Super Saturday saw a 13-year record broken for the most points scored across three NRL games on one day as the Canterbury Bulldogs finally got off the bottom of the ladder.
There is just one week until the NRL finals get underway, and seeing Shaun Johnson tear his Achilles tendon in the midst of perhaps his most consistent season was a huge letdown for everyone who follows the game.
Let’s look at how things played out on the penultimate weekend of the NRL 2020 season.
Rabbitohs 1626 Bulldogs
The Bulldogs securing a 26-16 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs threw more than just one spanner in the works.
The Bunnies’ loss opened up a chance for Newcastle to control their destiny regarding a home final, while the result also put Brisbane on the bottom of the ladder with just a week to play.
Josh Jackson in his 200th game was outstanding and saved what looked like two certain tries to Cam Murray, showing his detractors he still has plenty of value as an NRL player.
As usual with a result like this, our -29.5 Rabbitohs line prediction could appear on Freezing Cold Takes.
We couldn’t imagine a Bulldog scoring the first try, yet they managed to get the first three.
What this does for Souths’ confidence going into the finals will be an interesting story line in the weeks ahead.
Cowboys 1232 Panthers
This was another game where the disrespectful -29.5 head start for the Penrith Panthers was a real possibility, even after it was announced Api Koroisau and James Tamou were being rested.
Penrith’s fast start made it feel even more realistic, but some fight in the second half from the Cowboys left the final score at 32-12 as the Panthers secured the minor premiership for the third time in their history.
The other two times they finished first they went on to win the premiership, so watch this space.
If the NRL had an award for ‘most improved’, Jarome Luai would be right up there on the back of an enormous season in the halves for Penrith.
Just what the Panthers do with their squad against the Bulldogs in round 20 will be interesting to see. How many will be rested, if any at all?
It could have big impact on the betting market not only for that game but the premiership too.
Eels 2612 Broncos
It looked like more of the same from the Parramatta Eels despite racking up a healthy 26 points.
They will finish in fourth position and could end up with a win rate of 75%, yet almost everyone thinks they’re pretenders.
Phil Gould noted in commentary that Parramatta far too often look for the miracle and aren’t content to play the percentages, which is a recipe for disaster in finals against the best teams.
And would you believe it, Maika Sivo scored second by a matter of 90 seconds. You couldn’t script a harder luck story.
At least the unders got home comfortably, so we can take some solace in that fact.
Sea Eagles 2442 Titans
We hate to say ‘we told you so’, but… we told you so.
How the Manly Sea Eagles were such short-priced favourites for this contest beggars belief, as they have been terrible for some time now and ran into a side who had won four in a row.
Not only were Manly beaten, they were absolutely carved up on their home turf, something that is totally unacceptable no matter where you sit on the ladder or whatever excuses you have.
The final margin might have been 18 points, but at times the ease with which the Titans rolled downfield made it look like a training run against 14-year-olds.
Six weeks ago, a road trip for Newcastle to the Gold Coast in the final week looked like an easy win, but that game now looks like a dog fight for the Knights.
Storm 5022 Tigers
The Melbourne Storm put in one of their worst defensive performances of the season and still won by 28 points.
In the final 20 minutes they flexed their muscles after letting the Tigers back into the contest just after half-time.
Josh Addo-Carr is playing as well as ever and scoring tries for fun, while Suliasi Vunivalu looks the best he has since his rookie season.
Unless you’re a Storm fan, you probably aren’t one for their antics – but if Craig Bellamy giving the finger to Cam Smith didn’t make you laugh, you don’t like footy.
The $2.80 for Addo-Carr’s double was like taking candy from a baby, as was the 13+ margin on the Storm.
We thought Asu Kepaoa at $15 was good value for the game’s first try, but credit to those who only took him to score the Tigers’ opener.
Roosters 3418 Sharks
They had plenty of big names on the sideline, but the Sydney Roosters never really looked troubled.
Our -24.5 line for the Roosters fell short, but the overs prediction was too easy.
One stat which was mentioned in commentary was Cronulla’s dire record against top-eight teams, which now stands at 0-7 while conceding more than 30 points per game.
With a game coming up against Canberra, they could very well sneak into finals despite having not beaten a top-eight side all season.
After another huge win, the Roosters will shorten in the NRL Premiership betting and be the outright favourite when the finals begin.
It will take a serious football team to beat them, and the prospect of the Chooks taking on Melbourne or Penrith in week one is tantalising.
Raiders 2614 Warriors
This was an ugly game of footy, to say the least.
The Canberra Raiders did as expected and won the game, but an off day with the boot from Jarrod Croker would have cost punters plenty of cash in the margin betting.
Canberra’s top-four hopes hang by a thread, but there is still a chance they could sneak in on differential if the Eels slip up next week.
Many punters would have backed them to finish at that end of the ladder, so there will be a lot of nervous energy during those games on Saturday evening.
The best part is Canberra play first, meaning Parramatta will know exactly what they need to do to secure fourth place.
Knights 4218 Dragons
To say the St George Illawarra Dragons didn’t aim up is selling them short, as they were downright dreadful.
The Newcastle Knights were good but nowhere near outstanding as the Dragons produced one of the more embarrassing defensive performances of the year.
The 13+ we liked for Newcastle felt home and hosed in the first 10 minutes, which made for comfortable viewing on the couch for a Sunday afternoon.
The win for the Knights means they control their destiny as they look to secure a home final.
On Friday they will face the Titans, who have shown some fantastic form in winning their last four in a row.
It’s a good test for the Knights and adds plenty of interest for the last round of the regular season, while it should also have an impact on Newcastle’s price heading into week one of the finals.
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