NRL Tips & Game Previews | Finals Week 3 | 2021

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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).

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