NRL – Finals Week 1 – Preview & Betting Advice NRL 2012

NRL – Finals Week 1 – Preview & Betting Advice NRL 2012

Finals Wk 1 Preview NRL 2012

Some History

There are two key factors that will influence this finals series, as it has year after year.

Representative 7 or 6

There is lots of talk about the key game breakers for each of the semi final sides, and the likely impact expected (or required) for any of these sides to turn their opportunity as a contender into a title. One interesting and key factor often overlooked is that across the last 35 years of finals footy in just about every one of those years the eventual title winner has contained and or been directed by a representative (Test or Origin) half or five eight (quality play maker).

Four sides in this year’s series have it, Eagles, Storm, Cowboys, Sharks. The Broncos could be argued as an inclusion (Wallace) but it is 4 years since that rep football. So the Bulldogs, Rabbits and Raiders face a task against history.

Top 4

I’m sure that most readers would be aware that since this finals format has been used in either NRL or AFL only one side has come from outside the top 4 to then win the title (Bulldogs from sixthspot in 1995).

Looking Ahead

The Eagles look very hard to beat and should they get through Friday nights cracker against the Bulldogs then they will be. They are laced with experience, quality and class and have shown through recent weeks that they almost have gears in their ability to do what’s required. The longer term question about the Eagles has been having climbed the mountain last year if and how strongly did the fire still burn, and certainly there have been occasions during the year where motivation and injury have looked questionable issues but as only a class act can they can smell the business end of the season and off the back of 6 straight wins are now positioned in fourth spot to mount their defence. They are at their right price ($3.00) but if they gain a week off and then passage into the final day with little injury then I’m sure that they’ll then be very very warm favourites at somewhere around the $1.40 quote.

Online and SMS Updates

Further to the positive use and feedback last weekend I will be doing a pre game update prior to each finals game through to Grand Final day. It certainly doesn’t appear as a weekend where we will have the various possibilities in play as we did last week but last minute weather and or key injury / outs may well impact in some areas. The online title message of this preview (and its content) will be updated to indicate any new update and a new sms will also be sent out. If you would like to be included in the free sms blast just drop an email request through to contact@readingtheplay.com

Update : 2pm Sunday

If you are betting in or into the two games tomorrow / Saturday I would suggest that this be done today. I understand that the Storm have at least 3 key injury concerns (Ryles, Lowrie, Chambers) with all 3 in doubt for tomorows game v Rabbits. The visitors (Rabbits) continue to firm at the + line, many places into to 2.5 now. The other information is that Thaiday will be a late withdrawal for the Broncos, he has been playing with a busted shoulder for many weeks now and I’m sure this late news will also tighten further the market pricing.

The Bulldogs continue to firm into this evenings game, H2H $2.15 to $2.05 and the +2.5 Line in to $1.80. I think this is more market adjustments with this looking a close contest, closer than the original gap of $2.15 v $1.70 especially given the Bulldogs strong public following.

I have now added an additional bet with the Rabbits H2H.

Sunday: Graham now a likely late inclusion for the Sharks, a major plus. Dugan and Williams will play for the Raiders but injured. Like the Sharks chances, think they’ll aim up here, happy to risk the Raiders as short priced favs under expectation. Adding one additional small play as 1 unit spec Sharks 13+.

As for the weekend results to date, Eagles stumbled badly and are in soem deep trouble from here on, Bulldogs did well and advance. Storm very disciplined offering, Rabbits disgraceful. Cowboys did as expected.

Finals Wk 1 bet list

Eagles 4 units -2.5 $1.95

Rabbits 3 units H2H $2.30

Rabbits 3 units +4.5 $1.82

Cowboys 4 units -5.5  $1.81       BEST BET

Sharks 3 units H2H $2.40

Sharks 4 units +4.5  $1.85

Sharks 1 unit 13+ $5.75

All Up 4 units Eagles +12.5 $1.21 x Cowboys H2H $1.47

Bulldogs v Eagles

Homebush: 7.40pm Friday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Bulldogs $2.15 / +2.5  Eagles $1.70 / -2.5

Any market moves: Bulldogs H2H ($2.10) and Line slight firmers

First plays fourth to open the finals, and what a cracking game this looks. Facts and figures: Bulldogs have won their last 8 straight at the ground; have won 2 of their last 6 H2H and have won 6 of their 12 games v top 8 sides. With the start the Bulldogs are 6 from 7 year to date and have won with the start (plus or minus) at 8 of their last 10. The Eagles have won 7 of their last 10 at the ground and have won 6 of 9 against top 8 sides. A further key factor in the Eagles favour is their quality away record winning 9 of 14. Conceding the start they are 9 from 18 but have won with the start (plus or minus) at 7 of their last 10.

In short I think the game is priced about right and neither side carries any significant advantage or disadvantage through key information (ground, H2H, at the spread, etc).

These two sides have played each other twice this year with two very close encounters, the Eagles winning game 1 at this ground 12-10, the Bulldogs coming from behind to win at Brookvale 20-12. I think there were a number of key factors were remembering through the second game, the Eagles had come off a bad bout of flu through their camp (and had been trounced accordingly the week prior by the Knights), Brett Stewart didn’t play and this was Glenn Stewarts first game back from a long out with injury.

Haslers influence on the Bulldogs this year has been outstanding but this is a significant test. They have had their moments through recent weeks including the questionable offering in Canberra but it’s difficult to pot anything of what they are doing. Lack of finals experience is certainly a factor also how their 7 aims up against this style of opposition defence and harassment. They have a clever mix of attacking options for the final 30 mtr zone with variations of run around or decoy plays to their left or right, they have big forwards who can tip of or off load and then the class of the little star at the back and what an outstanding year he has had.

Right now I think the Eagles come through a stronger form line and have the class and experience to stand up in a key game which will afford the winner a week off. Three of their last five wins have been over top 6 sides, each with some authority (Broncos, Rabbits, Cowboys) two of them away. Unlike the last battle at Brookvale they will arrive here better prepared with both Stewarts now run into match fitness and form and their recent offerings showing the signs of class and seriousness toward the final day that matters. What the Eagles do bring is one of if not the best defence in the competition and that will be critical in reading and shutting down the various attacking options that the Bulldogs will play.

Great contest. If the Bulldogs where playing anyone else this week I’d be tipping them, but this Eagles side is very good. I like the form line that they have come through and for mine they have the class and experience edge. Eagles

Last Word: Like what the Eagles are doing and where they might be headed. Backing their class to get them home.

Betting Interest: Happy to play the short line with the Eagles of -2.5.  

Storm v Rabbits

Melbourne: 5.45pm Saturday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Storm $1.65 / -4.5  Rabbits $2.25 / +4.5

Any market moves: Rabbits at the Line has firmed slightly with 3.5 the common position now (4.5 still available in some places).

Facts and figures: Storm have won 9 of their last 12 at home / ground and have a dominant recent record H2H winning 11 of the last 12; have won 8 of their 12 games v top 8 sides (but a large majority of those in the first half of the season). The Storm are 12 from 22 conceding the start year to date and a poor 2 from their last 10 with the start (plus or minus). The Rabbits have not won in Melbourne, are 6 from 12 away, are 6 from 10 ytd when with a start and 7 from their last 10 at the start.

The key to this game is where and how we chose to place the recent form offerings of both sides up against the obvious hurdles that the Rabbits face.

The Storm have really struggled post Origin and but for their outstanding start to the season might well be very lucky to start this finals series from a top 4 spot. Yes they have won their last 5 but a closer look through their last 4 poses many questions as to the quality of that run. They could and should have come up second against the Titans and the Sharks (Titans led comfortable yet lost 3 key players with injury only to falter, the Sharks blew a two try margin with a last minute loss), they scraped home in Brisbane (questionable video try decision) and then took forever with a mountain of ball and advantage to beat a very disappointing and injured Tigers last week. They could well be limping off the back of a 1 and 9 recent record, not a 5 week winning streak. The sharpness of their attack execution is not there, they’ve lost the dramatic influence of Slater due to his injury, they lack a couple of dominant forwards and defensively they keep getting found out on either the edge of their ruck or their outside edges. Form mine their form has questions all over it and the yare a huge risk, priced on old form and past stats.

The Rabbits have some reasonable form but for mine far more upside and potential. Clearly they have come up short against this opponent and in Melbourne and their recent record when they’ve been asked to step up against top of the table contenders has been shallow (Sharks, Eagles), but I think they get their chance here against an opponent who is struggling. The Rabbits are close, and I think against some issues we might see them stand up here. They have attacking strike at 9 and 6, world class at 1, Sam Burgess and Taylor capable of hurting the Storm on the edges and they have quality wingers who can trouble them where they have already had some problems. Anything near their best and I’m sure they can win here. They come through a tough win last week in Newcastle at a another venue where they have had a terrible record and did so against a Knights side up for their old boys weekend.

I don’t like the Storm’s current form and I think they are very poorly priced on past deeds, the ground and H2H advantage but not their current form. Happy to back the Rabbits here to show us what’s been promised. Rabbits

Last Word: Some risk on the road but the Rabbits form should give this a real shake.  

Betting Interest: Bet the +4.5 line, I think they can win outright but let’s take the insurance as well.

Cowboys v Broncos

Townsville: 7.45pm Saturday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Cowboys $1.43 / -7.5  Broncos $2.85 / +7.5

Any market moves: Broncos on the drift, the more  common Line is 6.5.

Facts and figures: Cowboys have won 8 of their last 12 at home / ground and 3 of their prior 4 H2H, have won 6 of their 11 games v top 8 sides. They are 7 from 13 at the minus start and have covered the line (plus or minus) at 7 of their last 10. The Broncos have limped into September having lost 6 of their last 7, they have won 5 of their last 6 at the ground and 5 of 12 away this season. With the start they are 3 from 6, but importantly at the start (plus or minus) they are only 1 from their last 10.

The Cowboys have Scott back (rested last week) and return home off a positive Sydney win. If there is a side in the bottom four who can play deep into September then it’s certainly the Cowboys, they have an excellent mix and balance of size, skill and speed with then the direction and class from Thurston and Bowen. They play this ground well and will have the added advantage of a full home crowd in support. There is a lot to like about the form of the Cowboys through their last 4 games, they were close to the Eagles at home then have won key away games when under some pressure at Wollongong and Cronulla.

The Broncos form speaks for itself through the last 2 months with the combination of Origin and inexperienced youth taking its toll on their season. Yes they do come through a pretty tough form line (Eagles, Storm, Bulldogs, Raiders) but they are somewhat like the Storm in struggling with their execution and ability to run out a game (on three of those occasions run down through the second half). Their attack has been very poor with only 3 occasions in their last 9 games where thay have managed more than 14 points and while Griffin has looked to sharpen up their attack through recent weeks with either changes or rotation at 6 and 1and the introduction of some early tackle ball shifts it is still delivering more of the same. On the back of all of this their confidence looks at an all time low.

The games the Cowboys to lose. They have been unlucky not to finish in the top four, the Broncos have been lucky to have been asked to play this weekend. I’m sure the Broncos will look to start well and try and put themselves into the contest but if the Cowboys can weather that opening period they have the ball movement and kicking game to work the Broncos over. Cowboys

Last Word: Cowboys at home in good form should be too strong.  

Betting Interest: Happy to play the line out to -6.5, the safe option would be -5.5.

Raiders v Sharks

Canberra: 4pm Sunday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Raiders $1.60 / -4.5  Sharks $2.35 / +4.5

Any market moves: The more common Line point is 3.5 although 4.5 is about.

Facts and figures: Raiders are 6 from 12 at home / ground and have won 4/7 H2H, they are only 4 from 11 against top 8 sides. When conceding the start the Raiders are a poor 2 from 6, they are 7 from their last 10 at the start (plus or minus). The Sharks have won 7 from 12 on the road (including an early season win in Canberra), have won 6 of 11 against top 8 sides (including Storm, Eagles and Rabbits) and have won 11 of 14 with the start, but across their last 10 are only 4 (plus or minus).

If we were to just dice this game up on what looks the suggested recent form then the Raiders would look the obvious, and they’ve been priced accordingly. But I think this game has a number of additional twists and turns to it the major one being the mental approach and strength of either side. The Raiders have shown us a number of times through recent months their difficulty to handle the pressure of expectation – well they are going to have that here in spades as the obvious favourite in front of a full home ground. I think they also run a significant risk this week of mentally having ticked off their achievement in making the semi finals (and 6th position) when least expected (and written off but weeks ago. There were signs of this last week when with results going their way prior to their Warriors game (and their finals position then assured) they dropped their bundle to trail a weak Warriors side 22-6 into half time. What was very obvious was the complete lack of attitude and intensity, in particular in defence. That they turned this position around into the second half didn’t rate with me either, as the Warriors offering was one of the lowest I have watched for many years with through one period them conceding 4 tries on consecutive sets of 6 (three of them sets of play straight from kick offs). Lastly I wonder about their preparation through recent days, coming off a distant away game and returning I believe last Tuesday (shortening their preparation week). I think they are a huge risk.

The Sharks are another who have limped through recent months on the back of numerous injury issues, winning only 2 of their last 9 games but I think they have things made to measure here to give one final shout for the season. They aimed up through prior weeks (Storm, Rabbits) before I think last week having their eyes more on this upcoming semi final that a game that could do nothing more for them as they couldn’t advance on the table. They will get Graham back (key in), possibly Gardner and unlike the Raiders I think there mind set has been about aiming up as best they can in the finals, not just making it. They have a good record against the Raiders, especially in Canberra (winning 6 of their last 8 here) and importantly Coach Flanagan has show us a number of times through the last two seasons that when required he can get them right up to perform. They’ll like the underdog status and having been written off, I think they’ll treat this like a grand final of sorts and really give this just about everything they have left.

The Sharks strength is their defence and willingness to arm wrestle and grind, if they can get into that grove they’ll frustrate the Raiders which will build further pressure on them. I think the Sharks have one big effort left in them and this is it, I think their opponents are a huge risk of having already been spent. Sharks

Last Word: Keen on the Shark, I think they’ll aim up and cause the upset.

Betting Interest: I’ll be playing this both ways, H2H and then with the line start of +4.5.

 

Interests

All bets are listed with –

1) a confidence rating (between 1 and 5, with 5 being the 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:  contact@readingtheplay.com

Finals Wk 1 bet list

Eagles 4 units -2.5 $1.95

Rabbits 3 units +4.5 $1.82

Cowboys 4 units -5.5  $1.81       BEST BET

Sharks 3 units H2H $2.40

Sharks 4 units +4.5  $1.85

All Up 4 units Eagles +12.5 $1.21 x Cowboys H2H $1.47

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.

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