Our in-house NRL experts has picked out the best bets for this weeks footy action!
CANBERRA V NEW ZEALAND (Saturday afternoon, GIO Stadium)
Ricky Stuart has found the key to the Green Machine in 2016 and they go into this off the back of six wins from their last seven games. That run started back in Round 11 when they defeated the Warriors by 26 points in New Zealand.
POINT SCORING MACHINES
One major factor of Canberra’s recent success has been their point scoring ability with Canberra averaging 29 points per game in their last seven starts. Their lowest total during that span was the 18 points they scored when dropping a result against the Broncos in Round 14.
The Warriors look every bit like a team that can make a run at the premiership but just when we start to think they are legitimate, they lose a game they’re meant to win!
That as the case last week against Manly in Perth as they went down 15-14 in Golden Point – their second loss in three games after going 80 minutes.
Putting that aside they’ve won their last two games at GIO Stadium after going 13 years without a win at the venue!
HOW IT WILL PAN OUT
We have to go with Canberra in this one as their home record this season has been quite strong, winning five straight and seven of nine at the venue.
With a record like that and the return of Josh Papalii to the line-up we are swinging in their favour in what should be a great game of footy.
The average margin between these side in their last six contests is a whopping 28.6ppg, so the logical thing would be to go 13+ Raiders as a Winning Margin.
GOLD COAST V PARRAMATTA (Saturday afternoon, Cbus Super Stadium)
Such is the congestion towards the bottom end of the Top 8 that a loss could send them tumbling down to as low as 10th by the end of the weekend.
The Titans snapped their two-game losing run with an emphatic win over the Dragons in Kogarah last week. Racking up a 32-12 win, points are the key to their chances of winning as highlighted by their eight wins so far.
Every time they have secured a win they have average 28.8 points in doing so. Each time a defence has blunted their attack they have struggled.
Parramatta has one of the worst seasons in recent memory. From salary cap scandals to their star halves having off-field issues, it's a miracle they've managed to be as competitive as they have been. Although they blew a 14-nil lead against the Panthers last week you cannot deny how good a side they are.
HOW IT WILL PAN OUT
These teams clashed back in Round 14 where the Eels won 22-12. That Parramatta side looked different to the one that lines up here and that could ultimately be the key to deciding who wins. With a finals berth still in the mix we think that will be enough to switch on the Titans for this one.
Punters will take heart in the fact that Gold Coast have had the wood on their rivals since their inception (2007), winning nine of 14 encounters.
MELBOURNE V SYDNEY ROOSTERS (AAMI Park, Saturday night)
On top of that the Roosters have a pretty decent record against Melbourne of late, winning three of six but the Storm have taken the last two.
The latest of those was back in Round 14 when Melbourne traveled to Allianz Stadium and put on a clinic, wiping the home side 46-nil in their worst loss of the season.
STORM GATHERING MOMENTUM
Craig Bellamy’s outfit is looking every bit the part as premiership contenders and have won 10 of their last 11 games. The only loss during that span was to the Dragons when they were missing Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith thanks to Origin duty.
What’s more they’ve got Cameron Munster and Will Chambers back from injury to boast one of the best outside back combinations in the league.
POSITIVE SIGNS It hasn’t gone to plan for Trent Robinson’s outfit this season, with just three wins all season rooting them to second last on the table. That said there have been some good signs of late that they could finish the season on a high.
Losers of five straight including that 46-point thumping to the Storm which kicked off this slump, the tricolours have been ultra competitive since with the average losing margin being just 5.5 points. When you consider that has been against some of the best teams in the competition (Bulldogs, Sharks, Warriors and Eels) it’s easy to make a case for them here.
All things point to a Storm win but we think it will be a close contest. No one likes losing on a weekly basis and that hurt will prove enough motivation for the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner to give 110 percent in shaking up the Storm.
Go the 1-12 the Storm Winning Margin for some value while the money machine, Suliasi Vunivalu, is the one to follow in 1st and Last Tryscorer markets.
CRONULLA V NEWCASTLE (Sunday afternoon, Southern Cross Group Stadium)
The shortest price of any team heading into Round 20, Cronulla simply look like the perfect anchor for any Multis that punters will be playing this weekend.
WALKING A FINE LINE
Although Cronulla have reached an impressive 15-2 they haven’t been thrashing teams on a weekly basis. Granted they traveled to the Hunter and won 62-nil back in Round 10, however, that result aside their average winning margin for the other 13 wins has been just 7.7 points per game. They’ve tended to grind out their wins rather than blow teams off the park.
ON THE IMPROVE
Newcastle fans are enduring an 11-match losing streak but their last three games have shown that there is life in them yet. Three starts ago they went down by 12 to the Dragons in a game they could have easily won. Then their last two efforts, against the Raiders and Storm, have been full of merit in falling four points short on each occasion.
With four of their best players missing either due to suspension or injury (Daniel Saifiti Jake Mamo, Robbie Rochow and Sione Mata’utia) this just got a hell of a lot tougher.
The Sharks will be winning this one and by a 13+ Margin, although we doubt it will be the 62-point demolition job from earlier in the year.
Look to 1st Tryscoring markets for value with Sosaia Feki and Valentine Holmes the logical picks here for the home side.
STGEORGE ILLLAWARRA V WESTS TIGERS (Sunday afternoon, ANZ Stadium)
On the flip side the Dragons had been occupying a spot in the Top 8 before being belted by Manly and the Gold Coast in recent weeks. Tigers coach Jason Taylor dropped a bombshell during the week in announcing State Of Origin hooker, Robbie Farah, had been dropped to reserve grade for this week with Dene Halatau named at hooker.
After losing six straight at one stage, Taylor’s job looked in jeopardy but the Tigers have won five and lost four since then. Two of their most defeats were full of merit in going down nine and 10 points respectively to the Storm and Bulldogs.
That sort of form is definitely good enough to win this against a Dragons team that has seemingly lost a leg in recent weeks.
St George-Illawarra for the most part have overachieved this season, relying on their defence to get the job done when winning games.
The Dragons have won three games by two points and a further two by four points, however, eight of their nine losses have all been by double figure margins.
With the second worst attacking record in the competition (13.3 ppg), getting enough points has been the Red V’s biggest concern.
With exciting attacking players like James Tedesco back in the mix, the Tigers look to be packing too many guns for the Dragons. Margin players should take the 13+ Margin as when the Dragons lose, they tend to lose bad.
SOUTH SYDNEY V MANLY (Monday night, Allianz Stadium)
Manly has won just six games so far this season but it’s really been the last three weeks that have showed some positive signs for Trent Barrett’s side.
Giving the defending premiers (Nth Qld) a huge shake in Townsville in Monday Night Football three games ago, they fell four points short of one of the biggest upsets in the last decade.
They then proved that effort was no fluke by thrashing the Dragons by 30 seven days later on MNF, while they headed west for their Golden Point win over the Warriors last Saturday.
BUNNIES ARE COOKED
Souths are gone for 2016 with 10 losses from their last 12 games putting the premiers from two years ago out of contention for the title this year. The only tick they get heading into this clash is the fact they have beaten Manly in four of their last five games, including a 16-12 decision back in Round 5.
HOW IT WILL PAN OUT
We don’t know what has happened to Souths but after looking like world beaters in the opening two games of the season, the wheels and everything else have fallen off since.
Even though Adam Reynolds returns to Souths following their big loss to the Broncos last week, even his influence won’t be enough to help the boys from Redfern.
We are tipping Manly to win this one in what should be a gripping contest. Those looking to play the Total Over/Under Points, we are recommending the Unders. Souths have scored just 10 points in recent weeks and may struggle to find the tryline once again here.