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NRL Round 15 Review: Top 8 all but set with Souths’ big win

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Blowout scores, twins bagging doubles, props running down halfbacks, Kotoni Staggs scoring absurd tries, the Broncos finally falling to the bottom of the ladder before a second-half clinic from the Warriors saved them once more…

Round 15 saw the top eight set in stone with losses for Manly and the Wests Tigers, while the Raiders and the Knights kept the heat on for a push towards the top four over the final five weeks of the regular season.

Let’s look back at some the good and not so good from last week’s NRL betting action.

Eels 140 Storm

The Melbourne Storm were without Cameron Munster, Cameron Smith, Jesse Bromwich, Suliasi Vunivalu, Dale Finucane and Jahrome Hughes but competed at a high level with the Eels.

It was evident early on the Storm would struggle to score points with a debutant halfback and a limited six, but the display Ryan Papenhuyzen put on should please fans of the Victorian club.

Despite the Parramatta Eels being relatively injury-free compared to their opposition, two points against a bogey team is a welcome result.

Even with the Storm missing so many stars, we still liked them to win in a tight one due to their ruthless consistency, so we apologise.

It appears we got the wrong Fijian scoring first, with Waqa Blake crossing on the right before Maika Sivo scored on the left.

Panthers 3812 Sharks

Shaun Johnson was ruled out in the lead-up to kickoff, which saw the switch-on punters load up on the Penrith Panthers.

Even with Johnson on the park, we liked the Panthers to cover the -8.5 start as well as the over 43.5 total points.

The 38-12 scoreline marked Penrith’s 10th win a row and the fourth consecutive week they have conceded exactly 12 points. To keep that streak alive when the Cronulla Sharks average 26 per game is a testament to their outstanding defence.

Cronulla missed a golden chance to push for a home final and will now need teams above them to fall over in the final five weeks if they are to have any chance of a top-four finish.

Broncos 2428 Dragons

This turned out to be one cracking game of footy considering how low the expectations were.

The St George Illawarra Dragons attack rebounded to the mean by scoring 28 points. What we didn’t account for is the improvement Brisbane showed when they had the football.

Also, if you haven’t watched Kotoni Staggs’ try from this game at least 50 times on replay, you’re missing out. It might be the best individual try of the season.

The Brisbane Broncos have looked a more dangerous unit since Tom Deardon became the regular halfback, so opposition defences at least have to respect them now.

They may get lucky enough to win one more game before the season is out, and it looks like their games against the Titans and Cowboys are their best two chances.

Titans 1636 Raiders

This game went about as expected in terms of the result, although the blowout score came as a bit of a surprise given the Gold Coast Titans had been competitive in recent weeks.

While we said the 13+ margin was the way to go, it was a bit alarming how easily the Canberra Raiders did it despite falling 4-0 behind early in the piece.

Taking the overs on the total points line was also easy money, although it was a high-scoring round as a whole.

It’s the second week in a row the Raiders have scored 30 or more points, albeit against sub-par opposition.

We did suggest Phillip Sami should be given a bit of attention to score the game’s first try, so well done to those who backed him.

Tigers 1638 Roosters

First up, a huge congratulations to the punter who needed only a Sydney Roosters head-to-head win to complete a 15-leg multi paying $400,000. May the beers be sweet and the wealth plentiful!

With their season on the line, the Wests Tigers produced a horrible first half to be down 20-0. While they got the game to 20-12 with 26 minutes to go, this result never felt seriously in doubt.

We liked James Tedesco to score a double, but it was the Morris twins who both scored braces, marking the first time they have done it in an NRL game together. They are national treasures.

We also gave you Matt Ikuvalu as a first tryscoring option on the left, and he came up trumps at $10.

Rabbitohs 5616 Sea Eagles

The winner of this game wasn’t a shock, but not even the greatest tarot-card readers could have seen this scoreline coming.

For a team who are renowned for circling the wagons when the troops are down, it turned out to be one of Manly Sea Eagles‘ darkest days as they went into the sheds at half-time 38-0 down.

It ended their 2020 campaign, while Moses Suli appears to have played his last football for the year.

On the back of this win, the South Sydney Rabbitohs all but assured their place in the top eight and moved to an 8-1 record against teams below them on the ladder.

Three of their next five games are against teams who are higher than them on the ladder, so this result and the way they did it was sorely needed.

Anything we suggested might happen was thrown out the window. Punter’s nightmare.

Bulldogs 1420 Warriors

It appeared for a long time the Canterbury Bulldogs were finally about to jump off the bottom of the NRL ladder.

We liked them as the underdogs, and there was a nice level of comfort when they got out to a 10-0 lead early in the first half.

But then the New Zealand Warriors showed more of that trademark resilience and mounted a sensational second-half fightback.

With their sixth win of the season, NZ all but ruled out any chance they could still get the wooden spoon.

This was another one of those contests where the form guide was thrown out the window, making it fun to watch as long as you didn’t have any money on it.

Knights 120 Cowboys

Bowling-shoe ugly! Seriously, don’t hunt down a copy of this game to watch on replay.

The 12-0 win to the Newcastle Knights means the top eight is realistically set in stone, with just the final positions to be sorted.

Consider the Knights’ spine has lost Jayden Brailey, Andrew McCullough, Connor Watson and Blake Green to season-ending injuries, it’s barely believable they are in sixth place.

They’ve also lost Tim Glasby, Sione Mata’utia, Bradman Best, Edrick Lee and Daniel Saifiti for extended periods, making their season all the more remarkable.

Much like the Rabbitohs vs Sea Eagles contest, this game and any predictions we made were tossed into a blender.

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