NRL ROUND 25
Warriors v Raiders
The Raiders are one of the form sides in the competition having knocked off the Roosters and Rabbitohs in consecutive weeks, albeit at home in Canberra which will feel like worlds away here in what is a sold-out Mt Smart Stadium with home fans set to honour Simon Mannering’s 300th appearance for the Warriors.
The Warriors bounced back from their disappointing one-point loss to the Bulldogs a fortnight ago to record a comprehensive win over the Panthers last week as they defended with plenty of determination and aggression which has been a trademark of a number of their wins this season and should be on display once more here.
A win here for the Warriors would not only be an appropriate way for them to honour Mannering’s mammoth 300-game effort but would also give them a sniff at a first round home final which would be huge for them.
Whilst the Raiders do have a good record over the Warriors and they are in great form I can’t help but feel the home side will be well and truly up for this and use it as a finals preview – the scene is set for a great performance with Mannering’s milestone and a sold-out crowd one-week out from the finals – we’ll take the home side to cover the narrow start. Pick - 3 units on Warriors -4.5 point start
Storm v Panthers
The return of Maloney to the Panthers side gives them a real chance of beating the Storm here according to the bookies who have not given the Storm much to cover in the start at home. Given how bad the Panthers have been over the past month it’s a huge ask of Maloney to come in and fix everything as the issues seem a lot more deep-rooted than simply missing a playmaker.
A win here will seal yet another minor premiership for the Storm which makes the narrow start all the more curious as they’ll not be lacking motivation and have all of their main attacking weopons on board.
Billy Slater might be out but there’s no way Craig Bellamy is going to tolerate any slip in attitide and intensity from his side one week out from the finals; the Panthers in the meantime are in all kinds of trouble on and off the field so scaling the Everest that is beating the Storm in Melbourne would seemingly be well beyond them. Pick - 4 units on Storm -4.5 or better point start (BEST BET)
Knights v Dragons
The rot has well and truly set into the Dragons squad with the second half of their season going from bad to worse as they hit a new low with last weeks humiliation at the hands of the Bulldogs.
It's hard to see an end in sight for the Dragons run of poor form as it seems to come down to bad conditioning and a lack of mental toughness; the absence of their number one playmaker Widdup over the past few weeks hasn't helped but the rot had started prior to his injury.
The Knights have battled away all season, not helped by the long injury absence of their star recruit Pearce as with him on the field they've looked good for the most part and he'll be itching to finish the season on a high in front of the Newcastle faithful.
The underdog status will sit nicely with the Knights here as they thrive on the 'backs to the wall' mentality and are always tough at home. The Dragons are in a deep hole and unlikely to climb out of it this season - we'll take the Knights to win at good value. Pick - 3 units on Knights to win
Titans v Cowboys
It'll be hard for the Cowboys to come down from the high of last weeks Townsville JT finale but they're a side full of experienced campaigners who will settle the younger players and make sure the side ends JT's NRL career in style.
We saw last week against the Eels just how devastating the Cowboys can be with their forward pack carving up the middle and backline thriving off the good ball which is what most pundits expected to see from them all season but better late than never.
Even though this is a Titans home game the majority of the crowd will be cheering on JT for a win and the Cowboys should get the job done once again up the middle as they look the better of the two packs and will be doing all they can to give JT a decent ride on attack. Pick - 4 units on Cowboys -5.5 point start
Eels v Roosters
The Eels look confined to receiving the Wooden Spoon for 2018 but they'll not do so without a fight as their much vaunted backline get one last chance to show everyone what they're capable of.
The Roosters have a slight chance of grabbing the minor premiership with a big win here (and a Storm loss) and are likely to pile on the points against what is a brittle Eels defence. I can see the Eels scoring a few of their own though as they throw the ball around with Hayne in particular likely to be very dangerous from the back.
This is set to be a high scoring encounter as both sides are packed with high-octane offences that will thrive in the dry conditions that are forecast. Pick - 3 units on total combined points 'over' 44.5 or better
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final -6 6 -100% N/A Week Three Finals +6.44 7 92% WON Week Two Finals -7 7 -100% LOST Week One Finals +12.96 12 108% WON Week Twenty-Five -11.27 17 -66% LOST Week Twenty-Four +6.36 15 42% WON Week Twenty-Three +0.54 14 4% LOST Week Twenty-Two +6.11 16 38% LOST Week Twenty-One +10.12 11 92% WON Week Twenty -0.6 14 -4% LOST Week Nineteen +9.02 15 60% WON Week Eighteen -6.32 13 -49% LOST SOO 3 +5.25 4 130% N/A Week Seventeen -7 7 -100% LOST Week Sixteen -1.7 11 -15% LOST Week Fifteen -3.87 17 -23% LOST Week Fourteen +3.44 10 34% WON SOO 1 +3.64 4 91% N/A Week Thirteen -7 7 -100% LOST Week Twelve +6.34 13 49% WON Week Eleven +1.24 15 8% WON Week Ten +3.96 12 33% WON Week Nine +9.67 10 97% WON Week Eight -1.09 13 8% LOST Week Seven +18.27 15 123% WON Week Six -3.51 15 -23% LOST Week Five -3.3 15 -22% LOST Week Four +3.6 11 33% N/A Week Three -7 7 -100% LOST Week Two -4.5 12 -38% LOST Week One -5.27 11 -48% LOST Total +31.53 372 8% 40%