NRL Tips & Game Previews | Grand Final | 2021

MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

Game Preview Notes


Finals Football:

Finals Facts

  • 16 of the last 20 Premiers have won the comp off the back of finishing top 4, winning week one and having a week off into their Prelim final game (and then winning)
  • 9 of last 10 winners of week 3 did so after a week off
  • 11 of last 13 Premiers were one of the Top 2 defensive sides that season – this year Panthers and Storm (same as last year)
  • 6 of the last 7 grand finalists who had played 4 weeks straight, have lost
  • No Origin or International Rep #7 or #6 – No Chance
    In the last 41 years 39 of the 41 Premiership winners had a rep (Origin or International) #7 or #6

Key Winning Criteria

  • Top 4
  • Top 2 best defence
  • Win Week 1 then Week off
  • Origin or International Rep #7 or #6

Overall Record (excluding finals)



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Grand Final Preview Notes

Coaches Head to Head

I.Cleary 9 Bennett 15                    

My Handicap
+1.0 Panthers v Rabbits – Suncorp

I am certainly different to the market (-3.5 Panthers) and have a small lean to Rabbits, who arrive here with the distinct advantage of a week off, less recent wear and tear and two recent positive match ups against the Panthers – where in Rd23 they led 12-0 before some very questionable lopsided referring decisions that saw an 11-2 penalty account against them and then an important finals week one 16-10 win. Panthers off four weeks back to back play have now lost Pangai and have questions over quite a number carrying injury issues.

Ground: Suncorp
36.5 Total Points (market position) – note opened 40.5 and has quickly through recent days dropped to 39.5 then 38.5 then below

Panthers have won 6 of the last 8 head to head, but Rabbits come off quality recent week one finals win. It’s worth noting that favourites have a poor record in recent Grand Finals with just 1 of the last 6 covering the handicap line.

Pangai early out for Panthers, and significant to final match up. Both sides will have numerous players carry injury of some sort as we’d expect into this game, but the Panthers seem somewhat more noticeable with the likes of key players Fisher-Harris, Leota, Nathan Cleary, Edwars and Kenny while the Rabbits have Reynolds. All of these expected to play but what eventual influence this has in either their ability to play at full tilt and or be busted in the game could well have very obvious influence.

As noted above the advantage of a) finishing top 4 and then b) winning week one and a week off can’t be understated, this has produced 16 of the last 20 title winners. The last team to face a GF playing 4 weeks straight was the Cowboys in 2017 when then flogged in the final game 34-6, while they to were the last team to win through all 4 weeks in 2015 when winning in golden point extra time 17-16. In the modern game this week off and factor has clearly become a major factor.

Delving a little deeper into this, there are two key points. Firstly, into the final round many top of table teams chose to rest many key players from the final round game and save them for their finals campaign. The early indications 10 days prior was that the Panthers were likely to do the same but then off the back of the Storm’s surprise loss to the Eels and the Minor Premiership title now within reach should results go their way Ivan Cleary chose to play his full list against a depleted Eels (13 outs) with a revised goal of a possible minor premiership and then look to win week one and then have their week off. Such plan then did not eventuate with their week one loss to their now opponent and so if we work backwards from the final round the Rabbits key players have had the benefit of not playing the final round and then week two, while the Panthers have now been full tilt all the way through for the last 5 or 6 or 7 weeks. In the final series alone this has mean that to date the Panthers have had 3 finals game equaling a total of 1,167 tackles @ an average of 389 per game, while the Rabbits have had 2 finals games totaling 628 tackles @ average of 314 a game. That’s an extra 529 that the panthers have made in physical contact and wear and tear across what has also been a series of demanding physical games in Rabbits, Eels and then Storm. All of this doesn’t leave the Panthers dead in the water, but it sure as hell has to be an issue and could well start to tell into the last 10 minutes into half time and or through the second half.

Another factor off any of this injury dislocation is the strength and positional back up and rotation off the bench for each team. Pangai is a major out, he’s a big physical body who takes it upon himself to hit and hurt people and intimidate the middle (and did an excellent job of this last week v Storm). In carrying injury what level can Fisher-Harris and Leota play up to – they have each had stand out seasons, does Koroisau have a back up in Kenny or is he likely to be asked to play full minutes and or is the rotation Tyron May? I certainly think the Rabbits have a far stronger bench offering with players of influence in Thomas Burgess, Arrow and Marshall should the Panthers have late changes and or fatigue issues.

Weather – Brisbane is forecast to get rain Thursday, heavy rain Friday and then possible light rain early Saturday and then clear into sunny drying conditions. Suncorp is a ground that drains and drys very well but with heavy rain Friday it’s likely the top surface could be a bit slippery underfoot at times.

I think the two most recent match ups between these two teams and then the appointment of Gerard Sutton as referee tells us everything we need to know about how the game will be played. It is clear through the last 4 weeks that the referees have been told to keep their influence out of the game as much as possible and so we have seen far less 6 again calls and penalty influence which has then led to a very short space between both sides (not 10 mtrs) and at times a dogs breakfast of a mess in the play the ball. With both teams on top of each other and far less room to play and move the game is going to be resolved through the middle, and any expansive play and ball shifts likely only after a clean line break or second phase off load. Everything else is going to be sorted out in the middle third of the field.

While the Rabbits have been well known through recent seasons for their ball shift, expansive running play and attack in particular to their left edge Bennett has tighten thing up significantly through the last four weeks, and in the Rd23 clash with the Panthers took them on early in the game through the middle, had success in opening some yardage and opportunity off which a couple of his key play makers were able to play off and they led 12-0. In the finals week one match up they went with a similar plan and again found opportunity, came from 0-6 down to a 10 all half time and then a very hard fought 6-0 second half result for a final 16-10 win. As the game and score indicated there was very little between them in a quality knock em down drag em out style of finals footy, but these last two games for mine certainly provide a pretty clear blue print for what we’ll see in this title deciding game.

Since the influence of Origin and being based away from Penrith Park for many reasons the Panthers for mine have been well off their best of this season and while winning their last two finals games are not back at that level. Defensively they have and remain outstanding, even under duress and fatigue they just keep turning up and scrambling and through their last five games have only conceded a maximum of 16 points while in their last two finals outings it has only been 6. But with the ball they have not been playing with as much yardage and room and the overall form and influence of their key #7 and #6 has been below the 5 star level of of pre Origin. That defensive attitude and effort will take them deep into this game – and could well win it for them, but they are going to also need some sharp attack and at least 3 tries to be in a winning position.

Conversely I think the Rabbits at the hands of the master Bennett have been at a new peak through the last 4 or so weeks. Their first half effort in Rd23 and then overall 80 minute in beating the Panthers has been all but their best this season, and made of the right defensive attitude and effort that wins games in September. They got the job done last week with in the end a comfortable win over the Eagles, conceded a couple of junk time tries in the final minutes but still a commanding win and I expect them back at a level similar to the recent finals effort against this opponent a few weeks ago.

The match up, middle forward strengths and styles and then likely referring all combine to point to a tough tight forward dominated game. A key error or fatigue look the turning points. I think the Rabbits have some advantage through the middle and both teams if they can create some room or a half break can both finish down either edge. There’s not a lot between them.

11 of the last 14 grand finals have delivered tough tight games with the final score total under the market setting, while 4 of the last 6 have seen only 33 points or less and 5 of the last 6 head to head match ups between these two teams have resulted in games with 37 or less points. Only 1 of the 5 finals that the Panthers and Rabbits have been involved in so far this month has seen a total over 38 points. Given how the game looks to be played through the middle, the defensive strengths and offering of both teams through recent weeks and the lack of room and 10 mtrs points under 38 points looks the obvious betting play.

Given my expectation of a tight physical game through the middle I like two stand out forwards for the best on ground Clive Churchill Medal, Cameron Murray (Rabbits $10) and Isaah Yeo (Panthers $13), both have had outstanding seasons and have such significant influence on the game and their individual teams performance.

Final game result? I lean to the Rabbits, think that week off is significant and I like the way they have played this opponent through their last two match ups and the quality of their offering in winning in week one. If I was betting on the game result then I think the +3.5 for the Rabbits looks generous.

Tip: Rabbits
Score: 20-12
Best Play: Points Under 38.0
Clive Churchill Medal: Cameron Murray (Rabbits $10) and Isaah Yeo (Panthers $13)


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Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

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NRL Tips & Game Previews | Finals Week 3 | 2021

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MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

-14.5 Eagles v Roosters – Mackay
-11.5 Panthers v Eels – Mackay


Recommended Bet List

Bet 1.0 unit Rabbits -1.5 $1.90
Markets look about right, I am probably 2.5 between them, week off is huge advantage and Rabbits left edge strike is going to really hurt Eagles right edge D (Harper), Eagles did the business for us as expected last Friday night when dropping back a big level, this now is different and aside from the Storm their recent opponents and quality of task has been questionable

Bet 3.5 units Storm -6.5 $1.90 BB
Storm obviously look in box seat for next week, fresh off week off, full strength and have the muscle and defence to shut down the Panthers physically and their room to play, then have the smarts to create play and attack that the Eels lacked last night, they also have a strong hold mentally over opponent given first half of last yrs GF, Panthers look to be limping and come off two big physical games back to back

Bet 1.5 units anytime try Tom Trbojevic (Eagles) + Reuben Garrick (Eagles) $2.72

BB – Indicates Best Bet

Any longer term plays that have been recommended in prior weeks will be listed at the base of this message


Individual Game Tips

Eagles, Panthers


Game Preview Notes

Notes – Finals Football:

Finals Facts

  • 16 of the last 20 Premiers have won the comp off the back of finishing top 4, winning week one and having a week off into their Prelim final game (and then winning)
  • 9 of last 10 winners of week 3 did so after a week off
  • 11 of last 13 Premiers were one of the Top 2 defensive sides that season – this year Panthers and Storm (same as last year)
  • 6 of the last 7 grand finalists who had played 4 weeks straight, have lost
  • No Origin or International Rep #7 or #6 – No Chance
    In the last 41 years 39 of the 41 Premiership winners had a rep (Origin or International) #7 or #6

Key Winning Criteria

  • Top 4
  • Top 2 best defence
  • Win Week 1 then Week off
  • Origin or International Rep #7 or #6

Overall Record (excluding finals)

Note: Just to repeat a point made above, 9 of last 10 winners of week 3 did so after a week off.

-2.5 Rabbits v Eagles – Suncorp

Ground: Suncorp
45.5 Total Points (market position)

Looks cracking match up and has the potential for some quality attack. Both finished 3rd and 4th and now match up here in week three, the Rabbits with the significant advantage of having had a week off. The week off can normally be helpful early in the game (fresh and up and ready to go) and late in the game (more juice through the final 10 to 15 minute period) as well as the obvious of freshening up those who might be a little battle weary and or carrying injury. It can also present a slight mental and confidence edge knowing you have already won through week one.

The Eagles lose Parker and there has been some whispers that they have a few others carrying some injury and or doubt (as to be expected) but we won’t know till final teams are named. The Rabbits appear as expected at full list out of what played two weeks ago.

Head to head the record has been interesting with the Rabbits holding a nice advantage, they have won the last 4 straight, won 10 of the last 14 and have a v Top 4 record this season of 2 and 5 (from 7 games). The Eagles v Top 4 record is 0 and 5 (from 5) and this season when the underdog have only won 4 of those 13 games.

The Eagles long term form line and issue clearly has been winning against the top few teams on the table. The flew home late through the final months of the season to finish top 4 but then once again in week one up against the best in the Storm were found out with a clear 40-12 loss. The Storm clinically pulled them apart that night with a strategic focus targeting the Eagles right edge, most notably Harper but also those on either side in Cherry-Evans, Olakau’atu and Saab. While Harper has had an overall very good season for a freshman he has through recent weeks been highly exposed for some significant defensive weakness. The Storm had a picnic down this edge and then once again last week an ordinary Roosters left edge again exposed these problems and on one occasion ran right through Harper with ease. Hasler and co can do all the work they wish at training this week (and last) but I’d suggest right now the kids confidence is all but near shot and he’s going to be sitting duck. This all becomes a highlighted point as the Rabbits strength is in playing to their left and Cody Walker having time to play short or wide, playing running wide shifts or short back in plays and set up to the likes of Gagai and Johnson (and likely (Taffe). I think so much of the outcome of this game will revolved around the plays and targeting down this edge.

The other then point of interest is with Parker out Suli coming in on the opposite edge. I’m not a fan of his because he can be so rocks and diamonds, he has a real lack of concentration which leads to basic handling errors and can be just as bad as Harper in defence. In the past when the Rabbits have wanted to tactically pull apart an opponent down a right edge focus (like the Eels) they have also done so very well with both Reynolds and Walker leading the way.

Last week the Eagles dropped back a level and won accordingly. But the script was perfect, a non top 4 side who has been limping for months, weak on quality and running on fumes. While winning easily my worry is the actually quality of the game was pretty much rubbish, the Roosters were poor, from the very outset hardly put up much of an offering but also and more importantly the Eagles still had some soft basic errors in them and some of the same defensive issues once again exposed.

Defensively I can’t but rate the Rabbits off their last few outings, in particular the two Panthers games and notably the most recent. They should also take significant confidence and belief out of that. The Eagles have been super across the last 4 months, but again this is a test. I expect they find a bit more latitude with their attack and some options to play, and that Tom T will consistently looking for influence. But whether they are consistently chasing the scoreboard on the back of their edge defence issues looks the key to the game.

The Rabbits look to have been peaking into these last weeks with a very well timed run. Latrell Mitchel has been a huge loss but they have regathered well and the recent win (and defensive effort) over the Panthers was all quality. I marked the Rabbits a 2.5 to 4 pt fav, its not completely clear cut but they should again present a very strong defensive offering that will go a long way to holding back the Eagles and they have the strike to really punch into this game in the right places. Rabbits win for me.

-10.5 Storm v Panthers – Suncorp

Ground: Suncorp
40.5 Total Points (market position)

The two teams who have led the table all season long now match up a week prior to when we expected. The Storm as the top seed win through comfortably in week one, get the week off and importantly get a full list here with everyone on deck including the inclusion of Addo-Carr. The Panthers lose week one in a tough demanding physical game and then get through another very physical tough game last week with a close 8-6 win over the Eels. The Storm are 5 and 1 (6 games) v Top 4, the Panthers 5 and 2 (7 games). Head to head the Storm have won 20 of the last 24 v Panthers, and importantly against them have covered the line 15 of the last 21 games – a very strong head to head record. It is also worth noting that the Panthers now have failed to cover the line as fav or underdog at their last 5 finals appearances, meaning on each occasion not playing up to market expectation. The Storm have also been well suited to living away, the Sunshine Coast has become all but a home away from home and they have all but not missed a beat since being based there in the last half of the comp while thy revel playing at Suncorp winning 13 of their last 14 at the ground. I have noted previously that I think the Panthers have really missed their notable home ground base and advantage and then been hampered by some key injury issues.

I think Ivan Cleary has mucked up the Panthers prep, expecting that they would win week one in advance. Instead of resting key players into the final round he went after a possible minor premiership but they then did fault in week one and so it has mean they are dealing with weekly and ongoing injury and fatigue more than they could have. The Rabbits game was then far more physical than many expected, then into the big body and intense clash last week all of this has to be taking some toll. This will now be week three of the same as we know that the Storm will be very physical but will also ask far more questions in attack than the Eels did, and if they get a break on the scoreboard will be hell bent on wanting to put their foot down. The other key fact here with physical weak and tear and week in week out fatigue is the bench, for mine its chalk and cheese here, the Storm’s 4 bench players would start for the Panthers if their roles were swapped, and 2 to 3 of the Panthers bench are imo lacking in stepping up to the physical contest or what they bring to the game.

The Storm looked perfectly timed for this. Everyone on deck, week off, key experience as the defending premiers of what is required and an ongoing record of being so well prepared by Bellamy to aim up when it matters. The Rabbits have shown through the last 5 or so weeks that the Panthers can be opened up through the middle, they’ll also put a lot of physical pressure on Nathan Cleary, also Luai and Koroisau while the later will now likely be expected to play most of the 80 minutes at #9 as they have lost their key back up player. The Panthers have to be getting short on juice now, the Storm will want to make this really physical on both sides of the ball and really work them over with the physical contest, and wear them down. Smart kicking game, smart field position, make them play as much footy and fatigue off their own end, then use their attack to take and create chances.

I like the Storm here. Very professional and the map into the game, line ups and likely play all looks to their advantage. I would not be surprised at all that they don’t win comfortably (13+).


Longer Term Recommended Bet List

Bet 5 units Storm-Panthers Grand Final Quinella $2.75
On numbers the Storm or Panthers are now an approx 95% chance of either winning the premiership and likely now the clearest stand out top 2 and likely Grand final quinella pairing that we have seen for many many years. On numbers and reality the Eagles are now for mine the only real chance of challenging these two into that final game but would likely then have to win two or three games at their best to make the GF. We already have Storm outright to win comp as a futures bet, rather than hedge with the Panthers I think the better option and value right now is to take the quinella option now a week prior to the finals starting when we still have approx 10 teams taking up some % of the market and so this price much higher now than in a week or weeks to come.

Bet 6 units Storm to win Premiership $2.60
Clearly now the benchmark and the one to beat, Panthers likely to have longer term injury questions over Cleary (shoulder) and Luai (knee), Storm have key depth, confidence and quality combinations

Bet 3 units Eagles to make Top 4 $5.00
Think the price is way too high, Eagles have a very soft run home with only 2 games vs Top 4 contenders then a further 10 vs bottom 8 sides/contenders. Clearly they are very reliant on the fitness of Tom Trbojevic which is factored into the odds and my bet, but if he plays most of these games they give this a huge shake

Bet 3 units Raiders to miss Top 8 $2.00 Topsport $1.95 Tab
Lost 5 straight and should have been beat by 16th placed Bulldogs last week, not a happy crew from everything I hear, think bottom of the 8 gets very competitive in second half of the yr and have to take them on

Bet 4 units Panthers Minor Premiers $3.30 Topsport
Market is also available at Tab and Sportsbet $3.00
Undefeated after 3 rounds, quality longer home record and have depth in key positions, my numbers right now suggest they now appear as $2.00 chance

Bet 5 units Titans top QLD team $1.77 Topsport
Market is also available at Ladbrokes $1.75 and Sportsbet $1.67
We have a small interest speculator on Titans Top 4, think this is a positive way to cover our stake longer term. Three way contest, what we are betting is the final table position between Titans and Cowboys and I’m confident on the Titans progression late last yr (won last 5 games), key signings, positive off season + quality coach that this is the right play. Should Cam Smith turn up mid season as I expect then icing on the cake!

Bet 6 units Storm Top 4 $1.85
Looks an excellent longer term anchor bet, Bellamy’s record of top 4 finishes each season is unparalleled, as is his ability to replace players and bring his team back to the top. They will win near 90% of home games (Melb or Sunshine Coast), have near the best D once again and likely finish top two.

Bet 3 units Broncos most losses $5.00
Expected / rate them closer to $2.00, this price looks very very generous. The squad is weaker than last yr (and they finished with the spoon), start the season with key injury outs, question mark on whether Coach is up to this task and have a hard draw.

Bet 2 units Titans to make Top 4 $4.50
Think the Coach is quality, started to put his imprimatur in them late into the season with some very positive and exciting play/results. They have purchased astutely, top 4 might be a reach (you can save top 8 at $1.85 if you wish) but I just see a) lot of up side and b) a comp with potential long tail. They look the team with the flashing red light for me this season. There is some $5.00 available in some places.


Market Odds Comparison – a quick link to assist with the available odds across many possible providers – nrl-odds-comparisons

Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

Game Notes Preparation: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games in recent years it is now near impossible with the work and list of things that I chose to do to have all game previews written and finished until late in each week or early Saturday am. With the final team lists not announced until Tuesday afternoon, which I then re rate against (current performance, key ins and outs / final team lists and then look to handicap each up coming game then consider a range of form and match up factors towards final potential bets and written game previews. In short with team lists announced late Tuesday that then leaves two days to work through these tasks. I will focus the first preview notes at any game that has a recommended bet so that any key factors and reasoning is then known in advance, and then be working through each game there after in order of day and time (from Thursday onward).

Follow us on Twitter at

@readingtheplay

©Copyright Reading The Play

All care taken. No responsibility accepted. Please check all information at your own discretion. Any prices quoted for suggested bets are accurate at the time of writing. For personal use ONLY. This information may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever or re-used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of Reading The Play.

NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting

MrG’s game previews and analysis for this weeks round of NRL are listed above. Each NRL Preview and Sports Betting Tips message thread will normally open on a Wednesday and list any early game ratings and thoughts. It will be updated each day and then detailed game by game Previews, Ratings and final Bet List will be published online by 8am on the morning of the first game of the round (Thursdays). All subscribers can also receive all key information and updates by direct sms message.

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NRL Tips & Game Previews | Finals Week 2 | 2021

nrl_tips_reading_the_play
MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

-14.5 Eagles v Roosters – Mackay
-11.5 Panthers v Eels – Mackay


Recommended Bet List

Bet 2.5 units Eagles -10.5 $1.90 BB
Eagles -14.5 for me, Roosters have two further key outs from normal starting forward line up and have been running on fumes for weeks, Titans beat them at run mtrs and post contact mtrs last week and should have won, Eagles drop back a big level here off Storm, that formline is strong, if this game plays to form as I expect Eagles look decisive winners

Bet 1.5 units anytime try Tom Trbojevic (Eagles) + Reuben Garrick (Eagles) $2.72

BB – Indicates Best Bet

Any longer term plays that have been recommended in prior weeks will be listed at the base of this message


Individual Game Tips

Eagles, Panthers


Game Preview Notes

Notes – Finals Football:

Finals Facts

  • 16 of the last 20 Premiers have won the comp off the back of finishing top 4, winning week one and having a week off into their Prelim final game (and then winning)
  • 11 of last 13 Premiers were one of the Top 2 defensive sides that season – this year Panthers and Storm (same as last year)
  • 6 of the last 7 grand finalists who had played 4 weeks straight, have lost
  • No Origin or International Rep #7 or #6 – No Chance
    In the last 41 years 39 of the 41 Premiership winners had a rep (Origin or International) #7 or #6

Key Winning Criteria

  • Top 4
  • Top 2 best defence
  • Win Week 1 then Week off
  • Origin or International Rep #7 or #6

Overall Record (excluding finals)

-14.5 Eagles v Roosters – Mackay

Ground: Mackay
46.5 Total Points (market position)

Eagles would be stung off that poor loss last week, but lets keep that in perspective losing to a hot Bellamy prepared all but full strength Storm in a finals game is no embarrassment. One of the stronger longer term form lines for top half of table teams has been losing to the Storm and then performing the following week. Eagles get Croker back at #9, positive in given how well he has played in this spot this season. Roosters come off a narrow win to the Titans in what was a scrappy and thin form reference game for mine and now have 2 further key forward outs which they can ill afford losing Taukeiaho and Verills, so a big body middle and their starting #9.

It’s well documents and written numerous times over recent months what an amazing lift the Roosters have put in to have lasted this long and be where they are given all of the injury outs that they have. I’m sure off the record if a few months ago they thought they’d be in week two of the finals they’d have taken that hands down, but to be fair as I have said all season long this comp this season has a very long tail and so a very well coached team still with a sprinkling of quality on field talent and some well developed next generation back up replacements they have beaten those below them for the most part and earnt their way through. Last week they dropped a level all be it a semi final in against the 8th placed team who arrived with a losing record of 10 and 14 and were very luck to scrap through with a late win. They could never gap the Titans, their opponent had at least 3 opportunities to steal a win late, they (Roosters) made multiple basic error through out the game (12) and missed a staggering 44 tackles against an opponent who have a pretty predicable attack plan. For weeks now they have looked to be playing on old fumes, trying to lift, trying to put in, but also looking worn down but the amount of lifting that they have done and the need for a few key players to really perform for them to be a chance. And that’s no know, they have done super, but it looks like the well is all but dry. What also changes here is that they face a top 4 opponent not one down the table and their record when back at this level is 1 and 6 from 7 this season. They also face a team that can play quick, can shift, and has strike, all of which is surely going to test a team playing on fumes.

The Eagles also drop back a big level in quality. But its now a sudden death final and so no room for a flat one, but I am sure they are smarting off last week and have a point to prove here. Lets be fair, the Storm are or are all but the benchmark and were very well prepared for last week with a game plan to target the Eagles right edge, in particular Harper but also Cherry-Evans and with all but surgical precision went about their business. Harper in his first full year at this level had a bad night and got found out under some pressure, and DCE had a couple of plays he’d like back again, and it didn’t take long for the game to start to get away from the Eagles, the Storm to be growing in confidence and the scoreboard points and pressure to be mounting. Lets also keep in perspective that the Storm have one of the best defensive systems in the game over many seasons, they also shut down the Eagles yardage and opportunity, but for me it was less about Turbo and co having room to play and more about them being put under consistent attack and defensive pressure that didn’t allow them to get into their normal groove. They now face a Roosters team who can leak points, coughed up 24 last week to the 8th team, 54 a few weeks prior to another top 4 opponent in the Rabbits and have been 22 a week all season.

I am expecting the Eagles to be up and on here and have a serious point to prove. They have yardage and strength through the middle, they can create room to play, and they then have the smarts at 7 and 6 and then Tom chiming in to play some ball shift, some running game and some strong attack. I expect they favour to play to their left edge and target the Roosters right and Foran, Tom and Garrick in particular to focus and or get plenty of opportunity here. If they can start strong and get going early they can look to do to the Roosters something similar to what the felt last week. It looks the right game and set up for the Eagles, back off strong hit out but loss last week, a strong form reference, back a level, point to prove, into an opponent with further key outs, overall much weakened list, prone to leaking points trying to lift again.

-11.5 Panthers v Eels – Mackay

Ground: Mackay
42.5 Total Points (market position)

Really interesting game in so many ways and overall I am happy to stay out. Panthers here off surprise loss when warm favs last week to the Rabbits and do get two key ins in Edwards at the back and Leota up front. Edwards is important, quality unsung hero for what he does and now tidies up the balance of their back 5, take of the high ball, kick return and his support play. Leota should add some much needed muscle and yardage in the middle and strengthens up their middle rotation and depth. Eels a few moves in the list but no real change, Matterson like starts in the 17 this week and would add size and muscle and help on their right edge.

On paper it was easy to find the Panthers as 10 to 12 point favs, and all of that makes sense. Finished top 2, prior to the move to Brisbane and post Origin they were in very strong form but as we know have had a whole range of key injury and form issues since. They also then made a late change to plan which is now critical, originally they were going to rest a whole heap of players in the last round game against the Eels (who had 13 out) but when the Storm had the surprise loss the week prior and the distant opportunity of the minor premiership opened up (if the Sharks beat the Storm in the final round) Coach Cleary went to a different plan and went full team and full tilt into the last round and with a spoken (internally) plan of win last round, win week one of finals and then we have our rest / week off. Well we now know how that hasn’t worked out. It also sends some confusion and hesitancy into the player group about what the Coach is doing. Fisher-Harris has been well below his best, Luai questionable form over recent months, Nathan made some key decision errors last week and also had a lot of his room shut down by some quality defence. The other thing that the Rabbits in both of their last two meets with them over recent weeks have shown up is that if you whack hard through the middle third and play physically tough with both your defence and your yardage the Panthers can be opened up. All of this mounts pressure of expectation now on them, and if this gets physical and remains close pressure in team sport can do interesting things. So while the numbers suggest warm favs, for mine this is not straight forward.

The Eels are a bit tricky. I have to rate them off around where they were a few weeks ago against the Storm and suggest that that is what they can be capable of. They handled the reshuffle at #9 last week well, the revert of the halves back to opposite sides has worked (Moses back to left, Brown to the right). Their record in recent finals has been poor but as they showed a few weeks ago Arthur has a knack of getting their heads right for key games, lifting, and also being very physical. Campbell-Gillard returned to his best of probably 3 or 4 yrs ago last week, he was super and that sort of intent in the middle with Paulo and co makes a big dent into this game. Their halves have to be very good, and they have to play some direct and at the line footy, and lead. The Eels are a despised underdog here, they have no expectation, this is really going to suit them.

Panthers start strong early and get away and build some confidence then they probably play to the market number and win well enough. But I don’t expect it to be straight forward. I do think the Eels can give this a physical shake early and that can open things right up mentally, and then we will see who gets a sniff, and who aims up. For all of the ifs and buts outlined I have no firm opinion on the game, it looks a cracker to watch (especially the mental approach) and might weave and turn in different ways all the way through the 80 minutes. As a betting proposition I’m very comfortable to leave well alone.


Longer Term Recommended Bet List

Bet 5 units Storm-Panthers Grand Final Quinella $2.75
On numbers the Storm or Panthers are now an approx 95% chance of either winning the premiership and likely now the clearest stand out top 2 and likely Grand final quinella pairing that we have seen for many many years. On numbers and reality the Eagles are now for mine the only real chance of challenging these two into that final game but would likely then have to win two or three games at their best to make the GF. We already have Storm outright to win comp as a futures bet, rather than hedge with the Panthers I think the better option and value right now is to take the quinella option now a week prior to the finals starting when we still have approx 10 teams taking up some % of the market and so this price much higher now than in a week or weeks to come.

Bet 6 units Storm to win Premiership $2.60
Clearly now the benchmark and the one to beat, Panthers likely to have longer term injury questions over Cleary (shoulder) and Luai (knee), Storm have key depth, confidence and quality combinations

Bet 3 units Eagles to make Top 4 $5.00
Think the price is way too high, Eagles have a very soft run home with only 2 games vs Top 4 contenders then a further 10 vs bottom 8 sides/contenders. Clearly they are very reliant on the fitness of Tom Trbojevic which is factored into the odds and my bet, but if he plays most of these games they give this a huge shake

Bet 3 units Raiders to miss Top 8 $2.00 Topsport $1.95 Tab
Lost 5 straight and should have been beat by 16th placed Bulldogs last week, not a happy crew from everything I hear, think bottom of the 8 gets very competitive in second half of the yr and have to take them on

Bet 4 units Panthers Minor Premiers $3.30 Topsport
Market is also available at Tab and Sportsbet $3.00
Undefeated after 3 rounds, quality longer home record and have depth in key positions, my numbers right now suggest they now appear as $2.00 chance

Bet 5 units Titans top QLD team $1.77 Topsport
Market is also available at Ladbrokes $1.75 and Sportsbet $1.67
We have a small interest speculator on Titans Top 4, think this is a positive way to cover our stake longer term. Three way contest, what we are betting is the final table position between Titans and Cowboys and I’m confident on the Titans progression late last yr (won last 5 games), key signings, positive off season + quality coach that this is the right play. Should Cam Smith turn up mid season as I expect then icing on the cake!

Bet 6 units Storm Top 4 $1.85
Looks an excellent longer term anchor bet, Bellamy’s record of top 4 finishes each season is unparalleled, as is his ability to replace players and bring his team back to the top. They will win near 90% of home games (Melb or Sunshine Coast), have near the best D once again and likely finish top two.

Bet 3 units Broncos most losses $5.00
Expected / rate them closer to $2.00, this price looks very very generous. The squad is weaker than last yr (and they finished with the spoon), start the season with key injury outs, question mark on whether Coach is up to this task and have a hard draw.

Bet 2 units Titans to make Top 4 $4.50
Think the Coach is quality, started to put his imprimatur in them late into the season with some very positive and exciting play/results. They have purchased astutely, top 4 might be a reach (you can save top 8 at $1.85 if you wish) but I just see a) lot of up side and b) a comp with potential long tail. They look the team with the flashing red light for me this season. There is some $5.00 available in some places.


Market Odds Comparison – a quick link to assist with the available odds across many possible providers – nrl-odds-comparisons

Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

Game Notes Preparation: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games in recent years it is now near impossible with the work and list of things that I chose to do to have all game previews written and finished until late in each week or early Saturday am. With the final team lists not announced until Tuesday afternoon, which I then re rate against (current performance, key ins and outs / final team lists and then look to handicap each up coming game then consider a range of form and match up factors towards final potential bets and written game previews. In short with team lists announced late Tuesday that then leaves two days to work through these tasks. I will focus the first preview notes at any game that has a recommended bet so that any key factors and reasoning is then known in advance, and then be working through each game there after in order of day and time (from Thursday onward).

Follow us on Twitter at

@readingtheplay

©Copyright Reading The Play

All care taken. No responsibility accepted. Please check all information at your own discretion. Any prices quoted for suggested bets are accurate at the time of writing. For personal use ONLY. This information may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever or re-used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of Reading The Play.

NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting

MrG’s game previews and analysis for this weeks round of NRL are listed above. Each NRL Preview and Sports Betting Tips message thread will normally open on a Wednesday and list any early game ratings and thoughts. It will be updated each day and then detailed game by game Previews, Ratings and final Bet List will be published online by 8am on the morning of the first game of the round (Thursdays). All subscribers can also receive all key information and updates by direct sms message.

Subscription Options

A range of subscription packages are available to suit everyone (from as low as $16.25 a week), with various multi week and season pass options available – or various subscription combinations can also be taken with our Horse Racing offering.

NRL Tips & Game Previews | Finals Week 1 | 2021

nrl_tips_reading_the_play
MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

-10.5 Storm v Eagles – Sunshine Coast
-12.5 Roosters v Titans – Townsville
-12.5 Panthers v Rabbits – Townsville
-5.5 Eels v Knights – Mackay


Recommended Bet List

Bet 2 units Eels-Knights under 45.5 $1.90
Looks a scrappy game where points and high game points looks very hard to find, Eels now missing experienced confident #9, Knights look to be lacking fluent combination

Bet 2.5 units Win all up Storm $1.37 x Roosters $1.26 x Panthers $1.23 / $2.12
Looks the right angle through the weekend, these three do look clear outright winners and priced accordingly

BB – Indicates Best Bet

Any longer term plays that have been recommended in prior weeks will be listed at the base of this message


Individual Game Tips

Storm, Roosters, Panthers, Eels


Game Preview Notes

Notes – Finals Football:

Finals Facts

  • 16 of the last 20 Premiers have won the comp off the back of finishing top 4, winning week one and having a week off into their Prelim final game (and then winning)
  • 11 of last 13 Premiers were one of the Top 2 defensive sides that season – this year Panthers and Storm (same as last year)
  • 6 of the last 7 grand finalists who had played 4 weeks straight, have lost
  • No Origin or International Rep #7 or #6 – No Chance
    In the last 41 years 39 of the 41 Premiership winners had a rep (Origin or International) #7 or #6

Key Winning Criteria

  • Top 4
  • Top 2 best defence
  • Win Week 1 then Week off
  • Origin or International Rep #7 or #6

Overall Record

Coaches Head to Head

Bellamy 15 Hasler 17                    
(Storm have won 8 of last 10 games)

Robinson 2 Holbrook 0                 
(Roosters won last 7 straight)

I.Cleary 9 Bennett 14                    
(Panthers have won last 5 straight)

Arthur 2 O’Brien 0                         
(Eels won last 3, Knights won prior 4)

-10.5 Storm v Eagles – Sunshine Coast

Ground: Sunshine Coast
44.5 Total Points (market position)

Excellent match up to start the weekend. These two teams met just a few weeks ago in Rd21 with a closing market line of 10.5 and a Storm victory by 10, 28-18. Storm have won 8 of the last 10 head to head but overall longer term Hasler does have a very good record v Bellamy and Storm. Sunshine Coast and night game also become influential factors, the Storm are undefeated here winning 9 from 9, and a night game here can present light dew and dampness at this ground and so likely slow down at times a wish to spread the ball (or offer more error) and likely play into the Storms hands of defensive focus.

As always Bellamy is meticulous with his finals campaign planning, post Origin resting and rotating players if and as need be along with those who might be carrying injury and they now present here in what looks all but perfect shape for September. Munster has had a knee clean out, big Nelson given time to get over some nagging injury and then get some game time back through recent weeks, Papenhuyzen and Grant working back into match fitness and some quality form through recent weeks. They now present here with 4 quality ins that didn’t play in that last game v Eagles, Papenhuyzen, Kaufusi, Asofa-Solomona and Kamikamica. The inclusion of Asofa-Solomona and Kamikamica is key through the middle as it then means they have 4 big bodies and the luxury or rotation, while big Nelson’s role can’t be highlighted enough, playing the 2nd or preferably 3rd play on the back of already good yardage runs he has such a big body he draws multiple defenders and then creates and leaves room on the back of a quick play the ball for the likes of Grant, Munster or Papenhuyzen to make play. I expect Munster to play, but the final bench line up will be interesting, does Bellamy go with his normal favoured approach of Grant + 3 forwards and so leave Hynes out, or with the benefit of moving Smith back to the back row retain Hynes and still be able to use him as an extra forward if necessary or have the luxury of giving Munster an early rest in he wants to. A nice problem to have.

The Eagles also have a strong line up and come off some attractive form, but some concern for mine over bashing up bottom table sides for the most part and a 0 from 4 record season to date against the top4 sides. There was a lot to like about how they looked to play the Storm last time, trying the build some go forward yardage and then attempt quick running edge shifts using Turbo and trying to target in particular the Storm’s right flank with Garrick coming up with two tries. Bellamy likes to play a very compressed defence and challenge you to be good enough to either get to the edge and or around them, sounds far easier than it is in execution and as the Eels showed a few weeks ago you also need a platform of strong yardage and quick play the balls to allow you the extra space and time to then execute this. But with the Storm back at all but full strength compared to the Eels game and or the Rd21 game and this being a semi final match up against one of the best defensive systems we have seen for mine a much tougher assignment this week.

With the Storm back to pretty much full strength and 4 ins from the last match up I am 10.5 between them. The Eagles have strike, but would need to be at their very best with another blinder from Turbo and key games from DCE and Foran, it also becomes a concern with the late out of Croker who has played #9 very well this season. This time last season Bellamy rested players leading into the finals and then went bang, he had them very well prepared and up for the assignment. They ran home strongly over the Eels in the second half week 1 (from 12all half time to a 36-24 result) and then smashed the Raiders and the Panthers in the first 40 of each of the following games (leading 24-6 and 20-0). Finals results are normally driven by quality defence and I’m certainly with the Storm on that here, they have been 13.7 a game season to date and the Eagles 20.5. Storm at full strength, have the experience, a quality defensive system and key strike players when it matters, do look very hard to beat here.

-12.5 Roosters v Titans – Townsville

Ground: Townsville
46.5 Total Points (market position)

Roosters do look very well placed here. While they have been found out when up against the top4 sides even with their well documented long list of injury outs they have still shown the quality of system and performance when dropping back to the next level and below, as they do here against a mid table opponent. They also get 3 possibly 4 on field key ins this week with the return of 3 forwards (including Waerea-Hargreaves and Radley) and likely more play time and influence from Sam Walker ( expect he plays in front of Lam, of comes on to replace him and play a fair chunk of the game).

The Titans have done well to have made the semi finals but this does look a reach for them. key recent changes have certainly improved them, young Campbell at #1 is a rare attacking talent (but still has some major defensive issues) while Peachy at #6 looks to have added some nice balance. But their record is 0 from 7 v Top4 teams and 1 from 17 v Top8 teams, so they certainly have struggled against the to 7 if not the top 4 or so teams, and I would certainly count the Rooters on the fringe of that. They have been leaking 26 a week over the season and only a few weeks ago had 34 v Storm and 36 v Rabbits put through them.

Roosters just look too strong here, I am somewhere close to the market line, certainly think something like 12 to 16 looks right.

-12.5 Panthers v Rabbits – Townsville

Ground: Townsville
44.5 Total Points (market position)

The Panthers very much like the Storm look well prepared and at full strength and ready to hit their finals campaign. They have everyone on deck now, Cleary has been super the last few weeks and playing as good as he has been (and that is a very high level), Fisher-Harris is back in the middle and he is very key to their forward match up muscle, Kikau now starting and they have some further match fitness and game time into Pangai Jnr. They went within a win of the minor premiership and sit with a top 2 seeding, they have been 5 and 1 of their 6 games v Top4 (and 11 and 1 v Top8) which speaks well enough for the quality of form that they have been in for most of this season.

The Rabbits have not been quite as lucky and Mitchell is a very significant loss. Firstly he is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 try or try assists per game, that is a big hole to replace due to his quality. They then have to patch up the replacement at the back and then also have a back three capable of handling the high spiral bomb that Cleary is kicking so well at present and just peppering opponents back men with, in particular the number he did on this opponent just a few weeks ago. While not much has been made of it to date, Reynolds also had a limp and leg injury of sorts 10 days ago, so they would dearly hope that he is over this.

The match up through the middle is good. The Rabbits whacked them through the mid field a few week ago and did the job very well, created quality yardage, dominated the physical battle and gave themselves some room to play with and then scored two tries. But the Panthers come here stronger in this match up, so this looks more even. While the Rabbits were harshly done by with a 11-2 penalty count against them that night (and we have a different ref here) they also forced too many errors.

Again I think the market is pretty much spot on and that something like 12 to 14 looks the right handicap, and if the Panthers are at or near their best as they look to have been build up to then they look very hard to beat and likely to be winning by that sort of margin. It’s finals footy, and Bennett knows September very well, maybe he can pull something out of the bag, but the Panthers have looked to have had their measure and with no Mitchell and the forced changes taht that then implies it is hard to see them mounting a sustained 80 minute campaign to beat this Panthers defence.

-5.5 Eels v Knights – Mackay

Ground: Mackay
45.5 Total Points (market position)

Looks a scrappy style of game from the outset for many reasons. Firstly the Eels, aside from #9 do look to get a good team list back but the dummy half issue has to be significant with them now to play a makeshift player on the back of losing their two two choices with injury. That has to put them very much on the back foot with the combination and fluency of 9, 7 and 6 and general overall play. Eels have been 2 and 7 v Top4 and 5 and 7 v Top8 and have won their last 4 straight against the Knights, and do look best suited when dropping back to this mid table level.

The Knights likely without Klemmer and play Mann in the centers which I’m not convinced works. Their forward line up is strong and with their 9, 7, 6 and 1 all in plus Best on the left edge they have their best possible chance of causing an upset here. They are just 3 and 9 v Top8 sides and have struggled to knock up quality wins at that level, any key scalps and over recent months and lacked real fluence and combination even when getting all the right people back and playing together. Should have lost v Titans, close to major upset loss to Bulldogs, their attack has lacked all sorts of cohesion and fluency and strike while under any sort of attack pressure their defence has not been hard to crack (and leaks 24 per game season to date).

The Eels best rating is their game only a few weeks ago over the Storm, high quality win and well earnt, if they can bring something like that they win. Knights have lacked any real stand out win or rating over recent months and on the back of early to mid season wins have had enough in the bank to end up where they are, but the last 6 weeks has been poor. As I said, just looks a very scrappy disjointed game, if the Eels can have go some combination and timing into their work out of #9 and around the ruck then I favor they can get away with the business here. Not a game I like, I did think the total points looked to high.


Longer Term Recommended Bet List

Bet 5 units Storm-Panthers Grand Final Quinella $2.75
On numbers the Storm or Panthers are now an approx 95% chance of either winning the premiership and likely now the clearest stand out top 2 and likely Grand final quinella pairing that we have seen for many many years. On numbers and reality the Eagles are now for mine the only real chance of challenging these two into that final game but would likely then have to win two or three games at their best to make the GF. We already have Storm outright to win comp as a futures bet, rather than hedge with the Panthers I think the better option and value right now is to take the quinella option now a week prior to the finals starting when we still have approx 10 teams taking up some % of the market and so this price much higher now than in a week or weeks to come.

Bet 6 units Storm to win Premiership $2.60
Clearly now the benchmark and the one to beat, Panthers likely to have longer term injury questions over Cleary (shoulder) and Luai (knee), Storm have key depth, confidence and quality combinations

Bet 3 units Eagles to make Top 4 $5.00
Think the price is way too high, Eagles have a very soft run home with only 2 games vs Top 4 contenders then a further 10 vs bottom 8 sides/contenders. Clearly they are very reliant on the fitness of Tom Trbojevic which is factored into the odds and my bet, but if he plays most of these games they give this a huge shake

Bet 3 units Raiders to miss Top 8 $2.00 Topsport $1.95 Tab
Lost 5 straight and should have been beat by 16th placed Bulldogs last week, not a happy crew from everything I hear, think bottom of the 8 gets very competitive in second half of the yr and have to take them on

Bet 4 units Panthers Minor Premiers $3.30 Topsport
Market is also available at Tab and Sportsbet $3.00
Undefeated after 3 rounds, quality longer home record and have depth in key positions, my numbers right now suggest they now appear as $2.00 chance

Bet 5 units Titans top QLD team $1.77 Topsport
Market is also available at Ladbrokes $1.75 and Sportsbet $1.67
We have a small interest speculator on Titans Top 4, think this is a positive way to cover our stake longer term. Three way contest, what we are betting is the final table position between Titans and Cowboys and I’m confident on the Titans progression late last yr (won last 5 games), key signings, positive off season + quality coach that this is the right play. Should Cam Smith turn up mid season as I expect then icing on the cake!

Bet 6 units Storm Top 4 $1.85
Looks an excellent longer term anchor bet, Bellamy’s record of top 4 finishes each season is unparalleled, as is his ability to replace players and bring his team back to the top. They will win near 90% of home games (Melb or Sunshine Coast), have near the best D once again and likely finish top two.

Bet 3 units Broncos most losses $5.00
Expected / rate them closer to $2.00, this price looks very very generous. The squad is weaker than last yr (and they finished with the spoon), start the season with key injury outs, question mark on whether Coach is up to this task and have a hard draw.

Bet 2 units Titans to make Top 4 $4.50
Think the Coach is quality, started to put his imprimatur in them late into the season with some very positive and exciting play/results. They have purchased astutely, top 4 might be a reach (you can save top 8 at $1.85 if you wish) but I just see a) lot of up side and b) a comp with potential long tail. They look the team with the flashing red light for me this season. There is some $5.00 available in some places.


Market Odds Comparison – a quick link to assist with the available odds across many possible providers – nrl-odds-comparisons

Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

Game Notes Preparation: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games in recent years it is now near impossible with the work and list of things that I chose to do to have all game previews written and finished until late in each week or early Saturday am. With the final team lists not announced until Tuesday afternoon, which I then re rate against (current performance, key ins and outs / final team lists and then look to handicap each up coming game then consider a range of form and match up factors towards final potential bets and written game previews. In short with team lists announced late Tuesday that then leaves two days to work through these tasks. I will focus the first preview notes at any game that has a recommended bet so that any key factors and reasoning is then known in advance, and then be working through each game there after in order of day and time (from Thursday onward).

Follow us on Twitter at

@readingtheplay

©Copyright Reading The Play

All care taken. No responsibility accepted. Please check all information at your own discretion. Any prices quoted for suggested bets are accurate at the time of writing. For personal use ONLY. This information may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever or re-used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of Reading The Play.

NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting

MrG’s game previews and analysis for this weeks round of NRL are listed above. Each NRL Preview and Sports Betting Tips message thread will normally open on a Wednesday and list any early game ratings and thoughts. It will be updated each day and then detailed game by game Previews, Ratings and final Bet List will be published online by 8am on the morning of the first game of the round (Thursdays). All subscribers can also receive all key information and updates by direct sms message.

Subscription Options

A range of subscription packages are available to suit everyone (from as low as $16.25 a week), with various multi week and season pass options available – or various subscription combinations can also be taken with our Horse Racing offering.

NRL Tips & Game Previews | Round 25 | 2021

nrl_tips_reading_the_play
MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

+6.5 Raiders v Roosters – Mackay
+6.5 Sharks v Storm – Robina
+28.5 Eels v Panthers – Robina
+2.5 Broncos v Knights – Suncorp
+20.5 Cowboys v Eagles – Townsville
-2.5 Rabbits v Dragons – Sunshine Coast
-10.5 Titans v Warriors – Robina
-8.5 Tigers v Bulldogs – Redcliffe


Recommended Bet List

Futures
Bet 5 units Storm-Panthers Grand Final Quinella $2.75
Tabcorp | Sportsbet
On numbers the Storm or Panthers are now an approx 95% chance of either winning the premiership and likely now the clearest stand out top 2 and likely Grand final quinella pairing that we have seen for many many years. On numbers and reality the Eagles are now for mine the only real chance of challenging these two into that final game but would likely then have to win two or three games at their best to make the GF. We already have Storm outright to win comp as a futures bet, rather than hedge with the Panthers I think the better option and value right now is to take the quinella option now a week prior to the finals starting when we still have approx 10 teams taking up some % of the market and so this price much higher now than in a week or weeks to come.

Bet 1.5 units Roosters -2.5 $1.90
Roosters have 5 key ins back this week and have been much stronger than those below them on the table when they drop back to this level, Raiders have outs and some injury doubts and periods of very soft defence

Bet 1.5 units Sharks-Storm points over 46.5 $1.90
Storm have at least 10 possibly more out here and have been leaking 20 a week last 4 weeks, Sharks have something to play for here, game profiles with 48+ points

Bet 2 units Panthers -15.5 $1.90
Expect Panthers full tilt here and want to build strong form into finals, Eels have forced outs + expected to rest a few and play well under strength

Bet 1 unit Broncos +5.5 $1.90
Knights off winning 5 straight have nothing to play for here, expect they will rest key players, attack has been very poor, Broncos have been positive and if against weaker opponent have decent chance here

Bet 1 unit Broncos $2.15
Market continues to tighten 5.5 to now 2.5 which certainly suggests my expectation of Knights resting further key players looks likely, we already have +5.5 as some insurance, also want to play the straight up head to head price now, expect with multiple outs and little for Knights to play for Broncos can give this a shake

Bet 1 unit anytime try Daniel Tupou (Roosters) $1.78 x Brian To’o (Panthers) $1.49 // $2.65

BB – Indicates Best Bet

Any longer term plays that have been recommended in prior weeks will be listed at the base of this message


Individual Game Tips

Roosters, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Eagles, Rabbits, Titans, Tigers


Game Preview Notes

Notes – Round 25:
Final round and final named team lists obviously become very important with so many teams either resting players (or many players) and or getting to games where they have less to play for due to prior results. I still suspect further outs for Storm and Knights and possibly the Eagles, while we have the Raiders then Sharks results influencing what the Titans might be playing for. Also, a Sharks win (v Storm) and then Panthers win (v Eels) would mean Panthers finish first and Minor Premiership – but also then influence who they each play in week 1 of the finals (Rabbits or Eagles).

+6.5 Raiders v Roosters – Mackay

Ground: Mackay
52.5 Total Points (market position)

The intent here from both teams should produce a good game. The Raiders are playing for a finals position while the Roosters will now finish 5th or 6th but Robinson’s intent is obviously to perform well here and build their form and combinations into week 1 of the finals.

Final teams and the health and fitness of some looks a tricky read. The Raiders have further outs and then some doubt or injury concerns over Wighton, Tapine and whether Sam Williams is back. Like many this team list is very patched up from where they started the season. The Roosters have named 5 very key ins with the return of Waerea-Hargreaves and Crichton amongst the forward ins and adding significant quality and leadership while Josh Morris, Keighran and Ikuvalu strengthen their edges and sure up both attack and defensive combinations. Clearly after the events of last week they have another key long term out in Manu.

The Roosters record even with the busted up team list that they now play with when dropping back a level in playing those at the top of the table has been very good, the coach has done a first class job of coaching what he has each week to then perform, aided by some quality leadership and performance by a few of their senior guys. Manu is a big out, but this week these 5 ins will make a big difference to what they bring and prior to last week they had still won 3 of their prior 4 and a couple of games where they could well have lost (but didn’t). They meet a Raiders offering that has been very patchy through the last few months and has also lost so many senior players in particular key play makers, down 0-16 quickly and easily last week to the Warriors (who have nothing to play for) and some up and down results across the 4 or 5 weeks prior I think they are still a level behind this Roosters line up. Defensively they have had plenty of lapses and can leak 24 to 26 a week consistently, they would need to be at their very best here to win.

I marked the Roosters with this line up an approx 6 point fav, and I expect that off the loss last week, all the drama surrounding that and then the key ins they will have a point to prove here this week and a want to perform and build into the following week finals game.

+6.5 Sharks v Storm – Robina

Ground: Robina
46.5 Total Points (market position)

The guess work here is the final Storm line up. They have omitted 8 and all of them key starters or top 17 players including the likes of Munster, Welch, Faufusi, both Bromwich brothers and Addo-Carr has a short term injury. Looking at the 21 named it would suggest that there could then be further late changes and the possible resting of additional key players like Hughes, Branson Smith and or Papenhuyzen but this now is only guess work. What Bellamy has made clear is that he does want to rest players, he did same final round last year against the Dragons (and lost the game), that also then and could well again now cost them the minor premiership but Bellamy has always maintained that while that’s a nice acknowledgement on the way through he’s more focused on the final prize and premiership title. Given his record he clearly knows what he is doing, but it has to leave them very underdone here this week. They do have quality depth, but taking 8 to 10 of your front line players out has to leave you venerable.

The Storm also come off a loss last week, a surprise loss and one that saw them not break the long term winning streak record, Bellamy would be very annoyed at both – but he would have also had a plan many weeks ago of how he wanted to manage things through these next few weeks. They will be up, they will be focused to put in a good performance, but a much weakened list. What is also worth noting is that through the last 4 or so weeks they have been conceding 20 or so points a week far higher than their prior and normal season average of 12 and so also making them far more venerable in each game. With a weakened list and some D that has not been as strong as normal this match up gets very interesting.

The Sharks scenario is they to are also playing for a finals spot. Had both teams been all but full strength then it would likely be 18 or so between them, and the Sharks have been a mid table team at best. But if we take those 8 to 10 out for the Sharks then I am back to an approx 6 to 8 between them. The Sharks last 4 games are an ordinary form line, but they come off two wins and have again improved with Moylan back and a few key changes they have made with Tracey left centre and Metcalf off the bench. Their overall play through the last two wins has been far more positive and I liked the way they knuckled down last week to come from behind and then pull away for a win. They have to play some attack here, they have to stay in the scoreboard contest, and potentially mount some attacking and points pressure on the Storm and upset any groove they might try and get into.

I give the Sharks a decent chance here, but that also swings around the final Storm team list. Right now I think the +9.5 is a healthy position (Sharks have covered 6 straight as an underdog and 7 of 9 as an underdog off a win), but I think the game profiles with attack and points and so I think that is the best play. The Storm have been leaking more than usual and then with all of their outs look to likely leak more, as well as have to play some attack given what looks the style of game likely. The Sharks like to play attack, and they to can concede points and 4 of their last 5 games have seen totals of 40 to 70 points. The total points mark of 46.5 for this match up looked too low, it is then also a 6pm game (less night time dew) and on a ground (Robina) that provides an excellent surface.

+28.5 Eels v Panthers – Robina

Ground: Robina
44.5 Total Points (market position)

Two teams that look to take very different paths into this game. The Eels off a very credible win last week now rest and or have outs of up to 13 players and look devoid of key play makers and or defence and have all but put their hand up for the loss. They clearly accept now that they will finish outside the top 4 and want to rest everyone up and be ready to give it their best shot into next week and their finals run. The Panthers have decided to go all out and named all but possibly their best list, their focus it seems is to keep building the quality of their play, their combinations, match fitness and alike, smash through this week and build confidence and belief into next weeks semi final, and should they win that then have their week off and rest.

I think the market has now caught up to be about the right position, something like 28.5 was where I marked it on the back of what I though might likely occur. We have a good early position well under the now market, hope Panthers put their foot down as we expect and get on with the business.

+2.5 Broncos v Knights – Suncorp

Ground: Suncorp
49.5 Total Points (market position)

Interesting game and match up and I’m not sure it is clear cut. The Knights have 4 staring line up players out but have also named bench players who can slot in for the like of Ponga and Pearce, and the Knights are also in a spot now where they can’t improve their table position so I am all but sure they rest one if not both players. As then mentioned numerous times through recent weeks the Knights attack and overall form has been very patchy if not ordinary so then if we have Brailey already oy and take any of these other key strike players out that all really brings them back to the field. Mentally I then think they are passengers here as well, nothing to play for, can’t improve their spot, numerous players rested, looks to me much like the Knights have little care this week.

The Broncos are never good things but gee they look to get their chance here if all of this unfolds this way. They have been positive for many weeks, improved their defence and had some attack in them, last game of the season off what had for months been a disaster year but through recent months has looked more balanced and positive – and no expectation or anything to play for, why not have a crack and go out on a good note. If they get beat no one expected anything different, should they aim up its all positive!

The Broncos also then have a few key stats in their favour here as well, they have covered 12 of their last 18 when playing here at home and 5 of their last 6 as an underdog. The Knights Away record has always been poor (especially when favs) and overall they have covered just 5 of their last 20 Away from Newcastle games.

On the back of all of this scenario the 5.5 always looked too wide, and now day by day the market has come down to 2.5, which certainly smells along the lines of Knight’s outs. Given all of this and all of the angles to suggest the a) Broncos at home; b) the Broncos as underdogs and c) the Knights Away then the home side look well positioned with both options as an upset win and at the plus line.

+20.5 Cowboys v Eagles – Townsville

Ground: Townsville
54.5 Total Points (market position)

Looks very much dependent on prior outcomes what final team list Hasler decides to play here. A Roosters win and the expected Eels loos leaves them with a straight forward position of just a win here as their points differential is by far the best and so a win by any margin would then put them 4th. So Hasler will then have the options of resting some players should he wish.

The Cowboys overall have been horrible for the last 3 or so months with their full down hill slide starting when flogged at Brookvale by the Eagles 50-18 after getting out to an early 18-0 lead. And that’s about how pathetic their defence has been each week for the most part leaking 32 a week and a horrid run of losses and shit form to now sit bottom 3 on the table. Over the past few weeks they have got a few players back from injury and they have also thankfully chosen to play a few of their younger crew with a view toward next season and against a pretty pathetic Dragons offering last week they got a break through win with a 38-26 result. They are 5 from 11 at home (only 7 wins overall) and so have played their best here but have horrible record against the top of table teams.

The Eagles should win, but the final team make up and the fact that just a win is all that is required for a top 4 spot likely takes their foot off going too hard here. We certainly hope that they don’t get too lazy or complacent and they have shown touches of that at times over recent months, maybe Hasler starts with near his best team and gets them to a comfortable spot and then rests key players? The obvious bet option would be the Cows at the plus 22.5 but even with that amount of start some of the horrible defensive efforts they have delivered could well put such a margin at risk. The Cowboys have also only covered 5 of 19 this season when as an underdog (many with big lines) so they are always a major risk. Happy to just leave this alone and get the Eagles home for a win.

-2.5 Rabbits v Dragons – Sunshine Coast

Ground: Sunshine Coast
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Another nothing game and Rabbits can hardly improve their position and so will rest and or have out plenty with up to 10 or 11 outs. They one thing in their favour might be that many of their replacement kids do have talent and now get a rare chance to shine. The Dragons are rubbish, hopeless direction, shocking attitude and defensive effort and can’t wait for the season to be over. Over 4 of their last 5 outings for all the talk of them having an improved list with a whole range of player returns (which they did) they have conceded 38, 40, 34 and 50 and have now lost their last 7. Shocking game, I went looking for ways to be positive about the Dragons here and look for the right reasons to want to back them. Technically their head to head price looks attractive and they could and likely should win, but they are a mess, their overall attitude is crook and as we saw when they should have had a lot to their advantage a few weeks ago with a +12.5 start v Roosters they are just not a confident betting proposition. Maybe the Rabbits youth bring more enthusiasm and something a little more positive here? The Rabbits also enjoy a very healthy longer term record head to head winning 15 of the last 18 times they have met. Didn’t like the game, and had a small lean that maybe the Rabbits play some positive footy and trouble their opponent.

-10.5 Titans v Warriors – Robina

Ground: Robina
52.5 Total Points (market position)

A Raiders loss and Sharks loss then puts the Titans into a box seat of winning to then make the top 8. A Raiders loss and Sharks upset win would then mean the Titans having to win and also win by a certain margin to get 8th spot on points differential. So the Titans will know their fate by game day.

The Warriors have been making up the numbers for the last few weeks and laid down poorly last week to the Raiders, but if they get a sniff here and the game turns into some ad lib footy they can be a pain to their opponent. The Titans lost last week when they should never have, dominated all of the key stats yet murdered numerous chances to then lose in golden point, but that pretty much has been their season overall, promised plenty but have hardly delivered. They should win here, they likely have something to play for, so the ball will be in their court but they can be hard to trust and even harder to trust when under expectation and focus. I think something around 10 to 11 between them is about right but happy to leave the game well alone.

-8.5 Tigers v Bulldogs – Redcliffe

Ground: Redcliffe
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Gee, what a way to finish the seasons 25 rounds with this match up as the last game, yuk. Tigers have sunk to bottom 4, after a season that promised so much they have delivered zero. The worry here is that with nothing to play for and again off a couple of losses and with key play makers out do they mentally just drop their guard and offer little? They to have also been at their worst when under some expectation to win, we can have zero trust in them. The Bulldogs have been a bit more positive over their last two outings but have now lost 10 straight and are losing by margins that still suggest a +8.5 start here maybe puts them in the game, but hardly to advantage. Ugly game to finish the round, Tigers should win but best left alone.


Longer Term Recommended Bet List

Bet 5 units Storm-Panthers Grand Final Quinella $2.75
On numbers the Storm or Panthers are now an approx 95% chance of either winning the premiership and likely now the clearest stand out top 2 and likely Grand final quinella pairing that we have seen for many many years. On numbers and reality the Eagles are now for mine the only real chance of challenging these two into that final game but would likely then have to win two or three games at their best to make the GF. We already have Storm outright to win comp as a futures bet, rather than hedge with the Panthers I think the better option and value right now is to take the quinella option now a week prior to the finals starting when we still have approx 10 teams taking up some % of the market and so this price much higher now than in a week or weeks to come.

Bet 6 units Storm to win Premiership $2.60
Clearly now the benchmark and the one to beat, Panthers likely to have longer term injury questions over Cleary (shoulder) and Luai (knee), Storm have key depth, confidence and quality combinations

Bet 3 units Eagles to make Top 4 $5.00
Think the price is way too high, Eagles have a very soft run home with only 2 games vs Top 4 contenders then a further 10 vs bottom 8 sides/contenders. Clearly they are very reliant on the fitness of Tom Trbojevic which is factored into the odds and my bet, but if he plays most of these games they give this a huge shake

Bet 3 units Raiders to miss Top 8 $2.00 Topsport $1.95 Tab
Lost 5 straight and should have been beat by 16th placed Bulldogs last week, not a happy crew from everything I hear, think bottom of the 8 gets very competitive in second half of the yr and have to take them on

Bet 4 units Panthers Minor Premiers $3.30 Topsport
Market is also available at Tab and Sportsbet $3.00
Undefeated after 3 rounds, quality longer home record and have depth in key positions, my numbers right now suggest they now appear as $2.00 chance

Bet 5 units Titans top QLD team $1.77 Topsport
Market is also available at Ladbrokes $1.75 and Sportsbet $1.67
We have a small interest speculator on Titans Top 4, think this is a positive way to cover our stake longer term. Three way contest, what we are betting is the final table position between Titans and Cowboys and I’m confident on the Titans progression late last yr (won last 5 games), key signings, positive off season + quality coach that this is the right play. Should Cam Smith turn up mid season as I expect then icing on the cake!

Bet 6 units Storm Top 4 $1.85
Looks an excellent longer term anchor bet, Bellamy’s record of top 4 finishes each season is unparalleled, as is his ability to replace players and bring his team back to the top. They will win near 90% of home games (Melb or Sunshine Coast), have near the best D once again and likely finish top two.

Bet 3 units Broncos most losses $5.00
Expected / rate them closer to $2.00, this price looks very very generous. The squad is weaker than last yr (and they finished with the spoon), start the season with key injury outs, question mark on whether Coach is up to this task and have a hard draw.

Bet 2 units Titans to make Top 4 $4.50
Think the Coach is quality, started to put his imprimatur in them late into the season with some very positive and exciting play/results. They have purchased astutely, top 4 might be a reach (you can save top 8 at $1.85 if you wish) but I just see a) lot of up side and b) a comp with potential long tail. They look the team with the flashing red light for me this season. There is some $5.00 available in some places.


Market Odds Comparison – a quick link to assist with the available odds across many possible providers – nrl-odds-comparisons

Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

Game Notes Preparation: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games in recent years it is now near impossible with the work and list of things that I chose to do to have all game previews written and finished until late in each week or early Saturday am. With the final team lists not announced until Tuesday afternoon, which I then re rate against (current performance, key ins and outs / final team lists and then look to handicap each up coming game then consider a range of form and match up factors towards final potential bets and written game previews. In short with team lists announced late Tuesday that then leaves two days to work through these tasks. I will focus the first preview notes at any game that has a recommended bet so that any key factors and reasoning is then known in advance, and then be working through each game there after in order of day and time (from Thursday onward).

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