The Penrith Panthers have won 14 of a possible 16 games so far this season, yet Sportsbet.com.au has them on the third line of NRL Premiership betting at $4. They have a tricky game against Parramatta in round 18, but they should comfortably handle Brisbane, North Queensland and Canterbury in their remaining fixtures.
It will be interesting whether they will opt to rest some of their big guns once they wrap up the minor premiership. We have seen what happens when injuries start to creep into a squad this season, so Ivan Cleary begin rotating certain players in and out of the team over the next month to keep them as fresh as possible for finals.
There is a very real possibility the Panthers will finish with 18 wins from 20 games. Only the Melbourne Storm (2016, 2017, 2019) have won more games in a season in the last five years, and they had more rounds to achieve that feat.
Penrith have felt like the competition favourites for at least six weeks, but $4 is still a good price if you feel like having a lash on them to win the title.
The $3.75 for Melbourne to win it all is also a good price, as they should win through both Queensland-based finals considering their ominous 16-game streak in the Sunshine State.
The Storm/Panthers quinella also appears to be a red-hot shout, although history is against them. Since 2010, only twice have the teams ranked one and two gone on to play each other in the NRL Grand Final.
The Sydney Roosters‘ 58-12 win was the perfect ‘get healthy’ result for the battered back-to-back premiers. They’ve spent the season getting through a heap of injury concerns and doing all they can to get to the finals in the best shape possible.
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The Chooks are trying to become the first team in 37 years to win three titles in a row, and the $3.75 quote suggests there is still plenty of belief they can get the job done.
The big movers over the weekend were the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Having floated between $23 and $26 for much of the season, they’ve shortened to $21 on the back of their 38-0 demolition of Parramatta last Thursday.
They’ve won five in a row and look to be finding their best form at the right time, but can they make a run from outside the top four without Latrell Mitchell?
While the Parramatta Eels looked like premiership favourites in the first eight rounds, their form faded badly in the seven weeks leading into last week’s jarring reality check.
The $9 they’ve blown out to feels more like $90, but it is not all that uncommon to see a team go through a late-season slump and then turn it around in time for the finals.
The Cowboys in 2015, Sharks in 2016 and Cowboys again in 2017 lost form in the final five weeks of the regular season before enjoying runs to the big dance. North Queensland even lost a week-one final before going on to win the whole thing.
So all isn’t lost for Parramatta, but the weight of a 34-year title drought has their fans feeling like the dream is over for another season.
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