The battle between the 16 NRL Teams in the 2011 Toyota Premiership to make the all-important Top 8 steps up another level this weekend in Round 19, with at least three semi-final spots far from confirmed.
There is a lot on the line this weekend, with a huge points-buffer currently separating the leading five teams from the rest of the competition.
Melbourne Storm are at the top of the table on 30 points having scored 13 victories so far this season, their position unlikely to be tested as they play a disappointing Raiders outfit this round on Sunday arvo in Canberra.
The Sea Eagles are the surprise second-ranked team at the moment, Manly continuing to produce barnstorming performances on the field winning a dozen NRL matches to all but secure their line-up in the September semis.
NRL Premiership Winner Futures Odds at Luxbet have Manly and Melbourne as the $4.50 equal favourites, with the reigning Premiers St George Illawarra leading the betting at $3.40 to score back-to-back NRL Grand Final wins on the first Sunday of October.
The Dragons are third on the ladder with 27 points, just one off the Sea Eagles’ 27, but get their chance to move up this coming Monday as they play the Sharks (10th on the ladder but coming off four-straight wins) at WIN Jubilee Oval.
Queensland clubs the Cowboys and the Broncos sit fourth and fifth equal on 26 points, giving the footy fans and punters up in the sunshine state a real shot at a Premiership win this year.
Brisbane are considered the leading chance, paying $7 at Luxbet to become the 2011 NRL Premiership winners and give retiring skipper Darren Lockyer a fairytale farewell from footy.
After these teams, there’s a sharp drop in points before the sixth-ranked Warriors and seventh-sitting Knights who have racked up 20 points with eight wins a-piece.
Newcastle are one of the short-priced favourites to snare one of the three final spots in the Top 8 odds at Luxbet, paying $1.60.
They have a seemingly sweet run to see out the end of the regular season with the majority of their games to be played at home, but first must defeat the on-fire Sea Eagles in a must-watch clash at Ausgrid on Sunday.
With four clubs just two points away from the Warriors and Knights on the Ladder, the pointy-end of the NRL season is shaping up as a real arm-wrestle.
Round 19 kicks off tonight with a local Derby at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane hosting the Wooden Spoon favoured Gold Coast Titans who have been the flop of the season.
It is the other Friday night footy game, however, that is the more important in regards to the looming finals.
Over at Mt Smart Stadium the Bulldogs will take on the Warriors, a must win for Canterbury who sit 11th on the ladder being one of the teams that can sneak into the Top 8 by the end of the round.
It is also important for New Zealand to salute for the home crowd here if they are to maintain their spot in sixth, plenty of other NRL results from this week able to knock them out of the top eight.
The Warriors are the deserved $1.51 favourites here at Luxbet, the Michael Ennis-less Bulldogs facing plenty of troubles including yesterday’s sacking of their coach Kevin Moore.
Other NRL Round 19 games that could prove do-or-die for the premiership hopefuls include the all Sydney-clash between the Rabbitohs and Roosters at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night and the Penrith v Eels showdown at Centrebet also on Saturday.
While last year’s NRL Grand Final runners-up, the Roosters, look to have little chance of an eleventh-hours finals bid, the world of Rugby League has shown time and time again that anything is possible.
The Eels too are desperate for a win over the eighth-ranked Panthers, not only to get the two points and move one step closer to the finals but also to celebrate captain Nathan Hindmarsh’s milestone 300th match in the Blue and Gold jersey.
So whether you fancy a Round 19 NRL footy bet on your favourites to help support them in their quest to make the semis, or you want to get in on the generous early futures odds available on the Top 8, Top 4 and Grand Final – Luxbet is your online bookie!
Sign up with Luxbet during this year’s NRL Telstra Premiership, and by quoting the codeword BONUSBET you will get your first deposit matched dollar for dollar up to an incredible $400 as a Bonus Bet!