NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 2017 Finals Week 2


NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 2017 Finals Week 2

MrG provides NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers.

Finals Week 2 2017 Game Handicaps

MrG’s Ratings

-4.5 Broncos vs Panthers

-8.5 Eels vs Cowboys

NRL Finals Week 2 Recommended Bet List

Bet 2 units Panthers +7.5 $1.80 Tabsportsbet / +6.0 $1.91 William Hill

Bet 3 units Eels -7.5 $1.90 Sportsbet / William Hill

BB – Indicates Best Bet

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, FAQ – Why do you talk and bet in units? > answers here).

Longer Term Recommended Bets

Premiership (22nd February)

Bet 2 units Storm to win Premiership $8.00 Tabsportsbet

Most Losses / Wooden Spoon (9th March)

Bet 2 units Rabbits most losses $11.00 Ubet / William Hill

To Miss Top 8 (10th August)

Bet 3 units Panthers to miss Top 8 $3.25 CrownBet / $3.15 Ubet / $3.00 elsewhere

Individual Game Tips

Panthers, Eels

Game Previews

Note: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games 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 weekend. 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).

Key Contest Stats

Kind thanks to Mark Hull a good friend and keen NRL follower who complies a weekly list of key stats and insights for each game. You can also follow Mark on Twitter here @FootyAssist

Finals Facts

> In 8 of last 10 Finals, total match points have failed to breach 40, also been the case in 8 of last 9 matches in Week 1 of a Series

> The home team has won 20 of the last 28 Finals Series matches in Week 1 of the Finals (71%)

> The home team has won 13 of the last 15 Finals matches (87%) and 35 of the last 48 Finals Series matches dating back to 2011 (73%)

> 13 of the last 17 Premiers have won the comp off the back of a week off and then winning their Prelim final win

> 8 of last 10 Premiers were one of the Top 2 defensive sides that season.
#1 and #2 Defensive sides this season – Storm then Sharks
#1 and #2 Defensive sides last season – Storm then Sharks

> 6 of the last 7 grand finalists who had played 4 wks straight, have lost

Broncos vs Panthers

-4.5 Broncos


HISTORY – Played 51, Broncos 31, Panthers 19, Drawn 1

AT SUNCORP STADIUM – Played 17, Broncos 11, Panthers 6 FINALS HISTORY – Played 2, Broncos 0, Panthers 2

TOP 8 RECORD – Brisbane has a 6-7 record, losing 5 of their last 7, 5 of their 6 at home have had a 13+ margin Penrith have the worst record of all the Finalists, winning only 3 of 10, last week’s win over Manly was their 1st as the away team

Week 2 of the Finals Series gets underway with the Broncos hosting the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium. Brisbane holds a 31-19 all time advantage over Penrith, coupled with 1 draw, while they have won 11 of the 17 clashes played in Queensland. The Panthers have won 4 of the last 6 encounters, but Brisbane has won 4 of the last 5 meetings played at home. Home ground advantage has been beneficial when the 2 sides have met recently, with the home team winning 9 of the last 11 matches. High scoring affairs have been common place, with 4 of the last 5 finishing Overs in total match points, while 11 of the 16 matches played since 2007 have topped 40, with an average of 45. The Panthers have won the 2 previous Finals matches against the Broncos, but they haven’t meet in a Final Series since 2003. A Broncos try has been the 1st scoring play in 3 of the last 4 meetings, while they have scored the 1st try of the 2nd half in the last 5 clashes at Suncorp. Only once in the previous 6 matchups have the Panthers led Brisbane at half time, while Penrith have won the 2nd half in 5 of the last 6. After going down to the Roosters last week, the Broncos return home where they have won 10 of their last 12 and 14 of their last 16 as a starting favourite, while they are unbeaten in Finals matches at Suncorp Stadium since 2009, winning 6 in a row. They finished the regular season in 3rd spot, with a defence that ranked 4th, while their attack and differential both ranked 2nd. They have posted 20 points or more in 8 of their last 9 at an average of more than 30, but they need to improve their defence, conceding 18 or more in 5 of their last 7 against a Top 8 opponent at an average of more than 26. Brisbane is 15-10 ATS and has covered in 7 of their last 9, while they have covered in 20 of their last 30 at home when favoured by more than a converted try. In total match points, Brisbane are the Number 1 Overs side in the comp, producing a 16-9 result, including 9 of their last 11, while 9 of their last 12 at home as a big favourite have also finished Overs. The Broncos have won 11 of 14 with a half time lead, but have lost 6 of 10 when trailing. Only once in their last 9 games have they been outscored in the 2nd half and in 4 of their last 6 they have conceded 6 points or less in 2 nd halves. Brisbane winger Corey Oates has scored 7 tries in his last 6 games, while he has also scored 6 tries from his last 6 games at Suncorp Stadium. The Panthers took their revenge against the Sea Eagles last week, knocking them out of the Finals after being comprehensively beaten 7 days earlier. They will be looking for B2B away wins for only the 2nd time this season, while they have won only 4 of their last 17 matches played interstate. Penrith have also lost 6 of their last 8 away games as an underdog getting more than 6 points. The Panthers have the worst record of any of the sides in the Finals against a Top 8 opponent, winning just 3 of 10 and last week was the 1st time they have beaten Top 8 opposition all season as the away team. Penrith finished the season in 7th spot with a 13-11 record, while they won 5 of 12 as the away team. They finished 6th in attack and 9th in defence, with a 45 point differential that ranked 7th. The Panthers are 13-12 ATS and have covered in 8 of their last 10, while they have an 8-5 cover record since 2014 as a road dog getting more than a converted try advantage, but have covered in only 4 of their last 14 played interstate. Penrith are 15-10 Under in total match points and have also had Unders results in 6 their last 9 away matches as a big outsider, while they are 8-2 Under against the Top 8. The Panthers have won 9 of 10 with a half time lead, but have lost 9 of 12 when trailing at the break. Only 1 of the previous 12 NRL Finals have been decided by a margin of 13+, while 5 of the last 6 have been decided by 2 points or less. The home team has won 9 of the last 11 matches in Week 2 of the Finals and has covered in the last 5 straight. Anthony Griffin has lost only 2 of his previous 11 matches when coming up against Wayne Bennett (8-1-2). Home teams have covered just 1 of the previous 10 matches with Gerard Sutton in charge, while big home favourites have won 12 of the previous 13 matches under Sutton, with an 8-5 cover record. The Broncos are unbeaten in their last 12 matches at Suncorp Stadium with Sutton at the helm and have covered in 6 of the last 7 under Sutton across all venues, while the Panthers have lost 4 of their last 6 matches refereed by Sutton.


The Broncos should have been belted last week, we get bad beats in the business but how the Roosters didn’t win by a big space let alone 4 points was madness – but that can also be the Roosters and their lazy approach where they just don’t knuckle down for 80 minutes. The Broncos have come through a soft run for many weeks that has papered over the cracks and once again up against a physical side who were also prepared to run the ball they again got found out. Holes in the middle, on the back foot consistently, and bad holes down both edges with Glenn and Gillett totaling near 10 misses between them. The Roosters missed 3 near certain trys, and then gifted the Broncos back into the game with a complete (Ferguson) brain snap. The game finished close on paper, but it wasn’t and this coupled with their recent poor or unconvincing run of form leaves them a cold option. They’ve been dealt a rough hand with some very key outs at the wrong time of the season, but it is what it is – and now Boyd will again miss.

With Boyd now a further late withdrawal this disrupts and hurts them further. He plays a very key role in the organisation of their defence, management of kick plays and returns and then his quality work in attack, in particular on their right edge. I’m very surprised the markets haven’t reacted further, the 1 point adjustment is very minor, I have it at least 3. The Boyd out also leaves plenty of dislocation, he trained their final key ball work sessions this week yet was then ruled out, and so they then go straight into the game with a different combination to what had been planned and trained, and with patch up combinations, just not a good way to prepare for a major knock out semi final.

The Panthers. They had a point to prove last week, 6 days after a poor touch up from the same opponent, well motivated they aimed up physically in the middle and put themselves back into a contest. I think they will give this a real shake as they will again play with little to no expectation, the clear unfavoured underdog up against the “name” team who are expected to just win. With the return of Edwards at fullback they have arguably their strongest back 7 available (given that Moylan remains sidelined). But they were also helped last week with two key 50/50 calls which went their way and had significant impact on the game and final outcome – so again questionable quality if the final win and game form. To win they have to play some footy, and with out pressure its something a young side with talent can do, Cleary, May and Cartwright have to use the ball, ball play, open holes, play back to the inside and really put some questions to the Broncos mentally – who are already struggling.

Another interesting factor in play here is the Griffin-Bennett head to head record, with Bennett winning just 2 of the 11 contests. Griffin coached teams lifted when at the Broncos vs Bennett’s teams (Dragons and Knights) and it’s now been similar since he has been at the Panthers. The Broncos won the last meeting back in Rd7 (but lost both match ups last year), flogging the Panthers early, but at a time when the Panthers form was very ordinary (this game their 5th straight loss) and the Broncos at full strength (including Boyd, McCullough, Sims) and playing very well (in the midst of a 6 game win streak), there’s been a decided turn around in fortunes and form now into this game.

So where does that leave us. I think a close line ball game. The Broncos are probably about 70% of their best at present, playing at home a big advantage but they’ll need that here as they have some key defensive (attitude/confidence), combination and mental issues right now. The Panthers are with little expectation, expected to lose last week, considered lucky to have won, away game against big name opponent, but all of that will suit them, if they then play some footy as I expect they will give this a major shake.

The Broncos could well have been flogged by 20 points last week, the facts don’t lie. I don’t think they are playing well, I think the markets have them over priced on reputation not into what looks very much a line ball game. If the Panthers play some footy and get a sniff and come confidence they can win, I think they can. The plus start looks the right way to position here.

Bet 2 units Panthers +7.5 $1.80 Tabsportsbet / +6.0 $1.91 William Hill

Eels vs Cowboys

-8.5 Eels


HISTORY – Played 37, Eels 19, Cowboy 17, Drawn 1 AT ANZ STADIUM – Played 1, Eels 0, Cowboys 1

FINALS HISTORY – Played 1, Eels 0, Cowboys 1

TOP 8 RECORD – The Eels have won 6 of 10, but have lost 3 of 5 as the home team The Cowboys have won only 4 of 13, losing 5 of their last 6, but they did win the 1 that mattered most

The Eels and Cowboys meet in what will be just the 2nd meeting, both in a Final and at ANZ Stadium, with their only previous meeting being in the 2005 Preliminary Final, which the Cowboys won 29-0. Parramatta holds a 19- 17 all time advantage over the Cowboys, while there has been 1 draw. North Queensland have won 8 of the last 11 meetings against the Eels, with 6 of those 8 wins being by 13+ and an averaging winning margin of more than 20. In 3 of the last 4 clashes the total match points have failed to surpass 38, while the team to score the 1st points of the match has gone on to win 7 of the last 8. In 9 of the last 10 encounters the half time leader has gone on to win the match. The Cowboys have scored the last try of the match in 10 of the last 11 matchups and only once in those 11 meetings have the Eels outscored the Cowboys in the 2nd half. The Eels lost by just 2 points to the Storm and pushed the Minor Premiers all the way, but in the end fell short. They return home to ANZ Stadium where they have won 9 of their last 10, while they have also won 8 of their last 9 at the ground as a favourite. The Eels 4th placed finish after 26 Rounds was their highest finishing position since winning the Minor Premiership in 2005, while it’s their 1st Finals campaign since 2009. They finished the regular season with an attack and defence that both ranked 8th and only once in their last 8 games at ANZ Stadium have they conceded more than 16, but they have conceded 16 or more in 7 of their last 8 against the Cowboys. Parramatta is 14-11 ATS and has covered in 5 of their last 7, but only on 3 occasions from their last 12 have they covered when laying more than a converted try advantage. In total match points they are 17-8 Under, including 10 of their last 12, while they have also had Unders results in 10 of their last 12 at ANZ Stadium and their long term record at the ground is also in heavy favour of the Unders, going 21-6 since 2014. The Eels have a perfect conversion rate when leading at half time, winning 14 of 14, but they have won only 2 of 9 when trailing at the break. They have scored the opening try in 8 of their last 10 matches played at ANZ Stadium and remain unbeaten in their last 13 matches when scoring the opening try. Semi Radradra has scored 23 tries in 26 games at ANZ Stadium and only twice from his last 9 games at the ground has he not scored a try. The Cowboys were unwanted outsiders in last week’s Elimination Final against the defending Premiers, but they kept their season alive courtesy of a Michael Morgan field goal in extra time. They will again be accruing the frequent flyer miles with another trip to Sydney, but they have a very good recent record at ANZ Stadium, winning their last 5 straight at the ground, while they are a perfect 5 & 0 ATS in those as well. North Queensland fell over the line to make the 2017 Finals Sereis, off the back of 5 losses from their final 6 games. They finished the regular season with an attack that ranked 10th, while they ranked 5th in defence and last week’s 14 points conceded against the Sharks was their lowest total conceded in 7 games. A win over the Eels will see the Cowboys become the 1st side since 2009 to make it past Week 2 of the Finals from 8th spot, ironically it was Parramatta who were the last to do it. The Cowboys are 16-9 ATS and have covered in 11 of 13 road games this season, while since 2014 they have a 12-3 cover record when playing in Sydney as an underdog. They are 17-8 Under in total match points, including 7 of their last 9, while they have had Unders results in 12 of their last 18 played interstate. The Cowboys have won 7 of 11 with a half time lead, while they have a 6-7 record when trailing at the break. North Queensland have been slow out of the blocks in recent matches, conceding the 1st try of the match in 10 of their last 11. Cowboy’s winger Antonio Winterstein has scored 6 tries in his last 7 games against Parramatta and is well overdue as he hasn’t scored in his last 6 appearances for North Queensland, which is his driest period since 2012. The Cowboys ended a long running hoodoo last week against Cronulla, winning a Final Series match against a Sydney based side in Sydney after losing 7 in a row since the 2005 Grand Final. Home teams laying more than a 6 point advantage have won 10 of the previous 11 matches with Matt Cecchin in charge, while 6 of his last 8 matches have finished Unders in total match points. The Eels have a 3-2 record under Cecchin over the last 2 seasons, with a 3-2 cover record and a 4-1 total record in favour of the Under, while the Cowboys have won 8 of their last 9 with Cecchin in charge, with a 6-3 cover record and a total number of 8-1 Over.


If the Eels aim up here as I expect then they look clear winners. Their form line through recent weeks looks strong and a decided advantage, two decisive wins over the Broncos then their quality offering last week vs Storm in Melbourne, plus they get home ground advantage at Homebush where they have won 9 of their last 10. Arthur had they up to the mark last week and their physical approach coupled with the preparedness to use the football had them in the game up to their ears, stretching the Storm to a 2 point loss, a strong form reference into the 8th placed team here. That result possibly flattered in scoring two tries against 12 men, and a Storm offering not right at their top, but they should grow in confidence off that effort.

There’s been no bigger supporter of the Cowboys efforts through the last 8 weeks than I, but this looks by far their biggest ask now. In all seriousness has the Sharks been anywhere near some of what we know is their best form they would have spanked the Cowboys last week, 17 errors, 37 missed tackles, they shat on themselves and just murdered that result. Given these errors the Cowboys were consistently invited back into the game with a mountain of ball and field position yet could not score points, such is how disappointing, pedestrian and easy to read that their attack has become. Taumalolo is a sensation yet used way too often as a one out battering ram through the middle, and unless Granville and Morgan combine their is no variation or set play magic to their execution. They have now lost 5 of their last 7 games, the two wins last week and a scrappy win over the Tigers, I love how gutsy they are but this now looks a significant class gap.

The Eels have to stay on task here, they have had a couple of flat spot efforts across the last 5 weeks (Knights loss, Rabbits game) where they were not up or focused for the contest, their best is playing very physical through the middle, strong yardage and muscle defence, then creating some room and front foot footy for their two halves to play with and bring their back 7 into play. They should be advantaged back at this ground with major supporter support and the chance to continue on with their finals run. I marked them with a 10 point advantage, anything like their best of recent weeks then I expect they do this and some more.

Bet 3 units Eels -7.5 $1.90 Sportsbet / William Hill


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NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 2017

MrG’s recommended weekly game by game previews and any recommended betting plays for this individual round are listed here. Each NRL Preview and Sports Betting Tips message thread will normally open on a Wednesday and list any early game ratings and betting plays. 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 (Fridays). All subscribers can also receive all recommended bets via sms message.

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