The final round of the 2020 NRL season kicks off on Thursday night as we await the fate of the top eight seeding.
Penirth and Melbourne are firmly locked into first and second, but there’s still plenty left to be decided as the Roosters, Eels and Raiders all fight for a spot inside the top four.
The sixth spot on the ladder – which ensures a home final in the elimination game next week – is also up for grabs between the Raiders, Knights and Rabbitohs.
With a pair of intriguing top eight games on offer, we’ve offered our best betting suggestions in our 2020 NRL Round 20 Preview below.
North Queensland Cowboys
Thursday, September 24, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
History will be on the line this week in Brisbane as the Broncos hope to avoid their first wooden spoon in club history.
Brisbane hasn’t tasted a win since Round 9 against the Bulldogs, but they do look good value on Thursday taking on a Cowboys side that has won only one of its last 10 games.
The Broncos opened the season with a win over the Cowboys back in Round 1, extending their winning streak over North Queensland to three.
Speaking of streaks, all three of those games have gone Under the Total, which appears to be the safest play with confidence hard to come by on either side head to head.
Both teams managed only 12 points in respective losses to Parramatta and Penrith last week though, so there’s a good chance this one turns out to be low scoring.
Tip: Under 44.5 Total Points @ $1.90
Gold Coast Titans
Friday, September 25, 6:00pm, CBUS Super Stadium
The Knights can secure the sixth ssed on Friday night with a win over the Titans on the Gold Coast.
Newcastle walked away comfortable 42-18 winners last week over the Dragons and are now just one win away from locking up home field advantage in the elimination final.
The Titans also have plenty to play for as they look to end the season on a high note by finishing ninth.
These two sides haven’t met this year, but it is worth noting the Gold Coast have won three of their last five meetings against Newcastle.
The Titans are set to receive an added boost in the form of Jai Arrow and Corey Thompson, while the Knights also return to strength with Kurt Mann and Bradman Best both a chance to play.
The Total has gone Over in four of the Titans’ last six home games against the Knights, so there’s a chance we see some points here with so many big names returning.
Tip: Over 43.5 Total Points @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday, September 25, 7:55pm, ANZ Stadium
The Roosters are being favoured by double-digits ahead of Friday night’s blockbuster against the Rabbitohs at ANZ.
Sydney has won five games in a row, all of which have come by double digits against the Tigers, Broncos, Raiders, Knights and Sharks.
The Bunnies, on the other hand, were on the receiving end of a stunning double-digit loss to the Bulldogs last week that has left them with work to do in the final game of the season.
Souths are now in danger of slipping down to eighth on the ladder, while a win could see them surpass the Knights to secure a home final next week.
The Roosters also have a bit to play for with their top four spot far from secure.
A win would ensure the Roosters finish third, while a surprise loss and victories from the Eels and Raiders could see Sydney slip down to fifth.
Fortunately, the Roosters should be high on confidence after beating the Rabbitohs 28-12 back in Round 3.
Sydney are also set to welcome back Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco into the side after both were rested last week against Cronulla.
The Roosters are the obvious choice here with form on their side as they look to gain some momentum heading into the finals.
Sydney has been the fifth-best side to bet on at the line this year covering in 11 of their 19 games, so it’s worth backing the Roosters to win comfortably.
Tip: Back the Roosters to Cover the Line (-11.5 Points) @ $2.00
Saturday, September 26, 3:00pm, ANZ Stadium
The Panthers have the minor premiership wrapped up as they now hope to extend their winning streak to 15 games.
Head coach Ivan Cleary could potentially rest a few of his stars, but it appears the Panthers are playing full steam ahead as they try and keep momentum rolling into the finals.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have a lot more on the line.
An upset win would be enough to hand the Broncos the wooden spoon, if of course Brisbane loses to the Cowboys on Thursday night.
The Dogs were enormous last week against the Rabbitohs, but this is obviously a much tougher test if the Panthers field a full squad.
That said, no more than a try has separated these two teams in their last four meetings, so the +17.5 line does look good value.
The Dogs pulled off a famous 16-8 upset over Penrith last year, so they should give this a red-hot crack.
Tip: Back the Bulldogs to Cover the Line (+17.5 Points) @ $2.00
Saturday, September 26,5:30pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
The Raiders have one last shot to secure the double-chance when they take on the Sharks at Jubilee on Saturday.
Canberra cut it close against the Warriors last week but still managed to get the job done thanks to some late magic from Nick Cotric.
A win and a Roosters or Eels loss could see the Raiders into fourth, while a defeat would likely see Canberra take on Cronulla again in the first round of the finals.
The Sharks have already done enough to extend their season, but it’s difficult to see them making much noise with Shaun Johnson on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
Josh Dugan remains sidelined with a knee injury alongside the suspended Chad Townsend, adding to Cronulla’s woes.
The Raiders are confident John Bateman will play through an elbow injury, although things aren’t so clear when it comes to George Williams and his concussion.
Canberra held Cronulla’s number last year winning both games by less than two points, but with the Sharks missing a handful of their top stars, this one should be a little more comfortable.
Tip: Back the Raiders to Win & the Raiders Over 27.5 Total Points @ $2.00
Saturday, September 26, 7:35pm, Bankwest Stadium
The Eels face a must-win game on Saturday night as they hope to secure a top four finish.
Parramatta returned to form last week with a 26-12 win over the Broncos, although it’s hard to get too excited about a win over a potential wooden spooner.
Despite their troubles of late, the Tigers to appear easy prey for the Eels with only one win in their last five games.
Michael Maguire’s squad gave up 50 points to the Storm last week on the Sunshine Coast, and they certainly won’t hold fond memories of Parramatta after losing 26-16 to the Eels earlier in the year.
On the plus side, David Nofoaluma looks set to play after limping off the field last week, while the addition of Luke Brooks from suspension is a minor plus.
Still, the Eels have won four straight over the Tigers and are also 8-3 on the year at Bankwest.
After a no-show performance against the Storm last week, it’s hard to like Wests in this spot.
Tip: Back the Eels 1-12 @ $2.88
New Zealand Warriors
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday, September 27, 2:00pm, Central Coast Stadium
The Sea Eagles and Warriors will be both be hoping to put last weeks losses by them on Sunday when they meet on the Central Coast.
Neither side has anything left to play for other than bragging rights, but with an eye towards next year, you can bet both sides will be looking to sign off the season on a high note.
Manly find themselves as heavy favourites in the market with Dylan Walker and Reuben Garrick both expected to play, but there is something to be said for the Warriors on the Central Coast.
For whatever reason, the Kiwis love playing at the ground and they should be high on confidence after defeating Manly 26-22 back only six weeks ago.
Patrick Herbert is set to return from injury this week, while the Warriors play wait and see with Jazz Tevaga, who suffered a head knock last week.
New Zealand has been one of the most profitable betting sides at the line this season, particularly at the line, where they are 7-2 as the home underdog in their last nine games.
With a chance to make a statement, take the Warriors at least keep this close.
Tip: Back the Warriors to Cover the Line (+6 Points) @ $2.00
St George Illawarra Dragons
Sunday, September 27, 4:05pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
The Storm can finish no worse than second this year, so it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Craig Bellamy chooses to rest a few of his guys on Sunday against the Dragons.
Melbourne rattled off another brilliant win last week in their 50-22 drubbing over the Tigers, an ominous sign for whoever they wind up facing in the Qualifying Final next week.
The Dragons could potentially leapfrog the Warriors for 12th on the ladder, but other than that, there’s really no other reason to get excited for this game if you’re a Saints fan.
Melbourne has won two straight over St George and are now set to welcome back Ryan Papenhuyzen into the side.
The Storm have covered in five of their last seven games as the away favourite, so this one isn’t worth overthinking.
Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-14.5 Points) @ $2.00
Six of last week’s games were won by the favourite, making Round 20 a punters paradise with finals right around the corner.
This week we turn our attention toward a key top eight clash on Friday night as the Broncos hope to hand the Storm their second straight loss, followed by a game with plenty of value on Saturday afternoon as Manly look to make a top-four push against the Knights.
As we reach the pointy end of the season, backing winners is tough. Fortunately, we’ve done all the form and our complete 2019 NRL Round 20 Preview can be found below.
North Queensland Cowboys
Thursday August 1, 7:50pm, Leichhardt Oval
There’s plenty on the line as the Tigers and Cowboys both hope to keep their faint finals hopes alive on Thursday night.
Wests walked away with a narrow two-point win over the Knights in Newcastle last week thanks to a big second-half effort from Robbie Farah and Paul Momirovski.
The Cowboys also found themselves in a scrappy two-point contest with the Sharks, only North Queensland was on the losing end away from home.
It will take a miracle for Paul Green’s side to make a last-ditch final run, but the Cowboys should be up for a fight this week after losing to the Tigers in overtime back in Round 14.
If you’ve been keeping count at home, you’ll know the Tigers have won two straight games over North Queensland. Wests are also 3-1 as the home favourite against the Cowboys while the last six meetings between these two sides have been decided by 1-12 points.
The Tigers could potentially rejoin the eight this week with a win, so back Wests in a close one.
Tip: Back the Tigers 1-12 @ $3.00
New Zealand Warriors
Friday August 2, 6:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
These two sides have frustrated punters all season, which makes Friday night’s game a tough one to call.
The Warriors continue to flirt with a finals berth, but things unravelled last week away from home. New Zealand lost 24-22 against the Eels, making this week’s game from Auckland crucial if the 12th place Warriors wish to play finals.
Canberra is in a much more desirable position sitting fourth on the ladder. The Raiders forwards demolished the Panthers 30-18 last week, although, on the other hand, Ricky Stuart’s side will be hungry to put their two-game losing streak against the Warriors to bed.
The Raiders have been a strong side away from home this year winning six of their nine games. New Zealand’s struggles at home are well documented, but they do hold a respectable 5-2 record as the home favourite against Canberra.
On the flip side, the Raiders have won two of their last three games in New Zealand, and as one of the top five points-scoring sides in the competition, it’s worth taking the value on offer head-to-head.
Tip: Back the Raiders to Win @ $1.80
Friday August 2, 7:55pm, Suncorp Stadium
This should be a fascinating game as the Storm hope to bounce-back from a shock home loss to Manly.
A flat first half cost Melbourne the points last week as they failed to crack the scoreboard before the 49th minute. The Storm still sits firmly on top of the ladder though, and they’ll take full confidence into Round 20 knowing they hold a six-game winning streak over the Broncos.
Brisbane suddenly finds themselves back in the eight, and as their 22-point win over the Titans last week suggests, the Broncos still line up as a very dangerous side.
The key to beating the Broncos is to shut down their playmakers, something the Gold Coast failed to do last week. Corey Oates, Jamayne Issako and Anthony Milford dominated the game, but as the top possession side in the competition, the Storm should have no trouble controlling the flow of the game.
As the odds suggest, Brisbane is the underdog for a reason. Not only have the Broncos lost two of their last three games at Suncorp, but they are also 0-5 as the home underdog against Melbourne.
The Storm, on the other hand, haven’t lost back-to-back games all season. Since the head-to-head price looks a little short, however, it’s worth backing Melbourne to win both halves at a little extra value.
Tip: Half-Time/Full-Time: Melbourne Storm/Melbourne Storm @ $1.91
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday August 3, 3:00pm, Brookvale Oval
The top of the ladder is really starting to heat up now as Manly continues to put pressure on the fourth-place Raiders.
The Sea Eagles earned a famous victory over the Storm in Melbourne last week, leaving Des Hasler’s side sitting only two points shy of the top four.
Meanwhile, in Newcastle, the Knights’ brilliant midseason run looks to have been smoke and mirrors following their loss to the Tigers last week.
The Knights have slipped outside of the top eight on the heels of their fourth straight loss, leaving Newcastle as serious outsiders at Brookvale Oval this weekend.
These two sides have met once already this season back in Round 5, a game the Sea Eagles dominated both on the field and on the scoreboard.
Neither coach will read too much into their previous affair, but from a form perspective, the numbers don’t lie.
Manly has won nine of its last 10 home games against the Knights, combining for an almost perfect record as the home favourite.
Since there’s little value on offer head-to-head though, the line is where it’s at this week. Manly is 4-2 when it comes to covering as the home favourite this season.
Tip: Back Manly to Cover the Line (-5.5) @ $1.90
Saturday August 3, 5:30pm, Western Sydney Stadium
Penrith’s seven-game winning streak came to a close last week at home to the Raiders.
The Panthers fell short by 12-points in the 30-18 loss, putting plenty of pressure on Ivan Cleary’s side as they cling to their spot inside the eight.
Canterbury also fell in disappointing fashion against the Roosters. It was a learning curve for the young Bulldogs against one of the competition’s elite, leaving Dean Pay hoping for a much better first-half effort after entering the sheds scoreless last week.
Speaking of learning curves, this game will be a huge test of Penrith’s maturity. As the odds suggest, the Panthers are favoured for a reason, but Penrith can’t afford to take Canterbury lightly with their finals campaign still hanging in the balance.
Fortunately, Penrith has enjoyed the better part of this matchup in recent years. The Panthers have won four of their last five games against the Bulldogs, but as their 4-4 record on the road suggests, this game could turn into a close call.
The last three meetings between these two sides have been decided by 1-12 points, which puts Canterbury at the line in play. The Dogs are 1-1 as the home underdog at the line against Penrith, so back the Bulldogs to keep this close.
Tip: Back the Bulldogs to Cover the Line (+7.5 Points) @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday August 3, 7:35pm, Shark Park
After a pair of much-needed victories respectively last week, don’t be surprised if this turns out to be the game of the round.
South Sydney’s midseason slump feels like a distant memory now after stringing together their third straight win last week. The Bunnies were at their best in a Dane Gagai inspired victory over the Dragons, leaving South’s just four points shy of the ladder leading Storm.
The Sharks find themselves right where the Rabbitohs were a month ago, but if last week’s 16-14 win over the Cowboys is anything to go by, Cronulla still might play finals just yet.
John Morris’ side sits tied on points with the Tigers and Knights, making Saturday night’s game crucial if Cronulla hopes to rejoin finals contention.
Of course, to make matters even more complicated, picking a winner in this one appears tricky – the Rabbitohs and Sharks have both won two of their last four meetings against one another.
Recent form suggests the Bunnies should be too strong for Cronulla however, especially with Gagai, Damien Cook and Cody Walker all enjoying a big game last week.
The Sharks defence should keep this game low-scoring, but it’s tough to see Cronulla making an impact on the scoreboard following last week’s spotty performance against the Titans.
Tip: Under 37.5 Total Match Points & South Sydney To Win @ $3.51
Gold Coast Titans
Sunday August 4, 2:00pm, SCG
A game against the struggling Titans couldn’t have come at a better time for the Roosters.
With time running out, the Chooks are in danger of losing touch with the top two, but they might be able to close the gap against a Gold Coast side amid a five-game losing skid.
Speaking of streaks, the Roosters have won four straight games over the Titans dating back to 2016, and to make matters worse, the last time Gold Coast won on the road in Sydney was all the way back in 2013.
The jury is still out on Sydney as a premiership contender, but they should have no trouble disposing of the Titans – but just don’t expect it to come in blowout fashion.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know the Roosters have been a little up and down on the scoreboard. Despite pounding the Knights by 38-points a fortnight ago, last week’s 20-12 win over the Bulldogs left a lot to be desired.
The line also looks a little wide when you consider the Titans are 4-1 as the line underdog in away games against the Roosters.
With value hard to come by, back the Titans to keep this somewhat close.
Tip: Back the Titans to Cover the Line (+17.5 Points) @ $1.90
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Sunday August 4, 4:05pm, Jubilee Stadium
The Eels are hoping to string together their second straight win this week after defeating the Warriors by two points at home last Saturday.
Parramatta has won four of its last five games, and if they can replicate their performance against the Dragons back in Round 8, the Eels should have no trouble earning another blowout victory over their bitter rivals.
The Dragons have very little to play for other than bragging rights, while they’ll also be hoping to end their four-game losing streak after last week’s loss to the Rabbitohs.
The early market for this game looks a little surprising considering where each team stands on the ladder. Parramatta has easily been one of the most inconsistent sides in the competition this year, but they’ve held the wood over the Dragons in recent years having won four of their last five meetings.
With even money on offer, it’s worth backing Parra to complete the season sweep. The Dragons struggled mightily with South Sydney’s top playmakers last week missing 25 tackles.
If those kinds of errors creep into St. George’s game again, this one could turn ugly.
Tip: Back the Eels to Win @ $1.90
Six of the eight favourites won last week, setting the stage, and the ladder, for a huge final five weeks ahead.
Melbourne’s nail-biter over the Warriors last week sees the Storm atop the ladder for the first time this season, while the Rabbitohs shock loss to the Tigers sends Souths back down to third.
With finals right around the corner, Round 20 is book-ended by two games with serious ladder implications.
So who should you back ahead of a big weekend of rugby league action?
Let our 2018 NRL Round 20 Preview guide the way!
Thursday 26 July, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
So we’re back at square one with the Broncos.
Just when we think we’ve got this team figured out, Brisbane leap from the gates against a rather unconvincing Panthers side and pile on 50-points.
The win sees Brisbane back up to seventh on the ladder, and if they can put the home ground advantage to good use again this week, the Broncos could leapfrog their opponents on the ladder.
Before we get too carried away, though, the Sharks might just have something to say.
Cronulla were impressive once again last week against the Raiders, nailing two tries within the first 20-minutes to march away on the scoreboard.
Slotting four-from-five, Chad Townsend was near perfect in front of the sticks,and since the Sharks last loss came against the Broncos, Shane Flanagan’s side will be hungry for a second bite at the revenge cherry.
History shows Thursday night’s game could be close, but the Broncos hold the advantage – Brisbane have won four of the last five. The Broncos are 4-2 as the home favourite against the Sharks, but as we’ve seen in recent weeks, you never know what version of the Broncos is going to show up.
Cronulla are 6-3 on the road this season, and if they can control possession and play disciplined footy like they did last week, the Sharks are a nice upset chance.
Tip: Back Cronulla Sharks 1-12 @ $3.00
Same Game Multi: Sharks 1-12/Valentine Holmes Anytime Try Scorer
North Queensland Cowboys
Friday 27 July, 6:00pm, 1300SMILES Stadium
Credit where it’s due, the Knights were impressive last week.
The Titans looked like they were going to run away with it early in the second half, but Newcastle dug deep, and most importantly, made the most of their scoring opportunities to jump ahead to a 30-24 win.
The Cowboys were a little less convincing last week, falling to the Dragons by 14-points at home. North Queensland were on the ropes by the second minute, surrendering a try to Jason Nightingale in the opening stages.
Both sides had to have taken a lot away from last week’s performances, but it was the Knights’ defence that stood out. The Titans had every opportunity in the final 10-minutes to send the game to extra time, but Newcastle withstood every ounce of Gold Coast’s late pressure, especially on the wing.
North Queensland too have something to be proud of. The Cowboys lost the battle on the scoreboard, but North Queensland still managed to dominate the Dragons in metres run and total passes, also splitting possession 50/50 apiece.
Since the Knights have been particularly poor on the road this season (4-4) you could make a case for the Cowboys, but it’s not like North Queensland have accomplished anything of note at home (2-7).
Newcastle still hold a very slim hope of playing finals, and if luck can go their way once again this week, the Knights could just surprise on the road.
It will take another brilliant kicking game from Mitchell Pearce in his third game back, but with everything on the line, that’s exactly where you should back the Knights.
Tip: Back Newcastle Knights To Beat The Line (+4.5 Points) @ $1.91
Same Game Multi: Knights To Win/Knights First Try Scorer Sione Mata’utia
Friday 27 July, 7:55pm, ANZ Stadium
The Dogs looked up for the fight last week against the Eels, but as it turned out, Canterbury’s sixth minute try would be the and only time the Bulldogs crossed the line against their equals.
Wests, on the other hand, have to hold their heads high. Finals looked in doubt for the Tigers two weeks ago, but all of a sudden, Ivan Cleary’s side are on the verge of the Top 8.
On the back of a win against the Dragons, the Tigers were a popular upset pick against the Rabbitohs last week. Esan Marsters was once again the standout, scoring the opening try and slotting three from his four conversion attempts.
Since both of these sides appear to be heading in opposite directions, it’s hard to tip against the Tigers this week.
Tigers fans will breathe a sigh of relief following Farrah’s ugly collision against Sam Burgess last week, and if Wests do enter this game at full-strength, this should be nothing short of a blowout.
Tip: Back Wests Tigers 13+ @ $2.90
Same Game Multi: Tigers 13+/Bulldogs Total Tries Under 2.5
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 28 July, 3:00pm, Brookvale Oval
Given last week’s circumstances, it’s almost fitting for the Sea Eagles and Panthers to meet on Saturday afternoon.
Penrith were woeful against the Broncos, failing to hit the scoreboard until the opening minutes of the second half. By then it was too late – the Broncos were already ahead by 30-points, well and truly sinking Penrith back down to sixth on the ladder.
On the same token, the Sea Eagles also failed to show up on Sunday against the Roosters. Manly were always going to find it tough against a full-strength Sydney side, but a 22-point loss at home was certainly unexpected.
Moving ahead, this is far and away the ‘line in the sand’ game for Penrith. Anything short of a convincing win could well and truly label the Panthers as pretenders, but as their head-to-head record shows against Manly, Penrith are no guarantee.
The Sea Eagles have won just two of the last five against the Panthers, but Round 16 belonged to Manly, an 18-10 victory Trent Barrett’s side earned on the road.
Defensively the Panthers are so hard to trust, and so is their 4-4 record on the road. You could say the same for Manly’s 3-6 record at home though, and since both of these sides go from one extreme to the next each week, this is a market you’re best off staying away from.
Tip: No Bet
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 28 July, 5:30pm, ANZ Stadium
Sometimes you just have a bad day, and that’s exactly what happened to the Rabbitohs last week against the Tigers.
You don’t see it very often, but despite dominating possession, the Souths abundance of missed tackles and errors ultimately cost the bunnies their 10th straight win.
It’s unlikely South Sydney dwell on the loss for too long, and although the Rabbitohs surrendered their position atop the ladder, a game in hand against one of the wooden spoon favourites has to come as a welcome sign.
The Eels, fresh from their win over the Bulldogs last Thursday night, have plenty to feel proud of. Parramatta knuckled down defensively from the eighth minute onward, dominating in the tackle count on their way to 14-8 victory.
So where does that leave us ahead of Saturday?
This is a game the Rabbitohs need to take seriously if they are to win. The Eels have won three of their last five meetings against the Rabbits, but Souths will find confidence knowing they pumped Parra by 18-points when these two last met back in June.
Statistically speaking, the Rabbitohs are 3-2 in home games when they enter as the favourite, but with five extremely tough weeks ahead against the likes of the Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Raiders and Tigers, Souths will realise the importance of a victory this weekend.
Tip: Back South Sydney Rabbitohs 13+ @ $2.10
Same Game Multi: Rabbitohs 13+/Dane Gagai Anytime Try Scorer
Saturday 28 July, 7:35pm, AAMI Park
Don’t look now, but the Storm have won seven straight.
Sunday’s win against the Warriors in New Zealand saw Craig Bellamy’s side earn the right to call themselves the premiership favourites, and with a trip back to Melbourne to face the Raiders, the good times mightn’t come to a halt anytime soon.
After winning two straight prior to last weekend’s loss to Cronulla, the Raiders continue to flirt with the Top 8. Canberra would need other results to go their way, but if they are to make a serious push for finals, it will have to stem from a win over the Storm away from home.
As Canberra’s 3-6 road record suggests, the likelihood of that happening is low. The Raiders are also 5-4 as the away underdog over the last 12 months, and given their inability to play a full 80-minutes of footy recently, it’s tough to picture Canberra holding off the likes of Josh Addo-Carr this weekend.
The only hope the Raiders may have is if the Storm have one of their rare “off games” on Saturday. We saw during patches last week plenty of handling errors from Melbourne, and if Canberra are to upset, they’ll have to capitalise on those opportunities, something that’s proved challenging all season.
Tip: Back Melbourne Storm to Beat The Line (-9.5 Points) @ $1.91
Same Game Multi: Storm To Win/Total Match Points (21-30)
Gold Coast Titans
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday 29 July, 2:00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
There was no shame in the Titans’ efforts last week, but the Warriors? Let’s just say it’s tough to pinpoint where exactly this team is at right now.
In case you missed it, the Warriors have been a disaster at home this season. Sunday’s loss marked New Zealand’s fifth in the nine home games they’ve played this season, and as funny as it might sound, it’s safe to say Stephen Kearney’s side would much rather play out the rest of their games on the road.
Fortunately for the kiwis, Sunday’s meeting against the Titans comes on the Gold Coast, and after the Warriors thumped Garth Brennan’s men back in Round 2, New Zealand come in as the heavy favourites.
In terms of finals, you could argue the Warriors aren’t quite at the level of the Storm, Rabbitohs or even the Dragons just yet, but as we saw two weeks ago at Suncorp Stadium, New Zealand are capable of anything on their day.
This is a game the Warriors should win, and although the Titans did well to pile on some points against the Knights last week, Gold Coast’s second half implosion ultimately cost the Titans their seventh win of the season.
New Zealand’s attacking firepower is well documented, and if Solomone Kata gets his hands on the ball early and often, the Warriors’ attack should prove too strong for a Titans side that has been particularly poor at home.
Tip: Back New Zealand Warriors 1-12 @ $2.90
Same Game Multi: Warriors 1-12/David Fusitu’a Anytime Try Scorer
St. George Dragons
Sunday 29 July, 4:10pm, Allianz Stadium
Fun would be an understatement.
Are we looking at a potential Grand Final preview here? If things keep going the way they’re going, perhaps not, but this is a big game for St. George to re-route their season and get things back on track.
The Roosters may not be on top of the ladder, but take nothing away from their resounding win over Manly last week – this team is the real deal.
The inclusion of Latrell Mitchell and Cooper Cronk into the side made Sydney look even more dangerous than they did a week prior, and with so much depth to play with, it’s safe to say the Roosters will be in finals-talk for a long while.
Meanwhile, St. George have a lot less to celebrate. A win over the Dragons was just what we expected, but after a solid three week period of less than convincing footy, it’s still tough to know how serious this team really is.
If one thing is for sure, this game should be close.
The Dragons ran away with a 24-8 win over Sydney back in April, but this is a new-look Roosters side since then, one that can really knuckle down defensively and play some stingy football.
Head-to-head the Roosters have won three of the last five, but even more impressively, Sydney’s 4-1 record as the home favourite against the Dragons makes them so hard to bet against.
This game will really come down to the forwards battle as well as the kicking game. It’s a pretty even slate on both sides of the ball, but you have to ride with the Roosters’ form here.
Tip: Back Sydney Roosters 1-12 @ $2.90
Same Game Multi: Roosters 1-12/Total Match Points Under 20.5
We have reached a truly intriguing stage of the 2017 NRL season and the fight for positions in the top four is on in earnest.
There are only six points between the Melbourne Storm in first and the Parramatta Eels in seventh on the NRL Ladder, while the Manly Sea Eagles, Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks and North Queensland Cowboys are all equal on 26 competitions points.
There is finals relevance in every single game this weekend and our complete 2017 NRL Round 20 tips can be found below.
Thursday 20 July, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 42 - Canterbury Bulldogs 12
The Canterbury Bulldogs beat the Brisbane Broncos earlier this season, but it is the Broncos that will start this clash as clear favourites.
It wasn’t their best performance, but the Broncos were still able to take the two points from their clash with the Newcastle Knights and their record at Suncorp Stadium this season has been strong.
Brisbane have won ten of their past 12 games as home favourites for a clear profit and they are 6-6 against the line in this scenario.
Canterbury went into their bye on the back of a come-from-behind win over the Knights, but they have won only two of their past eight games.
The Bulldogs have lost their past eight games as away underdogs and they are a poor 3-5 against the line in this scenario.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
Friday 21 July, 6:00pm, Allianz Stadium
Sydney Roosters 28 - Newcastle Knights 4
The Sydney Roosters are the shortest-priced favourites of the weekend in the NRL and they really should be too strong for the Newcastle Knights.
Sydney went into the bye with a gutsy win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs and they have been easy to trust in these sorts of games this season.
The Roosters have won six of their past eight games as home favourites for a clear profit, but they are only 2-6 against the line in this scenario.
Newcastle produced a solid performance against the Brisbane Broncos last weekend, but it still wasn’t enough and it is tough to see them winning another game this season.
The Knights simply can’t win a game away from home and they are 6-6 against the line as away underdogs.
This is a game that the Roosters should win comfortably, but the line of 15.5 points does seem a touch excessive and this is another game that I am keen to stay out of.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 21 July, 7:50pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
Cronulla Sharks 26 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
The Cronulla Sharks suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of the Gold Coast Titans last weekend, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.
Cronulla have struggled for consistency in recent weeks and their record as home favourites leaves plenty to be desired.
The Sharks have won only six of their past 11 games as home favourites for a clear loss and they are a very poor 2-9 against the line in this scenario.
A lack of ball-security cost the South Sydney Rabbitohs badly against the North Queensland Cowboys and they are now surely out of finals contention.
However, it has been in situations when they have been underestimated by punters that the Rabbitohs have thrived this season.
They have won four of their past seven games as away underdogs and they are a most impressive 6-1 against the line in this scenario.
It is tough to trust South Sydney in their current form, but with a start of 6.5 points they are a great bet to cover the line.
Back South Sydney To Beat The Line (+6.5 Points)
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 22 July, 3:00pm, Pepper Stadium
Penrith Panthers 24 - Gold Coast Titans 16
This is a crucial game for these two sides that currently sit outside the top eight.
It is the Penrith Panthers that will start this clash as favourites after an outstanding individual performance from Nathan Cleary led them to victory against the New Zealand Warriors.
Penrith have now won eight of their past ten games as home favourites for a clear profit and they have an identical record against the line in this scenario.
The Gold Coast Titans made it three wins on the trot with an excellent performance over the Cronulla Sharks in the wet and they will go into this clash with plenty of confidence.
The Titans have won two of their past eight games as away underdogs and they are 4-4 against the line in this scenario.
Penrith do seem to produce their best football at Pepper Stadium and they can keep their finals chances alive with a healthy win over the Titans.
Back Penrith Panthers To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)
Saturday 22 July, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium
Canberra Raiders 14 - Melbourne Storm 20
The Canberra Raiders have the home-ground advantage, but it is the Melbourne Storm that will start this clash as clear favourites.
Melbourne failed to fire without their State Of Origin stats against the Parramatta Eels a fortnight ago, but they are now close to full-strength and ready to start their charge towards the NRL Finals.
The Storm have won nine of their past ten games as away favourites for a clear profit and they are an excellent 7-3 against the line in this scenario.
Canberra returned to winning form with a golden point win over the St George Illawarra Dragons and that last-grasp win kept their slim finals hopes alive.
The Raiders have been a very tough side to trust from a betting perspective this season and they have won only nine of their past 14 games at GIO Stadium, while they are 5-9 against the line in front of their home fans.
Melbourne will prove to be far too polished for the Raiders and they are one of the safest bets of the weekend to cover the line.
Back Melbourne Storm To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 22 July, 7:30pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
North Queensland Cowboys 24 - New Zealand Warriors 12
The North Queensland Cowboys are 3-0 since Johnathan Thurston was ruled out for the rest of the season and they are big favourites to account for the New Zealand Warriors.
The Cowboys produced another complete performance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last Sunday and the fact that they are playing so well without Thurston and Matt Scott is a tribute to their depth.
North Queensland have won seven of their past ten games as home favourites and they are 5-1-4 against the line in this scenario.
Shaun Johnson looks set to miss the rest of the season and that means big trouble for the New Zealand Warriors.
The Warriors aren’t a great side with Johnson in it, but they are particularly bad when he doesn’t play and they completely capitulated without him in the side at the end of last season.
New Zealand have won only two of their past ten games as away underdogs and things could really get ugly for the rest of the season without Johnson in the side.
North Queensland can make it four wins on the trot with another comfortable victory.
Back North Queensland Cowboys To Beat The Line (-8.5 Points)
St George Dragons
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday 23 July, 2:00pm, WIN Stadium
St George Illawarra Dragons 52 - Manly Sea Eagles 22
This is a massive game for both sides and the St George Illawarra Dragons could potentially find themselves outside the top eight if they fail to get the job done.
The Manly Sea Eagles were slow out of the gates against the Wests Tigers, but they proved too strong for their rivals in the second half and they will go into this clash as clear favourites.
Manly have been particularly strong away from home this season and they have won seven of their past 11 games on the road, while they are 8-3 against the line when playing away from home.
The Dragons lost a golden point thriller against the Canberra Raiders last Friday night and they have now won only one of their past five games.
St George have won only two of their past seven games as home underdogs, but they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario.
Manly are a side that simply has more upside than St George Illawarra and the Sea Eagles can cover the line of 4.5 points.
Back Manly Sea Eagles To Beat The Line (-4.5 Points)
Sunday 23 July, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium
Wests Tigers 16 - Parramatta Eels 17
The Parramatta Eels have won three games on the trot and they are clear favourites to account for the Wests Tigers this weekend.
Parramatta went into the bye on the back of a nice win over an undermanned Melbourne Storm and there has been a lot to like about the way that they played in recent weeks.
The Eels have won three of their past four games as away favourites for a clear profit and they are 3-1 against the line in this scenario.
Wests blew a big lead to go down to the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend and they have won only one of their past eight games.
It really is tough to have any faith in the Tigers whatsoever and they have covered the line in only nine of their past 21 games as underdogs for a big loss.
The Tigers really look like they have given up on this season and the Eels are good enough to post a big win.
Back Parramatta Eels To Beat The Line (-8.5 Points)
Round 20 of the 2016 NRL season starts with a Thursday night blockbuster between the North Queensland Cowboys and Canterbury Bulldogs before the Brisbane Broncos host the Penrith Panthers on Friday night.
Saturdays games are highlighted by the finals rematch between the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters, while there will be plenty to play for when the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Manly Sea Eagles on Monday night.
North Queensland Cowboys
Thursday 21 July, 7:50pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium
North Queensland Cowboys 36 - Canterbury Bulldogs 0
The North Queensland Cowboys have won three of their past four games played against the Canterbury Bulldogs and they will go into this clash with their full-strength team for the first time in over a month.
The Cowboys generally struggle during the State Of Origin period and they did drop three games again in 2016, but apart from the suspension of Kyle Feldt they have come through unscathed and are ready for the charge to the finals.
North Queensland will go into this clash as clear favourites and their record in front of their home fans at 1300 Smiles Stadium is nothing short of outstanding – they are 12-1 as home favourites in the past 12 months and are 8-5 against the line in this scenario.
The Bulldogs have flown under the radar in recent weeks, but they have won four games on the trot and are one of the teams that is pushing for a top four finish.
Canterbury have an excellent record on the road and they have actually won four of their past seven games as away underdogs, with an identical record against the line.
The Bulldogs have actually won three of their past four games at 1300 Smiles Stadium and there is definite value at their current price of $2.95 – even if the Cowboys will be tough to beat in front of their home fans.
Recommended Bet: Back The Canterbury Bulldogs To Win @ $2.95
Friday 22 July, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 12 - Penrith Panthers 31
The Penrith Panthers scored an upset victory over the Brisbane Broncos earlier this season, but it is the Broncos that will go into this clash as very short-priced favourites.
Brisbane ended their losing streak with a professional performance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs and a repeat of that performance would be enough to get the job done against the Panthers this weekend.
The Broncos have not been a winning betting play as home favourites in the past 12 months and their record against the line is this scenario is now a very average 7-7.
Penrith scored a comeback victory over the Parramatta Eels last weekend to stay in touch with the top eight, but you never know what you are going to get from this inconsistent outfit.
The Panthers have struggled away from home in the past 12 months and they have won just one of their past seven games as away underdogs, but they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario.
The line of 11.5 points does seem a touch on the excessive side – four of the past five games between the two sides have been decided by less than that margin – and I am keen to back the Panthers with the start.
Recommended Bet: Back The Panthers To Beat The Line (+11.5 Points)
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 23 July, 3:00pm, GIO Stadium
Canberra Raiders 26 - New Zealand Warriors 22
This is a crucial game for both sides as the Raiders are pushing for a place in the top four, while the New Zealand Warriors can consolidate their place in the top eight.
Canberra went into their bye on the back of three straight victories and they are set to start this clash as clear favourites.
The Raiders have improved their record as home favourites considerably in recent weeks and they have now won eight of their past 10 games as home favourites, while they are 6-4 against the line in this scenario.
The Warriors missed out on a golden opportunity to claim two points when they went down to the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend and they continue to be a team that is tough to trust from a betting perspective.
They have lost their past seven games as away underdogs and their record against the line in this scenario is a very poor 2-5.
The data suggests that the Canberra Raiders should record a comfortable victory and they can cover the line of 6.5 points.
Recommended Bet: Back The Canberra Raiders To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 23 July, 5:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Gold Coast Titans 34 - Parramatta Eels 14
The Gold Coast Titans have won five of their past six games against the Parramatta Eels and will go into this clash on Saturday as clear favourites.
The Titans returned to winning form with a comfortable victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons last Friday night and another victory this weekend would solidify their place in the top eight.
Gold Coast have an excellent record at Cbus Super Stadium and they have proven to be a safe betting play as home favourites, with a 3-1 record in both head to head and line betting markets.
Corey Norman will be missing for the Parramatta Eels once again, but they were almost able to get the job done without him against the Penrith Panthers last weekend.
The Eels have won two of their past eight games as away underdogs for a narrow profit, but they are only 4-4 against the line in this scenario and their off-field controversies are sure to catch up with them at some point.
The Titans can get the job done again this weekend and I am happy to back them giving away a start of 6.5 points.
Recommended Bet: Back The Gold Coast Titans To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
Saturday 23 July, 7:30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm 26 - Sydney Roosters 10
The Melbourne Storm only narrowly got the job done against the Newcastle Knights last weekend, but they are still clear favourites to get the job done against the Sydney Roosters this weekend.
Outside of the Cronulla Sharks, the Storm have been the dominant side in the NRL in the past three months and their only recent loss came without Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk in the side.
They have won nine of their past 11 games as home favourites and their record against the line in this scenario is a profitable 6-5.
The Sydney Roosters were far from disgraced against the Cronulla Sharks last weekend, but they were still unable to get the job done and they have won just one of their past eight games.
The Roosters have won two of their past six games as away underdogs for a loss, but their record against the line is 4-2 and they have lost only one of their past four games by more than a converted try.
Melbourne deserve to be clear favourites to win this clash, but their is no value at their current quote and the line of 11.5 points seems just about right.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Sunday 24 July, 2:00pm, Shark Park
Cronulla Sharks 36 - Newcastle Knights 4
This is expected to be one of the biggest mismatches in history of the NRL as the Cronulla Sharks are $1.04 favourites to make it 15 wins on the trot when they face the Newcastle Knights this weekend.
The Sharks were not at their brilliant best against the Sydney Roosters last weekend, but they were still able to get the job done and it is very tough to see them getting beaten by the Knights.
Cronulla have now won nine out of their past 11 games as home favourites, but they are 5-6 against the line in this scenario and they will be giving away a very large start of 24.5 points.
Newcastle have still only won the one game this season, but they have shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks and they were only just beaten by the Melbourne Storm.
In saying that, the Knights remain a very tough team to trust from a betting perspective and they have won just two of their past 12 games as away underdogs, while they are 4-8 against the line in this scenario.
There is no doubt that the Sharks are the team to beat in this clash, but there is no value at their current price and this is another game that I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
St George Dragons
Sunday 24 July, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium
St George Illawarra Dragons 12 - Wests Tigers 25
This is a crucial game for both sides as they need to win to stay in touch with the top eight.
The Wests Tigers went into the bye on the back of a loss to the Canterbury Bulldogs, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.
This is not a position that the Tigers have become accustomed to in recent years and they have won just two of their past four games as home favourites with an identical record against the line.
St George Illawarra struggled without Josh Dugan against the Gold Coast Titans last weekend and they will go into this clash without their key player once again.
The fact that this game is being played at ANZ Stadium takes away the home ground advantage of the Dragons and they have won just five of their past 11 games as underdogs, while their record against the line when being given a start is 6-10.
These are two teams that are very tough to trust from a betting perspective and I am not keen on getting involved in this clash.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Manly Sea Eagles
Monday 4 July, 7:00pm, Allianz Stadium
The Manly Sea Eagles have found a semblance of their best form in the fortnight and they scored a very tough golden point against the New Zealand Warriors in Perth last weekend.
Manly will go into this position as home favourites and they have a surprisingly strong record in this position in the past 12 months – they have won three of their four games in this scenario, but they are 1-3 against the line.
South Sydney have been nothing short of putrid in the past 12 months and they have now lost six games on the trot.
They are 0-5 as home underdogs in the past 12 months and their record against the line is identical.
Manly look like one of the safest bets of the weekend and there is definite value at their current price of $1.78.
Recommended Bet: Back The Manly Sea Eagles To Win @ $1.78