NORTH QUEENSLAND V BRISBANE Friday night, 1300Smiles Stadium

What more could you ask for than to kick off a semi-final weekend with a rematch of last year’s epic Grand Final? The Cowboys venture back home to take on the Brisbane Broncos, whom I remain far from convinced about. Last week their scoreboard looked impressive enough but the Titans had certainly had enough as was shown by their second half capitulation. I just think that the Cowboys are in the better form of both these sides.

This is not to say the Cowboys are in sparkling form – far from it. I just do not feel convinced by the Broncos and I haven’t for some time. I can then only say it is time to anchor the price the Cowboys ($1.50 Ladbrokes) as the Broncos season will be ending on Friday night. There are so many positivesfor North QLD playing at home and you know what, I am tipping the Cowboys are going to do what they did in this game last year – give the opposition a lesson. Take Cowboys 13+ ($3 William Hill). Mad Monday in Fortitude Valley beckons for the Broncos boys.

You have to stick with a local to score the first try in this big encounter, he has been really good to us this year and I am going to stick with him again – Gavin Cooper ($20 Sportsbet). He is succulent double-figure odds to dot down first and with the angles he runs off the back of JT, he is a real chance to kick-start the evening perfectly.
Cowboys - 1pt @ 1.50
Cowboys 13+ - 1pt @ 3.00
Cooper First TS - 1pt @ 20.00

CANBERRA V PENRITH Saturday night, GIO Stadium

One thing I really like at this time of year is momentum. Up until last week the Raiders had it on the back of a 10 match winning streak, and the Panthers certainly have it, making it 6 in a row when pounding the Bulldogs. Both sides are in great form and this is one match you would not miss for the world.

Undoubtedly the key to the Raiders is to see Blake Austin and Josh Hodgson on the field. Looks like Blake Austin will play, and it seems everyone is saying Hodgson won’t play but when this generally happens, it means he definitely will! There is no doubting the value this man has to the Raiders but with question marks around, I have to take the Panthers ($2.10 Bet365) at the odds. I think they can win.

I really liked what Penrith did against the Dogs whilst the Raiders should have beaten Cronulla last week. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. They were steamrolling them but somehow Cronulla kept them out and in the end the Raiders forwards looked tired. Sometimes your strength is your weakness and everyone talks about how big their forwards are, but gee they got tired last week. I noticed this the week before against the Tigers, they looked vulnerable up through the middle of them. I think the Penrith coach will be all over this and they will throw the ball around to try and tire them out.

If you are looking at a margin bet, then the Panthers 1-12 ($3.30 Bet365) looks the play, some really good value there. The Panthers won’t run riot, but they look a very good chance to win and if they do, it will be within 2 converted tries.

There is nothing wrong backing the Panthers to lead all the way, so have some of the HT/FT double ($3.10 Bet365) .

Finally, I have a lot of time for this big lump of a thing in Isaah Yeo ($31 UNIBET). He has improved so much recently and loves running at the line. I expect him to have an early tilt at getting over the paint, so get on him to be First Try Scorer.

Good luck and good punting!!!
Panthers - 1pt @ 2.10
Panthers 1-12 - 1pt @ 3.30
Panthers / Panthers - 1pt @ 3.10
Yeo First TS - 1pt @ 31.00