|Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights NRL Betting Odds and Game Info|
|NRL betting odds||Eels $1.40 at BetOnline | Knights $3 at Sportsbet|
|When||Sunday, September 12 at 4:05pm AEST|
|Where||Browne Park – Rockhampton, Queensland|
|Last time they met||Knights 4-40 Eels (R13, 2021)|
|Watch live||Nine, Foxtel, Kayo|
The Parramatta Eels and Newcastle Knights will round out the opening weekend of the 2021 NRL Finals Series in a clutch elimination game in Rockhampton on Sunday afternoon.
The clash marks 20 years since the two teams last met in the postseason, which was the 2001 NRL Grand Final won by Newcastle. Much like that day in 2001, the Knights come in as the outsider at $3 with barely anyone giving them a legitimate chance, while the Eels as the $1.40 favourite have all the pressure on them.
The Eels exited the finals in straight sets in 2017 and 2020 under Brad Arthur, and while he has a 51.5% win rate over his eight seasons at Parramatta, he still has just one finals win to his name as a head coach.
Both clubs rested a big chunk of players in the last round of the regular season with neither team being able to improve their ladder position, so there is enormous pressure on both coaches to get the preparation absolutely perfect.
Eels vs Knights elimination final preview
The Eels rested 14 players in preparation for this game, but some may argue it has put a lot of pressure on them to come up with a good performance this weekend. Many feel that they showed how good they can be with their win over Melbourne, but was there an element of the Storm being absolutely ripe for a loss and it wouldn’t have mattered who they played? We will get the answer Sunday afternoon depending on the performance.
Parramatta have lost their last three finals, but that hasn’t stopped punters going hard on the 13+ margin, which has moved to $2.40 at Sportsbet. Blake Ferguson is the $9 favourite for first try scorer and the shaky defence of the Knights on the edges means he is going to get a great chance to convert. The bet everyone needs to get behind is Shaun Lane at $3.40 to score a try at any time and here is why. He has scored as try in each of his three appearances in Week 1 of the finals, so that’s terrific value for him to make it four from four.
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The Newcastle Knights scraped into the finals by winning games they absolutely had to. It felt as though the air went out of the balloon in their loss to Brisbane last week and they didn’t play with much urgency, purely because they didn’t have to. The stakes are different this week, and after their 46-20 finals loss in Week 1 last season, the Knights have plenty to prove – not just to themselves, but to their parochial fan base.
Enari Tuala has been scoring tries for fun recently, with eight in his last six games for the club. Punters can get a neat $2 for him to score at any time or $11 to get the first try of the game. Kalyn Ponga is the other obvious choice to get on in either market because of his insane talent, but the enormous smokey is Jacob Saifiti at $61 to score the first try of the game. If the Knights get an early chance, he has proven to be a handful close to the line, scoring three tries this year in barge over situations. The 1-12 point win at $4 is hard to go past if you think the Knights can get the upset. Nine of their 12 wins this year were by single digits, so if they can make it an arm wrestle, you will see plenty of value in that price.
Key matchup: Junior Paulo vs Daniel Saifiti
They were both outstanding as teammates for New South Wales earlier this year, but the game will be won in the battle between Daniel Saifiti and Junior Paulo. When Newcastle play their best football, Saifiti is steamrolling his way up field and playing the ball quickly. It creates the time and space for Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Jake Clifford to create points, which has proven difficult at times because of the constant shuffling of the spine for most of the season. He is returning early from a knee injury to take his place in the game, so just how good he will play is anyone’s guess, but for Newcastle it is a risk they have to take. Paulo does the same job for the Eels, although he has more creative flair and passes the ball expertly either pre-line or in contact. His 130kg frame is hard enough to deal with, but throw in a soft, silky pair of hands and you have a footballing weapon. If Saifiti gets the upper hand and Ponga has a day out, the Knights can pull off the upset, but if Paulo plays to his potential, the Eels will get the job done.
Eels vs Knights finals predictions & top bets
Winning margin: Newcastle Knights by 1-12 points
This game has the upset potential, so the Knights at the 1-12 margin look a great bet. The Eels are without a genuine hooker, while Isaiah Papali’i on the bench and Ryan Matterson in jersey 18 feel like strange selection decisions. If they do a big shuffle an hour before kickoff, does it add another layer of distraction to their preparation? It just feels odd and Parramatta’s track record means they shouldn’t be piling more pressure on themselves.
Newcastle Knights by 1-12 points
Same game multi: 4 legs @ $27.75
Knights 1-12 with Enari Tuala, Kalyn Ponga and Blake Ferguson to all score a try pays $27.75.
Knights 1-12 / Ferguson anytime / Ponga anytime / Tuala anytime
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