Now the entree (pre-season) and main-course (regular season) are out the way, the Big Marn is chomping at the bit for dessert (finals footy!).
TITANS plus start
SHARKS off the bat
COWBOYS HT / FT
DOGS plus start
Best Odds: $27.19 (Luxbet)
BRISBANE V GOLD COAST Suncorp Stadium, Friday night
The Gold Coast have had a good season and deservedly made the finals despite some anxious moments last week. There will be no shortage of support for them at Suncorp and a Titans upset is definitely in the mix. Hayne is ready to explode and he loves the big stage that he will get on Friday night.
For mine, taking the Titans at the +9.5 line ($2.05 LuxBet) is a stunning bet. Semi-Final football is all about winning, for and against means nothing. Getting around 10.5 start in a game like this is absolute gold, and for this reason it is a must bet.
I am going a little left field for my First Try Scorer play: Sam Thaiday ($29 Ladbrokes). Big Sam loves Suncorp, performs well in big games there and is a very chunky price to dot down in a big game.
CANBERRA V CRONULLA Saturday night, GIO Stadium
There will be some added feeling in this encounter as there is no love lost between the two coaches. Flanagan has had the tougher week trying to douse the headache caused by Fifita that lingers, although Wighton’s fronting of the judiciary on a shoulder charge no doubt applied the blowtorch to Rickys heart rate.
With Ennis playing, the key to this game is for him to shut down Hodgson. When Hodgson gets on a roll, Leilua and Rapana have a field day so it is imperative to stop the impressive rake in his tracks I think they will do this and as such at the odds, Cronulla ($2.60 Ladbrokes) look a value bet. The Sharks have beaten the Raiders at home already this season so that isn’t a problem.
I actually believe the Sharks will start and lead from the front. So I am looking at a Sharks HT / FT Double ($3.75 Sportsbet) which throws up additional value. And as I expect them to begin strongly, I am going to back a Sharks player to score first in the match: Val Holmes ($10.50 LuxBet). Just such a magnificent player.
MELBOURNE V NORTH QUEENSLAND AAMI Park, Saturday night
The Cowboys for mine are back at full strength as I expect Matt Scott to play. The Cowboys have won 3 in a row after consecutive losses to the Roosters and Tigers but it seems they are really starting to click at the business end of the season and I can see them going down to Melbourne and upsetting the current title favourites. So take the odds against the Cowboys ($2.23 UNIBET).
I am also going to throw my oar in with the Cowboys to rattle them early, my old mate Gavin Cooper ($21 Sportsbet) landed us the big odds when touching down first around the start of the year. Get on him again. And whilst we are covering ourselves with Cowboys glory, don’t forget to throw a few bob on the Cowboys to lead at Half-Time and Full-Time ($3.20 Sportsbet).
It is a big call to take on the Storm at home but if there is one side with all the weapons to do it, it is the Thurston-led Cowboys.
PENRITH V CANTERBURY Sunday afternoon, Allianz Stadium
Many people think the Bulldogs are only killing time until they are put out of their misery this season but I think differently – they will fight tooth and nail. The Bulldogs thrive on the big time and with Des Hasler at the helm, you know they will end up putting up a big fight in this against the Panthers. Penrith disposed of a woeful Manly last week and have been riding a big high recently. This is finals footy. It’s a different kettle of fish.
I have to say that the bet here is the Bulldogs with the +6 start ($1.92 Luxbet). This is going to be very, very close and whilst I do think Penrith will take out the game, it won’t be by that much. So whilst we are taking the Bulldogs plus the start it is also worth backing the Panthers 1-12 ($3.20 Bet365).
There is some excellent value to be had in the Bulldogs / Penrith HT / FT double ($7.85 LuxBet) so don’t miss that one, and to top it off, this bloke is a left-field choice but I reckon Moses Mbye ($23 Bet365) is a punchers chance to land the first try in this big game.