NRL Week 1 Qualifying Finals – Match 3 Odds & Betting: Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders

The third thrilling qualifier will play out at CUA Stadium in Penrith when the number two Panthers host the form team coming into the finals, the Raiders, on Saturday night.

It has been a surprising season from the mountain men, the Panthers not only making the finals for the first time in years, but working hard enough to finish second on the ladder.

Penrith come into this one on the back of three wins, but the level of competition hasn’t exactly been explosive as they beat the Bunnies, Bulldogs and Sharks.

Before that they lost to two of the top eight teams, the Tigers and the Green Machine. In fact, the Panthers haven’t been able to beat a top eight team since Round 17 when they found form against the Minor Premiership winning Dragons.

Canberra have been very impressive over the second half of the season boasting the best winning record of eight from their last nine.

The Raiders finished seventh on the ladder after beating the Broncos last week and putting an end to Brisbane’s 18-straight finals appearances.

Last time these two played back in Round 22 the Raiders beat the Panthers by four, but that was down in Canberra and this time Penrith hold that all important home game advantage.

Despite their great form, Canberra weren’t at their best last week and will need to step up to stop Penrith from running riot here.

Currently the Panthers are the warm favourites with Sportsbet paying $1.55 for them to win while away from home the Raiders are the $2.45 underdogs.

However, the Green Machine have proved they can travel and win this year so no team is safe against them.

There are point scorers galore in this one with Vidot, Croker and Dugan in green and the likes of Gordon, Jennings, Tighe and Earl in black, so expect a high scoring affair typical of the finals.

Penrith are forced to play without their skipper Civoniceva again, still on suspension, but they have plenty of talent in the tank with Walsh, Lewis and possibly even a late call up with Lachlan Coote.

The bookies are saying Panthers, Panthers, Panthers but they are safe from elimination this week so the Raiders plead a more desperate case and this may be enough to cause an upset.

If Canberra do manage to win they become the first team of 2010 to string together six straight, so the stats are against them but games aren’t won on paper so don’t miss this one!

Footy Tip of the Match: Josh Dugan to score the Raiders first try – check odds at Sportsbet

Current Head-to-Head Odds:

Panthers $1.55 – Raiders $2.45 Ladbrokes.com.au

NRLleague Footy Tip of the Match:

Raiders fullback Josh Dugan is an explosive talent who will want to get off to a good start here after a below par game last week. We fancy Dugan to come out firing on all cylinders and score the Green Machine’s first try on Saturday – check odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.

Finals Week 1 Panthers Team:

1. Michael Gordon 2. Sandor Earl 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Tighe 5. Adrian Purtell 6. Travis Burns 7. Wade Graham 8. Sam McKendry 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Tim Grant 11. Trent Waterhouse 12. Frank Pritchard 13.Luke Lewis

Bench: 14. Daine Laurie 15. Matthew Bell 16. Nathan Smith 17. Gavin Cooper

Reserve: 20. Masada Iosefa

Finals Week 1 Raiders Team:

1. Josh Dugan 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Daniel Vidot 6. Terry Campese 7. Josh McCrone 8. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 9. Glen Buttriss 10. David Shillington 11. Joe Picker 12. Bronson Harrison 13. Shaun Fensom

Bench: 14. Danny Galea 15. Trevor Thurling 16. Dane Tilse 17. Scott Logan

Reserves: 18. Travis Waddell 19. Troy Thompson