The Finals are here and there is plenty of value on offer. Here is our best picks for NRL Finals Week 1.
Roosters v Broncos
Both sides aren’t in the best form heading into the first week of the finals.
The Roosters were extremely disappointing last week against a Titans side who are in disarray both on and off the field. The good news is co-captains Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner and fullback Michael Gordon are fully fit and ready to roll into September.
The Broncos, who had 52 points put on them by the Eels in round 25, did manage to bounce back in Townsville last week, however, they will be without inspirational skipper Darius Boyd, who has succumbed to injury.
This is a massive clash for both sides with the winner not only moving within one game of the grand final but also likely to not face the Storm until the grand final. Despite being away from home and without the safe Boyd at the back, the Broncos still have enough quality to take it to the Roosters and hang in the contest late on.
Prediction: Broncos +3.5 @ $2.00
Storm v Eels
The Eels are flying right now and will be confident of making a splash in September. However, the argument can be made that their extremely soft draw heavily contributed to their strong backend of the season.
The Storm have been nothing but sensational in 2017 and their form of late with top spot already sewn up is ominous sign for the other seven teams. Melbourne’s big guns are all fit and firing and if they turn it on, it could be a long day for the Eels.
One thing you don’t want to do when facing the Storm is give them another reason to be motivated. And that’s exactly what Brad Arthur did when he called for the referees to crackdown on the Storm’s ability to slow down the ruck. Craig Bellamy didn’t enjoy the sly dig and we think he will have his charges riled up at home.
Prediction: Storm -11.5 @ $1.91
Sea Eagles v Panthers
Manly turned it on last week and absolutely destroyed the Panthers with their season on the line. They face the same scenario this weekend and will be supremely confident of achieving the same outcome.
As for the Panthers, well, they couldn’t play any worse last week and we expect them to improve significantly when they take to Allianz Stadium. Nathan Cleary will be looking to take control from the get go and if his forwards can roll forward he should be able to create plenty of opportunities for his dangerous outside backs like Josh Mansour, who will fancy his chances up against Akuila Uate.
Prediction: Mansour to score anytime @ $2.10
Sharks v Cowboys
The Cowboys can consider themselves extremely fortune to be in the finals after dropping four of their last five matches. They will however adopt the mindset of stepping out onto Allianz Stadium with nothing to lose = making them a dangerous prospect.
The Sharks, much like last season, enter the finals without a thrust of momentum behind them. What they do have up their sleeve, is almost an entire squad of premiership winners who know how to get it done in September. The return of Jack Bird is a massive boost for the premiers, who have definitely missed his penetration in the attacking half.
The Cowboys will fight hard but the Sharks, in Sydney will have too much class and should progress to week two fairly easily.
Prediction: Sharks -8 @ $1.90