Week 2 of the 2016 NRL Finals takes place this weekend with two preliminary finals on the cards to determine who plays the Week 1 winners next time out for the chance at a spot in the NRL Grand Final on October 2.
Last week the Gold Coast Titans and Canterbury Bulldogs were knocked out of the race to Grand Final Day for their respective losses to the Broncos and Panthers.
The Cronulla Sharks scored the upset over Canberra to get a week off, while Melbourne Storm were the other NRL Week 1 finals winners progressing onto Week 3 with just one game between them and a Grand Final appearance.
Two smashing semi-finals are on the cards now starting on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s decider between the Cowboys and Brisbane up in Townsville, before the Raiders take on Penrith in the other Week 2 do-or-die showdown in the nation’s capital.
Check out the full NRL Finals Week 2 preview below complete with the latest NRL odds and our insider footy tips for you to take to Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the best Rugby League betting markets and offers!
2016 NRL Week 2 Finals Draw
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.50) vs Brisbane Broncos ($3)
Friday September 16, 7:55pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
Tip: Cowboys by 6 – 10 @ $5 through Ladbrokes.com.au
Reigning premiers the Cowboys had a tough trip down to Melbourne last weekend and continued their poor record at AAMI Stadium with the six point loss to the Storm.
This weekend they get the home game advantage returning to NQ Headquarters and the crowd will be out in force to see this Queensland Derby.
We all remember the result of last year’s Grand Final played out between these two clubs, and the odds for Friday night footy suggest the same result with Brisbane the $3 underdogs.
The Broncos and Titans racked up a record 72 points for a finals match last Friday at Suncorp, showing the defensive gaps as the game was played in greasy and wet conditions.
Brisbane will need to step it up in that department to get the better of North Queensland, especially as the Gold Coast scored most of their tries of kicks and Johnathan Thurston will give them grief.
This is one of the NRL’s great modern-day rivalries and despite the markets, we’re tipping a close game as just a single point has decided the result the last three times these teams faced off.
Brisbane are after GF revenge, but the Cowboys have lost just one game at home this season (when JT was out with injury to the Storm) so they’re in for a tough 80 minutes (or more!).
The visitors also play without James Roberts (suspended), while the favourites are missing Kane Linnett (hamstring).
Thurston v Hunt again, the pressure on the latter to atone for THAT dropped ball.
Head-to-head the Broncos have the winning advantage with 30 wins to the Cowboys’ 13 from 45 played (two draws), but when you look at the finals’ arena North Queensland are 4 – 1 over their ‘big brothers’.
In Brisbane this one would be harder to tip, but in Townsville? Cowboys should be progressing.
Canberra Raiders ($1.90) vs Penrith Panthers ($2.10)
Saturday September 17, 7:45pm, GIO Stadium
Tip: Panthers to Win @ $2.10 through Ladbrokes.com.au
Markets on the second NRL semi are closer and have the Raiders narrow favourites playing at home for the second week in a row.
Last week they went down by two to the Sharks in an upset loss, forcing them to play again this weekend against Penrith who kept the dream alive with the big 28 – 12 win over the Dogs.
The young and exciting Panthers’ squad were in scintillating form last Sunday and have genuine claims again this weekend.
At home as favourites, the Raiders’ record this season is strong with nine wins from 11 played in that scenario.
They take on an improving and in-form team here though with Penrith chasing their seventh straight win giving them the confidence and momentum for this exciting clash.
The Panthers are untouched by injury, have a top record when starting longer in betting than their rivals this year and with Josh Hooker out for the Raiders, there’s a strong scent of an upset wafting around here.
*All odds quoted are provided by Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change