The NRL has your Friday and Saturday night covered with a pair of top-eight battles to look forward to this week.
After a narrow win over the Cowboys last Thursday, the Broncos face a season-defining match at Suncorp as they battle a dangerous-looking Panthers side. Next up, it’s the Storm and the Raiders from Melbourne as Canberra desperately clings to a spot inside the top four.
NRL Finals hopes are starting to fade for several clubs, which makes tipping a punters nightmare with four rounds remaining.
Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you, and our complete 2019 NRL Round 22 Preview can be found below.
Manly Sea Eagles
Thursday August 15, 7:50pm, Brookvale Oval
Neither club managed to capitalize away from home last week with plenty on the line.
Manly lost by eight points as they travelled across the ditch to face the Warriors, leaving the Sea Eagles sitting fifth on the ladder with three rounds remaining.
Despite a strong second half, the damage was already done in the first as Manly surrendered three unanswered tries in the opening 30 minutes.
The Tigers, meanwhile, also came out flat against the Bulldogs, adding further frustration for punters and fans as Michael Maguire’s side is running out of time to find a spot back inside the eight.
These two clubs met back in Round 1, a game the Tigers won comfortably 20-6. Robbie Farrah was the star with a pair of tries, but things have certainly changed since then in the course of Manly’s season.
The Sea Eagles have lost only three of their 10 games at home this year, while they’ve also bounced back from a previous loss to the tune of a handy 5-2 record.
With Manly at a very short price, you’ll have to get creative to find some value in the market, though.
Fortunately, in their seven home wins the Sea Eagles have won by an average margin of 14-points. Throw in Manly’s 4-2 record as the line favourite at Brookvale this year, and you have a safe bet to Cover.
Tip: Back Manly to Cover the Line (-7.5 Points) @ $1.90
Gold Coast Titans
Friday August 16, 6:00pm, CBus Super Stadium
The Eels are well and truly on their way to playing finals now thanks to a convincing 20-14 win over the Knights.
Clinton Gutherson starred for Parramatta in the early going as he crossed the line twice in the first half. The Eels also put forward a dominant performance defensively to help control possession and earn their 12th win of the season.
While the Eels now look towards the finals, the end of the season can’t come quick enough for the Titans. Gold Coast slumped to its seventh straight loss last week, this time to the Dragons in a 40-28 blowout.
With all eyes on September, a trip to the Gold Coast is just what the doctor ordered as the Eels prepare for the pointy end of the season.
Unfortunately, Parramatta’s recent record on the Gold Coast speaks for itself. The Eels have lost three straight games to the Titans at home, which explains the slim line set by the bookies this week.
The Titans have won only twice at home all year, which makes an upset extremely unlikely. At the same time though, the Eels have won only four of their 10 games on the road, leaving the possibility of a close, low-scoring game, relatively high.
These two sides have combined for 40-points or less in their last three encounters, so play on Friday’s game going Under the Total.
Tip: Under 44.5 Total Match Points @ $1.88
Friday August 16, 7:55pm, Suncorp Stadium
It’s only fitting that Brisbane’s season might be decided in a primetime blockbuster at Suncorp, and if it’s anything like last week’s nail-biting win over the Cowboys, Bronco fans could be in for a nervous night.
One of these sides should play finals, but is either a serious contender?
The Panthers deserve their place in the top eight following last week’s home win over the Sharks. Penrith sits seventh on the ladder, and if Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards can continue to dominate as they did against Cronulla, Brisbane could be in for a long night.
The Broncos are 4-4 at home this year as they look to build on last week’s less than convincing win. Errors and penalties nearly got the better of Brisbane, and despite their three-game winning streak over the Panthers, it appears even the bookies are struggling to find confidence in the Broncos.
With that in mind, Penrith hasn’t won at Suncorp since 2016, and as their 4-5 record as the away underdog suggests, it’s difficult to find faith in a Panthers upset.
For as bad as the Broncos have been defensively, it’s not like the Panthers have been any better. Penrith leads the league in missed tackles, while they also rank first in penalties conceded.
Backing the Broncos at home has been risky this season, particularly against top eight sides. Even so, with a chance to leapfrog the Panthers on the ladder, back Brisbane to delight a big Suncorp crowd.
Tip: Back the Broncos to Win @ $1.75
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday August 17, 3:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle’s finals hopes continue to fade following their sixth straight loss to the Eels last week.
It a do-or-die kind of game this weekend for the Knights, but fortunately, they’ll take on a Cowboys side down on confidence with a chance to find some form.
The Cowboys put in a good fight at home to the Broncos last week, right before some sloppy last-minute defence allowed Brisbane to pull off a miracle in the 79th minute. Whether or not that motivates Michael Morgan’s side remains to be seen, but the Cowboys should take stock in the fact they’ve won three straight over the Knights dating back to 2016.
Our bookies have sided with the Knights at home, although Newcastle’s 4-6 record at McDonald Jones Stadium is hardly convincing.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, hold a 4-6 record themselves on the road, while their 1-3 record as the away underdog against Newcastle could do with some work.
Instead, you’re best off avoiding the head-to-head market altogether. The last two games played in Newcastle between these two sides have gone Over the Total, and with the Knights ranking fourth in missed tackles, we could find ourselves with a high-scoring affair on our hands.
Tip: Over 39.5 Total Match Points @ $1.88
Saturday August 17, 5:30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne returns home from its successful two-game road trip hoping to add another win over a top-four opponent.
The Storm proved too strong for the Rabbitohs in Gosford last week, pulling away in the second half thanks to Cameron Munster and Brodie Croft. They’ll now head back to AAMI Park on Saturday – a ground the Raiders haven’t won at since 2013.
Canberra’s season is still on track, but coach Ricky Stuart will be looking for a full 80-minute performance from his side following last week’s loss against the Roosters.
The Raiders kept up with the reigning premiers early, but the defence struggled to contain Sydney’s forwards despite Canberra dominating possession.
A win this week will mean more to the Raiders than it will to the Storm. Canberra still finds themselves tied on points with the fourth-place Rabbitohs, while they’ll also need to win out from here if they wish to catch the second-place Roosters.
As Stuart knows well, winning in Melbourne doesn’t come easy. The Storm have lost only twice at home all year, and with a not-so-flattering 3-6 record as the away underdog against Melbourne, it’s difficult to see the Raiders pulling off an upset.
That said, there’s nothing stopping Canberra from keeping this close. The Raiders are a perfect 5-0 as the away underdog at the line this season, and they also have enough offensive weapons to match that of the Storm’s.
Tip: Back the Raiders to Cover the Line (+6.5 Points) @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday August 17, 7:35pm, ANZ Stadium
The Rabbitohs return home this week licking their wounds following last week’s 10-point defeat at the hands of the Storm.
Outside of Campbell Graham, South Sydney struggled to find any chemistry on attack, leaving the Rabbitohs with plenty of work to do if they hold any hope of finishing top four.
The Bulldogs have nothing to play for on the ladder, but they do head to ANZ Stadium with a handy two-game winning streak.
Canterbury received a bit of a confidence boost last week defeating the Tigers 18-16 at ANZ, and although Saturday night’s game is technically an “away” fixture, you can expect the Dogs to fancy their chances against the Bunnies.
For what it’s worth, Souths are 2-4 following a previous loss this season. The good news is they’ve won four games over the Dogs dating back to 2017, but this is still a huge test of the Rabbitohs’ maturity.
The bookies aren’t giving the Bulldogs any chance this week – and why should they? The Dogs haven’t won three-straight games since 2017. Then again, Canterbury’s form at ANZ in recent weeks suggests this could be close.
Tip: Back the Rabbitohs 1-12 @ $2.80
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday August 18, 2:00pm, SCG
Four wins on the trot has the Roosters poised to strike in the finals.
It wasn’t easy, but Sydney left Canberra with a four-point win over the Raiders last week thanks to some Daniel Tupou magic. Now, Trent Robinson’s side heads back to the SCG to tackle the resurgent Warriors.
New Zealand kept their finals hopes alive last week by downing Manly 24-16 in Auckland. Winning two straight games has been a challenge for the Warriors this year, but they can at least find some confidence in the fact they beat the Roosters comfortably in Sydney last year.
A lot has changed since then though, and it’s doubtful Stephen Kearney will read too much into previous encounters. Instead, the Warriors simply need to focus on making the most of their opportunities – something the Kiwis did well last week.
As far as betting goes, it’s difficult to fade the Roosters at home. The Chooks are 9-3 as the home favourite this season, but at the same time, New Zealand’s impressive 4-1 record as the away underdog against Sydney is hard to ignore.
Unfortunately, the Warriors did do a lot wrong last week despite the result. New Zealand missed a total of 44 tackles against the Sea Eagles to go along with 13 penalties – all of which spells bad news this week in Sydney.
If you’re looking for some value, there’s nothing to say the Warriors can’t hit the scoreboard, though. New Zealand has averaged 19-points on the road this year, so back them to score a few tries.
Tip: Warriors Over 2.5 Total Tries @ $2.10
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Sunday August 18, 4:05pm, Shark Park
There’s no love lost between these two rivals as the Sharks hope to rejoin the eight against the down and out Dragons.
In a game they had to have, Cronulla came up short last week to the Panthers to spiral down to ninth on the ladder. The Sharks now face a difficult run home, making this week’s game all the more important if Cronulla is to play finals.
The Dragons lost 22-9 against the Sharks back in Round 11, although they’ll still hold fond memories of Shark Park having won their last two trips to Cronulla.
Unfortunately, the Sharks own a tidy 6-3 record at home this year, and they typically tend to play well defensively in front of their hometown fans.
Speaking of defence, the Dragons also lead the league in tackles made this season. Cronulla’s last five home games against St. George have all gone Under the Total, so back this one to be low scoring.
Tip: Under 37.5 Total Match Points @ $1.88
Just two points separate first and second, and just four points separate third and eighth.
Is that close enough for you?
As if four blockbuster upsets weren’t enough, Round 22 has plenty more in-store for footy fans.
For the third week in a row there’s not one, but two, potential Grand Final previews to look forward to, while Thursday nights Queensland Derby should provide plenty of thrills.
Picking winners has never been tougher, but we’re here to help.
Scroll below for our full 2018 NRL Round 22 Preview!
North Queensland Cowboys
Thursday 9 August, 7.50pm, 1300SMILES Stadium
Who would’ve thought the Cowboys would emerge from last weekend as the true winners?
Okay, North Queensland failed to walk away with the points, but the wooden spoon favourites fought tooth and nail against the Roosters for a full 80-minutes, coming up just short to lose by only six-points.
In his last game at ANZ Stadium, Jonathan Thurston farewelled the ground in typical superstar fashion.
The future Hall of Famer dove over the line for a crucial try in the 57th minute, and his efforts in front of the sticks weren’t half bad either – the Cowboys’ captain slotted four of his five attempts.
As for the Broncos, things weren’t quite so peachy last week.
It was a game Brisbane should have won, but not for the first time, the Broncos showed up half an hour after the whistle.
By that point, the Bulldogs were already ahead 10-0, and although Brisbane fought back right before the half, the Broncos lack of second half resolve has to be worrying for coach Wayne Bennett.
As the Dogs went on to score three unanswered tries after the main break, the game was over.
Brisbane lost 36-22, and although they still find themselves in the eight, another tough road trip to face the Cowboys is no guarantee.
North Queensland came close to knocking off the Broncos back in Round 2 at Suncorp, but the stats don’t lie, the Cowboys are a chance this week.
Paul Green’s side jumped all over the Broncos early, scoring just two minutes into the game, and if North Queensland can replicate that form again this week, look out.
A big problem for Brisbane last week was penalties.
The Broncos will likely travel north without Josh McGuire following last weeks hair-pulling incident, but that’s still far from Brisbane’s biggest concern.
We’ve seen the Broncos lose the plot a little on the road this season, evident in last weeks 11 errors against the Dogs.
Brisbane’s so-so 5-5 record in away games is telling, as is their form up in North Queensland – the Broncos have won just once during their last five visits.
It’s tough to back the Cowboys against anybody this season, but it feels like North Queensland will still pull off one more win this season.
After last weeks close call, this might be it.
Tip: Back North Queensland To Win @ $2.25
Same Game Multi: Cowboys To Win, Enari Tuala Anytime Try Scorer ($3.20)
New Zealand Warriors
Friday 10 August, 6.00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
You can stick a fork in the Knights now.
Stuck 11th on the ladder, last weeks loss against the Tigers makes the Top 8 impossible from here.
While the Knights failed to make the most of last weeks huge opportunity though, the Warriors certainly did not.
New Zealand knew they had to win against the Dragons to put themselves back into the box-seat to play finals, and wouldn’t you know it, the Kiwis pulled off the unthinkable on Saturday down in Wollongong.
Although the Warriors win was a shock, it came as no surprise.
New Zealand have earned a name for themselves on the road this year, which ironically might spell trouble for the Warriors traveling back home this week.
On the road, the Warriors hold an impressive 8-3 record, while back on home soil, New Zealand’s record is a miserable 4-5.
So should you stay well clear of the Warriors this week?
The Knights may have lost by only nine points against the Tigers, but the stat sheet tells the full story.
Newcastle were horrible in defence, committing 13 errors and missing 31 tackles.
Not only does that spell bad news for the rest of the season, it also favours the Warriors’ biggest play-makers on Friday night.
Not for the first time, Solomone Kata was the standout during New Zealand’s win over the Dragons.
He scored twice in a 10-minute span, with his last second dive over the line before half time proving the difference maker.
A loss here may not be the end of the Warriors, but it would sure make life tough from here on out.
New Zealand head back to Sydney to face the Bulldogs, followed by two straight home games against the Panthers and Raiders.
All of those are winnable, but with a chance to make the Top 4 still, the Warriors should rise to the occasion.
Tip: Back New Zealand Warriors 1-12 @ $2.80
Same Game Multi: Warriors 1-12, Solomone Kata To Score Two Or More Tries ($6.00)
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 10 August, 7.55pm, ANZ Stadium
The stars were on full display for both of these sides last week, and wouldn’t you know it, the Roosters and Rabbitohs have toppled the Storm as the outright Premiership favourites.
Souths were brilliant last week in every area.
Melbourne have become the masters of clinical, draining footy on both sides of the ball, but the Rabbitohs somehow cracked the Storm’s defence and piled on try after try throughout the game.
Things weren’t quite so easy for the Roosters last week, but the important thing is Sydney got the job done.
Make no mistake about it, the Cowboys can challenge just about anybody, but when Latrell Mitchell is in this kind of form, nobody is beating the Roosters easily.
Looking ahead to Friday night, this Grand Final preview should live up to expectations.
Both the Rabbitohs and Roosters are two of the more disciplined sides in the competition, but they can also wear down their opponents with rhythmical sets and lively play.
So… who wins?
It’s a punters worst nightmare, but you have to side with the Rabbitohs given last weeks triumph.
When these two last met during Round 6, the Bunnies pounced all over the Roosters right before and after the half time break, and if Damien Cook and Tom Burgess can link up for another impressive performance, Souths should be able to control the possession battle and contain the Roosters’ attack.
Tip: Back South Sydney Rabbitohs 13+ @ $4.50
Same Game Multi: Rabbitohs To Win ($1.92), Rabbitohs First Team To Score ($1.88), Damien Cook Anytime Try Scorer ($3.75)
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 11 August, 3.00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
So it looks as though James Maloney’s thumb is okay.
The Panthers’ five-eighth was electric during Penrith’s win over the Raiders last week, scoring the final try in the 77th minute to help earn a 40-31 win.
It was a resounding performance for Maloney following plenty of criticism, but more importantly, it helped keep the Panthers in touch with the Top 4.
As for the Titans, what can you say?
It’s been one extreme to the next for Gold Coast this year.
One week the Titans are capable of toppling the Warriors, and the next they fall by 16-points to the Eels on the road.
However, heading back to the Gold Coast, the Titans will fancy themselves this week.
Penrith have been ordinary away from home, winning only five of their nine games, but having racked up back-to-back wins for the first time since May, the Panthers come in as the early favourite.
In terms of who you should put money on, it’s a coin flip.
After being forced to play heavy defence and record plenty of tackles, the Panthers were lucky to escape with a win last week against the Raiders.
A more poised team on attack would have dominated Penrith in the second half, especially on the back of 10 errors, and although the Titans hardly shape up as a fierce attacking unit, on their day Gold Coast can really take care of business.
Tip: Back Gold Coast Titans To Win @ $2.75
Same Game Multi: Titans To Win, Michael Gordon Anytime Try Scorer ($3.40)
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 11 August, 5.30pm, McGrath Foundation Stadium
Two teams on the back of two upsets, this should be fun.
Manly went tit-for-tat with the Sharks last Sunday, in what was a scintillating shootout for all those involved.
Tom Trbojevic was the star for the Sea Eagles, but Daly Cherry-Evans’ last minute field goal sealed the one-point win for the visitors in golden point.
The Bulldogs also won a thriller over the Broncos last Friday night, a win that nobody saw coming.
The Dogs started fast against Brisbane and jumped out to a comfy lead, but Canterbury’s ability to keep the scoreboard moving in the second half was the most impressive part of their 36-22 win.
Since this is the first time these teams have met this year, you have to rewind all the way back to Round 24 last season to get a feel for how things might play out.
The Bulldogs won that game easily by 14-points, but as we now know, this is a totally new-look Canterbury outfit than the one we saw a year ago.
Most impressively, Manly’s win last week showed some poise from what has otherwise been a very unconvincing side all year.
The Sea Eagles have blown some mighty leads this season, but it was nice to see them win a thriller and potentially set themselves up for a run in these remaining three weeks.
The Sea Eagles managed to force the Sharks into plenty of errors and penalties last week as well, and if they can force the Bulldogs into the same kind of sloppy play, Manly might be staring at two straight for only the second time this season.
Tip: Back Manly Sea Eagles 1-12 @ $2.90
Same Game Multi: Sea Eagles 1-12, Brett Morris First Try Scorer ($11)
St. George Dragons
Saturday 11 August, 7.30pm, ANZ Stadium
These two played out a thriller just six weeks ago, and given the Dragons fall from grace, anything could happen on Saturday night.
St. George were at their worst against the Warriors last week.
The Dragons failed to crack the scoreboard until the early stages of the second half, but overall, St. George’s lack of effectiveness with the ball in hand has to be a concern for coach Paul McGregor.
As for the Eels, well they have plenty to feel good about.
Jarryd Hayne hit the scoreboard for the second week in a row, and if Mitchell Moses can keep up his deadly kicking accuracy in front of the posts, Parramatta might just earn another win before the season is over.
But will that come against the Dragons?
There’s no reason it can’t.
Again, St. George were slow starters when these two met back in Round 16, coming back from a 12-0 deficit to win on a 76th minute Matt Dufty try.
The key to that game for Parra was the aerial attack and deadly accuracy in the passing game.
Those are characteristics we usually associate with the Dragons, but since St. George have become rather untrustworthy in the last month, it’s probably worth taking a look at the Over/Under markets in this one.
Tip: Over 35.5 Points @ $1.90
Same Game Multi: Dragons To Win ($1.44), Michael Jennings Anytime Try Scorer ($2.70)
Sunday 12 August, 2.00pm, GIO Stadium
It looks as though one of these teams still has life, while the other is finally toast.
The Tigers had to win against the Knights last week if they were any chance of playing finals, and they did just that.
It wasn’t always pretty, but Wests recorded a 25-16 victory in Newcastle thanks to Robbie Farah/Esan Marsters brilliance.
On the same token, the Raiders also had everything to play for.
Canberra met the Raiders in Penrith with plenty of hope, but the green machine failed to keep the scoreboard ticking in the second half following Joseph Leilua’s try, falling by nine-points to end their finals hopes.
It will take a lot from here, but the Tigers are still a mathematical chance to make the eight if they win out.
Other results will also have to go their way, but if Wests can control possession and lock down defensively like they did last week, they’ll go a long way to winning this game.
Of course, we’ve been in this position with the Tigers before, though.
They’ve had every chance to make the eight, and have so far squandered every one of them.
The Raiders are playing for nothing but pride now, and although Canberra have lost three straight, scoring hasn’t been much of a problem.
Since the Raiders hold the home field advantage this week, stick with the favourites at the line.
Tip: Back Canberra Raiders To Beat The Line (-4.5 Points) @ $1.91
Same Game Multi: Raiders 1-12 ($3.00), Blake Austin Anytime Try Scorer ($2.45)
Sunday 12 August, 4.10pm, AAMI Park
Looks like the NRL has saved the best ’till last.
The Storm were rattled last week by the Bunnies, but that wasn’t the only loss Melbourne suffered.
Cameron Smith fears he’s suffered an achilles tendon injury, and while we await the scans, it looks as though Melbourne will go without their star hooker this week.
On the back of their own loss, the Sharks also look to regroup following last weeks heartache against Manly in extra time.
Cronulla have been unlucky to lose in nail-biting fashion in back-to-back weeks, but overall, the Sharks haven’t played a terrible brand of footy.
Uncharacteristically, the Storm were beaten at their own game last week.
South Sydney played with a great deal of tempo and poise on attack, but defensively the Rabbitohs managed to force Melbourne into plenty of errors and penalties.
The star for the Rabbitohs was Damien Cook, and if the Sharks can find the same kind of production out of say, Valentine Holmes, Cronulla should win this at home.
This is the first real setback Melbourne has faced all season, and without one of their biggest leaders on the field, suddenly the Storm look vulnerable.
If you rewind back to Round 4 when these teams last met, you should expect Sunday’s game to be relatively low scoring. The Sharks won 14-4 that day, in large part thanks to Chad Townsend’s boot.
This game will come down to who can make the most of their opportunities, and since the Sharks are in danger of falling out of the eight, Cronulla should lap up this opportunity.
Tip: Back Cronulla Sharks To Win @ $2.70
Same Game Multi: Sharks To Win, Valentine Holmes To Score 2 Or More Tries ($10.00)
The 2017 NRL Finals are now just over a month away and there are a number of key games in the battle for top four positions.
The North Queensland Cowboys will lose touch with the top four if they fail to beat the Melbourne Storm on Friday night, while the Sydney Roosters can keep the pressure on the Melbourne Storm with a win over the Manly Sea Eagles.
There is betting interest in every game this weekend and our complete 2017 NRL Round 22 tips can be found below.
Thursday 3 August, 7.50pm, ANZ Stadium
Canterbury Bulldogs 4 - Parramatta Eels 20
The Parramatta Eels stamped themselves as genuine contenders with their big win over the Brisbane Broncos and they will go into this clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs as clear favourites.
The Eels have now won seven of their past eight games and they really have been the team that has flown under the radar in the second half of the season.
Parramatta have won nine of their past 11 games as favourites for a clear profit, while they are 6-1-4 against the line in this scenario.
Canterbury produced another flat performance against the Penrith Panthers and speculations continues to build that Des Hasler will be sacked at the end of the season.
The Bulldogs gave the Eels a scare when they met for the first time this season a month ago, but there is no doubt that the Bulldogs have gone backwards in recent weeks.
They have won only five of their past 18 games as underdogs and they are a middling 9-9 against the line in this scenario.
This is a game that Parramatta really should be able to win comfortably and the line of 7.5 points will not be enough.
Back Parramatta to cover the line (-7.5 Points)
St George Dragons
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 4 August, 6.00pm, Sydney Cricket Ground
St George Illawarra Dragons 24 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 26
The St George Illawarra Dragons’ final hopes took a big hit when they went down to the Newcastle Knights last weekend, but they will still start this clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs as clear favourites.
There really was nothing positive to say about the Dragons’ performance and they have really struggled for consistency in the second half of the season.
St George Illawarra have won seven of their past ten games as favourites, but they are only 3-7 against the line in this scenario.
South Sydney produced another uninspiring performance against the Canberra Raiders last weekend and there is no doubt that they are looking forward to the end of the season.
The Rabbitohs have won six of their past 15 games as underdogs for a small profit and they are 10-5 against the line in this situation.
There is not as much between these two sides as the current betting market suggests and the Rabbitohs can cover the line with a 6.5 points start.
Back South Sydney To Cover The Line (+6.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
Friday 4 August , 7.50pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
North Queensland Cowboys 8 - Melbourne Storm 26
This is a genuine Friday Night Blockbuster between two of the best sides in the competition.
The Melbourne Storm could hardly have been more impressive when they beat the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend and they are the resounding premiership favourites for a reason.
Melbourne have won nine of their past ten games as away favourites for a big profit and they are an impressive 6-4 against the line in this scenario.
The right-side defence of the North Queensland Cowboys let them down badly against the Sydney Roosters last weekend and there is no doubt that will the focal point of the Storm’s attack.
North Queensland have lost their past four games against Melbourne and their overall record against the Storm is fairly poor.
The Cowboys have won their only games as home underdogs over the past 12 months, but this is a whole other challenge and it is tough to see them matching it with Melbourne without Johnathan Thurston in the side.
Melbourne should win this game comfortably and continue their path to the minor premiership.
Back Melbourne To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 5 August, 3.00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle Warriors 26 - New Zealand Warriors 10
The Newcastle Knights recorded a good win over the St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend and they have a chance to record back-to-back wins for the first time since the end of 2015.
Newcastle will still not go into this game as favourites, but they are sure to take a fair amount of confidence from what was their toughest performance of the season to date.
The Knights have now won three of their past 12 games as home underdogs for a very small profit, but they are still a poor 4-8 against the line in this scenario.
New Zealand have not been disgraced against the North Queensland Cowboys or the Cronulla Sharks in recent weeks, but there is no doubt that they lack an attacking spark without Shaun Johnson in the side.
The Warriors have lost five of their past 11 games as favourites and their record against the line as the punter’s elect is even worse.
Both these teams are tough to trust from a betting perspective and this is a game that I am more than happy to stay out of.
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 5 August, 5.30pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Gold Coast Titans 0 - Brisbane Broncos 54
The Brisbane Broncos suffered a surprise loss at the hands of the Parramatta Eels last weekend, but they are clear favourites to return to winning form on Saturday afternoon.
Brisbane have won the past six games played between these two sides and they have suffered back-to-back losses just twice over the past 12 months.
The Broncos have now won four of their past six games as away favourites, but they are only a middling 3-3 against the line in this scenario.
Gold Coast produced their worst performance of the season when they got flogged by the Wests Tigers and injuries really have taken their toll this season.
The Titans have won three of their past six games as home underdogs, but they are only 3-3 against the line in this situation and it is tough to have any faith in them off their most recent effort.
Brisbane should return to winning form in this clash and are deserving favourites, but there is no value at their current price.
Cronulla Sharks 12 - Canberra Raiders 30
The Cronulla Sharks will go into this clash with the Canberra Raiders as clear favourites.
Cronulla made it two wins on the trot with a professional win over the New Zealand Warriors and they look to be a team that is finding their best form at the right end of the season.
The Sharks have been somewhat tough to trust as favourites this season – they have won six of their past 11 games as home favourites for a loss and they are a very poor 2-9 against the line in this scenario.
Canberra kept their faint finals hopes alive with a win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs and they need to keep winning to keep their finals dream alive.
The Raiders have won only two of their past six games as away underdogs for a clear loss, but they are an impressive 5-1 against the line in this scenario.
There isn’t as much between these two teams as the current betting market suggests and the Raiders can cover the line with a start of 5.5 points.
Back Canberra Raiders To Beat The Line (+5.5 Points)
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday 6 August, 2.00pm, Brookvale Oval
Manly Sea Eagles 36 - Sydney Roosters 18
This is one of the biggest games of the weekend and will be crucial to the top four hopes of both teams.
The Sydney Roosters have now won seven of their past eight games following their win over the North Queensland Cowboys and they will start this clash as narrow favourites.
Sydney have won six of their past seven games as away favourites for a profit and they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario.
The Manly Sea Eagles beat the Sydney Roosters earlier this season, but the wheels have fallen off in a big way in recent weeks and they suffered heavy back-to-back losses at the hands of St George Illawarra and Melbourne.
Manly have won only one of their past six games as home underdogs and they are 2-4 against the line in this situation.
Sydney really do look to have the edge over Manly in this clash and the line of 2.5 points will not be enough.
Back Sydney Roosters To Beat The Line (-2.5 Points)
Sunday 6 August, 4.00pm, Pepper Stadium
Penrith Panthers 28 - Wests Tigers 14
The Penrith Panthers have got themselves back in finals contention and they are dominant favourites to continue their winning run.
Penrith made it four wins on the trot with a professional performance over the Bulldogs and they will take confidence from the fact that they flogged the Wests Tigers earlier this season.
The Panthers have won ten of their past 12 games as home favourites for a big profit and they are a particularly impressive 10-2 against the line in this scenario.
Wests returned to winning form with a quality win over the Gold Coast Titans, but the Panthers are sure to represent a much tougher test this weekend.
The Tigers have won five of their past 12 games as away underdogs for a big profit and they are 8-1-3 against the line in this situation.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am more than happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
We are now in the final month of the 2016 NRL season and their are a number of key games in the lead-up to the finals.
The round is highlighted by the pivotal fixture between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canberra Raiders, while there are also key games set to take place between the Parramatta Eels and Manly Sea Eagles as well as the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos.
St George Dragons
Thursday 4 August, 7.50pm, WIN Stadium
St George Illawarra Dragons 8 - Brisbane Broncos 12
The Brisbane Broncos have fallen in a hole since the start of the State Of Origin period and they have won just two of their past eight games, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.
Brisbane leaked plenty of points again against the Sydney Roosters last weekend and their defense on both their fringes has proven to be a big concern for the struggling outfit.
The once reliable Broncos are now one of the most lacklustre betting outfits in the NRL and they have won just five of their past nine games as away favourites, while they are 4-5 against the line in this scenario.
The St George Illawarra Dragons have struggled without Josh Dugan and have now lost four games on the trot, but they did show signs of improvement against the Canterbury Bulldogs last weekend.
The Dragons have generally produced their best football for WIN Stadium this season and they have won all three of their games at the venue, while they are also 3-0 against the line.
There is clearly issues at the Broncos and I believe that the Dragons are capable of grinding out a tough victory over their rivals at some very juicy odds.
Recommended Bet: Back St George Illawarra Dragons To Win @ $3.50
Manly Sea Eagles
Friday 5 August, 7.50pm, Pirtek Stadium
Parramatta Eels 10 - Manly Sea Eagles 9
The Manly Sea Eagles have found form in recent weeks and they are now back in the hunt for a finals berth after recording four straight victories.
Manly haven’t faced the toughest of competition during this period, but they have still been able to get the job done and they will start this clash with the Parramatta Eels as clear favourites.
The Sea Eagles have actually proven to be a better team away from home than at Brookvale Oval this season and they have won four out of their past five games as away favourites, but they are only 2-3 against the line in this scenario.
Off-field problems have caught up with the Parramatta Eels and they produced one of their most uninspiring performances of the season to date against the Wests Tigers.
The Eels have a strong record at Pirtek Stadium as underdogs and they have won five out of their past nine games in this scenario , but they have been a very tough team to trust from a betting perspective in recent weeks.
The market looks to have gotten this clash just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Saturday 6 August, 3.00pm, Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Knights 14 - Canterbury Bulldogs 28
Canterbury returned to winning form last weekend and they are the shortest-priced favourites of the week.
The Bulldogs did not play at anywhere near their best against the St George Illawarra Dragons, but they were still able to get the job done and they have now won five out of their past six games.
Canterbury have proven to be a very safe betting play as away favourites this season and they have won six of their past seven games in this scenario, while they are 4-3 against the line.
It feels like an eternity since the Newcastle Knights won a game of football – it must feel like even longer for Nathan Brown – and it is tough to see them ending their losing streak this weekend.
The Knights have won just one of their past ten games as home underdogs, but they remain a credible 5-5 against the line and they are receiving a big start of 16 points.
The Bulldogs are not noted a team that put up a big score on their weaker rivals and this season they are 0-2 against the line when giving away a start of ten points or more, but the Knights are 2-5 when being given a start of 16 points or more.
This is another clash that I am keen to stay out of betting wise.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Saturday 6 August, 5.30pm, Shark Park
Cronulla Sharks 14 - Canberra Raiders 30
This is arguably the highlight of the weekend and is sure to be an extremely intriguing affair.
The Cronulla Sharks had their winning streak ended when they played out a draw with the Gold Coast Titans on Monday night, but they will still go into this clash with the Canberra Raiders as clear favourites.
The Sharks continue to be one of the best betting teams in the entire competition and they have won ten out of their past 12 games as home favourites, while they are 6-6 against the line in this scenario.
Canberra moved into third position on the ladder with their dominant victory against the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Ricky Stuart-coached outfit have won seven out of their past eight games.
The Raiders have proven to be a profitable betting play as away underdogs and they have won three of their past six games in this scenario and are a most impressive 5-1 against the line.
I expect this to be a hotly-contested clash and I am very keen to back the Raiders with a start of 5.5 points.
Recommended Bet: Back The Canberra Raiders To Beat The Line (+5.5 Points)
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 6 August, 7.30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm 15 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 14
The Melbourne Storm have won 21 of their past 25 games against the South Sydney Rabbitohs and they are clear favourites to maintain that outstanding record this weekend.
The Storm moved to within one point of the Cronulla Sharks on top of the NRL ladder with their win over the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend and they continue to be a model of consistency this season.
Melbourne have won nine out of their past 11 games as home favourites for a tidy profit and they are 6-5 against the line in this scenario.
South Sydney’s season hit a new low with their truly disgraceful performance against Canberra last weekend and there is obviously something very wrong going on at the club.
The Rabbitohs are now right up there with the worst betting teams in the NRL and they have won just two of their past seven games as away underdogs, while they are 3-4 against the line in this situation.
Melbourne should be able to get the job done very comfortably, but the line of 18.5 points seem a touch excessive and the Storm have failed to cover in their two games this season where they have given away a start of more than 12 points.
I certainly wouldn’t be recommending a bet on South Sydney, but the data also suggests that the Storm will struggle to cover the 18.5 points.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Gold Coast Titans
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday 7 August, 2.00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Gold Coast Titans 14 - New Zealand Warriors 24
This is another very interesting clash between two teams that remain in finals contention.
The Gold Coast Titans were arguably unlucky not to take the two points from their clash with the Sharks, but they will still go into this clash with the New Zealand Warriors as favourites.
The Titans have proven to be very tough to beat in front of their home fans at Cbus Super Stadium and they are 3-1 as home favourites this season both in head to head and line betting.
The New Zealand Warriors played their third straight golden point clash in a row against the Penrith Panthers and thanks to some magic from Shaun Johnson they were able to get the job done.
That victory came on home soil in New Zealand and the Warriors have really struggled to fire away from home in 2016 – they have lost their past eight games as away underdogs and they are 3-5 against the line in this scenario.
I expect the Titans to build on their momentum with a victory over the Warriors and they are good value at their current price.
Recommended Bet: Back The Gold Coast Titans To Win @ $1.68
North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 7 August, 4.00pm, Leichhardt Oval
Wests Tigers 26 - North Queensland Cowboys 14
The North Queensland Cowboys lost to the Melbourne Storm last weekend, but they will likely be buoyed by the return of Johnathan Thurston this weekend.
The Cowboys have been able to put their full-strength outfit on the park just once in the past two months – when they beat the Canterbury Bulldogs 36-0 – but they have still got through the State Of Origin period in a reasonable position and are well-placed to finish in the top four.
In saying that, North Queensland have struggled somewhat as away favourites this season and they have won just five of their nine games in this scenario – although they do have the same record against the line.
Wests made it two wins on the trot with a professional performance against Parramatta last weekend, but they face a much tougher assignment against North Queensland this weekend.
It is no secret that the Tigers enjoy playing in front of their home fans at Leichhardt Oval and they have covered the line in both of their games at the venue this season, while they are 5-3 across the board as home underdogs this season.
The Tigers have impressed me in recent weeks and it really would not surprise me if they were able to give the Cowboys a scare this weekend.
Recommended Bet: Back The Tigers To Beat The Line (+7.5 Points)
Monday 8 August, 7.00pm, Pepper Stadium
Penrith Panthers 38 - Sydney Roosters 18
The Sydney Roosters finally ended their losing streak with an impressive performance against the Brisbane Broncos last Thursday night, but they will still go into this clear as clear underdogs.
The Roosters have been one of the worst teams in the NRL from a betting perspective this season and they have won just two of their past seven games as away underdogs, but they have been a profitable 4-3 against the line as away underdogs.
The Penrith Panthers suffered a heart-breaking golden point defeat at the hands of the Warriors last weekend and they need to win this weekend to have any chance whatsoever of jumping back into the top eight.
The good news for the Panthers is that they are 8-4 on the back of a loss this season and they have won five of their past seven games as home favourites, but they are only 2-5 against the line in this scenario.
Penrith still have plenty to play for at this stage of the season and I expect them to bounce back with a win this weekend.
Recommended Bet: Back The Penrith Panthers To Win @ $1.62