It’s been another big week full of big changes for the NRL as we get ready to kick-off Round 20 of the 2014 NRL Telstra Premiership.
Two of the big news stories to break this week in the world of Rugby League were Darius Boyd checking himself into a mental health clinic to be treated for depression, and the more of his mentor Wayne Bennett back to the Broncos at the loss of Anthony Griffin.
How that affects the footy markets and players mentality this weekend is yet to be known, but there’s certainly been plenty of turmoil over the past seven days for a number of clubs.
The NRL ladder and rankings are super close six weeks out from the semis with just two competition points separating the Broncos (6th) from the Eels (13th) meaning we’re in for some entertaining matches this round.
Friday night footy features two beautiful match-ups including the Brisbane Broncos hosting the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium.
Seriously, flip a coin for this one as it’s tipped to go down to the wire.
Broncos were impressive last week when coming from behind to defeat the Warriors in Brisbane 28 – 22 and they get the home ground advantage again here.
Melbourne meanwhile come off a 28 – 14 win over the Raiders but travel this week.
Brisbane haven’t been able to defeat The Storm since round nine way back in 2010, but are narrow favourites to break the hoodoo here.
The other match tonight has the Newcastle Knights as roughies over their visitors at Hunter Stadium, the Sydney Roosters coming off an encouraging 32 – 12 thrashing of the second-ranked Penrith Panthers last Saturday.
Newcastle play without the injured Kurt Gidley and will be at juicy odds to win.
Penrith have held onto second on the ladder after their Round 19 loss and play on Saturday afternoon at Carrington Park as the favourites over the Wooden Spoon favourites Cronulla.
The Sharks played last Friday night against the North Queensland Cowboys who were finally able to win an away game with their 36 – 18 effort.
The Cowboys are still outside the Top 8 however sitting 10th, a position they get a chance to improve on when they take on the Bulldogs on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.
Canterbury will line-up favourites, the third-ranked team in the competition out to bounce back after getting smashed 46 – 18 by the Wests Tigers last Sunday.
Also on Saturday the Gold Coast host the Eels at Cbus Super Stadium, the Titans to enjoy the return of Blues’ Origin forward Greg Bird who has served out his suspension.
Manly Sea Eagles are current ladder leaders on 28 points having posted back-to-back wins after victory last Monday night over the St George Illawarra Dragons.
This weekend Manly play the Warriors over at Mt Smart Stadium in NZ while St George play the Wests Tigers who have moved up to ninth on the ladder.
The Tigers get a chance to back up from their excellent effort last week facing off against their former star player Benji Marshall who is up against his former club here.
Meanwhile the Sea Eagles might have to handle the cold across the Tasman but New Zealand have lost seven of their past eight matches played against the Sydney southern beach crew.
Check out the full 2014 NRL Round 20 draw, match venues and betting odds below.
Then to get in on the action visit Ladbrokes.com.au where you can find $2 lines on both the NRL and AFL all season, plus their exclusive Footy Freaks promo markets!
2014 NRL Round 20 Draw
Friday July 25, 2014
Newcastle Knights ($4.50) v Sydney Roosters ($1.22)
Hunter Stadium (7:40pm)
Brisbane Broncos ($1.90) v Melbourne Storm ($1.94)
Suncorp Stadium (7:40pm)
Saturday July 26, 2014
Penrith Panthers ($1.30) v Cronulla Sharks ($3.65)
Carrington Park (3:00pm)
Gold Coast Titans ($1.70) v Parramatta Eels ($2.15)
Cbus Super Stadium (5:30pm)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.57) v North Queensland Cowboys ($2.45)
ANZ Stadium (7:30pm)
Sunday July 27, 2014
New Zealand Warriors ($2.02) v Manly Sea Eagles ($1.83)
Mt Smart Stadium (2:00pm)
Wests Tigers ($1.70) v St George Illawarra Dragons ($2.20)
ANZ Stadium (3:00pm)
Monday July 28, 2014
Canberra Raiders ($3.40) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.33)
GIO Stadium (7:00pm)
*All odds quoted provided by Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change