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2017 NRL Round 24 preview and expert tips

Posted on 14/08 by Joe Gann

2017 NRL Round 24 preview and expert tips

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Parramatta Eels v Gold Coast Titans betting
Team Odds
Parramatta Eels $1.28 Bet Now
Gold Coast Titans $3.73 Bet Now
The Eels will be seeking to regather themselves following last week’s shock reversal to the Knights. Their six-game winning run came to a shuddering halt against a revitalised Newcastle team that made a mockery of their lowly competition status as they eased to a thoroughly deserved 29-10 victory.

An out-of-sorts Eels were second best throughout and will need to put the defeat behind them as soon as possible and regain their previously excellent form. The defeat for the Sharks on Friday has softened the blow of their own loss and ensured that the status quo remains in their private battle for the fourth spot.

They will be confident of getting their campaign back on track this week against a Titans side in rapid decline.

It is a turbulent time on the Gold Coat at present with the dreadful on-field performances accompanied by tales of in-fighting behind the scenes. Much of the focus revolves around Jarryd Hayne with his future at the club in doubt following his vow to walk away from the team amid rumours that his relationship with coach Neil Henry has broken down.

The intense speculation appears to be harming the side – with 122 points shipped in the last three weeks, they have slipped to fourteenth on the ladder.

Selection: Eels to win

South Sydney Rabbitohs v New Zealand Warriors betting
Team Odds
South Sydney Rabbitohs $1.40 Bet Now
New Zealand Warriors $3.00 Bet Now
Back to back wins for South Sydney have lifted the mood at Redfern as Michael McGuire’s outfit seek to finish the season with a flourish.

The positivity generated by a strong finish the year can be channelled towards starting the 2018 season on the front foot as they aim for a more successful campaign next year. The win over the Bulldogs was accomplished thanks to some stand out performances from the Burgess twins, who answered recent criticism of their form in emphatic style.

The evening did end on a sour note for the Bunnies however, with skipper Sam Burgess forced from the action with the recurrence of a rib injury that may curtail his involvement for the year.

The Warriors’ malaise continues; Sunday’s loss to the Raiders was their sixth in a row as Stephen Kearney’s men lurch from crisis to crisis. The 36-16 defeat in Auckland leaves them in twelfth on the ladder, and although they showed a slight improvement in attitude from the horror show against the Knights in the previous round, basic errors yet again proved costly.

It was their fourteenth loss of an immensely disappointing campaign, and they have the look of a team that is longing for the season to end.

Selection: Rabbitohs to win

Brisbane Broncos v St George Illawarra Dragons betting
Team Odds
Brisbane Broncos $1.30 Bet Now
St George Illawarra Dragons $3.60 Bet Now
The Broncos are in good shape coming to the crux of the campaign and the manner of their comfortable win over the Sharks on Friday night served as a warning sign to their title rivals.

Building on the 54-0 win over the Titans in Round 22, Wayne Bennett’s side delivered a performance that was arguably just as dominant against the reigning Premiers. With Ben Hunt continuing in his positional switch at dummy half, Kodi Nikorima has cemented his spot in the halves; the Broncos have won all nine of their games that he has started in the role.

The Dragons came out on top against a woeful Titans side at the weekend, and they will be aware that they have very little margin for error between now and the conclusion of the year. The wobbling Cowboys have given the Red V a glimmer of hope in their bid to re-enter the top eight; with just two points separating the clubs, it is set to be a nail biting finish to see who claims that all-important finals place.

The titanic clash with the Panthers looms large in Round 25, and that match may well decide the destiny of Paul McGregor’s side for 2017

Selection: Broncos to win

Newcastle Knights v Melbourne Storm betting
Team Odds
Newcastle Knights $4.75 Bet Now
Melbourne Storm $1.19 Bet Now
Nathan Brown must be wishing that the season started in July; his Newcastle side have been in magnificent form of late, and Friday’s win over the Eels helped to briefly lift the club from the bottom of the ladder.

Following victories over the Dragons and Warriors, the Novocastrians made it three wins in a row at ANZ Stadium – claiming a win on the road at the twenty-fourth time of asking. It is an astonishing turn of events for a team that had recorded just two wins in the lead up to Round 21. Although they are currently riding high, it would be the shock of the season if they were to turn over the league leaders too.

Saturday’s top of the table tussle with the Roosters saw Storm emerge triumphant and are now within a single victory of claiming successive Minor Premierships. It was a high intensity, incident-packed game that could well be a dress rehearsal for this year’s Grand Final.

The calibre of the play at times was of the expected standard of two teams who are preparing for a serious assault on the title, with Melbourne snatching victory at the death. Suliasi Vunivalu has escaped with just a fine for his bizarre two-footed leap during Saturday’s match, and more good news for the club is that of Cameron Munster and Tohu Harris’ return from ankle and shoulder injuries respectively.

Selection: Storm to win

Sydney Roosters v Wests Tigers betting
Team Odds
Sydney Roosters $1.23 Bet Now
Wests Tigers $4.20 Bet Now
The Roosters will be eager to return to winning ways after the gut-wrenching loss in Melbourne at the weekend.

Coupled with another Broncos win, the defeat was enough to see the Tricolours lose ground in the race for a top-two finish and they desperately need two points against their cross-city rivals this week. The Roosters can take heart from the fact that they matched the competition leaders for the majority of the encounter and looked to have snatched the win courtesy of Luke Keary’s 73rd-minute field goal, only to concede a late Joe Stimson try that handed victory to Storm.

The Chooks have no fresh injury concerns, with Blake Ferguson recovering from a serious looking shoulder injury to complete the game at AAMI Park.

Despite their position in the lower reaches of the competition, the Tigers have proven to be dangerous opponents for teams higher up the table. The exhilarating last-gasp win over the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon was another demonstration of their admirable commitment despite having nothing but pride to play for the remainder of this season. The victory not only puts a huge dent in Manly’s top four hopes but boosted their chances of staving off a Newcastle revival to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.

The stunning second half fightback that floored the Silvertails provided more evidence of the fighting spirit Nathan Cleary has instilled in his side; a feature that bodes well for the club for next season after a turbulent campaign this year.

Selection: Roosters to win

Nth Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks betting
Team Odds
Nth Queensland Cowboys $2.39 Bet Now
Cronulla Sharks $1.58 Bet Now
The Cowboys find themselves on shaky ground, slipping down to eighth in the wake of the defeat to fellow finals hopefuls the Panthers.

Sitting neck and neck with the Panthers and Sea Eagles on 28 competition points, Paul Green’s side remain ahead of the Dragons in ninth by just two points. A horrendous injury pile-up is severely hindering their chances of qualifying for their seventh consecutive finals series.

Justin O’Neill and Michael Morgan are the most recent victims of the injury curse plaguing the Townsville side; O’Neill is likely to miss the rest of the campaign with an elbow problem, and Morgan will be required to pass a concussion examination this week if he is to play any part against the Sharks. A top-four spot is now out of reach, but the character in the squad, epitomised by their defiant performance in the face of adversity on Saturday means that all is not lost yet for the 2015 Premiers.

The Sharks were extremely poor in defence at the Suncorp last week, and they find their top four aspirations in jeopardy with tough fixtures against the Cowboys and Roosters next up. Their hopes of becoming the first team to retain their crown since the Broncos in 1993 appear to be increasingly remote; the Premiers look a shadow of the side that held the trophy aloft back in October.

With a completion rate that is the fifth worst in the competition, combined with chronic ill-discipline for which they are the third worst offenders, there are elements of their game that are currently making it impossible to view them as a genuine title threat. They face a fierce battle for fourth with the Eels who have a welcome fixture against the hapless Titans this week.

Selection: Cowboys to win

Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers betting
Team Odds
Canberra Raiders $1.57 Bet Now
Penrith Panthers $2.42 Bet Now
It is sixth versus tenth this week, and although the gap between the two is just four points, it is a match that could finally extinguish the Raiders’ top eight hopes.

However, a win for the Green Machine would bring them to within two points of the Panthers to help tee up a thrilling end to the season. They overpowered a poor Warriors side at the weekend to retain their slim finals hopes, but they surely rue the fact that they couldn’t find this form earlier. With four wins from their last five, in which they have amassed 130 points, the Vikings have helped breathe new life into their season.

The improvement has been aided by a strong defensive foundation; they have conceded twenty points or less in five consecutive games now. It is imperative that they take maximum points from each of their remaining games against the Panthers, Storm and Knights, and then pray that other results go in their favour - a tall order, but not mathematically impossible yet.

The weekend's victory saw the Vikings extend a three-game winning streak that has seen them just about remain in contention. An unwavering self- belief is going to be vital in the finale of the season and with two home games from the final three, the improbable is still possible.

Six straight wins have helped propel the Panthers into the finals mix as they seek to maintain the impetus they have created over a superb recent period. Although performances of late have left some observers unconvinced, they should take credit for turning around a season that looked to be fizzling out.

Much of the criticism focuses on the ineffective choice of 5th tackle options with a weak kicking game highlighting a confused game plan at times. Coach Anthony Griffin is aware of the problem, describing the aspect of their game as 'messy' and highlighted it as an area to work on again this week. The stakes are high in this one; more so for their opponents, for whom it has become a sudden death situation.

Selection: Raiders to win

Canterbury Bulldogs v Manly Sea Eagles betting
Team Odds
Canterbury Bulldogs $3.70 Bet Now
Manly Sea Eagles $1.28 Bet Now
With ten losses in the last twelve games, the Bulldogs are now in crisis mode, Thursday’s defeat to the Rabbitohs consigned Des Hasler’s side to their fourteenth defeat of an abysmal year.

The Dogs seem to be hampered by a complete lack of effort and commitment from some players as they limp their way toward the finishing line of the season. Josh Reynolds may have played his last game for the club in the loss; as the Wests- bound playmaker left the field with a calf injury that may have ended his season.

The Sea Eagles were seemingly coasting at half time at Leichhardt Oval before a stunning Tigers fight back pulled the rug out from under them. The picture had looked rosy at half-time with the Silvertails 20-6 and appearing to be in control of the contest, and on course for a top-four berth with a victory, before a Tigers’ revival completely changed the outlook of proceedings.

The climax of the game saw Wests cross the stripe with the last play of the day to claim a famous 30-26 win that leaves Manly locked on 28 points alongside the Panthers and the Cowboys. It was a golden opportunity to overtake the Sharks and Eels and also to extend a lead over the Cowboys and Panthers, a chance that went begging.

The Sea Eagles should make amends this week against a dispirited Bulldogs side in a must-win fixture before they take on the Panthers in a round 25 blockbuster.

Selection: Sea Eagles to win

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