While all eyes may be on next Wednesday nights do-or-die State of Origin decider there is still a top weekend of the 2012 NRL Telstra Premiership to get through first with five games playing out for Round 17.
Six NRL teams will enjoy a bye this weekend including the top two ranked clubs with the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bulldogs both earning a rest after their Round 16 clash where the Doggies scored a 20 – 4 upset.
Of the 10 clubs with a Round 17 clash on the cards, many will play with depleted squads as their rep stars reside in their respective Origin camps.
The weekend gets underway with a super clash between the third-ranked Brisbane Broncos who host the Cronulla Sharks at Suncrop Stadium.
Queensland has just gone through an historical cold snap and the rain has been bucketing down in the ‘sunshine’ state all week however things look to be clearing in time for tonight’s clash.
Brisbane will play without seven of their Origin stars so this is a big test for the young guns.
The Sharks are also weakened with the always gallant skipper Paul Gallen and this season’s Sharkie pin-up Todd Carney both donning Blues jerseys next week.
A few of the other games in Round 17 look like fizzlers like the Eels playing the Knights on Saturday night and Monday’s battle between the Green Machine and the Dragons.
Sunday’s two-match line-up looks better with the South Sydney Rabbitohs to have a seemingly easy game against the Penrith Panthers while the flying North Queensland Cowboys, who are at juicy juicy odds, will travel across the ditch to play the New Zealand Warriors.
See below for the NRLleague.com.au team’s full 2012 NRL Round 17 betting preview and tips.
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2012 NRL Telstra Premiership Round 17
Friday June 29, 2012 (7:35pm) – Suncorp Stadium
- Brisbane Broncos ($1.53) v Cronulla Sharks ($2.50)
The Broncos are eyeing off that second spot on the NRL ladder again and if they play their cards right over the next couple of weeks they could knock the Doggies over for it.
In the same breath the Sharks sit fourth on the ladder and want third spot, but Brisbane aren’t going to give it up easily.
If there was ever a time for Crounulla to get the better of Brisbane at home this is it with the home team missing Sam Thaiday, Petero Civoniceva, Corey Parker, Justin Hodges, Ben Hannant, Matt Gillett and Bet Te’o. Phew! Who’s left ask the non-Broncos devotees!
Cronulla only lose two but boy are they big boys to lose with playmaker Carney and the reliable Gallen.
Brisbane come off an important 26 – 12 win over South Sydney at Suncrop last Friday so get the full week recovery, another home ground advantage, and confidence having defeated the Rabbitohs.
Cronulla meanwhile enjoyed a bye last week, before which they only just defeated the Warriors in a close 20 – 19 thriller at Shark Park.
Broncos hold the historical advantage with 30 wins to the Sharks 16 in the 46 played, including six of the past eight and the five straight!
At Suncorp it is even worse news for the Sharks who have won just one of the 12 games played between these two.
The last time they met Brisbane knocked Cronulla out of the park with a commanding 46 – 16 Suncorp win on a Friday night back in Round 21 last year.
So can they do it again with so many changes to their line-up for Origin? It is a big test for the Broncos and really if the Sharks can get something happening without Carney they can win.Sharks by 4
Saturday June 30, 2012 (7:30pm) – Parramatta Stadium
- Parramatta Eels ($2.08) v Newcastle Knights ($1.75)
Bit of a nothing match here aside from the diehard Eels fans who are already feeling splinters from that seemingly inevitable wooden spoon.
Still they showed something last week when they beat the Panthers 19 – 18 in a genuine thriller. That was just their third win for the season.
The Knights are also struggling despite the pre-season hype over new coach Wayne Bennett. They sit 12th on the ladder but enjoyed a confidence boosting 38 – 20 victory over the Tigers last week coming from 14 – nil behind after the opening 22 minutes.
It was a gutsy effort by Newcastle and the Eels have a dismal record when backing up from a golden point game.
Last time they met back in Round 6 the Knights got the better of Parra 14 – 6 but really it could have gone either way.
This time we think it’ll be a bit easier.Knights by 8
Sunday July 1, 2012 (3:00pm) – ANZ Stadium
- South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.25) v Penrith Panthers ($4)
South Sydney slipped all the way down to seventh on the ladder after last week’s results including their 26 – 12 loss to the Broncos.
The score was flattering to Brisbane who got in with a late one, but the Bunnies couldn’t match them and didn’t deserve to win.
Penrith meanwhile lost to the only team below them in the comp, the Eels, so that’s about all that needs to be said about the big cat’s form coming into this.
The Rabbitohs play with Greg Inglis and Davie Taylor (Maroons) but with Penrith a shell of their former squad due to injury really the home side are the deserved shorties in this market.
Panthers also lose Jennings, Grant and Lewis to Origin so they are going to have to dig deep.
Last time these two played it was a smashing from the Bunnies who beat Penrith 40 – 24 back in Round 3.
They do it again here and it will be the first time in 25 years South Sydney beat the Panthers twice in a season. Get ready for history to be made.Rabbitohs by 12
Sunday July 1, 2012 (4:00pm) – Mt. Smart Stadium
- New Zealand Warriors ($1.17) v North Queensland Cowboys ($5.10)
Fifth-ranked team playing the ninth-ranked team, fifth-ranked team come off a huge 40 – 18 win the week before, but fifth-ranked team opens at $5.10?!
This is a juicy price for the Cowboys fans to snap up.
North Queensland is flying. In Round 15 they kept the Broncos scoreless and then dusted the Raiders last week.
They go across the ditch this week to play a Warriors squad fresh off a bye, New Zealand having lost by one to the Sharks before that in Round 15.
So why the long odds?
New Zealand lose no players and well the Cowboys are without so many crucial stars with Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate all out.
One thing in their favour however is Matt Bowmen being released from Origin after original being named in the Maroon’s big 20-man squad, meaning he will be there for his NRL club for this one.
Is it enough?
The Warriors got the better of the Cowboys at this venue in Round 26 last year when they last faced off and we are tipping a similar result with NZ desperate to stay in touch with the semis.Warriors by 6
Monday July 2, 2012 (7:00pm) – Canberra Stadium
- Canberra Raiders ($2.44) v St George Illawarra Dragons ($1.56)
The Green Machine is out to slay the Dragons at Canberra Stadium but will jump the roughies after their sour 40 – 18 loss to North Queensland last week.
St George meanwhile come off a win, albeit a narrow one, when they defeated the Titans by two in a three try match at WIN Stadium.
Both teams have been disappointing this season, the Dragons currently sitting 10th on the ladder while the Raiders have slipped down to 13th spot with only five wins so far.
If you look at that than St George Illawarra have more to play for but they will be made to work for it if the stats are anything to go by.
The Dragons haven’t beaten Canberra in Canberra since 2000 and have lost 12 of their past 13 against the Green Machine so it will be a nervous wait until Monday night for the Red V’s.
St George also play without a key quartet with Ben Creagh, Trent Merrin, Beau Scott and Brett Morris all reporting for Origin duty.
Canberra aren’t at full strength either as Dave Shillington is residing in camp Queensland and Josh Dugan is out with an ankle injury.
The Raiders stole the show in Round 20 last year when these two last battled it out in a final second 24-19 victory.
Flip a coin? Dragons have the hoodoo to overcome as well as the more depleted squad but the Raiders have been rubbish to tip.Raiders by 2
*All odds quoted are provided by bookmaker.com.au and are subject to change