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2017 NRL Round 25 preview and expert tips

Posted on 22/08 by Joe Gann

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Brisbane Broncos v Parramatta Eels betting
Team Odds
Brisbane Broncos $1.28 Bet Now
Parramatta Eels $3.70 Bet Now
A majestic performance from Anthony Milford ensured the Broncos did enough to secure another important win against the Dragons on Friday night.

The competition’s highest points scorers threatened to cut loose again at the Suncorp at times but settled for a relatively comfortable 24-12 win that keeps their pursuit of a top two finish firmly on track. Wayne Bennett’s men appear to be peaking at the right time, and no side will relish the prospect of facing them in the knock- out stage.

This is a vital clash for both sides, and the Broncos will be keen to exact revenge for the 28-14 loss at the hands of the Eels back in Round 21.

The 30-8 success over an embattled Titans side on Thursday was enough to temporarily lift the Eels into the top four. After a shock Round 23 defeat to the Knights, it was imperative that they got back to winning ways as soon as possible and rekindle their end of season form.

The victory is due in large part to a dominant performance from their forwards with Tepai Moeroa, Daniel Alvaro, Nathan Brown and Manu Ma’u stamping their authority on proceedings both in attack and as part of a robust goal-line defence. Full-back continues to be a concern; following the devastating loss of Clint Gutherson, the Eels have compensated well with Bevan French slotting in superbly.

With French forced out of the action on Thursday with a hamstring injury, it was left to Will Smith to deputise and his second-half display, capped off by two tries, may have been enough to persuade coach Brad Arthur that there is no need to rush French back with the number one shirt in safe hands

Selection: Broncos to win

Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights betting
Team Odds
Canberra Raiders $1.15 Bet Now
Newcastle Knights $5.50 Bet Now
Sunday’s loss to the Panthers signalled the death of the Raiders’ finals’ dreams - although the Green Machine didn’t go down without a fight in an enthralling encounter at GIO Stadium. A gutsy second half fight back had seen the Vikings take an unlikely lead with eight minutes to go before victory was taken away in heartbreaking fashion as the Panthers delivered a devastating late blow via Tyrone May’s late score.

The defeat leaves Ricky Stuart’s side four points adrift of the Cowboys in eighth and, barring a miracle, exiled from this year’s finals.

The Knights continued their improved performances against Storm at the weekend but were ultimately overpowered by the newly crowned Minor Premiers. Off the back of three consecutive wins, confidence was as high as it has been for three years at the Hunter, and the early sin-bin of Jesse Bromwich followed by a Lachlan Fitzgibbon try raised hopes that they could seal a historic win against the competition leaders.

That initial optimism soon fizzled out though, as the Storm seized control of the game and eventually ran out 12-44 winners. A serious knee injury sustained by Brock Lamb will see the valuable pivot sit out the rest of the campaign before embarking on summer of rehabilitation in preparation for the new season. With the Raiders and Sharks next up, the fixture list hasn’t been kind as they try to avoid another last placed finish.

Selection: Raiders to win

Wests Tigers v Nth Queensland Cowboys betting
Team Odds
Wests Tigers $1.90 Bet Now
Nth Queensland Cowboys $1.90 Bet Now
A virtuoso display from James Tedesco against his future employers wasn’t enough to save the Tigers from defeat on Saturday. His efforts, which included; 156 running metres, one try assist, one try for himself, and three try-saving tackles were in vain as the Chooks subjected the unfortunate Wests to defeat in the cruellest of manners.

Coming back from 16-0 down to lead late in the second half was an exceptional effort and speaks volumes for the turnaround in performance levels that Ivan Cleary has presided over. Their strong displays at the tail-end of this year auger well for a much better future for his young charges.

The Cowboys’ injury toll continues to rise and is now at epidemic levels. Defeat on Saturday was again combined with the blow of losing Lachlan Coote prior to the game, with John Asiata and Kalyn Ponga both leaving the field as a consequence of elbow and shoulder injuries respectively. With the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Antonio Winterstein, Gavin Cooper, Pat Kaufusi, Ben Spina, Justin O’Neill, Shaun Fensom and Josh Chudleigh all currently unavailable, the Cowboys’ playing roster is at breaking point.

In amongst all the hardship, however, there remains an immense fighting spirit throughout the side, and they battled magnificently to hold the Sharks tryless in the second half. With the Townsville club sitting in seventh with two rounds remaining, it may be that the overcrowded treatment room may prove to be the defining factor of their season.

Selection: Tigers to win

Gold Coast Titans v Canterbury Bulldogs betting
Team Odds
Gold Coast Titans $1.60 Bet Now
Canterbury Bulldogs $2.35 Bet Now
The NRL’s worst kept secret was finally revealed this week as the Titans parted ways with coach Neil Henry. Jarryd Hayne emerged the victor from his power struggle with Henry and CEO Graham Annesley hinted that the star player might even have an input into the selection of his successor.

Despite the feud with Hayne, Henry had retained the support of the majority of the squad, and that was reflected by a decent display against the Eels despite the off-field distractions. Assistants Terry Matterson and Craig Hodges have been assigned the task of steadying the ship until the conclusion of the season; the search for the new coach will begin at once with the duo assuming control of first-team affairs in the interim.

The Bulldogs finally delivered a victory for coach Des Hasler after a five-game losing streak, to put Manly’s finals aspirations in jeopardy. Will Hopoate’s U-turn over his Sunday afternoon involvement paid dividends for the Dogs as the full-back paved the way for victory with three assists, three tackle breaks and ran 174 metres. Scoring six tries, the Bulldogs notched up thirty points for the first time this season, although they remain the competition’s lowest scorers with 308.

A much improved defensive display boosted Canterbury as they recorded their tenth win in fourteen over the Sea Eagles, to move to twelfth on the ladder.

Selection: Titans to win

Melbourne Storm v South Sydney Rabbitohs betting
Team Odds
Melbourne Storm $1.20 Bet Now
South Sydney Rabbitohs $4.60 Bet Now
With the Storm sealing the Minor Premiership at the weekend, coach Craig Bellamy may be tempted to keep his powder dry with one eye on the finals.

A decision to rest his key players will require a balancing act between ensuring freshness for the finals and a desire to maintain the highest standards for the last two games of the regular season. The fringe players have so far represented the club superbly and would no doubt revel in the opportunity for more first-grade exposure.

However, with momentum vital at this stage, he may decide that continuity is paramount and keep his players battle-hardened and in a state of readiness for the finals series.

The Rabbitohs maintained their fine end to the season with a third straight win over the Warriors on Friday night. They look likely to finish 2017 on a positive note; they have exhibited an ability to rack up a good points tally of late, with 90 points scored over the last three rounds and the addition of Dane Gagai next season will add to the artillery at Michael Mcguire’s disposal.

The competition’s leading marksman Alex Johnston may miss out this week with a hamstring concern, but there is a high chance that skipper Sam Burgess may play a part after missing the Warriors win with a rib cartilage problem.

Selection: Storm to win

Cronulla Sharks v Sydney Roosters betting
Team Odds
Cronulla Sharks $1.80 Bet Now
Sydney Roosters $2.05 Bet Now
After a season in which they have appeared lacklustre at times, the Sharks may just be timing their run to the finals to perfection.

Their 26-16 win in Townsville last week was critical not only to the health of their position on the ladder, but to reinforce their self-belief that they can go on from here and defend their crown. A victory over the third-placed Chooks would send a message to the other seven teams that the Premiers aren’t going to hand over their title without a fight. The signs are good for Cronulla, with big men Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita dominating against the Cowboys, the Sharks will be looking to tap into the wealth of title-winning experience they have at their disposal as they plot an unlikely Grand Final success.

The Roosters showed their class again last Saturday in a gritty win over the Tigers at Allianz Stadium. James Tedesco gave the Tricolours a glimpse of the ability he will bring to the side next year with a magnificent display for Wests, as the Roosters were made to toil for their win.

They will be looking to break a six-game losing streak against the Sharks this week, and give their top-two hopes a shot in the arm to boot. These two sides could very well meet in a finals decider over the upcoming weeks, and both will be keen to draw first blood. The Roosters are close to full-strength following Michael Gordon’s return last week, with Daniel Tupou the sole member of the squad unavailable.

Selection: Sharks to win

New Zealand Warriors v Manly Sea Eagles betting
Team Odds
New Zealand Warriors $2.65 Bet Now
Manly Sea Eagles $1.50 Bet Now
The return of Shaun Johnson could have a galvanising effect on a Warriors side who are in urgent need of his talents; the Kiwis have failed to taste victory since he suffered a posterior cruciate knee injury in Round 19.

It is the last home appearance for the Bulldogs-bound Kieran Foran, and Stephen Kearney’s men will be desperate to perform for their long-suffering fans who have been forced to endure another dismal campaign; round 16 was the last time the side claimed a win. With the welcome boost of Ben Matulino returning from a one-week suspension, this game may not be as clear cut as it appears and could be a potential banana skin for a Manly side who simply have to win.

The Sea Eagles have suffered a rapid decline, falling from the lofty heights of third in Round 19 to eighth with two matches remaining. Defeat to the Bulldogs last week was a bitter blow to Trent Barrett’s side, and they desperately need a victory to keep the Dragons at bay while also ensuring that they cannot be overtaken by the Raiders.

The pressure is on this week; anything less than victory in Auckland followed by a win for the Dragons will see the Silvertails crash out of the play-off spots. A fully-fit Daly Cherry-Evans will be crucial to their cause; the playmaker was below-par last week after battling a bout of flu.

Selection: Warriors to win

Penrith Panthers v St George Illawarra Dragons betting
Team Odds
Penrith Panthers $1.49 Bet Now
St George Illawarra Dragons $2.70 Bet Now
The Panthers have now won seven straight for the first time since 2003 as they ready themselves for a finals appearance. The Mountain Men will be out for revenge after the 42-10 thumping by the Dragons back in Round 1; a defeat that still rankles now and set the tone for an unsatisfactory first half of the campaign for the club.

The team has made huge strides forward in recent months however, and approach the end of the year in rude health. The hard fought win in the capital last week highlighted how much the side has advanced recently and they remain in the hunt for fourth place. Skipper Matt Moylan is set to miss out with a hamstring problem but will be available again for the finals.

The Dragons’ tenth straight loss in Brisbane has taken the destiny of their season out of their own hands and offered the Panthers and Sea Eagles a huge advantage. Sitting atop the ladder three months ago, their present situation represents a spectacular fall from grace. It looks increasingly unlikely that they will make the finals; even two victories in their remaining two games may not be enough to guarantee passage to the knock-out rounds.

The game this week will decide matters, a victory would just about keep them alive, whereas a win for the in-form Panthers will cement a top eight place for Anthony Griffin’s side.

Selection: Panthers to win

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