Round 22 kicks off with a top 4 clash between the Panthers and Storm and potential match of the round candidates come thick and fast throughout the weekend with 6 of the top 8 all playing one another. Read through to find the best bets as the finals approach.
The round opens with a potential grand final preview as the reigning premiers and current competition leaders Penrith take on the Melbourne Storm at BlueBet Stadium on Thursday night. The Panthers bounced back last round to comfortably defeat the Raiders and will be hopeful Viliame Kikau is able to play after losing James Fisher-Harris to suspension. Melbourne’s are chasing a hat-trick in Round 22 following wins over the Warriors and Titans, however continue to be cursed by injuries with Jahrome Hughes suffering a dislocation of his shoulder in round 21. With all injuries and omissions considered often the attacking patterns of sides can be disrupted and with the likes of Nathan Cleary, Jerome Luai, Ryan Papenhuyzen and the aforementioned Hughes out with injury, I expect this game to be low scoring.
The Bulldogs travel across the Tasman to take on the Warriors and distance themselves from the bottom 4 after another solid performance against the Cowboys in Bundaberg last round. The final scoreline shows a 14 point margin, however the Bulldogs were leading into the final quarter of the game, and will continue to take confidence in the fact they can hang with the form teams of the competition. Conversely, the Warriors were never in it against a rampaging Rabbitohs outfit and the only reason I can see the price so close here, is due to the home field advantage for the Warriors.
Parramatta and South Sydney renew an old rivalry at CommBank Stadium on Friday in what will be one of the most intriguing clashes of the round. Parramatta look to be hitting their straps in perfect timing for the finals, and they enter this match following wins over the Panthers and the Sea Eagles, and in the case of the latter coming without the services of Mitch Moses. The Rabbitohs are also finding their best for another deep run into the finals and on the back of a 38 point thrashing of the Warriors last week, will be in red hot form here. I’m keen to watch this from a neutral perspective and found it difficult to split, so I’m going with the Eels to cover the line in what should be a tight game.
Saturday 13th August 3:00PM, Sydney Cricket Ground
The NRL Gods have dished up another mouthwatering clash, with the high flying Roosters and Cowboys set to clash at the SCG on Saturday afternoon in what looks like one of the better bets on the weekend. The Cowboys put in a clinical performance last week against the Bulldogs in what could have been a banana skin game and will want another win to try and secure the all important home game in the first round of finals. The Roosters appear to be gaining momentum at the right time of the season led by captain James Tedesco, who despite being New South Wales captain is continually underrated, highlighted by another 250 run metre performance against the Broncos in round 21. In saying that, the Cowboys have been the second best side all season and the price on offer here looks too good to ignore.
The Tigers will be hopeful of putting together another strong late season effort and potential upset victory when they take on the Sharks on Saturday evening at the beautiful Scully Park in Tamworth. Despite another disappointing season in which they once again failed to make finals football, they have showed glimpses of form in recent weeks, including a win over the Broncos and will be keen to continue onwards to the end of the year. The Sharks meanwhile continue their charge towards a top four finish, and they were too good for the Dragons in Round 21 and despite committing the most amount of errors in the competition this year with 244, they look a confident side and will handle the Tigers with ease.
The Broncos return to Suncorp Stadium after back-to-back losses and will be keen to return to form ahead of their finals campaign. After being one of the form team in the competition through June and July, Kevin Walters side has lost some momentum with losses to the Tigers and Roosters, but have a great chance to secure two points against the Knights. The Newcastle side returned to winning form with a grinding win against the Tigers last Sunday and have the services of David Klemmer this week after missing a game for disciplinary reasons. Whilst the Broncos are a considerably better side, the 18.5 points seems too much of a stretch for them to cover.
The Raiders will be keen to put last week’s loss, and associated post game hoopla behind them as they look to keep their season alive on Sunday afternoon. A loss at home, and a win to the Roosters on Saturday would make their finals task very difficult so the Green Machine will no doubt come out firing at GIO Stadium. The Dragons season is also on life support with the Raiders, Sea Eagles and Roosters ahead of them for eighth spot and a loss here would all but end their 2022 campaign. The Dragons and Raiders are both in the bottom 8 in scoring and with the two games between the sides going under this total point margin in 2021, I see that as a good bet to kick off the Sunday action.
The round concludes on the Gold Coast with the Titans hosting the Sea Eagles who like the Raiders and Dragons in Sunday’s earlier fixture, will be playing for their season. Manly’s 16 point loss to the Eels in round 21 didn’t reflect the closeness in the game with the Sea Eagles leading early in the second half, before succumbing to the magic of Shaun Lane and Dylan Brown. The Titans meanwhile will be looking to restore a semblance of pride in their season with only three wins to their name this season but alas I can’t see them getting close.
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