Week 1 of the Australian National Rugby Finals started with a bang. Three of the four games had a final margin within half a point of the spread. However, the Over hit for each game by an average of 18 points — 20.5, 9.5, 20.5 and 22.5. The speed of the game is creating far more scoring opportunities.
Week 2 has some close games on paper and should result in exciting rugby.
Sydney Roosters vs. Canberra Raiders
4:50 a.m. ET Friday, Sydney
Roosters -4.5 (-115) Raiders + 4.5 (-105)
Canberra travels to Sydney in a replay of last year’s Grand Final, in which the Roosters won in controversial fashion. A lot has changed in those 12 months, and the Roosters are no longer the competition benchmark. The Roosters come into this match with consecutive losses. Despite the massive loss to the Rabbitohs a week before the finals, I believe the Roosters have picked up their standard. They were 5-1-0 ATS in the six games leading up to last week and covered + 1.5 last week against the competition-leading Panthers.
As for the Raiders, they did win as -12.5 underdogs against the Roosters earlier this year, but that feels like a while ago. The teams played again in early September, with the Roosters prevailing 18-6. Last week the Raiders beat an injury-ravaged Cronulla Sharks side 32-20, with some controversial referee decisions going in favor of Canberra. The Raiders have performed well in a season in which they have lost several key players due to injury.
Tip: The Roosters are improving each week and should cover -4.5. Keen on the Under 42.5 as well.
Parramatta Eels vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
4:50 a.m. ET Saturday, Parramatta
Eels + 5.5 (-115) Rabbitohs -5.5 (-105)
The Eels did not have the best run into the finals, failing to cover the spread in their previous five matches. While they did win three of the five matches, none of those teams played in the finals this year. Not only that, Eels suffered a season-ending injury to star winger Maika Sivo, and representative winger Blake Ferguson has only a chance of playing this week.
The last time these sides met was only six weeks ago. The Rabbitohs embarrassed the Eels 38-0 in a nearly perfect performance. This looks to be the best form guide coming into this game, with conditions very much the same for this clash.
The Rabbitohs have proven not only that they can beat the best, they can score some points doing so. In addition to their massive win against the Eels, the Rabbitohs also beat the Roosters 60-8 in late September.
Tip: I called the Rabbitohs to be one of the last four teams standing when the finals started. Rabbitohs -5.5 and Under 45.5.