CANTERBURY V NORTH QUEENSLAND Thursday night, Belmore Sports Ground

The Bulldogs return to their spiritual home of Belmore Oval on Thursday night and it will be a packed house against the defending premiers if the rain stays away. The problem for the Dogs is that unlike Leichhardt to the Tigers, they have failed to turn the place into a fortress as recent results there have shown. So it is no great advantage. On top of that the Dogs just aren’t making any impact at the moment. Is this the game to spring them to life?

The Dogs also enter this game without the services of their Big Marn – Sam Kasiano. He has been giving them their go forward of late and is their only forward who seems to be dangerous with the ball in hand. As such, I am going to go with North QLD ($1.74 UNIBET) to win. I know things change day-to-day in football but they beat the Bulldogs 36-0 a month ago and the line looks like it can be easily covered so have some of that too – Cowboys minus the 2.5 start ($1.96 LuxBet).

I do expect the Dogs to come out of the blocks in front of their raucous home crowd, let’s support Brett Morris ($9.50 Sportsbet) to be First Try Scorer and get a good game off to a flyer.
Cowboys - 1pt @ 1.74
Cowboys -2.5 - 1pt @ 1.96
B Morris First TS - 1pt @ 9.50

MELBOURNE V BRISBANE Friday night, AAMI Park

This is a big game for the Storm. They can wrap up the Minor Premiership if they maintain their fantastic record against the Broncos, although the Broncos are bouncing back in recent weeks so it won’t be a cakewalk. However I just don’t think the Broncos will have enough to stop the Storm ($1.50 Bet365) at home, there is too much at stake and these kinds of games the Storm do enough to win…regularly.

The line betting is interesting, being set around 6 points. I don’t think this is enough of an advantage for the away side, so I am on the Storm minus the 6.5 start ($1.91 Sportsbet) as well.

As for First Try Scorer: It is so hard to go against the Storm’s flying Fijian – Vunivalu ($8 LuxBet). He bagged 4 meat pies last week and expect more ‘Bula’ as he scores the first try on Friday night in Melbourne.
Storm - 1pt @ 1.50
Storm -6.5 - 1pt @ 1.91
Vunivalu First TS - 1pt @ 8.00

MANLY v CANBERRA Saturday afternoon, Brookvale Oval

It is gutting for Manly fans that they won’t get the opportunity to farewell their stalwart skipper Jamie Lyon on Saturday. He has been a rock for that club and they will sorely miss him. Despite their season being over you’d expect the Eagles to give a yelp here. Raiders were average last week and needed some luck to get out of it in the second half against Parra.

Off the bat, I expect the Raiders to win. But I do think the line is big enough to keep Manly in it with the +6.5 start ($1.91 Sportsbet). It looks a good punting option. Manly tend to start well before dropping off (remember the lead they blew against the Panthers at home?) so I suggest a lazy few bob on the Eagles / Raiders HT/FT Double ($7.60 LuxBet). Juicy odds.

As I expect Manly to come flying out of the blocks we will look to a Manly player to score the First Try. I expect that player to be none other than Tom Trbojevic ($15 Sportsbet) who has had a fabulous season and has cemented himself as a superstar of the future.
Manly +6.5 - 1pt @ 1.91
Manly / Canberra - 1pt @ 7.60
T Trbojevic First TS - 1pt @ 15.00

GOLD COAST V PENRITH Saturday afternoon, Cbus Super Stadium

Gee this is an important game for both sides. Gold Coast need to win one to guarantee themselves a semis spot, whilst the Panthers want to try and creep up as high as they can on the ladder prior to the semis.

The Titans toppled the Panthers away earlier this season with a late rally and often there isn’t much between these sides. Panthers though seem to have their heads in the right space now as their decimation of the Tigers showed. I have real trouble seeing the Panthers ($2.20 UNIBET) as outsiders here, I think they should be favourites and many other teams will be looking over their shoulder at both these sides as they will have some real KO power come semi-final time.

I am going to play a Titans / Panthers HT/FT Double ($9.50 luxBet) as well. It does create some value as I see the Panthers coming away with the two points.

First Try Scorer: He has copped a fair bit from all angles recently but you know what? This bloke knows how to score a try. Ryan James ($26 Sportsbet). He loves to barge his way over from close range. It is a vastly under-utilized play where teams try to caress their way across the line – you have boppers – use them! Head down, arse up - straight and hard at the line. That’s proper Rugby League!
Panthers - 1pt @ 2.20
Titans / Panthers - 1pt @ 9.50
James First TS - 1pt @ 26.00

CRONULLA V SYDNEY ROOSTERS Saturday night, Southern Cross Group Stadium

Hard not to feel concerned if you are a Sharks supporter but better to be happening now, than in a few weeks’ time. Will they get out of their rut this week? I don’t think so. The Roosters are playing with such freedom they are going to be awfully hard to beat. Sharks on the other hand are playing restricted footy – it is almost like they are playing with no freedom, so the opposite of the Roosters.

I am tipping the Roosters ($2.60 UNIBET) in an upset. I am not convinced Val Holmes will play. There are a lot of pointers towards an upset and that’s the way we are going. It will by no means be easy for the Roosters and as such, the value is with the Roosters 1-12 ($4.05 William Hill).

First Try Scorer: Shaun Kenny-Dowall ($15 Bet365). Knows the way to the line and looks decent odds as well.
Roosters - 1pt @ 2.60
Roosters 1-12 - 1pt @ 4.05
Kenny-Dowall First TS - 1pt @ 15.00

NEW ZEALAND V WESTS TIGERS Sunday afternoon, Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors are such a tough side when it comes to the punt. I believe the Warriors will win but there is just no way in the world I can take the short odds. The best value in this game is the Tigers plus the 10 start ($2 Bet365). It is a really nice line to have on your side especially against a team where literally anything can happen.

I am going to side with the Tigers to start well too – Josh Addo-Carr ($12.50 LuxBet) to grab the first four-pointer, as the Warriors lament their season and how in reality they should be playing finals footy.
Tigers +10 - 1pt @ 2.00
Addo-Carr First TS - 1pt @ 12.50

NEWCASTLE V SOUTH SYDNEY Sunday afternoon, Hunter Stadium

What about these Bunnies? Where has this been all season? Souths fans must be scratching their heads as to where this red hot form has been. Inglis looks good, the Burgess boys are catching the ball, they look a happy side. The inclusion of Damien Cook has been a huge boost to them and they are playing good football.

As I have been saying for the last 2-3 months, the Knights just aren’t good enough. They try hard but don’t have the cattle to match it with most teams. Not too sure how Nathan Brown will get over this hurdle in the foreseeable future. You just have to tip Souths but no point taking the very short odds, we look to the line betting, and 13.5 doesn’t look enough for the Knights against the resurgent bunnies. Take Souths minus the 13.5 line ($1.92 LuxBet).

I have given him a plug the last few weeks as he has been playing well for the Bunnies and has been the catalyst for their strong performances. Damien Cook ($34 Bet365) is a big price so let’s get him across the line first on Sunday arvo.
Souths -13.5 - 1pt @ 1.92
Cook First TS - 1pt @ 34.00

PARRAMATTA V STGEORGE ILLAWARRA Monday night, Pirtek Stadium

I am going to tip the Eels ($1.57 Bet365) at home as it is their last game at Pirtek stadium before it gets skittled for a new more modern venue. The Eels had the Raiders on the rack last week whilst the Dragons were pretty poor. The Dragons also lose Benji who has been dumped from the side, which shows that things just aren’t quite right in Kogarah.

I expect the Dragons to give them a good run for their money, so let’s take some of the Dragons / Eels HT/FT Double ($8 LuxBet). The Dragons will hold their own early and it boils down to how much the Eels want it in the end.

As we are going the Dragons to start well, it makes sense to look to a Dragon to score first and with this in mind, Kurt Mann ($11.50 LuxBet) looks a stand out bet to light up the scoreboard early doors.
Eels - 1pt @ 1.57
Dragons / Eels - 1pt @ 8.00