NRL ROUND 26
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
The curtain comes down here on what’s been a disappointing season for the Bunnies but they have finished it with a wet sail and the Dogs will certainly know they’re in for a fight, especially given the indifferent form they’ve had of late.
The Bulldogs need this win to break into the top four (albeit potentially only briefly depending on other results) but it’s the Bunnies who are playing the better of the two sides and look more like a final’s bound side and with an unchanged side from last week I’m liking them to take it to the Bulldogs.
Both sides have decent sized packs but the Bunnies have the slight edge on paper for mine with the absence of Kasiano likely to hurt the Bulldogs; if the Bunnies do get the upper hand up front then the rest should fall into place as Reynolds is looking in top form, and Inglis hungry at the back.
There won’t be much separating the sides but the Bunnies have the momentum and a spring in their step so an upset is definitely on the cards. Pick – 2 units on Rabbitohs to win by 12 points and under
Dragons v Knights
This has festival match written all over it with two sides who are dwelling on and near the bottom of the table with very little to lose here, throw in the fact it’s a day game and some retirees playing their last games and one can’t help but feel defence will take a backseat to attack.
The Knights have been giving up cricket scores all season on defence and that won’t change here, what I do expect to change will be they’ll throw caution to the wind a lot more on attack and they do have talented players throughout their side capable of breaking open a defensive line. The Dragons meanwhile will look to replicate the free-flowing open style they played with some weeks back in thrashing the Sharks, with no doubt a few special touches from Marshall as he looks to impress a potential club in what could potentially be his last ever outing on the big stage. Pick – 3 units on total combined points ‘over’ 44.5 or better
Cowboys v Titans
The Titans blew a golden opportunity at home against the Panthers last week to secure themselves a finals spot but the opportunity is still there, they do have to scale the NRL equivalent of Everest to claim it though – beating the Cowboys in Townsville.
Consistency has been a highlight of the Titans season to date as they’ve put in few poor performances, often lifting when they’re underdogs as they are well and truly here. It is going to take all of their experience and some individual brilliance from the likes of Hayne, Bird and co to get the Cowboys sweating but at least the conditions they’ll face are not altogether foreign to them being a fellow Queensland side.
Thurston has been laid low with Tonsillitis this week and whether he takes the field here is obviously going to have a huge impact on the match, if not then he’ll join Matt Scott on the side lines - two key ingredients in the success of the Cowboys.
I like the Titans to step up from a fairly sedate performance last week as it’s all or nothing for them, they do have the players and experience to mix it with the Cowboys especially if Scott and Thurston are absent. The line on offer is large and will drop sharply if Thurston pulls out but either way I recommend getting on it now. Pick – 3 units on Titans +9.5 or better point start
Warriors v Eels
The Warriors were handed the perfect opportunity to sneak into final contention last week when the Titans lost to the Panthers but blew it royally with a 12-point loss to the Tigers in Auckland, a match which summed up their season – lack of execution, basic errors, bad defence and general lack of spirit.
The Eels have been used to playing for nothing but pride this season after their fate was handed down by the NRL, they have nonetheless shown enormous character and performed each week like they were in finals contention so I don’t expect any drop-off in intensity for their final game here.
Like a few other matches this week I expect the game to take on somewhat of a festival atmosphere as both sides have some fun and throw the ball around, defence will take a backseat.
The Eels are unchanged from the side which comfortably beat the Dragons on Monday night, a game that saw their attack blossom in scoring 30 points, meanwhile the Warriors have been forced to make several changes, with the most notable being Kata’s absence (suspension) who has been arguably one of their best players all season.
With everything to play for last week the Warriors were underwhelming and now their season will officially end here one won’t be surprised if they’re even more lacklustre than usual. The Eels have the pick of the forward packs and should outmuscle the soft Warriors pack which should see plenty of good ball for their backs to carve up the thin Warriors defensive line. Pick – 1 unit on Eels/Eels half/fulltime double and 1 unit on Eels to win by 13 points and over
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals