The final round of the NRL regular season is likely to see some strange results, which started with the Parramatta Eels resting their top players for Friday’s game vs the Penrith Panthers.
Parramatta has opted to rest Clint Gutherson, Junior Paulo, Mitchell Moses and Waqa Blake. The omissions saw the online betting line move from 9½ to 28½ points, so congrats to those who got the early line for Penrith.
However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Penrith will roll through the Eels. Melbourne thought the same thing last week before losing 22-10, so it should still be an exciting game at Cbus Super Stadium.
Eels Playing Risky Game
Resting your top players one week before the finals start is a risky move from Eels coach Brad Arthur.
Parramatta had just wrestled back momentum after scoring a mammoth upset against Melbourne and it now runs the risk of undoing all that hard work.
The only team the Storm haven’t beaten this year is the mighty Parramatta Eels !! Write that down! https://t.co/rp5bHFeAMs
— Alex Hawke MP (@AlexHawkeMP) August 28, 2021
The online sportsbook is expecting the Eels to get drilled by the Panthers, so is losing by 20-30 points good for the confidence of this team? The top players won’t get injured sitting in the stands, but losing by a big margin isn’t ideal as the finals approach.
NRL expert Paul Kent sees both sides of the coin.
“They’re trying to win a comp, you can understand that,” Kent told NRL.com.
“The big thing here is if they go out and cop an absolute toweling off Penrith, which is likely because Penrith is running out a near full-strength side trying to win the minor premiership. If they cop a toweling, what happens to that momentum and that form and that surge in confidence they got after the Storm game?”
It’s a huge risk from Arthur and we think it’s the wrong decision. Had Parramatta beaten Melbourne and Penrith in consecutive weeks, it would have done its flailing confidence plenty of good.
Panthers Eye Minor Premiership
The Penrith Panthers will know whether they have a chance to win the minor premiership before kickoff on Friday.
Melbourne plays two hours in advance, but it has a tough game against the Cronulla Sharks. Despite the result of the Storm vs Sharks contest, the Panthers should come out firing against Parramatta.
1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ points and counting.
— NRL (@NRL) August 29, 2021
They have been in good form throughout the season, which has included injuries to key players. However, they are fully fit now with Nathan Cleary and Brian To’o in the starting side.
The Panthers have a roster that can put up 40 points on the Eels. The likes of Stephen Crichton, To’o and Viliame Kikau should have a field day up against the inexperienced Hayze Perham, Haze Dunster and Jake Arthur.
When They Last Met
The Panthers played host to the Eels in Round 16 and came away with a nail-biting 13-12 victory.
Penrith played with many of its top players, including Cleary. That forced Matt Burton to do most of the kicking. He slotted the winning field goal in the 78th minute, so he stepped up to the plate.
Parramatta held a 10-6 lead just after halftime before Apisai Koroisau scored in the 50th minute. It was a tight contest throughout, but the class of the Panthers came through late.
Panthers vs Eels Pick
We would have loved to have locked in the -9½ for Penrith, but bettors should still be confident with the current line.
It’s one of the biggest betting lines this season, but the Panthers want to end the season on a high, and when they start scoring tries, they don’t often slow down.
Bettors will have to muscle up and take the huge line, but the Panthers are capable of scoring by 40 points.