NRL Bunker Review – Round 25

The NRL Finals are finally here and outside of the Raiders, there are seven teams capable of advancing through September and into the Grand Final. From there, anything is possible.

Eels elevate into Top 4

The Parramatta Eels earned themselves a second chance in September by jumping up to 4th on the NRL ladder following a 22-14 win over the Melbourne Storm on Thursday night.

Dominant from the start, Brad Arthur’s side looked every bit like a Top 4 outfit in this one. Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown, in particular, played a key role in building a lead behind a strong platform laid by Reagan Campbell-Gillard (185 metres), Junior Paulo (216 metres), Shaun Lane (150 metres) and Isaiah Papali’i (108 metres). While they are now drawn to play the Panthers in Penrith as $3.12 and +8.5 underdogs, the Eels will back themselves to finally move beyond Week 2 of the NRL Finals. Outside of their strange wooden spoon winning 2018 season, Parramatta’s season has ended in Week 2 every other year since 2017.

At $2.85 for their season to end in Week 2 and $2.50 to fall short of victory in the Preliminary Final, the Eels are in a promising position to improve on their 2021 efforts.

Roosters v Rabbitohs Preview

The Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs opened the new Allianz Stadium with a preview of Week 1 of the NRL Finals to finish the regular season.

Having played each other in Round 25, the two teams will prepare to go at it again in a do-or-die fixture on Sunday afternoon.

Latrell Mitchell, in particular, will be eager to get back out there against his former team. He produced a 70 minutes to forget on Friday night to finish up with only 100 running metres, three penalties and a sin bin as he struggled to make an impact. The Rabbitohs kept up with the Roosters in the yardage battle for just three metres to separate the two sides by the end. However, unlike the Roosters, the Bunnies couldn’t consistently find points.

The Roosters are deserving $1.56 and -4.5 favourites for the decider this week. While they have lost Joey Manu to a calf injury, Daniel Tupou is pushing to make his return while Victor Radley is also expected to be back.

Trent Robinson has this squad humming at the right time. The pack is surging up the field, Sam Walker and Luke Keary are orchestrating the attack, and James Tedesco is popping up with dangerous involvements right across the field. It took longer than most expected for the Roosters to click into gear for 2022, but with eight wins on the bounce heading into the NRL Finals, the Roosters are now on the sixth line of betting to win the premiership at $13.

Dragons Bounce Broncos

The Brisbane Broncos became the first team in NRL history to sit inside the Top 4 on the ladder with six rounds remaining but fail to make the Top 8.

Despite looking every bit like a finals team and a certainty to feature in September with either a home final in Week 1 or a second chance in Week 2, the Broncos were all but bounced out of contention by the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Rather fittingly, Ben Hunt played a blinder to knock out his former team.

The 22-12 loss ended what will end up as a disappointing season for the Broncos. While 9th on the ladder may have appealed before Round 1, expectations change and Kevin Walters’ side fell short in the end. He is now under pressure to keep his job. If he lasts the summer, there will be little wiggle room throughout the early rounds of next season.

NRL Premiership Odds

The Penrith Panthers open the NRL Finals in the spot they’ve been sat all season – on the first line of betting in the premiership winner market at $2.20. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Panthers at their best but with Nathan Cleary to return this week, we’re going to get a good idea of where the defending premiers are at heading into the pointy end of the season. Surprisingly, the Eels have jumped to the second line of betting at $6.50 despite sitting outside the Top 4. No team in NRL history has ever won the premiership from 5th on the ladder down.

While the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have played out a relatively easy draw they’re at $7 to win the premiership. The home ground advantage in Week 1 and hopeful rest in Week 2 sets them up well to make a run at the NRL Grand Final. Meanwhile, the North Queensland Cowboys travel to the Shire this week. If they can cause an upset and earn a home Preliminary Final in Townsville, their $8.50 to win the big one will tumble.

The Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters are in unfamiliar territory at $9 and $13 respectively. They’ve not played out their best seasons to date but we know better than to write off the powerhouse clubs at this time of the year. Plenty didn’t give the South Sydney Rabbitohs much of a chance of backing up their 2021 NRL Grand Final appearance but they’re at an appealing $10 to reach the big dance and $20 to win it given their form to finish the season. Little is expected of the Canberra Raiders, though. Nobody would be too surprised to see them cause an upset in Week 1. However, their $26 to reach the Grand Final and $67 to lift the Provan-Summons Trophy provides a clear indication of how far they are behind the pack.

NRL PREMIERSHIP MOVES

TEAMS MAKE GRAND FINAL/PREMIERSHIP WINNER
Penrith Panthers $1.40/$2.20
Parramatta Eels $2.70/$6.50
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks $2.80/$7
North Queensland Cowboys $3.30/$8.50
Melbourne Storm $4.50/$9
Sydney Roosters $5.50/$13
South Sydney Rabbitohs $10/$20
Canberra Raiders $26/$67

 

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