The final round of the 2017 NRL regular season is here and there are a number of massive games spread right across the weekend.
The Melbourne Storm have won the minor premiership and the Sydney Roosters can’t miss the top four, but every other position in the top eight is up for grabs.
That makes for a number of attractive betting opportunities this weekend and our complete 2017 NRL Round 26 tips can be found below.
North Queensland Cowboys Vs Brisbane Broncos
Thursday 31 August, 7.50pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
This is a crucial game for both these sides – a win will secure the North Queensland Cowboys a spot in the top eight, while a Brisbane Broncos victory will see them finish in the top four.
The Broncos produced one of their worst performances of the season to go down to the Parramatta Eels last weekend, but they will still go into this clash as clear favourites.
Four of the past five games played between these two sides have been decided in golden point, but the Cowboys had Johnathan Thurston in the side in each of those fixtures and his absence could really prove to be the difference between these two sides.
Brisbane have won five of their past seven games as away underdogs for a clear profit and they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario.
The Cowboys showed plenty of fight to end their losing streak when they beat the Wests Tigers last weekend, but they obviously face a tough challenge in the form of the Broncos.
They have not been disgraced in any of their games since Thurston went down with injury, but they are yet to beat a top four side in this situation and they have been a losing betting play as home underdogs.
Brisbane are the team to beat in this clash and the line of 5.5 points will not be enough.
Back Brisbane To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)
Parramatta Eels Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 1 September, 7.5opm, ANZ Stadium
The Parramatta Eels will secure a top four finish with a win in this clash and they are clear favourites to do just that.
Parramatta stamped themselves as genuine premiership contenders with their excellent victory over the Brisbane Broncos and there is a lot to like about the way they have played in recent weeks.
The Eels have won 10 of their past 13 games as home favourites for a profit and they are 7-1-5 against the line in this scenario.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs were nothing short of disgraceful against the Melbourne Storm and they surely can’t play that badly again this weekend.
South Sydney have won five of their past 14 games as underdogs for a loss, but they are 8-6 against the line in this scenario for a profit.
There isn’t as much between these two sides as the current betting market suggests and this is a match that I am happy to stay out of from a betting standpoint.
Sydney Roosters Vs Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 2 September, 3,oopm, Allianz Stadium
The Sydney Roosters have already secured a top four finish, but a win over the Gold Coast Titans will guarantee them a home final in the first week.
Sydney held their nerve to record a much-needed win over the Cronulla Sharks last weekend and a repeat of that performance would clearly make them too strong for the Titans.
The Roosters have won eight of their past ten games as home favourites for a clear profit, but they are only 3-7 against the line in this scenario.
This is a season that all those involved with the Gold Coast Titans simply want to end and they produced another uninspired performance against the Canterbury Bulldogs last weekend.
The Titans have won only two of their past 11 games as away underdogs for a clear loss and they are 4-7 against the line in this situation.
There is no doubt that this is a game that the Sydney Roosters should win easily, but there is no value at their current price and this is another game that I am keen to stay out of.
Manly Sea Eagles Vs Penrith Panthers
Saturday 2 September, 5.3opm, Brookvale Oval
This is one of the most important games of the weekend as the winner will secure a place in the top eight, while the loser will need to rely on other results.
Manly claimed a much-needed two points with a golden-point win over the New Zealand Warriors and they will go into this clash as narrow favourites.
The Sea Eagles have won five of their past seven games as home favourites, but they are a poor 2-5 against the line in this scenario and they have lost their past five games at the hands of the Penrith Panthers.
Penrith produced a flat effort against the St George Illawarra Dragons to have their winning streak snapped and they now have an outside change of falling back out of the top eight.
The Panthers have won two of their past five games as away underdogs for a narrow profit and their excellent record against Manly really can’t be ignored.
The market has overreacted to the poor performance of the Panthers last weekend and they can get themselves back on track with a win over Manly this weekend.
Back Penrith To Win @ $2
Melbourne Storm Vs Canberra Raiders
Saturday 2 September, 7.3opm, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm just keep on winning and they are dominant favourites once again to account for the Canberra Raiders this weekend.
Melbourne were already dominant premiership favourites before last week, but they showed just what they are capable of with a simply outstanding performance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Storm have now won 11 of their past 14 games as home favourites for a profit, but they are still only 6-8 against the line in this scenario.
Canberra are now officially out of finals contention and they really don’t have a great deal to play for in their final game of the regular season.
The Raiders have won only two of their past six games as away underdogs, but they are an impressive 5-1 against the line in this scenario.
Recent games played between these two teams have been very competitive affairs and with a start of 10.5 points, the Raiders are a nice bet to cover the line.
Back Canberra To Beat The Line (+10.5 Points)
Newcastle Knights Vs Cronulla Sharks
Sunday 3 September, 2.oopm, McDonald Jones Stadium
The Cronulla Sharks need to win this clash to keep their top four hopes alive and they are clear favourites to do just that.
Cronulla suffered a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of the Sydney Roosters last weekend and that now means that they will need to rely on other results to finish inside the top four.
The Sharks record away from home continues to be excellent and they have won four of their past five games as away favourites, while they are 3-2 against the line in this scenario.
There is no doubt that the Newcastle Knights have taken some big strides in 2017, but they are still staring down the barrel of another wooden spoon.
Newcastle have struggled defensively in recent weeks, but they have been a winning betting proposition as home underdogs in recent weeks – although they are only 4-5 against the line in this scenario.
This is the last chance that the Sharks have to build any momentum heading into the finals and they should be able to score a comfortable win over a Knights side that has run out of steam.
Back Cronulla To Beat The Line (-10.5 Points)
St George Illawarra Dragons Vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Sunday 3 September, 4.oopm, ANZ Stadium
The St George Illawarra Dragons will need to rely on other results, but a win in this clash could see them qualify for the NRL Finals.
St George kept their season alive with a fighting win over the Penrith Panthers, but they will need to improve on their putrid recent record against the Canterbury Bulldogs to remain in top eight contention – they have lost their past five games against their rivals.
The Dragons have won seven of their past 11 games as favourites , but they are a poor 4-7 against the line in this scenario.
Canterbury made it two wins on the trot with a victory over the Gold Coast Titans and they could be a side that relish the job of playing finals spoiler.
The Bulldogs have been a losing betting proposition across just about every metric this season, but they are 11-9 against the line as underdogs over the past 12 months and their record against the Dragons can’t be ignored.
This looks set to be a fairly tense and low-scoring affair and I am keen on the Bulldogs to cover the line.
Back Canterbury To Beat The Line (+7.5 Points)
Wests Tigers Vs New Zealand Warriors
Sunday 3 September, 6.3opm, Leichhardt Oval
This will be a fairly unmemorable way to finish the 2017 NRL regular season.
Neither the Wests Tigers or the New Zealand Warriors have anything to play for and this is an incredibly difficult clash to get excited about.
The Tigers lost to the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend and it has been another season to forget for the side, but they will still go into this clash as clear favourites.
This will be the first time that Wests have started a game as home favourites for over a year, but they have won their past three games against the Warriors.
The return of Shaun Johnson did spark New Zealand and they were only narrowly denied two points by two field-goals from Daly Cherry-Evans.
New Zealand have lost eight of their past nine games as away underdogs and they are a very poor 3-7 against the line in this scenario.
The least that these sides can do is throw the ball around and try to make this as entertaining a clash as possible, which does the make the Over in Total Points betting markets appeal.
The Over has saluted in eight of their past 12 games played by the Tigers at home and has also been a profitable play in Warriors games this season.
Back Over 45.5 Points
This is the final round of the 2016 NRL Premiership season and there will be plenty of jostling for positions in the top eight.
The minor premiership will be on the line when the Melbourne Storm host the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday night, while the North Queensland Cowboys, Brisbane Broncos and Canterbury Bulldogs are all in the battle for fourth.
The Gold Coast Titans can secure a top eight finish with a win over North Queensland and if they lose that opens the door for the Wests Tigers to leapfrog them into the top eight.
Brisbane Broncos Vs Sydney Roosters
Thursday September 1, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium
This is a big game for the Brisbane Broncos.
Not only is it the last regular season clash for captain Corey Parker, but a victory will also keep alive their chances of finishing in the top four.
Brisbane produced arguably their best performance of the season to date to stun the Melbourne Storm last weekend and they have now won four games on the trot.
The Broncos will go into this clash as clear favourites and this has not been a profitable position for them in the past 12 months.
They have won nine of their past 14 games in this scenario and they are only a middling 7-7 against the line.
It has been a season to forget for the Sydney Roosters and they will go into this clash as heavy underdogs following their loss to the Cronulla Sharks last weekend.
The Roosters have been a horrid play as away underdogs this season – they have won just one of their eight games in this scenario and they are 3-5 against the line.
Brisbane really should take the two points, but there is no value at their current price and I am happy to stay out of this game from a betting perspective.
Canterbury Bulldogs Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday September 2, 7.50pm, ANZ Stadium
The Canterbury Bulldogs are another team that have an outside chance of finishing in the top four and this is a must-win for that to become a reality.
Canterbury were outclassed by the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend and they will only go into this clash as a narrow favourite.
Home favourtism has been a position that has suited the Bulldogs in head-to-head betting markets and they have won eight of their ten games in this scenario, but they are a truly horrid 2-8 against the line.
South Sydney have finally found a semblance of their best form in the final month of the season and they were far too good for the Newcastle Knights last weekend.
The Rabbitohs have generally been a poor betting proposition this season and they have won just three of their past 15 games as underdogs, while they are 5-10 against the line in this scenario.
This is a crucial game for Canterbury, while South Sydney have nothing to play for and for that reason I am keen to back the Bulldogs to get the job done at their current quote.
Back The Canterbury Bulldogs To Win @ $1.60
St George Dragons Vs Newcastle Knights
Saturday September 3, 3.00pm, OKI Jubilee Oval
This is one of the only games of the weekend that will not have any relevance to the top eight.
Both of these clubs have had seasons to forget and it will be back to drawing board ahead of 2017.
St George Illawarra will go into this game as clear favourites – despite the fact that they have won just one of their past eight games.
The Dragons have generally saved their best performances for their home fans this season and they have won all three of their clashes as home favourites, while they are 2-1 against the line in this scenario.
The Newcastle Knights have experienced the worst season in NRL history and it is tough to see them finishing the season with anything other than a defeat.
Newcastle have lost all ten of their games as away underdogs this season and they have beaten the line in just two of these fixtures.
Betting against Newcastle has proven to be a profitable play all season long and I am happy to enjoy one more opportunity to do just that.
Back St George Illawarra Dragons To Beat The Line (-8.5 Points)
North Queensland Vs Gold Coast Titans
Saturday September 3, 5.30pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys can secure a top four finish and a second bite at the cherry in the finals with a win over the Gold Coast Titans.
North Queensland have bounced back from their slump to win two games on the trot and they will go into this clash at 1300Smiles Stadium as clear favourites.
The Cowboys have not lost a game as home favourites this season and have the excellent record of 9-3 against the line in this scenario.
The Gold Coast missed out on a golden opportunity to secure their place in the NRL Finals last weekend and they now must win this clash to guarantee themselves a finals berth.
Gold Coast have proven to be a profitable betting outfit across just about every metric this season and they have won three of their eight games as away underdogs, while they are 6-2 against the line in this scenario.
This will be a very interesting clash and will prove crucial for both these sides heading into the finals, but the market has got this game right and I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
Melbourne Storm Vs Cronulla Sharks
Saturday September 3, 7.30pm, AAMI Park
The minor premiership will be on the line when the Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks do battle at AAMI Park this weekend.
Melbourne missed out on the opportunity to ice the minor premiership with their loss to the Brisbane Broncos last Friday night, but they will still go into this clash as clear favourites.
The loss to Brisbane was a rare slip-up for Melbourne in front of their home fans and they are normally very tough to beat as home favourites – they have won eight of their last 10 games as home favourites.
Cronulla ended their losing streak with a comprehensive performance against the Sydney Roosters and they will fancy their chances going into this clash.
The Sharks have only won one of their past four games as away underdogs, but they are 2-2 against the line in this scenario.
Cronulla beat Melbourne when they met earlier this season, but before that Melbourne won the past five games played between the two sides.
This is another game that the market looks to have got just about right, but there is still some value on offer in the total points betting market.
I expect this clash to having a finals-like atmosphere and the under looks like an excellent bet.
Back Under 41.5 Points
Wests Tigers Vs Canberra Raiders
Sunday September 4, 2.00pm, Leichhardt Oval
This game will either be crucial for both sides or absolutely meaningless.
Canberra are still a chance of finishing in the top two, but that would be impossible if Cronulla beat Melbourne on Saturday night.
The Wests Tigers can move into the top eight with a victory, but only if the North Queensland Cowboys beat the Gold Coast Titans.
At this stage it is the Raiders that are favourites, but that could change as Ricky Stuart has revealed he could rest key players if his side has nothing left to play for.
The Raiders have won three of their five games this season for a narrow profit, while they are 3-2 against the line in this scenario.
Wests kept their finals chances alive with a hard-fought win over the New Zealand Warriors and this is set to be a huge game for the club.
They lost to the Raiders 60-6 earlier this season, but it is fair to say that they have improved considerably since then.
It is no secret that the Tigers save their best performances for in front of their home fans and they have won five out of their past ten games as home favourites, while they are 6-4 against the line.
This is another game where the value is in the total points betting market.
I expect both these teams will be happy to throw the footy around the over has saluted in eight of the past 12 games played between the two sides.
Back Over 41.5 Points
New Zealand Warriors Vs Parramatta Eels
Sunday September 4, 4.00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
This is the other game this weekend that does not have any finals relevance.
The New Zealand Warriors’ had their finals chances ended last weekend with their loss to the Wests Tigers, but they will still start this game as clear favourites.
New Zealand are always a very tough team to trust from a betting perspective and that has been the case again in 2016.
They have won only four of their eight games as home favourites and their record against the line in this scenario is a very poor 1-7.
It has been an incredible roller-coaster for Parramatta in 2016 and they will be delighted that the season has finally come to a close.
The Eels were fairly good against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Monday night, but they have been very inconsistent since the penalty they received for breaking the salary cap came through.
Parramatta have won just one of their seven games as away underdogs this season and they are an unconvincing 3-4 against the line.
Both these sides have been extremely tough to trust from a betting perspective this season and I am more than happy to ignore this clash from a betting perspective.
Penrith Panthers Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday September 4, 6.30pm, Pepper Stadium
This game will only have relevance to the finals if Canterbury lose to South Sydney, which would give the Panthers the chance to finish sixth with a win.
There has been a lot to like about the style of football that has been played by Penrith in recent weeks – Nathan Cleary has been a revelation – and they head into this clash on the back of four impressive victories.
Penrith will start this game as clear favourites and they have won six of their past eight games as home favourites, but they are a poor 3-5 against the line.
It has been a season to forget for Manly and this ageing squad will likely have a very different look about it in 2017.
Manly have lost four games on the trot and they have won just two of their seven games as away underdogs this season, but they are 5-2 against the line in this scenario.
Penrith go into this game as deserving favourites, but they are definitely on the short side at their current price and I am keen to back Manly with a start of 10.5 points.
Back Manly Sea Eagles To Beat The Line (+10.5 Points)