It’s finally here, the coveted NRL Telstra Premiership 2013 finals kicking off with four matches between the Top 8 teams in the competition playing out this weekend.
Another 26-round season of highs and lows has bought us to this, the time of year footy fans around the country have been counting down to.
Below we take a quick look at who plays who in the first round playoffs, the results of which will leave two teams out of the competition for good.
Friday September 13, 2013
South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.83) v Melbourne Storm ($1.97)
ANZ Stadium (7:45pm)
Despite finishing second on the NRL Ladder to the Sydney Roosters after their 12 – 24 loss to the Chooks last Friday night, the Russell Crowe-owned South Sydney Rabbitohs are still the overall Premiership Winners favourites paying $3.70 at Ladbrokes.com.au.
They get a chance to shorten in those NRL betting markets tonight when NRL finals footy kicks off at ANZ Stadium with the Bunnies taking on the Melbourne Storm, Souths having kicked off the year 26 weeks ago when playing the Roosters in Round 1.
Melbourne got back on track in the last round of the season with a very tight 23 – 22 victory over the Titans finishing third overall.
They are at $1.97 as the underdogs to Souths ($1.83) tonight but have a great record against this team and could be good value having beaten them 17 – 10 and 26 – 8 in their two earlier meetings this year.
That record and Melbourne’s experience in finals (and grand finals) footy is the clincher for us.
Tip: Melbourne by 4
Saturday September 14, 2013
Cronulla Sharks ($1.77) v North Queensland Cowboys ($2.10)
Allianz Stadium (4:00pm)
The fifth-placed Sharks are playing as good as ever and right when it counts having swum into the finals with their easy 38 – 18 victory over Canberra last Sunday.
The Cowboys though are going to take some beating, even without the home ground advantage in the first knockout of 2013.
The Queenslanders shoot for an equal club record of seven wins on the trot having posted number six in the win of Round 26 beating the Wests Tigers 50 – 22 at Dairy Farmers in their last home game of 2013.
North Queensland have that resilient attitude their fans are clinging too as they face an elimination having fought their way back from a horror start to the season.
Sharks have been good on field meanwhile, but off the field the club has been battling more controversies than the Royal Family.
Cronulla hold the statistical advantage with 20 wins to the Cowboys’ 12, and while momentum is so important this time of year, we think North Queensland will be able to put aside the hoodoo of not having won a finals game outside of the sunshine state since 2005 and get this one.
Tip: Cowboys by 4
Sydney Roosters ($1.80) v Manly Sea Eagles ($2.05)
Allianz Stadium (7:00pm)
The second of the Allianz Stadium double header on Saturday night is likely the match of the round with the Minor Premiership winning Roosters playing Manly.
Sydney finished top of the table atoning for back-to-back losses in Rounds 24 and 25 with their gritty effort over the Bunnies last week.
Manly meanwhile finished fourth on the ladder missing out on a win in the last when the Panthers scored a shock 38 – 26 victory at Brookvale over the hot favourites.
While the Roosters have the right form and the better position, Manly do know how to win a finals game having only lost one finals match against the Chooks.
This game is going to be as brutal as they get and we aren’t predicting a high scoring affair.
Sea Eagles have won 12 of 19 played against the Roosters at the stadium and that’s a pretty imposing stat.
However this year it has been Sydney who has gotten the bikkies in both games played against Manly.
The favourites though are a major player down with the suspension of Waerea-Hargreaves a big loss for the club.
Tip: Manly by 2
Sunday September 15, 2013
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs ($1.58) v Newcastle Knights ($2.45)
Doggies will start clear favourites here, shortest of the week, in the second knockout game of Finals Week 1 despite their 11 – 16 loss to the Broncos last Friday night who said goodbye to 2013 in front of their fans at Suncorp in fine style.
The Knights meanwhile are the rank outsiders for the premiership, their 54 – 6 win over the Wooden Spooners last week not really counting for much.
Newcastle have enjoyed two wins over the Bulldogs this year however (44-8 and 8-12) so the Dogs are a team the Knights know how to beat.
The underdogs have also won three from five against Canterbury here and seven of the past 10 against them, all worth noting.
Newcastle have been quite consistent while the Doggies look vulnerable to us especially if Ben Barba isn’t at his best.
Tip: Knights by 8
ANZ Stadium (4:00pm)
*All odds quoted are head-to-head from Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change
*Times quoted are local also subject to change without notice