NRL – Finals Week 3 – Preview & Betting A...

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Finals Week 3 Preview

Since 1998 50% of the sides with the week off have won, 50% haven’t there is no clear advantage over time. Given their various injury issues every side would have right now they would all rather it than not.

Storm v Eagles

Melbourne: 7.45pm Friday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Storm $1.65 / -3.5 v Eagles  $2.25 /+3.5

Any market moves: Next to no market moves since opening.

What a matchup between two sides with significant finals history. Facts and figures: Storm come off the week rest which given their recent injury issues they would have welcomed, they have won 10 of their last 13 at home, H2H neither side has any recent advantage each winning 5 of the last 10, the Storm are 13 from 23 when conceding the start. The Eagles have only won 2 of their last 9 in Melbourne but have been very good away this season winning 10/16, amongst that they have won all 4 interstate away games. The Eagles have only played with a plus line start 6 times this season, and won 5 of those.

Last met: Round 15 at Brookvale – Storm won 26-22

I have that last encounter pegged as one of the form games of the year, both sides were very good in a quality contest. The Storm looked like they really had a point to prove that night, and did, and then their season went pear shaped losing their next 5 and limping through many weeks with key injury. Their last start win over the Rabbits was back to something like their best (tempered with the fact that the Rabbits were also poor) but they were back into their structured, controlled and disciplined best. With near perfect ball control (highest completion rate of any side this season) and a helpful early run of penalties they opened the Rabbits up early and shot to a comfortable lead from which they never looked back. They are now likely to be further strengthened with the likely returns of Procter, Lowrie and Manu.

The Eagles will be different though. They will offer a far different and committed defensive offering. They also have the size and grunt to take the Storm on through the middle, which the Storm have struggled to match at times this year. The Eagles also have more ball play in their backrow (Stewart and Wamough) and a preparedness to attack either edge as opposed to getting bogged down in a high percentage yardage and field position game. I think this is a key advantage for the Eagles, they have 6 players who step up and or play through the line and can then turn half chances into lengthy line breaks and opportunity.

I think the Storm’s other potential problem is their reliance on one pass forward play when coming off their own end. Opponents with low error play and quality kicking options can then consistently put the Storm back in their own end, with committed defence they can then continually force them into their structured robotic one out play which can be easy to defend and if done well shut them down (this is actually much of what the Storm did to the Rabbits two weeks ago). This is where Smith, Slater and then Cronk to some degree come into play with their ability to change the face of the game with a half chance line break or skillful passing interchange. But if there is any one side that is capable of, and knows how to effectively play the Storm at their own end and defend their options well it is the Eagles.     

This looks a quality, tough tight game. I think the Eagles best through the last 5 or 6 weeks has been the benchmark. They got their game back on track last week and with King and Matai back and at near full strength they’ll be no excuse. Importantly they have the physical aggression and size to take the Storm on. The Storm looked much better last start but this is a far different opponent, they have far less latitude moving forward and a far more physical confrontation through the middle. They have had some problems in defence on both edges, in particular their left, and if Chambers does not play they’ll be further weakened and exposed. But there’s no doubting that with the class and touch of Smith, Staler and Cronk that the Storm are in this contest up to their ears.

I’m tipping the Eagles. It will be tough at this venue but they are very good away and they are rarely off for any big game. I think they have the physical and defensive advantage and off the back of that they’ll have the attack. Eagles.

Last Word: Great game, tough and tight. The Eagles best can be the benchmark, if they take this on through the middle I think they win.

Betting Interest: Very rarely do the Eagles play with line start and they’ve won 5 of the 6 times that they have. I’m happy to take the start as insurance, I think they can win outright.  


Bulldogs v Rabbits

Homebush: 7.45pm Saturday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Bulldogs $1.53 / -5.5 v Rabbits $2.50 / -5.5

Any market moves: The Bulldogs have continued to firm throughout the week, H2H now $1.47 (Rabbits out to $2.75) and the line into $.1.80. The line did open at -4.5 in some places and has also push out to -5.5 / -6. I expect that this will continue and they will be heavily bet into the game start. The -5.5 can be found at $1.90.

Facts and figures: Both sides use Homebush as their home ground and both enjoy an outstanding record here, the Bulldogs are 9 wins from their last 11, the Rabbits 10 from their last 11. H2H the Bulldogs hold the advantage winning 7 of the last 10. The Bulldogs have been a good side for punters to work with this year having won 11 of 17 when conceding the start, and they have won at the line 8 of their last 10. The Rabbits are 6 from 10 with plus the line, and a similar 6 from their last 10 at the line.

Last met: Round 13 at Homebush  – Storm won 26-22; Round 6 at Homebush Rabbits won 20-10

Whichever way I look at this game I have the Bulldogs marked to advantage; form line (any winning form through the Eagles stands up), defence ( the Rabbits have had some problems around Taylor and on their outside edge, the Bulldogs on their right edge), attack variation (the Bulldogs tip on plays, in final 30 mtrs variation and decoy plays), attack at the edges, composure and mental approach.

I have a number of concerns about the Rabbits and the form line that they come through. They did all that they had to do in winning well last week but the Raiders turned out to be poor opponents not up to the moment (much like the Rabbits the week prior in Melbourne). The yardage was soft, line breaks common and if we didn’t know better we’d have though that the Rabbits were one of the form sides leading the charge toward the final game. A further concern is their inconsistency across periods of a game, again highlighted against the Raiders, after skipping out to an opening 12-0 lead and having their opponent there for the taking they relaxed, were lazy in defence and invited their opponents back into a 12-10 game. Having already had the Raiders measure they then balanced themselves up and went on with the job but this issue of turning themselves on and off through periods of a game will be well punished if repeated against the Bulldogs.

They have many strengths. Luke has returned to some outstanding form and led the charge last week out of dummy half opening the Raiders up numerous times. The Burgess brothers and Asotasi offer the size a grunt through the middle, Sam in particular has been in outstanding form through the last 4 to 5 weeks. Inglis is the game changer, also in outstanding form.

Regardless of the hype surrounding the Rabbits through this last week (as it was in the week leading up to the Melbourne game) the elephant in the room is their inability to aim up when it matters against the real competition contenders. Their record year to date is very poor and in short they have looked good against the weaker sides, promised much but are yet to deliver against a quality opponent when it matters.

The Bulldogs have been a revelation under Hasler this year. They have the right mix of big forwards, workers, some skill with the ball and play a game style that uses their unorthodox combination at 7 and 6 to advantage. Barba adds speed and freakish skill along with attack and finishing skill of Morris on their left edge. They have won 14 of their last 15 games for a reason.    

I like the Bulldogs. Their form line, their composure and their ability to win. Yes it’s a major final but I still think there’s a gap between these two when it matters under pressure and I again expect that to be the case here. Bulldogs

Last Word: Bulldogs look the more composed performer, I expect them to again aim up and be winning.  

Betting Interest: Happy to play the Bulldogs with any line out to -5.5.


Finals Week 3 Bet List

Eagles 3 units line +3.5 $1.90

Bulldogs 4 units line -5.5 $1.90       BEST BET

All up 4 units Eagles line +8.5 $1.46 x Bulldogs H2H $1.48


Interests  All bets are listed with – 1) a confidence rating (between 1 and 5, with 5 being he highest) and 2) a staking rating (up to 5 units) For example a bet will be listed as:  Storm 4 units Line -9.5 $1.80. The number 4 represents both the confidence and staking rating (out of 5) for this suggested bet.

Staking  The total weekly bet outlay will vary each week but will be approximately 15 to 25 units. My recommendation is that you 1) settle on a weekly unit dollar outlay that suits your weekly betting bank, and then 2) bet consistently to the listed weekly recommended bets. Best Bets. An additional approach and bank is recommended to bet nominated Best Bets, either with a level stake or with the suggested unit outlay. A more detailed Staking outline and example sheet is available on request, email:

Bet Prices: Nominated beside each bet is the price taken at the time of finalising this information (and will then be used when updating all results). Don’t hesitate to look around and obtain the best possible price and or option of your choice.

Alternative Line or Bet types: A broad range of alternate or pick your own lines or betting types are now available from all betting agencies. I chose to consider all options to suit each game and final betting recommendation, including the use of shorter and or longer lines, margins, tri bet or similar and suggest that members look to do the same so as to potentially frame your bet options to your possible advantage.

Results : Year To Date

All Bets

  2012   Bets   Winners   %   Units Bet   Units Return   Profit / Loss   POT
  YTD   160   69   43.13   554   572.21   18.21   3.29


Best Bet

  2012   Bets   Winners   %   Units Bet   Units Return   Profit / Loss   POT
  YTD   30   20   66.67   126   142.23   16.23   12.88

POT = Profit On Turnover


Twitter @ReadingThePlay

Twitter @RTP_NFL

©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.