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NRL Round 17 Review: Tigers and Cowboys salute in shootouts

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Finals-bound teams finally locked in their fate, while Manly and the Tigers put on one of the games of the NRL 2020 season.

A few predictions got turned upside down, and there was the small matter of Sonny Bill Williams returning to the NRL.

Let’s take a look back at the biggest talking points and NRL betting results from round 17.

Broncos 1225 Panthers

The Penrith Panthers may not have blown Brisbane off the park like many predicted, but they were never in any serious danger of not extending their winning streak to 12.

Taking on the long lines for blowout losses to Melbourne and Sydney worked wonders, but our -40.5 start for Penrith didn’t factor in an improved showing from the Broncos.

This game didn’t rise to any great heights, but you must feel for one punter who lost out on $10,000.

Needing Penrith to hold onto their 12-point lead after predicting a multitude of anytime tryscorers, a completely needless field goal from Nathan Cleary ruined his dream night.

It probably pulled a lot of punters out of the fire in the 13+ market, but to lose $10k in that manner is outrageous.

Knights 3810 Sharks

Plain and simple, this was the Kalyn Ponga show for the right and wrong reasons.

The young superstar was impossible to stop and secured his first NRL hat-trick in the Newcastle Knights’ 38-10 demolition of Cronulla.

When he plays as well as this and you’re one of those people who try to nit-pick what he didn’t do, you don’t like rugby league.

Ponga was then on the end of a horror incident where he was clocked in the head by Chad Townsend after play was stopped by the referee. Townsend was subsequently sent off, throwing the Sharks’ finals hopes into turmoil.

Cronulla producing a duck egg in Newcastle did absolutely nothing for our Knights 1-12 predictions, but the locals will care little about that as their club secured their first NRL finals appearance since 2013.

Rabbitohs 1622 Storm

This was a game where 98% of South Sydney Rabbitohs fans will tell you they should have won, and you’d be inclined to agree with them.

However, close enough is never good enough against the Melbourne Storm, and it proved to be the case once more as they controlled the final 20 minutes of the contest to secure a 22-16 win.

Melbourne locked up a top-two finish with the win, while any outside chance Souths had of pushing into the top four vanished.

They may not have the all-important second chance, but the Bunnies – even without Latrell Mitchell – showed enough to indicate they can throw a spanner in the works come October.

We hope you all chickened out and only backed Ryan Papenhuyzen as Melbourne’s first tryscorer, as Campbell Graham beat us to the punch with opening try of the game.

Bulldogs 1418 Titans

Another golden chance wasted by the Canterbury Bulldogs to get off the bottom of the ladder, but perhaps that is giving them too much credit?

At different stages they showed just how poor they are as a squad, so they deserved to lose 18-14 in the end.

The Gold Coast Titans recorded back-to-back wins in Sydney for the first time this season, and they’ve shown in the last six weeks they are going in some kind of positive direction under Justin Holbrook.

This is a weird year for a number of reasons, but to have recorded just six wins and be comfortably the best team in Queensland is something no one saw coming.

The Titans were paying $51 in that market in the preseason. If anyone was crazy enough to take those odds, we hope you enjoy a nice holiday once we can all travel again.

Sea Eagles 3234 Tigers

One of the best games of the season.

No one thought this fixture would amount to anything, but it ended up being a wonderful flower that grew from a pot of dirt.

The Wests Tigers have endured a horror seven weeks on the field, but you could argue Manly have had it just as bad in that time.

At 32-18, the Tigers’ critics were sharpening their knives, but Manly fell apart in the final 11 minutes and Wests stormed home to win 34-32 with Adam Doueihi the star of the show.

We had a feeling pre-game it would be a rookie who made a name for himself, and Albert Hopoate was the leading candidate.

Morgan Harper stole his thunder, scoring the first two tries of the game to cap a bittersweet debut.

Raiders 618 Roosters

This had all the feel and emotion of a finals contest, so there won’t be too many complaints from the rugby league public if they meet again in October.

The Canberra Raiders played tough throughout the 80 minutes but couldn’t crack the Roosters’ defence consistently, which boded well for our ‘avoid the 13+ margin’ prediction.

Sonny Bill showed nothing to suggest he will have an enormous impact in a finals run for the Sydney Roosters, but there were a number of great signs for the Tricolours.

The big performance from James Tedesco suggests he is gearing up at the right time, but the defence would have been most pleasing of all to Chooks fans.

Their full-strength back line was at its best in this game, headlined by the ageless Morris twins, and their forward pack is slowly rounding into form for another shot at the title.

Warriors 1824 Eels

Wildly entertaining.

The Parramatta Eels looked the best they had in eight or nine weeks as they shot out to a 16-0 lead.

But then the New Zealand Warriors did what we now expect them to do, and that is to fight tooth and nail and find a way back into the contest.

At 16-12 having scored two wonderfully entertaining tries, a chance of another upset win appeared well and truly alive for the Warriors.

Parramatta did just enough, but make no mistake: they survived a huge scare from a Warriors side who are somehow still in the finals race ahead of next week’s crunch clash with Cronulla.

Blake Ferguson finally scored his first try of 2020, so we hope you followed our advice and backed him to cross the stripe at any point in the game.

Chanel Harris-Tevita was our pick for first tryscorer, and a bit like the Papenhuyzen selection, he could only manage the first for the Warriors. If you selected him to get two or more, happy days.

Cowboys 2322 Dragons

Most cowboys enjoy shootouts, but the North Queensland variety lack the firepower to score a lot of points – or so we thought.

Trailing 12-6 at the break, they came out guns blazing and got the lead at 22-20 heading into the closing stages.

A Zac Lomax penalty goal sent the game into golden point, but Valentine Holmes had his first great moment in a Cowboys jersey with the winning field goal to break the losing streak at nine games.

Frank Molo upset the apple cart by scoring first, but over 42.5 total points snuck home for those who included that pick in their NRL multis.

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