Rabbitohs-Roosters highlight rugby's final week

By Luke Slater  () 

The Rabbitohs and the Roosters reignite the oldest rivalry in the Australian National Rugby League in Week 20, the last week of the regular season.

Brisbane Broncos vs. North Queensland Cowboys

5:50 a.m. ET Thursday, Brisbane

Broncos + 1.5 (-110) Cowboys -1.5 (-115)

Over/Under 42.5

The Cowboys-Broncos rivalry has been one of the most exciting over the last five to 10 years, coming to a head at their 2015 Grand Final faceoff, won by the Cowboys 17-16.

This year both teams’ Grand Final dreams were quickly erased, making this game far from high-stakes. Cowboys sit 14th on the ladder with the second-worst defense. The Broncos are dead last on the ladder and in points allowed. Still, the Cowboys’ season was much more respectable than the Broncos’ embarrassment. 

Tip: Cowboys -1.5 and Over. 

Gold Coast Titans vs. Newcastle Knights

4 a.m. ET Friday, Gold Coast  

Titans + 4.0 (-110) Knights -4.0 (-110)

Over/Under 43.5

The Titans continued their solid finish to the season, beating Manly quite convincingly 42-24 while being + 5.5 in the spread. They have covered four games in a row and are 7-2-0 since hiring coach Justin Holbrook. Gold Coast started the season 1-5 but has a chance to finish with five consecutive wins.

The Knights recorded a comfortable 42-18 win over the struggling Dragons last week. Now they are playing for a home final, which is critical for a deep run. They will be boosted by the return of rising star Bradman Best and dummy half Kurt Mann. The Knights have been solid over the last six games, going 5-1-0 ATS. The game they failed to cover was a 42-12 loss to the third-place Roosters. 

Tip: Can picture this being an arm-wrestle; Under 43.5.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Sydney Roosters

5:55 a.m. ET Friday, Sydney

Rabbitohs + 13.5 (-130) Roosters -13.5 (even)

Over/Under 44.5

The oldest rivalry in the National Rugby League continues. Both teams have secured spots for finals football and will be keen to head into the first week of the finals with a win. The Rabbitohs have been up and down all season. South Sydney kept Parramatta to nil while piling on 38 points in late August. However, just last week, the Rabbitohs lost 26-16 to the 15th-place Bulldogs. 

The Roosters have awoken from their midseason slumber since losing to Melbourne in early August. They are 5-0-0 ATS in the five games since, scoring an average of 38 points per game.

Tip: Keen on Over 44.5 and Roosters -13.5.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Penrith Panthers

5:55 a.m. ET Friday, Sydney 

Bulldogs + 14.5 (-105) Panthers -14.5 (-125)

Over/Under 45.5

The Bulldogs pulled off a nice upset last week over the Rabbitohs, winning 26-16. That snapped a seven-game losing streak and lifted them off last place on the ladder. But they might be without key halfback Lachlan Lewis as he recovers from last week’s knock in the head.

The Panthers locked up the minor premiership last week with their 32-12 win over the Cowboys. They are entering the finals in great form, going 6-2-0 ATS in the last eight matches. The Panthers managed to rest some key players last week and likely will rest some players for this match as well.

Tip: Staying clear of the spread but like this to be Under 45.5. 

Cronulla Sharks vs. Canberra Raiders

1 a.m. ET Saturday, Sydney 

Sharks + 10.5 (-110) Raiders -10.5 (-110)

Over/Under 44.5

The Sharks had a nightmare game against the Roosters, losing 34-18. Shaun Johnson, who leads the competition in try assists, snapped his Achilles’ tendon and starts a long road to recovery. He was the key to unlocking the attack and a big reason the Sharks sit fifth in points. They do have young talent, but the lack of experience will handicap them for the finals. 

The Raiders’ patchy run to the finals continued last week in an odd game against the Warriors. The Raiders struggled to find their groove, as halfback George Williams exited early with a head knock, Jack Wighton was sent to the penalty box for 10 minutes and they endured a 7-1 penalty against their favor, all in the first half. They regrouped and won, however, and are 1-3-0 ATS in their last four games. 

Tip: Over 44.5.

Wests Tigers vs. Parramatta Eels

3:30 a.m. ET Saturday, Sydney

Tigers + 9.5 (-115) Eels -9.5 (-115)

Over/Under 41.5

Wests Tigers put up a pretty poor performance against the Storm last week, losing 50-22. With that result, they slumped to 2-7-0 ATS in their last nine matches, with seven SU losses over that stretch.

Although the Eels walked away with a win last week, bettors will have taken careful notes. The Eels have struggled to score as of late and managed only 26 points against the bottom-feeding Broncos, who average 31 points on defense. The Eels have averaged just shy of 14 points per game over the last eight matches, in which they are 1-7-0 ATS. The Eels are sitting in third place on the ladder but average only 10.5 against teams in the top four. 

Tip: Two teams that have been profitable to fade. Taking Under 41.5.

New Zealand Warriors vs. Manly Sea Eagles

5:35 a.m. ET Saturday, Central Coast

Warriors + 4.5 (-115) Sea Eagles -4.5 (-105)

Over/Under 44.5

The Warriors’ tough 2020 season ends against struggling Manly. The New Zealand side has been separated from friends and family back home for nearly four months and has outperformed throughout. The Warriors have been profitable for punters, going 8-1-0 ATS over the last nine games. They lost star fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a hamstring injury last week and will be without his expertise for the last match of their season.

Manly welcomed back its own star fullback, Tom Trbojevic, from injury last week, only to see him suffer a shoulder injury that will keep him out this week. Overall, a poor season for the club, winning one of its last eight games and covering the spread only twice in those games. 

Tip: Warriors + 142. 

St. George Illawarra Dragons vs. Melbourne Storm

2:05 a.m. ET Sunday, Sydney

Dragons + 11.5 (even) Storm -11.5 (-120)

Over/Under 43.5

The Dragons’ steep decline continued with a 42-18 loss to the Knights last week. That made four matches in a row they had failed to cover the spread, and they are only 2-7-0 ATS in their last nine. 

The Storm continued their attacking brilliance, scoring 50 points against the Tigers last week. They are averaging 30.5 points over the last nine games but still leaking points on defense. I would not be surprised if the Storm covered the 43.5 spread by themselves.

Tip: Very keen on Storm -11.5 and Over 43.5.

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