Two teams are threatening to bolt ahead in the race for the minor premiership, while some key results have jumbled up the odds for the top four. Let’s take a look at the latest NRL futures odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Can Panthers hold off Storm in minor premiership race?
The Penrith Panthers‘ move to the top of the NRL ladder has made minor premiership betting super interesting. They look set for a ding-dong battle to the finish line with the ever-dangerous Melbourne Storm, as just one point separates the two teams with nine games to play.
Penrith run into the Sea Eagles and the Raiders in the next fortnight, while Melbourne will face the Knights and Bulldogs at their home away from home on the Sunshine Coast. In their final seven games, the Panthers will face only the Sharks and Eels among the current top eight, while Melbourne have three such games remaining.
At this point, it is close to a coin toss as to who will eventually win the J.J. Giltinan Shield. The unfortunate part of this race is that either team may opt to rest players in the later rounds, which means punters could potentially lose out.
Penrith are the bookies’ favourites for the minor flag at $2.40, with Melbourne back on the third line of betting at $3.75. Between them sit the Parramatta Eels at $3.50, but they have shown some nerves in the past few weeks and must face both the Panthers and Storm in the run home.
Knights loss opens up NRL top four betting
The Newcastle Knights‘ loss to the Bulldogs is a bitter pill to swallow for those who had backed them to make the top four. They had a golden chance to remain in fourth spot and control their destiny in that regard, but they’ve now fallen to sixth and will have to play out the rest of their season with fourth-choice hooker Chris Randall. While he did set a record for most tackles on debut, he now shoulders huge responsibility for the remainder of the season, especially since they are now in the log jam of teams battling for the spots from sixth to 10th.
While four of Newcastle’s last five games are against bottom eight opponents, how can you guarantee they’ll show up for those games given their efforts against the wooden spoon favourites? In the blink of an eye, there is no certainty about this season for the Knights.
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It looks likely the Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders will battle for the final spot in the top four, which is a huge feather in Ricky Stuart’s cap given the injury toll in the capital. No Josh Hodgson or Bailey Simonsson for the rest of the season, Charnze Nikoll-Klokstad will miss time with a finger, Corey Horsburgh will struggle to get back at all this year, Sia Soliola’s facial fractures could see him unavailable until the finals, and John Bateman is yet to get on the field in 2020. But they have depth and belief.
What the Raiders do have, however, is depth and belief. Six of their final nine games are against bottom-eight opponents, while the Roosters have five such fixtures, and the form Canberra have shown in the last fortnight suggests the race for fourth will go deep into September.
Who offers best value in NRL Premiership betting?
Last year Melbourne and South Sydney held the top two spots after 11 rounds, yet neither team made the NRL Grand Final. In 2018 the Panthers and Dragons were one and two at the same stage, and both failed to make it to the big dance. In 2017 the Storm were first after 11 games before winning the premiership, while the Sharks did the same in 2016.
Recent history shows there will be a few bumps along the way before a premier is crowned, especially with the Roosters and Raiders sitting in fourth and fifth. The Chooks still top the market at $3.75 and could shorten if they complete the much-discussed signing of Sonny Bill Williams. That seems an unusual move given what we saw from SBW in the Super League, but we’ve learned to never doubt a champion.
Canberra sit at $11 to win the title, but you’d have to see more from them without Josh Hodgson before you can buy in with any confidence. Can they consistently score enough points to take the pressure off their defence?
Parramatta have periods of brilliance but also fall flat at times during games, so it’s hard to be throwing money on them at $4.50 – it feels too short. Penrith at $6 still look to be the best value, but if Canberra can show they can win without Hodgson against good sides, they’ll emerge as the dark horse to win at all.
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