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Panthers, Storm headline NRL Playoffs

Eight Teams Remain in Hunt for Premiership

Rugby league bettors get four quality games to enjoy this week, including the Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles and Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The winners of those games get a bye next week, but the losers face the winner of Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans and Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights.

does rubgy have a super bowl?
AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES

Betting online is available for the NRL finals, which kicks off on Friday.

Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles

Friday, 5:50 a.m. ET

The Melbourne Storm have been the best team in the NRL for most of the season. However, the last few weeks haven’t been as impressive.

They rested players last week, but there are some signs for concern and the Manly Sea Eagles could make a go of it.

NRL betting markets have the Storm at -325 to win and -8½ in the points spread. We’re not surprised to see Melbourne at such a low price, but we’re trying to find value and it’s not with the Storm.

Manly is a team capable of pulling off an upset, so the two-try headstart is worth entertaining. Tom Trbojevic has been in superb form, and he has single-handedly pushed the Sea Eagles to the playoffs.

We think Melbourne will get the job done, but it should be a thriller to kick off the finals.

Pick: Manly Sea Eagles +8½ (-125)

Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans

Saturday, 3:30 a.m. ET

Injuries have been the talking point of the Sydney Roosters season. They lost another player last week to a cheekbone fracture, so there isn’t much going their way.

Despite the injury toll, the Roosters are expected to roll past the Gold Coast Titans. Getting Victor Radley and Jared Waerea-Hargraves back from injury is a bonus, but they’ll still need to play well to beat the Titans.

Gold Coast needed to beat the Warriors by 11 points last week and they did it in style. It was a scrappy game that saw four players sent to the sin bin. However, the Titans showed their class.

“There’s some insanity here on the Gold Coast this afternoon! The Warriors might have figured ‘if we can’t win the game, we’ll try and win the fight.’ This is old-school stuff, it’s not good,” Fox league commentator Warren Smith said.

Getting 12½ points is a sizable start and we think the Titans are good enough to test the Roosters. If they get off to a good start, expect the pressure to be applied to the Roosters.

Getting 12½ is a big start in a finals game, so take the Titans with the start.

Pick: Gold Coast Titans +12½ (-140)

Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Saturday, 5:30 a.m. ET

Another double-digit line is available for bettors, but this time we’re taking the favorite to cover the spread.

Penrith is clearly the better team and that was evident when they met earlier this season. South Sydney took a commanding 12-0 lead but was quickly overhauled by a rampant Panthers outfit.

Seeking to make consecutive NRL Finals, the Panthers shouldn’t let the ill-disciplined Rabbitohs stop them on Saturday. The betting margin is 10½, which looks big given what’s on the line, but we think the Rabbitohs are in trouble.

They lost fullback Latrell Mitchell to suspension in the win against the Roosters, which came at a cost. He’s an integral part of the team, so we expect the likes of Nathan Clearly and Larome Luai to have a field day on offense.

The current line is already -130, so we expect the number to move to at least 12½. That’s an important number, so take the juice with the current line.

Pick: Penrith Panthers -10½ (-130)

Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights

Sunday, 2 a.m. ET

We don’t have much faith that the Eels or Knights will progress very far in the playoffs. However, we think the Knights are a better bet this week.

They are a team capable of beating the best in the NRL, especially with Kayln Ponga and Mitchell Pearce on the team, and the Eels are far from the best in the NRL.

Parramatta is one of the more enigmatic teams, which is shown by recent results. They scored an upset win over Melbourne two weeks ago before being thrashed by Penrith last week.

Newcastle’s defense will need sorting out, but with everything on the line, the rugby league odds are in their favor. Getting +7½ is too good to overlook, so expect a close contest between two struggling teams.

Pick: Newcastle Knights +7½ (-115)

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