Finals come early in Round 17 of the 2020 NRL season with plenty of top 8 battles, including a Grand Final rematch on Saturday night. We have a preview of the Round 17 action for you, with betting tips thanks to the team at All Free Bets.
Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
Thursday September 3 | Suncorp Stadium | 7:50pm
The round kicks off with the ladder-leading Panthers looking to heap more misery on Broncos.
The Broncos will hope for a bounce-back performance after losing 58-12 against the Roosters but it won’t be any easier against the red-hot Panthers.
Penrith crushed the Tigers 30-6 and will likely seal up the minor premiership in the next few weeks.
In team news, Brisbane have Haas back in the lineup along with Luke/Oates. Penrith welcome back Kikau but Yeo is out with a concussion. Capewell is back on the bench and Koroisau is an outside chance of returning.
It’s tough to back against the Panthers piling on the points against the Broncos leaky defence. Therefore, we’ll take the points overs.
Prediction: Over 48.5 Points @ $1.90
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Friday September 4 | McDonald Jones Stadium | 6:00pm
Top 8 positions are on the line in Newcastle as the Knights host the Sharks.
The 7th placed Knights were outmatched by the Warriors in their 36-6 loss last week and they’ll need to find form before the finals on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Sharks got the job done against the Cowboys 28-12 and continue to fight off the challenges for the last spot in the top 8.
In team selections, the Knights get Phoenix Crossland back on the bench and Jones comes in for Saulo. The Sharks have dropped Fifita but get Townsend back from injury.
The odds reflect an expected close contest and we can’t disagree. But we do like the points overs as both sides haven’t been great defensively lately.
Prediction: Over 42.5 Points @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Melbourne Storm
Friday September 4 | ANZ Stadium | 7:55pm
It’s Craig Bellamy versus Wayne Bennett on Friday night footy with the Rabbitohs meeting the Storm.
The Rabbitohs are one of the hottest sides in the NRL with five straight wins and come off a 38-0 thrashing of the Eels. But they’ll miss Latrell Mitchell to injury.
Melbourne welcomed back their big guns from injury against Manly as they cruised to a 30-6 victory. But they’ve suffered a couple more injuries.
As mentioned, Mitchell is a huge out for South Sydney and Johnson will move back to fullback. In good news, Dane Gagai is back from injury. For the Storm, Brenko Lee replaces the injured Seve. Chris Lewis gets the start for Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who’s injured his calf.
This should be a really tough game between two similar teams. Even without Mitchell, the Rabbitohs can trouble the injury-hit Storm in a close finish.
Prediction: Rabbitohs +4 @ $1.95
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Titans
Saturday September 5 | ANZ Stadium | 3:00pm
It’s a bottom 8 clash at ANZ Stadium as the Bulldogs battle against the Titans.
Despite a 20-12 half-time lead, the Bulldogs once again couldn’t stop a team in the second half as the Raiders stormed home with a 34-20 win.
Gold Coast produced an epic comeback against the Dragons with two tries in the 74th and 76th minute as they stormed home for a 14-10 victory. So they’ll be confident of back-to-back wins.
In team news, the Dogs have dropped Katoa and Britt for Thompson/Averillo. The Titans welcome back Fotuaika and Jai Arrow may return from injury.
The Dogs are definitely due for a win but we feel this will be a high scoring clash in day conditions.
Prediction: Over 42.5 Points @ $1.90
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers
Saturday September 5 | Brookvale Oval | 5:30pm
Two teams who have disappointed in 2020 will look to bounce back when they meet at Brookvale Oval.
The Sea Eagles slumped to their 5th straight loss on Sunday with a 30-6 loss against Melbourne.
Wests were outmatched by the Panthers in their 30-6 defeat, basically ending their season in the process.
In team selections, the Sea Eagles have lost Garrick and Thompson to injury. The Tigers have switched Douehi to the centres and Mbye will play fullback. Tommy Talau has been dropped and Matt Eisenhuth moves to the bench for Aloiai.
Manly thrashed the Tigers at this venue last season 32-12 and we can’t see them dropping this home game either.
Prediction: Manly to win @ $1.61
Canberra Raiders vs Sydney Roosters
Saturday September 5 | GIO Stadium | 7:35pm
What a blockbuster Saturday night Grand Final rematch we have ahead of us in Canberra as the Raiders host the Roosters!
The Raiders started slowly against the Bulldogs last week but turned on their attack in the second half for a 34-20 win and their 3rd victory on the trot.
As expected, the Roosters trounced the Broncos once again 58-12 but should expect a tougher challenge here.
At this stage, Ricky Stuart has named Paplii and Havili to start but he usually makes late changes. The big news at the Roosters and the NRL is the return of Sonny Bill Williams on the bench. Luke Keary is back from injury and Cordner will return to the starting lineup.
Canberra are proving to be a tough side for the Roosters of late and we expect them to cover a fairly generous home underdog line here.
Prediction: Raiders +6 @ $1.95
New Zealand Warriors vs Parramatta Eels
Sunday September 6 | Central Coast Stadium | 4:05pm
Can the Warriors reach the finals?
The Warriors are still an outside chance of making the finals after 4 wins in their last 5 and they’ll need to continue the momentum against Parramatta.
Meanwhile, the Eels simply had a shocker against the Rabbitohs last week in a 38-0 defeat.
The Warriors lose Jennings and Alvaro since they can’t play against the Eels. Katoa also has a hand injury and Murchie comes into the starting 13. Dylan Brown is a huge loss for the Eels and Jai Field will take his spot at 5/8th.
Hard to back against the in-form Warriors at the moment and the Eels coming off a shutout defeat.
Prediction: Warriors +6.5 @ $1.90
North Queensland Cowboys vs St. George Illawarra Dragons
Sunday September 6 | Queensland Country Bank Stadium | 6:30pm
The Cowboys are desperate for a win as they face St. George to close out the round on Sunday night.
The Cowboys’ losing streak extended to nine games on Saturday as they lost to the Sharks 28-12 and lost Morgan to injury as well.
Meanwhile, the Dragons’ 2020 season can be summed up by last week’s 14-10 loss against the Titans after they led 10-4 with just six minutes remaining.
As mentioned, Morgan is out for the season and Clifford will come back into the side at halfback. Hess has been suspended and Lemuelu drops out for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. The Dragons get Tyrell Fuimaono back from suspension.
This is the kind of the game the Dragons usually lose so we’re predicting a potential upset result for the luckless Cowboys on their home turf.
Prediction: Cowboys +3.5 @ $1.90
For more free sports betting tips head to www.allfreebets.com.au where you’ll also find an independent PlayUp review.