WE’RE down to four teams in this year’s NRL competition, with the regular season’s top three plus the defiant Cowboys in the hunt for Premiership glory.
Competition favourites Melbourne host Brisbane on Friday night in their quest for Grand Final redemption. The Broncos welcome back Darius Boyd, but will it be enough to topple the minor premiers?
On Saturday, the Roosters will take on the Finals’ fairytale side North Queensland who are attempting to defy more than just the odds and to play a second decider in three years.
Here’s how our sports traders see both fixtures play out. You can get set on both games at TopBetta here.
Melbourne Storm $1.27 v Brisbane Broncos $3.96
Runaway minor premiers, a polite qualifying final wake up call and a week off into a home Prelim. Could the Melbourne Storm be better placed?
There’s nothing juicy about the $1.27 for a Storm victory over the Broncos on Friday night but there’s certainly little to suggest they won’t be winning in style. Importantly, the Eels didn’t roll over in Week 1 of the finals, giving Melbourne a stern test and providing them with enough to work on in the fortnight break. They’ve got three of the four best individual players in the game and class should prevail.
But like Parramatta, the Broncos won’t let them have it all their own way. They ground out a win in last week’s Semi Final on the back of a brilliant defensive effort and will need to produce more of the same here. But perhaps that was their Grand Final? The return of Darius Boyd will leave to a reshuffle, with Kodi Nikorima to halfback and Benji Marshall to the bench. Whether that is enough to give them enough bullets remains a legitimate question.
This really does look Melbourne’s to lose and it is a matter of what stand you’re taking on the margin, with the early line at -9.5 ($1.80)
Betting tip: Melbourne 1-12 @ $2.75
Sydney Roosters $1.37 v North Queensland Cowboys $3.23
They’ve twice defied long odds to score upset victories in this year’s finals series, but the North Queensland Cowboys will have to lift to another level entirely to down the Sydney Roosters in Saturday’s second Preliminary Final.
The Cowboys clung on to their top eight spot after a late season slump but have since defeated reigning premiers Cronulla and surprise packets Parramatta, the latter a dominant performance. Their charge has been led by Michael Morgan who, in Johnathan Thurston’s absence, has taken over the playmaking reigns seamlessly. Their defence has been very strong in both matches but once again we’re struggling to see how their injury depleted squad can overcome the opposition on paper.
The Roosters made a flying start in their Week 1 win over Brisbane, only to allow the Broncos back in the game and be forced to pull out a late try to get over the line. To win the premiership they need to maintain their intensity across the park for longer but at an individual level they certainly have the cattle to get the job done here. Mitchell Pearce can stand up and be counted in this one and assert his side’s premiership credentials.
The Roosters’ freshness and home ground advantage should be key in this, but the Cowboys have shown plenty of heart throughout the finals thus far. If they bring that spirit to this one we are in for a tight clash, but we think the fatigue factor could be key late and a potential blowout is on the cards.
Betting tip: Roosters -7.5 @ $1.87