Things return to normal this week post State of Origin.
Round 14 came and went as predicted, but the Dragons find themselves back on top of the ladder following Monday’s close win over the Bulldogs. Further down, the Broncos find themselves still in the eight despite their second-half blowout against the Storm, while Melbourne finds themselves back up to fifth on top of the Roosters.
We’re heading towards the nitty-gritty part of the season now, and this weekend’s eight game slate holds plenty of ladder implications.
Below are all of our 2018 NRL Round 15 tips.
Parramatta Eels Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Thursday 14 June, 7:50pm, ANZ Stadium
Erasing a five-game losing streak against a miserable North Queensland side was nice, but Parramatta are in for a big reality check on Thursday night against Souths.
The Rabbitohs, fresh from a controversial two-point win over the Titans last week, are rolling right now, compiling six straight wins on the trot.
Funnily enough, South Sydney have won just two of the last five encounters against the Eels, but rest assured this Bunnies outfit has a lot more spring in their step than in years past. Last weekend’s fast start saw the Rabbitohs score two tries within the opening 20 minutes, while also dominating defensively in the tackles count.
The Eels notched their third win of the season last weekend, but that’s all you can say for a team that nearly let it slip by allowing two tries in the final 10 minutes.
Head to head, you can’t split these two – the Eels are 4-1 as the home underdogs, while the Rabbits are 4-1 as the away favourites.
Given their recent form, it’s hard to go against Souths right now, but Parramatta’s 4-1 record in Thursday night games over the last two years says this could be very close.
Back South Sydney Rabbitohs 1-12 @ $2.75
North Queensland Cowboys Vs New Zealand Warriors
Friday 15 June, 6:00pm, 1300SMILES Stadium
David Fusitu’a anyone?
The league’s leading try-scorer outscored Manly all by himself last weekend, landing three tries in the Warriors 34-14 romping.
New Zealand must be licking their lips with the lowly Cowboys up next, but the trip to North Queensland hasn’t exactly been kind to the Kiwis. The Warriors have lost their last two visits to 1300SMILES Stadium, but their 5-1 record away from home this season almost certainly cancels that out.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Cowboys have been pretty ordinary on home soil, winning just two of their seven games.
North Queensland have a poor record at home as the head-to-head underdog, and it’s becoming tough to find any value in a team fresh from a loss to the wooden spoon favourites.
Sitting fourth on the ladder, a win on Friday night could place the Warriors in third if the Rabbitohs were to lose this weekend.
The Warriors haven’t strung together back-to-back wins since their 5-0 start to the season ended abruptly in Round 6, and with the Sharks, Panthers and Broncos ahead in the coming weeks, New Zealand will understand just how important this must-win game is.
Back New Zealand Warriors To Win @ $1.80
Sydney Roosters Vs Penrith Panthers
Friday 15 June, 7:55pm, Allianz Stadium
Second plays sixth in what is easily the game of the round on Friday night.
Penrith escaped by the skin of their teeth against the Raiders last week, while the Roosters were too good for the Knights.
The Panthers came out firing in Canberra with a Tyrone Peachey try in the third minute, but things looked a little flat for the premiership favourites from then on.
Sydney also opened the scoring in the third minute thanks to Luke Keary, but the Roosters went on to manhandle the Knights for the next half hour, walking away 18-16 victors.
The market is razor tight, but the Roosters might hold one slight advantage – Sydney are 2-0 over the last 12 months as the home underdog, while the Panthers are 3-4 as the away favourites.
These two haven’t met since March 2017, a game the Roosters won 14-12. Both sides have played out close battles recently, but it’s still a tough one to call, the Roosters have been great at home (5-2) while the Panthers have been equally impressive on the road (4-2).
Throw a dart or flip a coin if you’re really game, but this might be a market you’re best off staying away from.
Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 16 June, 3:00pm, Belmore Sports Ground
The cellar dwellers meet up on Saturday afternoon in Sydney. Both sides roll in on the back of two straight losses, with the Bulldogs and the Titans both going down 16-18 respectively in Round 14.
It’s been a tough run for Canterbury, but they showed some fight against the Dragons on Monday, limiting the ladder leaders to just two penalty conversions in the second half. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the damage was done in the first half though, conceding two tries in the opening 10 minutes.
Gold Coast probably feels a little hard done by following a controversial loss to the Rabbitohs at home, but there was plenty of positives to take away after Ryan James scored twice.
So what do we make of these two entering Round 15?
The Dogs have had the Titans’ number recently, winning three of the past five encounters. Canterbury are also 4-2 against the Titans as the home favourite in head-to-head markets, while Gold Coast’s shocking 1-6 record on the road makes them a tough back this weekend.
The Bulldogs are currently tied for second in the league in set completion percentage, which doesn’t bode well for a Gold Coast side low on confidence defensively. Don’t expect anything crazy, but this could be a tidy win for the Dogs.
Back Canterbury Bulldogs To Win 1-12 @ $2.90
St George Illawarra Dragons Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 16 June, 5:30pm, WIN Stadium
Enter two teams at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Dragons reclaimed top spot on the ladder with a tightly fought win over the Bulldogs on Monday, while Manly looked completely cooked from the get-go against the Warriors in New Zealand.
Having won just two of their last five clashes with St. George, Saturday night shapes up to be a potential bloodbath for the Sea Eagles. Manly enter as heavy outsiders at $3.50, and their 0-6 record against the Dragons as head-to-head underdogs spells disaster.
St. George have shown few signs of weakness this season, despite their rather unconvincing display against Penrith two weeks ago. They would’ve liked better second half production against the Bulldogs on Monday, but defensively the Dragons were able to keep their foot on Canterbury’s throat after allowing a try to open the second half.
Manly has looked second-rate against the Dragons recently, being outscored 87-32 across their two encounters last year. This one shapes up to be much the same, adding further salt in Manly’s already open wound.
Back St. George 13+ @ $2.20
Cronulla Sharks Vs Brisbane Broncos
Saturday 16 June, 7:35pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
The Broncos had their chance to snatch points away from Melbourne at AAMI Park last week. Errors and ill-discipline ultimately cost Brisbane in the end, not to mention Suliasi Vunivalu’s freakish AFL mark turned try in the 69th minute to seal it for the Storm.
Fortunately, the Broncos still find themselves in the eight, but it doesn’t get any easier with a trip to face the Sharks this week.
Cronulla got back in the winners’ circle with a gutsy win over the Tigers last week. Paul Gallen’s try in the 48th minute sparked a flame for the Sharks after being shut out in the first half, going on to win the game 24-16.
History says Brisbane holds the upper hand ahead of this one, even if the market doesn’t agree. The Broncos have won three of the last four against Cronulla, but their 3-4 record as the away underdog in the last year probably doesn’t fill punters with much confidence.
The Sharks come in as heavy favourites, but there’s a bit more than just bragging rights on the line here. A Cronulla loss could see them slip down to eighth on the ladder, while a Broncos win could see Brisbane leapfrog the Sharks.
There’s every reason this one turns out to be game of the round.
Neither side has been all that convincing this year, but Brisbane’s 3-4 record on the road makes it hard to go against the home favourites.
Back Cronulla Sharks To Beat The Line (-4.5 Points)
Newcastle Knights Vs Melbourne Storm
Sunday 17 June, 2:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
It seems just when we start to doubt the Storm, they prove us all wrong.
Melbourne’s usual speed and agility was on display again last week against Brisbane, as Josh Addo-Carr, Suliasi Vunivalu and Cameron Smith put on a show. That win marked two straight for the Storm, propping them back into fifth on the ladder.
The Knights are probably a welcome sight for the Storm this week. Newcastle held tough against the Roosters at home, but Kalyn Ponga’s second half try in the 75th minute was too little too late.
It’s been three straight years of dominance for the Storm in this fixture. The Knights haven’t beaten Melbourne since 2015, but Sunday may not be a complete annihilation.
Despite a few wayward weeks, the Storm rank Top 5 in the competition in points, tries and goals. Newcastle, meanwhile, rank first in set completion and third in tackles, so this could turn out to be close.
Back Melbourne Storm To Win 1-12 @ $2.90
Wests Tigers Vs Canberra Raiders
Sunday 17 June, 4:10pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Just what has happened to this Tigers team? On the heels of a tough eight poss loss against the Sharks, all of a sudden Wests are 2-5 on the road this season.
A trip back to Campbelltown Stadium couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers, but the 10th place Raiders are certainly no cakewalk.
Canberra exceeded expectations against the Panthers last week, taking the premiership favourites to the sword. They eventually fell by just one-point at home, but there was plenty to take away from the performance.
Both of these teams are fighting hard for a place in the eight, but recent history shows this could go either way. Canberra have won four of the past five encounters between these two, but the Tigers are 4-2 in home games when they enter as the head-to-head favourite vs. the Raiders.
For the Tigers to win, they need to hit the scoreboard hard and early while also focusing on those missed tackles.
Wests have scored 20-points or more only three times this season, and another low scoring effort won’t cut it against a Canberra side that has lost four games by three-points or less.
For Canberra to win, they need to knuckle down defensively. The Tigers are great at gaining cheap metres on the run, which can’t happen if the Raiders wish to blow the Tigers out of the water like they have on the last two occasions.
Back Canberra Raiders To Win @ $2.20
This is the second round of the 2017 NRL season that will be disrupted by State Of Origin and there are only four games set to take place this weekend.
The lack of State Of Origin players always make these sort of rounds tough for punters, but those that do the hard work are often rewarded with plenty of value.
We have done that hard work for you and below are our complete 2017 NRL Round 15 tips.
South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Gold Coast Titans
Friday 16 June, 7:50pm, ANZ Stadium
South Sydney do not have any players involved in State Of Origin, while the Gold Coast Titans will be without both Jarrod Wallace and Jarryd Hayne.
It is South Sydney that will start this clash as clear favourites and this is one of the shortest prices that they have started so far this NRL season.
It really is tough to see how the market has South Sydney this short – they have won only one of their past seven games and they have lost their past two games as home favourites.
The Gold Coast Titans could hardly have been more disappointing against the New Zealand Warriors last weekend and it is tough to back the Titans off that performance.
Gold Coast have won only two of their past eight games as away underdogs, but they are 5-3 against the line in this scenario.
There really is not as much between these two teams as the current market suggests and the Titans are a great bet to beat the line with a start of eight points.
Back Gold Coast Titans To Beat The Line (+8 Points)
Melbourne Storm Vs North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 17 June, 5:30pm, AAMI Park
What should have been a blockbuster becomes something of an afterthought as both these teams are missing a number of players due to State Of Origin.
Melbourne made it three wins on the trot with their victory over the Cronulla Sharks last Thursday night and the most impressive fact was that they did it without Cooper Cronk in the side.
The Storm have won ten of their past 14 games as home favourites for a narrow profit, but they are only 5-9 against the line in this scenario.
The return of Johnathan Thurston buoyed the North Queensland Cowboys to a most impressive win against the Parramatta Eels last weekend, but they will go into this clash without Thurston as well as Gavin Cooper, Michael Morgan and Coen Hess.
Winning without Thurston is always an issue for the Cowboys and that problem becomes even worse without Morgan.
The Cowboys have won two of their past six games as away underdogs and they are 4-2 against the line in this scenario.
While the lack of State Of Origin stars does hurt this game as a spectacle, it does present a quality betting opportunity in the Total Points betting market.
It is easy to see this game turning into something of a slug-fest without the stars in action and the Under really does look like a solid bet.
Back Under 37.5 Points
Cronulla Sharks Vs Wests Tigers
Saturday 17 June, 7:30pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
The Cronulla Sharks will be without five players due to State Of Origin commitments, but they will still go into this clash with the Wests Tigers as clear favourites.
Cronulla went down to the Melbourne Storm last Thursday night, but they obviously face an easier challenge against the Tigers – even if they will be missing James Maloney, Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes.
The Sharks are yet to turn Southern Cross Group Stadium into a fortress this season and they have won only seven of their past 11 games as home favourites, while they are 3-8 against the line in this scenario.
There will be no James Tedesco or Aaron Woods in action for the Wests Tigers this weekend, but that is a scenario that they need to start getting used to.
The Tigers have lost five games on the trot, but they have still proven to be a profitable betting play as away underdogs over the past 12 months – they have won three of their past ten games as away underdogs and they are 6-1-3 against the line in this scenario.
This will be a massive test of the Sharks’ depth and I believe that the Tigers are more than confident of giving their rivals a scare.
Back Wests Tigers To Beat The Line (+12 Points)
Parramatta Eels Vs St George Dragons
Sunday 18 June, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium
The Parramatta Eels go into this clash without any State Of Origin commitments, while the St George Illawarra Dragons will be without Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell.
It is Parramatta that will start this clash as somewhat surprising favourites.
The Eels were completely outplayed by the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend and they have really struggled when they have taken on the better sides in the competition so far this season.
In saying that the Eels have performed well as favourites – they have won five of their past seven games and they are 4-1-2 against the line as the punter’s elect.
St George Illawarra could hardly have been more disappointing against the Canterbury Bulldogs on Monday and they have definitely regressed somewhat after their positive start to the year.
The Dragons have won five of their past 16 games as underdogs for a narrow loss, but they are 9-7 against the line in this scenario.
There really is not much between these two sides and I am keen to back the Dragons with the insurance of a 2.5 points start.
Back St George Illawarra To Beat The Line (+2.5 Points)
This is the second round of the 2016 NRL season where State Of Origin players will be missing from action.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs would normally start as dominant favourites against the Parramatta Eels, but the Rabbitohs have struggled without their Origin stars in recent seasons.
The loss of Origin players is also set to hurt the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters, but the Manly Sea Eagles are still set to start as dominant favourites against the Gold Coast Titans.
South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Parramatta Eels
Friday 17 June, 7:50pm, ANZ Stadium
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have an excellent record against the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium and they have won the past seven games played between the two sides at the venue.
South Sydney suffered their second straight disappointing loss to the Wests Tigers last weekend and they will go into this game without halfback Adam Reynolds due to State Of Origin.
The Rabbitohs will go into this game as underdogs – despite their stellar record against Parramatta – and they lost their past two games as home underdogs, while they are a shocking 2-6 against the line when being given a start.
Parramatta showed plenty of toughness to beat the Gold Coast Titans last weekend and they look to have found some of the form that they showed before the salary cap scandal blew up their season.
The Eels have won their past four games as away favourites and their record against the line in this scenario is a profitable 3-1.
Parramatta don’t any names missing due to State Of Origin and they should be able to tough out their third victory on the trot against a South Sydney side that appears to have lost all motivation this season.
Recommended Bet: Parramatta Eels To Win @ $1.75
St George Dragons Vs Melbourne Storm
Saturday 18 June, 7:50pm, WIN Stadium
The St George Illawarra Dragons have been one of the biggest winners from the 2016 NRL draw and they will face a Melbourne Storm side without their State Of Origin stars after already beaten a Johnathan Thurston-less North Queensland Cowboys three weeks ago.
Josh Dugan is the only big name missing for the Dragons and they go into this game with the same squad that lost to the Bulldogs last weekend, but they could lose Tyson Frizell to State Of Origin duty if Wade Graham is suspended for his high shot on Thurston.
The Dragons don’t start many games as favourites, but when they do they generally get the job done – especially in front of their home fans – and they have won four of their past five games as home favourites.
This is a very tough test for the Melbourne Storm as the loss of both Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk has forced a reshuffle – with Kenny Bromwich set to play out of position at hooker.
The Storm have won seven games in a row and they were at their brutal best against the Sydney Roosters last weekend, but whether they can keep that winning streak alive without Smith and Cronk is a big question.
Melbourne have actually been a profitable betting side as away underdogs – having won three of their past six games in that scenario – but their record without their State Of Origin stars is only fair.
The market seems to have got this game just about right, but there is definitely value in the Over/ Unders Points betting market.
The Dragons are notoriously an unders team – the under has saluted in 20 of their past 26 teams – and it is tough to see the Storm scoring more than 20 points without their chief playmakers.
Even with Cronk and Smith in the side, the under has saluted in 16 of the past 26 games played by the Storm and under 36.5 points looks like a great bet.
Recommended Bet: Back Under 36.5 Points
New Zealand Warriors Vs Sydney Roosters
Sunday 19 June, 4:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors go into this clash on the back of two dominant wins over the Brisbane Broncos and Newcastle Knights and may never have a better chance to record three wins on the trot this season.
There has been plenty to like about the way that the Warriors have played in the past fortnight and they will go into game as a clear favourite, but they are still tough to trust in this situation.
They have won just three of their past seven games as home favourites for a clear loss and they have been a losing betting proposition in just about every metric.
The Sydney Roosters’ season went from bad to worse when they suffered a 46 point drubbing at the hands of the Melbourne Storm last weekend and it is tough to know what to make of this side going forward.
The Roosters have been a profitable betting side as away underdogs in the past 12 months, but this is a side that is clearly lacking in confidence and it is impossible to have any faith in them whatsoever.
I don’t like either the New Zealand Warriors or Sydney Roosters as betting teams and I am more than happy to stay out of this fixture from a betting perspective.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Gold Coast Titans Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Monday 20 June, 7:00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
The Gold Coast Titans have struggled against the Manly Sea Eagles in recent years and they have lost the past three games played between the two sides, but they face a side in turmoil this weekend.
The Titans had their winning run ended by the Parramatta Eels last weekend, but they will still go into this clash at Cbus Super Stadium as clear favourites.
Gold Coast generally saved their best football for their home fans and they have an excellent record at home in both head-to-head and line betting markets – winning six of their past ten games at home for a sizeable profit.
Manly have now lost five games in a row and they delivered a truly pitiful second half performance to throw away victory against the Penrith Panthers last weekend.
They will be buoyed by the return of Jamie Lyon and Martin Taupau, but they will still go into this clash missing a host of regular first-graders.
The Sea Eagles have a surprisingly strong record as away underdogs and they have beaten the line in four of their past six games in this scenario, while they actually went on to win three of these fixtures.
This game could end up being closer than the betting suggests and Manly with a start of 6.5 points is a positive betting play.
Recommended Bet: Back Manly Sea Eagles To Beat The Line (+6.5 Points)