seibold has coached his last game for the Broncos. It has been a horrible season for the Broncos, who have won only three of 15 games. Over the last 10 games, the Broncos are 2-8-0 ATS.
Tip: After the Roosters’ strong performance last week, expect them to send a message again and cover -24.5
New Zealand Warriors vs. Newcastle Knights
1 a.m. ET Saturday, Scully Park, Tamworth
Warriors + 7.5 (-115) Knights -7.5 (-115) Over-Under 40.5
The Warriors continue to punch above their weight, though without any real chance of making the finals. They battled for a 20-14 victory over the Bulldogs last week despite trailing several times. This makes it five games in a row in which the Warriors have covered the spread.
Despite the Knights blanking the North Queensland Cowboys 12-0, it was a forgettable game. Making it even worse was the ACL injury to new Knights signing Blake Green.
Tip: I can see this being a close, high-scoring game. Taking Warriors + 7.5, Over 40.5
Cronulla Sharks vs. North Queensland Cowboys
3:30 a.m. ET Saturday, Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Sharks -11.5 (-145) Cowboys + 11.5 (+ 110) Over-Under 43.5
Before last week, the Sharks had been on a great run, winning four of five and covering the spread in all five. However, last week’s loss to the Panthers made it quite apparent they are
still a tier below the title contenders. The Sharks conceded 38 points and scored only 12, well below their average of 25.
The Cowboys fell in a poor performance against the just-as-poor Newcastle Knights. Before that game, the Cowboys had been solid, with a one-point loss to the Rabbitohs and a two-point loss to the Raiders.
Tip: I’m keen on Sharks -11.5 and Over 43.5
Penrith Panthers vs. Wests Tigers
5:35 a.m. ET Saturday, Panthers Stadium, Penrith
Panthers -16.0 (-110) Tigers + 16.0 (-110) Over-Under 44.5
The Panthers proved once again why they are title contenders, walking over the Sharks last week. That ran their club-record winning streak to 10.
The Tigers were battling for finals contention last week against the Roosters but showed very little fight. The Roosters scored four tries before the Tigers could score their first.
Tip: Panthers to cover the spread easily
Melbourne Storm vs. Manly Sea Eagles
Midnight ET Saturday, Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
Storm -10.5 (-110) Eagles + 10.5 (-115) Over-Under 44.5
The Storm suffered their first loss in eight matches last week but should not be disappointed. They have had arguably the worst run of injuries for teams in the competition, losing another key player in Brandon Smith to a broken jaw last week against the Eels.
Manly was blown away last week by the Rabbitohs 56-16. That result makes it four losses in a row, and Manly’s hopes of playing finals football are slowly fading.
Tip: Storm should bounce back and cover the spread of -10.5 against a poor Manly side
Canberra Raiders vs. Canterbury Bulldogs
2:05 a.m. ET Sunday, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Raiders -16.0 (-110) Bulldogs -16.0 (-110) Over-Under 42.5
The Raiders continue to put in solid performances despite a hefty injury list. They made it look easy with a 36-16 victory over the Titans last week. The Raiders have scored 36 points two weeks in a row as they look to build their average attack. They sit ninth in points per game at 20.3.
The Bulldogs might think they should have won last week’s game against the Warriors, as they had several chances but could not convert. The Bulldogs’ 14 points in that game was right on their average, which is a league worst. They are coming up against a Raiders side that is now scoring for fun. They may struggle to keep up if this turns into a free-flowing, high-scoring affair.
Tip: Raiders -16.0