An Early Finals Preview in NRL?
It’s only Round 2 but the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers could meet in the NRL Finals later this year.
NRL lines have the Panthers favored to win at -220 but, given their respective performances last week, the sportsbook might have it around the wrong way.
Rabbitohs Set to Pounce
The Rabbitohs did the job in Round 1 when beating the Cronulla Sharks 27-18 as -4 favorites.
Bettors cashed in and the latest NRL news suggests that they can beat the Panthers, who were disappointing last week.
South Sydney has a team good enough to go all the way in 2023, so the +5½ line at -120 could be worth entertaining.
We were impressed with Campbell Graham last week. He scored two barnstorming tries and we fancy his chances of crossing the line again. If Graham can replicate that performance, the Rabbitohs will go a long way to scoring an upset win with betting online markets.
We also liked Lachlan Ilias, who made an excellent return and has a bright future.
“I’ve watched him make those efforts in preseason every week and I wasn’t surprised to see him put it in,” Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou said.
“He’s a first-grader. He’s an established first-grader and he knows how to play footy. I thought he identified some areas that we could exploit in the first half, and in the second half he was pretty clinical in going after it.”
Panthers Seeking Answers
Being the two-time defending champions comes with a fair amount of pressure, but we didn’t like what we saw last week.
Following a loss in the World Club Challenge, the Panthers were heavily favored with NRL picks to beat the Broncos. We thought they would win and fail to cover the -13½ spread, but they failed to win the game outright.
The 13-12 loss to the Broncos puts the Panthers in an early must-win position. Going 0-2 would put a lot of pressure on them to perform, but sports betting lines have them well-favored to win.
They have shown an ability to bounce back over the last few years, but losing isn’t the norm. It’s not something the Panthers have had to deal with much, especially early in the year. Therefore, they have been softened up and the Rabbitohs could pounce.
Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai need to be much better. Cleary didn’t have much involvement in the game, and when he’s not firing, Luai isn’t good enough to carry his team. They both need to play with confidence, but the Rabbitohs boast a sizable team, so they could struggle with go-forward ball.
We wouldn’t have priced the Panthers at -220 to win, so there isn’t much value in moneyline markets.
Rabbitohs vs Panthers Head-to-Head
The Panthers won the most recent meeting 32-12 during the 2022 NRL Finals.
It was a dominant win for the champions, who have a 24-16 overall advantage over the Rabbitohs.
Rabbitohs vs Panthers Game Information
- Game: Rabbitohs (1-0) vs Panthers (0-1)
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 9, 3:50 a.m. ET
- Location: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith, NSW
- Rabbitohs vs Panthers Live Stream: RugbyPass
Rabbitohs vs Panthers Betting Lines
Rabbitohs vs Panthers Picks and Prediction
We don’t expect the Panthers to be as bad as they were last week, but they would need to improve tenfold to cover the spread.
The Rabbitohs are the bigger team and they could be the better team in 2023, so we’re happy to take them with +5½ points on the road.
We would also lock in the +160 moneyline odds for a bit of value.
South Sydney is listed at +160 in our Vegas NRL lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Rabbitohs, there’s a chance to win $160. Penrith is -220, offering a chance to win $45 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives South Sydney a 38.46% chance to win, with the Panthers at 68.75%.