2021 NRL Semi-Finals Preview

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BP Print Stadium in Mackay will take centre stage this weekend as the host of the NRL’s do-or-die Semi Finals round.

Fresh from a blowout loss to the Storm, the Sea Eagles are looking to bounce-back when they take on the injury riddled Roosters on Friday, followed by a massive clash between two Western Sydney rivals, the Panthers and Eels, on Saturday.

With the Storm and Bunnies waiting patiently, find out who we’re tipping in our 2021 NRL Semi-Finals Preview here!

Manly Sea Eagles Vs Sydney Roosters

Friday 17 September, 7.50pm, BP Print Stadium

The Sea Eagles have a chance to right their wrongs after suffering another humiliating loss to the Storm last week in the Qualifier.

Not for the first time, a lack of possession and some basic tackling issues cost Manly a chance to advance to the Prelim, but Des Hasler won’t be panicking after the injury-ravaged Roosters barely managed to squeak past the Titans last week.

Given their long list of outs, Trent Robinson’s men did quite well to keep the penalty count to a minimum and hold Gold Coast to just one try in the first half.

That said, Manly will set about this task with a renewed sense of vigor on defence after missing 36 tackles against Melbourne, while they’ll also have revenge in mind after losing 46-4 to the Roosters back in Round 1.

Tom Trbojevic wasn’t available that day, so it’s hard to imagine a similar scoreline unfolding – especially if the Roosters are without Siosiua Taukeiaho and Sam Verrills like the injury report suggests.

For Manly to win, they simply need to get their hands on the ball and limit the damage from James Tedeseco and Daniel Tupou.

That can be easier said than done, but considering the Sea Eagles haven’t lost back-to-back games since Turbo returned to the side, it’s hard to imagine them not booking a date with the Bunnies next week.

Tip: Back Manly to Win & Under 46.5 Total Points @ $2.60

Penrith Panthers Vs Parramatta Eels

Saturday 18 September, 7.50pm, BP Print Stadium

The Panthers hit a bump in the road last week with a surprise loss to Souths, but it might just be the wakeup call Penrith needed as they look to continue their push for a second Grand Final appearance.

Stephen Crichton’s early try was one of the few bright spots about last week’s result before a litany of errors got in the way.

Nothing is a given come finals time, but the Panthers should feel confident heading to Mackay knowing they manhandled the Eels 40-6 a fortnight ago behind a hat-trick from Brian To’o.

Of course, it must be said that the Eels were far from full strength that day as Brad Arthur chose to rest a handful of his stars in preparation for the Knights.

This time around the Panthers will have to deal with the likes of Clinton Gutherson, Waqa Blake and Mitchell Moses, meaning we should see a closer game than the current -11.5 line in favour of Penrith suggests.

The Panthers are also set to welcome last week’s late omission Dylan Edwards back into the side, which should help solve some of the ball handling and tackling issues we saw last week.

As far as betting goes, the Panthers have played to a 3-1 record on the back of a loss over the last 12 months – which is impressive considering they don’t lose often.

It’s also worth noting that the last 12 games between these two sides have gone Under the Total, so the Panthers to win a low-scoring game represents some real value.

Tip: Back the Panthers to Win & Under 44.5 Total Points @ $2.40

2020

The 2020 NRL Semi-Finals are upon us as we prepare for two scintillating contests.

Fans will be treated to the third Grand Final rematch of the year on Friday night as the Roosters and Raiders fight to keep their season alive, followed by what many are calling the most dangerous team in the competition, the Rabbitohs, taking on the half-strength Eels at Bankwest on Saturday.

There is certainly no love lost between these teams and you can find all of our 2020 NRL Semi-Finals tips below!

Sydney Roosters Vs Canberra Raiders

Friday 9 October, 6.50pm, SCG

The third Grand Final rematch of the season awaits on Friday night as the Raiders and Roosters hope to settle the score once and for all.

Canberra defeated the reigning premiers 24-20 when these two sides met back in Round 10, right before the Roosters got revenge in Round 17 with a low-scoring 18-6 win at GIO Stadium.

It’s safe to say there is no love lost between these two sides following the 2019 Grand Final controversy, and considering no more than a try has separated the two clubs in five of their last six meetings, there’s plenty to suggest the latest instalment should be close.

The Roosters showed plenty in the second half last week against the Panthers to suggest they aren’t dead just yet.

Trent Robinson’s side outscored Penrith 18-6 in the second half, only to be come undone on Nathan Cleary’s last-minute field goal.

The Raiders, on the other hand, had things all their own way against the Sharks at home.

Canberra cruised towards a 32-20 victory over Cronulla as George Williams and Jack Wighton both scored themselves a double.

Despite failing to make amends for their Round 20 loss against the Rabbitohs last week, the Roosters’ 4-2 record on the back of a loss has to be respected.

Likewise, a tough, hard-fought game against the minor premiers reads a little better than a win over the Shaun Johnson-less Sharks, so it’s no real surprise to find the Roosters as the odds-on favourites.

That said, the Raiders probably don’t deserve to be +6 underdogs either.

Canberra has lost only one game on the road this year and also covered the line in four of its last five games as the away underdog.

After defeating the Chooks at the SCG earlier in the year, this shapes up as another instant classic.

Tip: Back the Raiders to Cover the Line (+6 Points) @ $2.00

Parramatta Eels Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Saturday 10 October, 6.50pm, Bankwest Stadium

The market suggests this game is almost a foregone conclusion as the Rabbitohs look to record their third consecutive blowout win in as many weeks.

After finding themselves down two tries early, South Sydney managed to pull off eight unanswered tries on their way to a whopping 46-20 win over Newcastle last week.

Things weren’t quite as peachy for Parramatta last week up in the Sunshine State.

The Eels crossed the line in the first minute of the game against the Storm, but it was all downhill from there as Melbourne piled on the points in a comfortable 36-24 win at Suncorp.

To be fair, the writing has been on the wall for a long time when it comes to the Eels.

The last two months have largely been unconvincing if you’re an Eels fan as Brad Arthur’s side continues to struggle to play a consistent 80-minutes of football.

On attack, the Bunnies look extremely dangerous – as Parramatta found out the hard way in their 38-0 loss to Souths back in Round 16.

There’s absolutely nothing to suggest the Rabbitohs can’t replicate that performance, especially with Maika Sivo done for the year and Blake Ferguson questionable with a leg injury.

Tip: Back the Rabbitohs to Cover the Line (-6 Points) @ $2.00

2019

The 2019 NRL Semi Finals are here and we are set for two outstanding games this weekend.

All season long it looked as though we were heading to a Grand Final rematch between the Sydney Roosters and the Melbourne Storm, but the Storm’s loss against the Canberra Raiders means that is no longer possible.

The Storm will look to keep their season alive when they host an in-form Parramatta Eels on Sunday afternoon after the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Manly Sea Eagles.

We have analysed both games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2019 NRL Semi Finals tips can be found below.

South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Manly Sea Eagles

Friday 20 September, 7.50pm, ANZ Stadium

It was a night to forget for the South Sydney Rabbitohs against the Sydney Roosters.

The Roosters simply blew the Rabbitohs off the park early and Wayne Bennett’s men were never able to get into the match.

Despite the heavy nature of that defeat, the Rabbitohs will still go into this clash with the Manly Sea Eagles as clear favourites and they have generally proven tough to beat in this situation.

The return of Sam Burgess is enormous for them and he will definitely have a point to prove after missing last weekend’s final due to suspension.

South Sydney have won seven of their ten games as home favourites this season, but they are a poor 3-7 against the line in this scenario and their overall record against the line has been poor.

No team has been better to punters this season than the Sea Eagles and they were once again able to win at big odds against the Cronulla Sharks last weekend.

There is no doubt that they are a better side with Tom Trbojevic, as any team would be, but they have proven that they are capable of winning without him.

Manly were able to beat South Sydney earlier this season and both games between these two sides this year were decided by a single point.

The Sea Eagles have won four of their nine games as away underdogs this season for a big profit and they are an impressive 6-3 against the line in this scenario.

I really don’t think that there will be an enormous amount between these two sides and Manly are a great bet to cover the line with a start of 6.5 points.

Back The Sea Eagles To Cover The Line (+6.5 Points) @ $1.90

Melbourne Storm Vs Parramatta Eels

Saturday 21 September, 7.50pm, AAMI Stadium

Luck didn’t go their way in the opening week of the NRL Finals and that leaves the Melbourne Storm in a do-or-die scenario against the Parramatta Eels this Saturday night.

A couple of controversial refereeing decisions went against the Storm, but there is no doubt that they didn’t play their best against the Canberra Raiders and they will need to improve to beat the Eels.

The positive factor for the Storm is that they very rarely lose back-to-back games.

They have not done so this season and they have lost back-to-back games only twice since 2016.

Melbourne have won nine of their past 13 games as home favourites, but they are only 4-9 against the line in this scenario.

Another positive for the Storm is their record against the Eels.

They beat them 64-10 when they met during Magic Round earlier this season and they have won the past 3 games played between the two outfits.

Parramatta could hardly have been more impressive against a poor Brisbane Broncos outfit last weekend and they will go into this clash with a huge amount of confidence.

The likes of Mitchell Moses have taken a huge step forward this season and they play the sort of attacking rugby league that can give the Storm some serious issues.

Winning on the road has been something of an issue for the Eels this season and they have won only two of their past eight games as away underdogs.

Stringing together impressive efforts has also been a problem for the Eels and they are only 7-7 on the back of a win in 2019.

I don’t think that the Storm will blow the Eels off the park, but I still think that their quality will prove too much for their rivals over 80 minutes.

Back Melbourne Storm To Win 1-12 @ $2.90

2018

We were treated to some outstanding contests in the opening weekend of the 2018 NRL Finals and the two games this weekend are set to be just as intriguing.

The action begins on Friday night when the Cronulla Sharks take on the Penrith Panthers in the first ever finals meeting between the two sides before the South Sydney Rabbitohs face a rejuvenated St George Illawarra Dragons outfit on Saturday.

We have analysed both games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2018 NRL Semi Finals tips can be found below.

Cronulla Sharks Vs Penrith Panthers

Friday 14 September, 7.40pm, Allianz Stadium

Things started clicking fast for the Sharks last week, as Sosaia Feki put one down in the corner inside the first five minutes of the game.

After such promise though, Cronulla fell away from there on out, allowing two unanswered tries to the Roosters to lead at the half.

The Sharks had plenty of chances, but Sydney did a great job of stretching Cronulla’s attack, limiting them to very few opportunities on the wing.

The end result was a 21-12 loss after Luke Lewis dropped an absolute sitter over the line.

As for the Panthers, their win over the Warriors was nothing short of dominant.

Tyrone Peachey was the difference, scoring two tries within a ten minute span during the first half, while Nathan Cleary was a deadeye dick in front of goals.

For what will be a worrying sign for Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, Penrith were exceptionally precise with their passes and also managed to win the field position battle with some well-timed kicks.

So what does that say about Friday night’s fixture?

Having won five straight dating back to 2016, recent history tells us the Sharks are good for a bounce-back, but they’ll certainly have their work cut out for them against this rejuvenated Penrith side.

Cronulla enter at the shorter odds, which is good news for punters considering the Sharks are 4-1 as the home favourite against the Panthers, however they’ll need to knuckle down defensively if they are to win this.

If anything was evident last week, it was Cronulla’s weakness defending the kick.

The Roosters chose their moments sparingly, but when they layed down a couple of grubbers, both led to scoring chances.

The Sharks will also need to tighten up with their tackling. Cronulla missed 34 tackles last week, but more importantly committed 10 crucial penalties.

Still, this has been the story of Cronulla’s season – average one week, dazzling the next. It’s worth remembering the Roosters are the classiest side in the competition right now, and despite the scoreline, the Sharks were in the game right up until the 75-minute mark.

Expect a bounce back this week from the heavy favourites. There’s simply too much experience in this Sharks outfit to die quietly.

Tip: Back the Sharks 13+ @ $3.60

Same Game Multi: Sharks To Win, Sharks Over 3.5 Tries, Josh Dugan Anytime Try Scorer

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South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs St George Illawarra Dragons

Saturday 15 September, 7.40pm, ANZ Stadium

Were the Storm too good or were the Bunnies not good enough last week?

Perhaps a bit of both, but one thing is for sure, the Rabbitohs are still one of the most dangerous sides left in the finals hunt this season.

Right on time, Greg Inglis showed up last week, crossing the line twice on each side of half time, while Damien Cook was special once again playing on Cameron Smith.

If it wasn’t for Adam Reynolds’s horror night in front of the posts, Souths would have won this game, but Anthony Seibold’s team didn’t die wondering as they threw everything they had at the Storm in the final ten-minutes.

The Dragons, well where do you begin?

After a season that began so brightly only to be muddled with inconsistencies, St. George looked like their old selves last week at Suncorp.

The ‘Red V’ fans turned up in force, and so did second-rower Tariq Sims – the big 28-year old managed a hat-trick against the dumbfounded Broncos.

Perhaps the most impressive sign from the Dragons though, was their creativity with the ball.

They kept Brisbane guessing, and more importantly missing tackles around their own line.

It’s safe to say if the Dragons play like that again this week, they’ll be tough to beat.

The Rabbitohs have won three of the last five meetings between these two, and somehow come in well under the odds at $1.25 despite St. George’s return to form.

Perhaps the bookies have been paying close attention to the head-to-head record between these two clubs.

The Dragons are a miserable 1-4 against the Bunnies as the away underdog, while the Rabbitohs have been good, but not unbeatable at 5-3 as the overall home favourite this season.

Much of this game is likely going to come down to defence, and with the Dragons ranking second in the league in missed tackle and the Rabbitohs ranking first in points scored during the regular season, you don’t have to be a genius to realise that doesn’t spell a close game.

With Gareth Widdop back in the side last week, the Dragons looked reborn again, but an unlucky shoulder dislocation has cost the captain a date with a surgeon and the end to his season.

It’s a big loss for St. George, and with their main leader off the field, the Bunnies should run rampant.

Tip: Back South Sydney 1-12 @ $2.90

Same Game Multi: South Sydney 1-12, Under 7.5 Total Match Tries, Dane Gagai Anytime Try Scorer, Timoteo Lafai Anytime Try Scorer

[matchmodule matchid=" 62254777" no="2"]

2017

How good was the opening weekend of the 2017 NRL Finals!

All four games were genuine thrillers and we are set for two more outstanding games this weekend as the Brisbane Broncos host the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels do battle with the North Queensland Cowboys.

We had three wins from our four tips in the opening weekend of the NRL Finals and we are confident that winning record will continue in our 2017 NRL Semi Finals tips.

Brisbane Broncos Vs Penrith Panthers

Friday 15 September, 7.55pm, Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane Broncos 13 - Penrith Panthers 6

The Brisbane Broncos return to Suncorp Stadium and they will start this clash with the Penrith Panthers as clear favourites.

Brisbane did not play at anywhere near their best against the Sydney Roosters, but they still almost came away with the win.

There is no doubt that they miss the structure that Darius Boyd gives them and there is every possible chance that he will be cleared to take his place in the Broncos side this weekend.

Brisbane recorded a dominant win over Penrith when these two sides met earlier this season and the home side has won seven of the past eight games played between these two sides.

The Broncos have won nine of their past 11 games as home favourites for a clear profit this season, but they are only 5-1-5 against the line in this scenario.

It has been a tough fortnight for the Panthers, but they bounced back to a semblance of their best form to beat the Manly Sea Eagles – with some help from The Bunker.

Penrith will still need to improve on that effort to have any chance of beating the Broncos, but their recent record against the Broncos would inspire some confidence.

The Panthers have won three of their past seven games as away underdogs for a profit, but they are only 3-4 against the line in this scenario.

This is a game that Brisbane really should win, but there is no real value at their current quote and we have to dive a little bit deeper to find a betting play.

Recent meetings between these two sides have served up some high-scoring games and the Total Points betting market of 37.5 points does not look like enough – this total has been beaten in five of the past six games played between these sides.

The Over has saluted in nine of the past 12 games played by the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and that record should improve again on Friday night.

Back Over 37.5 Points

[matchmodule matchid=" 38601510" no="1"]

Parramatta Eels Vs North Queensland Cowboys

Saturday 16 September, 7.40pm, ANZ Stadium

Parramatta Eels 16 - North Queensland Cowboys 24

The Parramatta Eels were desperately unlucky not to beat the Melbourne Storm last weekend and they will start this clash with the North Queensland Cowboys as clear favourites.

Parramatta had every right to be feel hard done by after a couple of refereeing decisions went against them against the Storm last Saturday afternoon, but that performance did show that they are capable of competing with the very best teams in the NRL.

The form of the Eels should not be understated – they have won nine of their past 11 games and those wins do include a couple of big scalps.

Parramatta have won six of their past eight games as home favourites for a profit, but they are only 3-1-4 against the line in this scenario.

The Cowboys looked in massive trouble in the early stages of their clash with the Cronulla Sharks and finding the try line seemed just about impossible.

A mentally weaker side would have been blown off the park by the Sharks, but the Cowboys hung tough and they were rewarded with a thrilling golden-point win.

North Queensland played well when it mattered, but ball security let them down throughout their elimination final clash and they will need to play much better to have any chance of beating the Eels.

The Cowboys did beat the Eels comfortably in their most recent fixture, but they had Johnathan Thurston in the side that evening and they were handily beaten by the Eels when they met earlier in the season.

North Queensland have won four of their past past nine games as away underdogs for a big profit and they are a very impressive 7-2 against the line in this scenario.

Parramatta deserve to go into this clash as favourites, but there is not as much between them as the current betting market suggests and the Cowboys are a nice bet to cover the line.

Back North Queensland To Beat The Line (+7.5 Points)

[matchmodule matchid=" 38653008" no="2"]

2016

This is the second week of the NRL Finals and there are two massive games set to take place this weekend.

There will be no repeat of the all-Queensland Grand that we saw last year as both the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos will do battle this weekend to keep their title chances alive.

The Penrith Panthers are arguably the form team in the NRL and they have an excellent opportunity to progress to the Grand Final Qualifier when they face an injury-hit Canberra Raiders.

You can find out thoughts and betting recommendations for both games below.

North Queensland Cowboys Vs Brisbane Broncos

Friday 16 September, 7.55pm, 1300Smiles Stadium

North Queensland Cowboys 26 - Brisbane Broncos 20

It is on again – the North Queensland Cowboys vs the Brisbane Broncos in an NRL Finals showdown.

It is now no secret that the past three games played between these two sides have been decided by a single point, but this will also be the third season in a row that North Queensland have taken on Brisbane in the finals.

Finals history is against Brisbane as they have lost their five previous finals clashes with North Queensland and it is the Cowboys that will start this clash as clear favourites.

North Queensland were very close to stealing a win over the Melbourne Storm in the qualifying final, but it is fair to say that the Cowboys would not have deserved the victory.

The Cowboys did not control the football, were ill-disciplined and their kicking game was poor – it is amazing that they only lost by a converted try.

The fact that this game is being played in Townsville in what is highly likely to be dry conditions is a big positive for the Cowboys.

North Queensland have won all 12 of their games as home favourites this season – with their only defeat at home coming when Johnathan Thurston was out with a hamstring injury – and they are a most impressive 9-3 against the line in this scenario.

The Broncos scored a big win over the Gold Coast Titans in the elimination final, but there was not a great deal to like about the performance.

A number of refereeing decisions went the way of the Broncos and their defense was very poor throughout.

If the Broncos produce a similar performance against the Cowboys, Thurston will tear them to shreds.

Brisbane have only played three games as away underdogs this season and they were able to win one, while they are 3-1 this season when giving away a start.

I don’t think that there will be only one point in this contest – a firing North Queensland can maintain their stellar record over the Broncos and keep alive their chances of becoming the first side to win back-to-back premierships in the NRL era.

Back The North Queensland Cowboys To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)

[matchmodule matchid=" 23413030" no="1"]

Canberra Raiders Vs Penrith Panthers

Saturday 17 September, 7.45, GIO Stadium

Canberra Raiders 22 - Penrith Panthers 12

The Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers have been the two big improvers in 2016 and this will be a truly fascinating clash.

Canberra will rue an opportunity that go away against Cronulla.

They stormed out to an early lead and looked as though they were going to put a score on their rivals, but a lack of composure at key moments cost them badly and they lost star hooker Josh Hodgson in the process.

Canberra will still go into this game as favourites, but that could change if Blake Austin is unable to make his return from injury.

The Raiders have proven to be a very safe betting play at home and they have won nine of their 11 games as home favourites this season, while they are a non-profitable 5-6 against the line in this scenario.

Penrith made it six victories on the trot with their win over the Canterbury Bulldogs and they did so in truly emphatic fashion.

There has been plenty to like about the rugby league that the Panthers have played in the past month and they will take plenty of confidence into this showdown.

Penrith will go into this game with what is a full-strength them and their record as underdogs this season has been excellent – they have won three of their seven games as away underdogs for a healthy profit and they are 5-2 against the line in this situation.

The loss of Hodgson will be crucial for the Raiders – they lost their way when he went off the field against Cronulla – and the Panthers are a great bet to keep alive their scintillating season.

Back The Penrith Panthers To Win  @ $2

[matchmodule matchid=" 23449663" no="2"]