NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting Finals Week 1
NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting Finals Week 1
MrG provides NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers.
Finals Week 1 Game Handicaps
-8.5 Roosters vs Broncos
-14.5 Storm vs Eels
-1.5 Sea Eagles vs Panthers
-3.5 Sharks vs Cowboy
NRL Finals Week 1 Recommended Bet List
Bet 4 units Roosters -2.5 $1.90 CrownBet
Bet 2 units Roosters-Broncos under 38.5 $1.90 CrownBet
Bet 1 unit Cowboys +8.5 $1.80 Tabsportsbet
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
Roosters, Storm, Eagles, Sharks
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 @
> Record vs top 8 teams this season
> 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
Roosters vs Broncos
The 2017 Finals Series gets underway in what will be the first of 3 games at Allianz Stadium, when the 2nd placed Roosters host the 3rd placed Broncos in the first Qualifying Final. The Broncos hold a 27-18 all time advantage over the Roosters, including a 14-10 record at Allianz Stadium, while they have also won 4 of the 5 Finals contested between the two sides. The home team has won the previous 7 encounters, while the Broncos haven’t beaten the Roosters at Allianz Stadium since 2012. In 6 of last 8 clashes the 1st try of the match has been scored prior to the 7th minute, with the home team opening the scoring in 5 of the last 6. The Roosters come into this match off the back of an ordinary effort against the Titans, where they clearly had eyes looking to this week. They have won 3 in a row and 6 of their last 8, while they have won 8 of their last 9 as a home favourite. They have also won 12 of their last 13 matches played at Allianz Stadium and are unbeaten in their last 8 at the ground, while since the year 2000, they have won 14 of 19 Finals Series matches played at the ground. The TriColours finished 2nd after 26 Rounds, a huge turn around after last year’s effort where they finished 15th. They ended the regular season with an attack that ranked 7th and a defence that ranked 3rd, giving them a 72 point differential that rated 4th. The Roosters, along with Melbourne were the only 2 sides never positioned out of the Top 8 all season and they spent 1 week in the top spot, while they never sat lower than 5th. They played 11 games against a Top 8 opponent, finishing with a 6-5 record and 4 of those 6 wins came from 4 home games. They have an average record ATS, producing an 11-13 result and have covered in only 1 of their last 5 Finals Series matches at Allianz Stadium, while they have also failed to cover in 8 of their last 10 against the Broncos. In total match points they are 15-9 in favour of the Unders, including 7 of their last 8, while 8 of their last 9 at Allianz have also finished Unders. The Roosters have been great front runners, winning 14 of 15 with a half time lead, but have won only 3 of 8 when trailing. A Roosters try has been the 1st scoring play in their last 7 matches at Allianz Stadium and in 3 of their last 4 against the Broncos. Boyd Cordner has scored 3 tries in his last 4 games at Allianz Stadium, including a double against the Broncos in Round 13, while Latrell Mitchell has scored 3 tries in his last 3 matches at the ground and is the Roosters leading try scorer with 12. Like the Roosters, the Broncos have also won 6 of their last 8 but have picked up some key injuries in recent weeks and now look likely to be without Pangai Jnr and Boyd on top of having already lost McCullough and Sims. Brisbane is embarking on their 26th Finals campaign and has missed only 2 Series since winning their maiden Premiership in 1992. They have been a 50/50 proposition in Finals matches since their winning their last Premiership in 2006, with an 8-8 result, while they have lost their last 6 Finals matches played away from Suncorp Stadium. Brisbane finished the home and away season with 16 wins and 8 losses to sit 3rd after 26 Rounds. Their longest winning run was 6 on end, while they never suffered more than 2 consecutive losses. They ranked 2nd in attack and 4th in defence, while their 164 point differential also ranked 2nd. Their highest ladder position was 2nd, while they spent 2 Rounds in total out of the Top 8 with a season low of 9th. They won only half of their 12 matches against Top 8 opposition and went down to the Storm and Eels twice. Brisbane has a 14-10 record ATS and has covred in 5 of their last 6 away games, giving them an 8-4 record on the road, while they have covered in 9 of their last 11 as a small road underdog. Road outsiders getting less than a converted try advantage are 1-6 ATS in Finals since 2014. In total match points, no side has had more Over results than the Broncos, producing a 15-9 result in favour of the Over, which included 8 of their last 10 and 4 of their last 5 on the road. The Broncos have won 11 of 14 with a half time lead, but have lost 5 of 9 when trailing and only on 2 occasions in their last 9 against the Roosters have they led at the break. Brisbane has scored the last try of the match in their last 7 against the Roosters and in all but 1 of those they have restricted the Tri-Colours to 6 points or less in the 2nd half.
The Broncos have lost their last 6 finals when played away from their home ground.
Roosters have an excellent record and advantage at the SFS (home ground) – Won 12 of their last 13 here; Won last 8 straight here and have Won 14 of last 19 Finals that they have played at ground.
The Broncos have a number of key outs to contend with with Boyd, Sims, Pangai Junior now added to the longer term key out of McCullough. This means from when an in from top 4 side mid season they now enter this final without their #9, #1 (and captain) and two key forwards, then creating major reshuffles in both key spine positions and combinations and then up front and in their middle losing two physical grunt men. It’s not a matter of knocking the Broncs, the facts speak for themselves that they are up against it here from the team that they were 10 weeks ago.
We have also noted across the last few months that their last 4 losses have been to teams who play physical grunt and muscle through the middle, and that’s clearly what they should encounter here from the Roosters big men and middle. While they got away with their win last week over the Cowboys the opponent and game style was to suit, less physical, an open ruck and play the ball and they were able to play their small and fast run game, play the tempo up and open the defence up to their advantage. I expect this will be far more physical and defensive, a real arm wrestle, a very typical finals game and something much more suited to the the home side.
The Roosters were poor last week, but in reality a nothing game where nothing more than a win was required, they rested players and as can be their way they were lazy mentally with any application or killer instinct. But this should be different, a finals game, home ground and a major carrot to play for with the opportunity of a week off and advance to the major final. Robinson looks to have timed his physical prep perfectly with him now having an all but full strength team, notably with his forward line up and now his edge players. I expect his formula to be straight forward, very physical, really work the middle over, and over, play smart field position and then look to take advantage of any room or key spotting of opposition players or target areas.
Given the key changes to the Broncos line up, in particular now losing Boyd and the nature of game style that I expect here I just can’t see where the Broncos points might come, and certainly hard to see them racking up too many – which leads me to the under play. Tough tight physical finals game, and Broncos potentially well short on points.
Bet 4 units Roosters -2.5 $1.90 CrownBet
Bet 2 units Roosters-Broncos under 38.5 $1.90 CrownBet
Storm vs Eels
The 2nd Qualifying Final will see the Parramatta Eels travel to Melbourne to take on Minor Premiers, the Storm. It’s just the 2nd time in a decade that the Eels will play Finals Football, while the Storm has missed only 1 Finals Series in 15 years and that was in 2010 when they were stripped of their points for salary cap breaches. Melbourne has won 4 of the previous 6 clashes with Parramatta, but the Eels have won the 2 most recent meetings played at AAMI Park, unfortunately they are their only wins in Melbourne in the last 12 years. A 13+ margin has been the result in 5 of the last 6 meetings in Melbourne, while the 1st try of the match has been scored the 8th minute in 10 of the last 11. In 3 of the last 4 meetings the total match points have finished Unders, but the last 3 clashes in Melbourne have all finished Overs, with all of them tallying 48 or more. Melbourne come into the game as red hot favourites and no team has been shorter in price for a Final since Week 1 of the 2014 Series. They have been the bench mark all season and secured their 2nd straight Minor Premiership after 20 wins and 4 losses, with 2 of those losses coming through the Origin period. They have won 7 in a row and 7 of their last 8 at AAMI Park, while they have also won 12 of their last 13 at AAMI Park as a favourite. Melbourne were at the top of the table for a total of 21 weeks, a spot they never relinquished after Round 8, spending 19 consecutive weeks in the top spot. After 26 Rounds they were also ranked as the Number 1 side in both attack and defence, scoring an average of more than 26 PPG while conceding 14. They also had the best record when facing a Top 8 opponent, winning 9 of 12. The Storm is 14-10 ATS and has covered in 5 of their last 6, while they have covered in 9 of their last 14 as a double digit home favourite. In total match points they are 14-10 Under and have had Unders results in 7 of their last 9 at home as a big favourite. The Storm has won 17 of 20 this season with a half time lead and only once in their last 19 matches at AAMI Park have they been beaten when leading at the break. Melbourne has scored the opening try in 5 of their last 6 and 4 of their last 5 against the Eels, while they have scored the last try in their last 6. In try scorer options, Josh Addo-Carr has been the last try scorer of the match on 6 occasions, while Suliasa Vunivalu ended the regular season as the leading try scorer with 23 and he has scored 9 tries in his last 6 matches, including 6 from his last 4 at AAMI Park. A milestone match for Cameron Smith in what will be his 356th appearance as he breaks Darren Lockyer’s record for all time appearances and no side does a milestone match better than Melbourne. The Eels have been the over achievers in 2017, given little to no chance of making the Finals, they finished the regular season in 4th spot, their highest finishing position since 2005. They have found form at the right end of the season, winning 9 of their last 10, while they have also won 6 of their last 7 as the away team. They finished the regular season with an attack and defence that both ranked 8th, but in the final 6 Rounds they ranked 4th and 3rd. The Eels ranked 2nd when playing a Top 8 opponent, winning 6 of 9, but no side played fewer matches against the Top 8 teams. They are 13-11 ATS, with a 5-5 record away from ANZ Stadium, while they have covered in 6 of their last 7 away from the ground as a double digit outsider. In total match points they are 16-8 Under, including 4 of their last 5 played interstate, while they have also had Unders results in 6 of their last 8 as the away team. The Eels are the only side in the competition that is yet to let a half time lead slip, winning 14 of 14, but they have won only 2 of 8 when trailing at the break. Semi Radradra is the Eels leading try scorer with 20 and has scored 8 tries in his last 3 games. Parramatta is yet to defeat the Storm in a Final, losing all of the previous 4 matches. Home teams won and covered in all 3 Finals Series matches last season with Ben Cummins in charge, while the Storm are unbeaten in their last 9 matches under Cummins. While no longer a betting option it’s just a bit of trivia that Penalty Goals as 1st scoring plays occur more frequently during Finals matches (increases by 5% on average over the last 10 years) and there have been 4 in each of the last 2 Finals Series (44%). Over the last 2 seasons matches refereed by Ben Cummins have had this play more than any other official with 13, while games at AAMI Park strike at 20%
Storm line up 3rd week in a row at home which offers the luxury of a settled prep, week after week, day after day into a major game. Bellamy has timed the physical prep perfectly with both the luck of having everyone ready and having also rested a few on rotation across the last 4 games. Clearly they are the benchmark, exceptionally well prepared, some of the best ever smarts ever in the game calling the shots from #9, the best D and a smashing home track advantage. They have now won their last 7 games, 5 of those by margins of 20 or many more.
On numbers alone I can’t slice this any better than I have, somewhere 12.5 to 14.5 is where I kept coming up. But, we know Arthur is very good at pumping them up for the right games, he left them alone last week in a game that didn’t really matter so as to have them ready to pump up this week when it really mattered. Arthur is also smart enough to know that to be any chance here he has to chance his hand, he has to play up tempo and play with the ball – just like they did in both their last two victories over the Broncos. But such also brings handling risk and one needs to be very careful as the Storm eat that stuff for breakfast, field position, control, discipline, you know the rest.
What these finals will tell us is a lot more about the Eels real form. They finished 4th, but of their 16 wins 10 of them came when playing the teams who finished the season at 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 – twice. Hey, the draw is the draw you do with what ever you are dealt, but September will tells us a lot more about the depth of this, starting with the #1 team on their home turf first up.
Looks a good match up, but I can’t be anywhere but with the Storm. I think the market handicap looks right at 12.5 possibly the under is the play but a no bet game for me.
Sea Eagles vs Panthers
-1.5 Sea Eagles
The 1st Elimination Final will be a case of Deja vu for the Sea Eagles and Panthers when they clash at Allianz Stadium after Manly recorded a 16 point win a week earlier. While it will be B2B clashes in B2B weeks, it will be the 1st time in history that the 2 sides have met in a Final, but they did play off for 5th spot back in 1985. Manly holds a 51-33 all time advantage over Penrith, coupled with 1 draw and none of those 85 meetings have ever been played at Allianz Stadium. Recent history shows the Panthers had won 7 of the last 8, including 5 straight before Manly ended their run with an emphatic victory at Brookvale Oval where they led 28-0 with less than 5 minutes remaining. In 6 of the last 8 meetings the winning margin has been by 1-12 points, while only 1 of the last 6 encounters has breached 40. Points have come early in recent meetings, with the 1st try of the match having been scored prior to the 7th minute in the last 7 encounters, while the home team has scored the opening try in 9 of the last 10. After losing 4 of 5, Manly gained some much needed confidence with B2B wins which sees them return to the Finals for the 1st time since 2014. They have won their last 4 matches played at Allianz Stadium and have a 50/50 record when playing a Top 8 opponent, winning 5 of 10, while they have won their last 6 as a home favourite. Despite their slide down the ladder in the closing Rounds, the Sea Eagles eventually secured 6th spot, with an attack that ranked 4th, while they ranked 11th in defence, giving them a 40 point differential that ranked 8th. They are 11-13 ATS and have failed to cover in 8 of their last 10 and their last 7 straight away from Brookvale, while since 2014 they have a 9-18 cover record when laying less than a converted try advantage, but have covered in 4 of their last 5 at Allianz Stadium. In total match points they are split 12-12, but 6 of their last 7 matches have finished Overs, as have 7 of their last 8 away from Brookvale, while 5 of the last 6 clashes with the Panthers have resulted in Unders. In 5 of the last 6 Finals Series matches played at Allianz Stadium the total match points have finished Overs. Manly has won 8 of 10 with a half time lead, but have lost 8 of 12 when trailing at the break. Both Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker have scored 3 tries in their last 4 games against Penrith. After 7 consecutive wins the Panthers have now suffered B2B defeats and look to be limping into the Finals amid plenty of off field distractions and player unrest. They have a 5-7 road record in 2017 and have recorded the fewest victories of all the Finalists against a Top 8 opponent, winning only 2 of 9. Despite the Panthers loss last week, they held on to their spot in the 8 to finish 7th , with an attack that ranked 6th , while they ranked 9th in defence. They are split 12-12 ATS and after 7 straight covers they have failed to cover in their last 2, while they have failed to cover in 5 of their last 6 as a small road underdog. Penrith are 14-10 Under in total match points and have also had Unders results in their last 8 away matches as an underdog with less than a converted try advantage. The Panthers have won 8 of 9 with a half time lead, but have lost 9 of 12 when trailing at the break. Home teams have covered just 1 of the previous 10 matches with Gerard Sutton in charge, while small home favourites have covered only 2 of the last 11 under Sutton.
The Panthers are a currently a nightmare to try and get a handle on, mentally. After making them a bet last week I was then told cross the weekend of all the internal drama they now have, and then watch them play accordingly come game time where physically they were belted and owned by the Eagles, and just didn’t want to know. Moylan was given a significant dressing down by Griffin on the Tuesday, left in utterly no doubt Griffin’s issues, so much so over the next two days he had his manager then request a release from his long term contract (4 yr still to run). Gould and Griffin were in the process of agreeing to this release request and planning to then make it effective as soon as this week when Gould was then informed by the managers of 3 very key players that they would not be signing the new extensions or upgrades that they had been offered should Griffin be remaining Coach into next year… Moylan has never been a fan of Griffin’s since the first month he arrived, and to be fair Moylan has also not helped his cause with some very ordinary off field behavior across the last 18 months, but clearly this feeling had spread across many of the key personal. Then, after such a poor offering at Brookvale Gould decided in the short term it was best to baton down the hatches, hold fire on Moylan, smother up the story and situation and give himself some weeks to eventually sort through it all and decide what course to take into the off season.
Add to this the reports that Gould also stepped in and ran a ball work session late last week, and we have a mess. Griffin’s authority and leadership has been undermined, and clearly on top of all the other rubbish going on they played accordingly. The Eagles deserve credit, Barrett had them pumped up, they were very physical, belted the Panthers through the opening 25 minutes and their opponents didn’t want to know and meekly rolled over.
So now a week later we have the same match up, now a semi final, at a neutral venue. We now have a further 7.5 change in the market handicap if we factor in the Eagles had home advantage last week, so a significant swing in 6 days. But for mine trying to work through this game is like wrestling with a black snake, there are that many possible twists and turns. The Eagles had lost 4 of their previous 6 prior to last week so they have been hard to trust, then very up for last Saturday, what risk here of a let down? Also, what risk some complacency, they owned this opponent 6 days ago, is the expectation that it just comes easy again? If they are on their game and play with a similar physical intent I expect they win, but I’m short of confidence. Then what of the Panthers? Have they had a necessary shake up out of such a poor performance last week? Personally, do they now have a point to prove? While I have had numerous reservations about them form months and they have some major short comings with their handing errors, forced plays and 5th tackle options, they are certainly far better than what they dished up last week.
I just couldn’t touch the game with stolen money. I have to be with the Eagles on what we saw, what they can potentially do again and what should be some confidence that they take out of last week. I have no idea how to access the Panthers, where the hell are their heads at, what attitude and commitment do they bring?
Sharks vs Cowboys
The 2nd Elimination Final sees the Cowboys travelling to Sydney to take on the Sharks. It will be the 3rd consecutive year that the 2 sides have met in the Finals, with the Sharks winning on both occasions previously, while they have also won the only 2 meetings at Allianz Stadium. The Sharks have recorded 4 consecutive victories against the Cowboys, while they have also won the last 4 meetings played in Sydney. A winning margin of 1-12 points has been the result in 7 of the last 8 encounters, while 4 of the last 6 meetings have failed to breach 39. The Sharks will have to do things the hard way if they want to become B2B Premiers after finishing the regular season in 5th. They have won just 2 of their last 5, 1 of which was against North Queensland, while they have also lost 4 of their last 6 against a Top 8 opponent, giving them a 6-5 record overall, ranking equal 3rd . After 26 Rounds Cronulla finished with the 2nd best defensive record, but ranked 9th in attack and have conceded an average of more than 20 PPG since Round 19. They have been poor ATS, producing a 9-15 record, while they have covered in only 3 of their last 15 matches when favoured by more than a converted try. They do have a positive record at Allianz Stadium, covering in their last 5, while they have also covered in 7 of their last 9 against the Cowboys. In total match points they are 16-8 Under and have had Unders results in 11 of their last 16 as a favourite. Cronulla has won 9 of 10 with a half time lead, but have won only 6 of 14 when trailing at the break. Sharks half Chad Townsend has scored 4 tries in his last 5 games against the Cowboys, while fellow half, James Maloney has 3 tries from his last 3 against North Queensland including a double in the 2016 Preliminary Final. The Cowboys have done well just to make their 7 th consecutive Finals Series after a season cruelled by injuries, but they won’t be there just to make up the Numbers and will continue to be gritty as they have been all year. They were fortunate to make the Top 8, coming into the Finals with 5 losses from their last 6, conceding 20 points or more in all 5 of those losses. They have a poor record at Allianz Stadium, losing 10 of their last 12 at the ground, the last 7 consecutively. North Queensland finished the regular season with an attack that ranked 10th and a defence that ranked 5th. They have the best cover record in the competition, with a 15-9 result and have covered in 7 of their last 9 played interstate, while since 2014 they have a 10-3 cover record when playing in Sydney as an underdog. They are 16-8 Under in total match points, including 6 of their last 8, while they have had Unders results in 13 of their last 19 played interstate. The Cowboys have won 7 of 11 with a half time lead, while they have a 5-7 record when trailing at the break. North Queensland winger Kyle Feldt has scored 3 tries in his last 3 games against the Sharks, including a double in last year’s Preliminary Final. The home team has won and covered in only 1 of the last 4 matches with Ashley Klein at the helm.
The Cows get a very important 10 day freshen up into this game, into a neutral venue, I think they are far closer to this game than many have them placed.
Sharks get a full strength list with key returns in Graham and Bird. We know that their best is very good, but having won the comp last year we have only really seen it twice all season long, Penrith win at Penrith and their dust up of Roosters. That’s round 7 and round 17. Plenty of gaps and cough and splutter offerings in between, so much so that they have then missed the top 4 and would have to win 4 weeks straight to defend their title.
So the Sharks should now be ready? Full strength, have been waiting for the finals to start to aim up? Possibly true, but I can’t have them -8.0 when throwing darts to see if this is the day they do aim up and play to their best when we only have evidence of it twice across the last 26 weeks. Their best is physical through the middle, they have a good off load game and second phase play, they can open things up, create room and then play to some attack strengths across their back 7. If on, they have the game.
The Cowboys bring attitude, which can take you a long way. They are well short of their best list, but are like that nagging dog that just keeps handing around and aiming up, always up for the fight. I think they are cannon fodder for the weeks ahead, but the Sharks need not take this too casually as their opponents have nothing to lose here, and would only need a small sniff. I would have liked to have seen some greater variation in their attack, and play back inside the ball runner on the edge of the ruck far more often than they do, and play off the 4 big running forwards that is such a strength. I guess Green has decided to just keep it simple and play what they know, but they also need points.
I think the market handicap is to long, and the early 8.5 should put the Cowboys well into this game, happy to have a small interest at this position.
Bet 1 unit Cowboys +8.5 $1.80 Tabsportsbet
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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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