This week is the final of the 26 Round regular 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership and with the Minor Premiership title up for grabs as well as spots in the Top 4 and Top 8 there’s plenty to look forward to across the four days.
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Tonight Round 26 kicks off with a beauty, the second-ranked Brisbane Broncos hosting the fifth-placed Melbourne Storm at Lang Park.
Officially the farewell for Justin Hodges, Suncorp will be packed to the rafters as Brisbane look for another big win to help their fight to regain the number one spot in the competition.
Likely to sew-up their third Minor Premiership in as many years however are the Sydney Roosters who play Friday night footy against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, a team comprehensively beaten by the Broncos last Thursday night.
Other key games include the North Queensland Cowboys vs Gold Coast Titans in a Queensland Derby up at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Saturday night and the Cronulla Sharks vs Manly Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
See below for the full NRL Round 26 draw, preview and betting odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering double your winnings on Friday night’s match if your first tryscorer scores the first try in the first 10 minutes!
2015 NRL Round 26 Draw
Thursday September 3, 2015
Brisbane Broncos ($1.80) vs Melbourne Storm ($2.05)
Suncorp Stadium (7:45pm)
The Broncos are still a fighting chance to end up this year’s Minor Premiers when they play the Storm tonight in Brisbane. They’ll get two home game finals for their Top 2 finish though, and it seems Bennett may have conceded the No. 1 spot to the Roosters as he rests a host of players this week. Last week the Broncos smashed the Bunnies 47 – 12 on Thursday night and they get the home ground advantage this time. They are narrow favourites but after a gritty 14 – 6 win over the Cowboys last week, don’t expect the Storm to go down easily here.
- Tip: Broncos by 6
Friday September 4, 2015
Sydney Roosters ($1.35) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs ($3.30)
Allianz Stadium (7:45pm)
Three Minor Premierships in three years? That’s what the Roosters will secure with a good enough win over the Rabbitohs in Friday Night Footy. Souths were smashed by Brisbane last week while the Chooks were on fire smashing the Sea Eagles 46 – 10 to leapfrog the Broncos at the top of the table. The Rabbitohs should improve off that with Greg Inglis back in play, but the odds look right, this is Sydney’s game to lose now they’ve relearned how to put in a full 80 minutes.
- Tip: Roosters by 16
Saturday September 5, 2015
Penrith Panthers ($1.96) vs Newcastle Knights ($1.88)
Pepper Stadium (3:00pm)
Battle of the Wooden Spooners here with Penrith (15th) needing the win to stop from falling below the Knights (16th) at the bottom of the barrel. Last week the Panthers lost to the Raiders in Monday Night Footy and on the short back-up on the back of that loss, they’ll need to be improving. Newcastle meanwhile were only beaten by two by the Bulldogs last weekend and are the better bet here in a likely close showdown.
- Tip: Newcastle by 2
St George Illawarra Dragons ($1.70) vs Wests Tigers ($2.20)
ANZ Stadium (5:30pm)
The Dragons are clear picks in betting to hold off the Tigers who bid farewell to Robbie Farah and their season here. St George are eighth and need to win to stay in finals contention with no more chances left after this. Last week the Red V lost in a shock two point defeat to the Titans while Wests showed NZ what’s what with a 50 – 16 victory at Campbelltown. ANZ is neutral ground and there’s the smell of an upset in the air.
- Tip: Wests by 4
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.22) vs Gold Coast Titans ($4.40)
1300 Smiles Stadium (7:30pm)
North Queensland fans are set to turn out in big numbers to cheer their boys in this Queensland Derby. No matter the result, the Cowboys will finish this season third on the ladder and there’s likely to be another QLD Derby next week against Brisbane. It has been hit-and-miss form from Johnathan Thurston and co. of late who are starting to slip a bit, including last week’s loss to Melbourne. That said, they are a far better team than the Gold Coast and should be winning by a notable margin.
- Tip: Cowboys by 14
Sunday September 6, 2015
Parramatta Eels ($1.60) vs Canberra Raiders ($2.40)
Pirtek Stadium (2:00pm)
The Eels are favourites to salute at home over the Green Machine despite their 28 – 35 loss to the Sharks last week and Canberra’s Monday night upset over the Panthers. Canberra are on the shorter back-up and usually don’t back-up all that great so despite the meaningless of this match, Parramatta should be finishing on top.
- Tip: Parramatta by 12
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks ($1.53) vs Manly Warringah Sea Eagles ($2.55)
Remondis Stadium (4:00pm)
The Sharks are sitting fourth and want to stay there for a Top 4 finish to what has been a surprisingly impressive season for Cronulla. Last weekend they beat the Eels 35 – 28, but they need to work on their defence still giving away too many points with the finals just around the bend. Manly can mathematically make the eight with a massive win and other results working out their way, and after their embarrassing 46 – 10 loss to the Roosters last week you better believe they’ll be playing like they can.
- Tip: Manly by 4
Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.06) vs New Zealand Warriors ($10)
ANZ Stadium (6:30pm)
The Bulldogs only just beat the bottom-of-the-ladder Knights by two points last week but should enjoy a much bigger winning margin when they host the Warriors in Sydney in the last game of the final regular round of the season. Canterbury can still make the top four, but are safe for the finals and they’ll be feeling a lot more confident in this. New Zealand are down-and-out and have been since the loss of Johnson, especially after the 50 – 16 loss to the Tigers last week and don’t have anything left to play for.
- Tip: Tigers by 22