Venue: Suncorp Stadium
History (since 1998): Played 32, Broncos 17, Roosters 15
- The Broncos have won their last 4 matches
- The Roosters won the last meeting between these sides 32-16
- The Roosters have won 57% of matches at Suncorp Stadium
Betting Trends: It’s absolutely one-way traffic in betting so far, the Broncos have received 80% of head to head bets.
Final Thoughts: These two sides met only five weeks ago in Sydney when the Roosters demolished the Broncos 32-16. The Broncos have not lost a match since and continue to improve with every outing, including last week’s outstanding performance over the Storm. If they continue on their current trajectory they could very well be on their way to another Grand Final. The Roosters were game in the first half against the Sharks, but with nothing to play for fell in a heap when the blowtorch was turned on in the second stanza. That isn’t a great sign for the last game of a year to forget for the boys from Bondi, this one could get messy.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Broncos -10.5 @ $1.90
Venue: ANZ Stadium
History (since 1998): Played 31, Bulldogs 20, Rabbitohs 10
- The Bulldogs won the last meeting between these sides 42-12
- The Bulldogs have a 58% winning record at ANZ Stadium
- The Rabbitohs have won their last 3 matches
Betting Trends: Punters are smelling an upset, Souths are receiving the majority of the money at the +4 line.
Final Thoughts: All year we have been calling the Bulldogs flat track bullies, and for the 24th and final time we will once again question their credentials as a genuine contender. Three wins over easy beats the Dragons, Knights and Sea Eagles were followed by two comprehensive losses to the Broncos and Cowboys. South’s last month has been rather more impressive, with three wins and a golden point loss in Melbourne to the Storm. That form places them well above the Bulldogs, and they will put up enough of a fight to make the Dogs uneasy.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Rabbitohs +4 @ $1.90
Venue: Jubilee Oval
History (since 1998): Played 32, Dragons 22, Knights 10
- The Dragons have won 63% of matches at Jubilee Oval
- The Knights have only won 1 match this season
- The Dragons won the last meeting between these sides 30-18
Betting Trends: Money is starting to come for the home side, with 65% of bets at the line coming for the Dragons so far.
Final Thoughts: I can’t imagine many fans will be hanging out for this one, as two of the worst sides in the competition face off for nothing more than bragging rights. There seems to be a lot wrong with the Dragons at the moment. Talk of players leaving, an inept attack and the short turnaround leaves them looking vulnerable. The Knights will finally get to put their season from hell to rest, and have a genuine shot of causing an upset here. And the young side and their fans deserve it. The line isn’t quite as big as I’d like, but it’s enough to make it a great bet.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Knights +10.5 @ $1.90
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
History (since 1998): Played 16, Cowboys 8, Titans 8
- The Titans have never won at 1300SMILES Stadium
- The Cowboys won the last meeting between these sides 42-12
- The Cowboys have won 84% of matches at home in the last 3 seasons
Betting Trends: The Titans have been crunched in betting so far, 65% of head to head and line bets have been for the home side.
Final Thoughts: The first of two cracking Saturday matches between two finals-bound sides. The Titans close loss to the Panthers last round showed just how classy a side they are, and they genuinely deserve their crack at finals footy. But to guarantee that place they need to beat the improving Cowboys, who, like the Broncos are improving with each start. They should- and do- go up another gear at home, and will really want to stretch out against the Titans. If the Broncos win on Thursday a win will be vital to secure a top four position, so with that motivation and extra class expect them to win easily.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Cowboys -8.5 @ 1.90
Venue: AAMI Park
History (since 1998): Played 30, Storm 20, Sharks 10
- The winner of this match will become Minor Premiers
- The Sharks have never won at AAMI Park
- The Storm have won 73% of matches at AAMI Park
Betting Trends: Punters are expecting a big win for the Storm, 70% of bets have been for the home side so far.
Final Thoughts: Despite sitting first and second on the ladder it is hard to gauge just how well both of these sides are travelling at the moment. The Sharks may have turned the corner out of their late-season funk in the second half against the Roosters last week when they really seemed to get their mojo back. The Storm, on the other hand, have largely limped through the last month of the competition, losing both matches to title contenders the Broncos and Raiders. Despite their phenomenal home record and the undoubted class across the park, they do seem to be gassed heading into September. The Sharks have everything to play for and are currently outstanding value.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Sharks win @ $2.64
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
History (since 1998): Played 31, Tigers 18, Raiders 13
- The Raiders won the last meeting between these sides 60-6
- The Raiders have won their last 9 matches in a row
- The Tigers have won 60% of matches at Leichhardt
Betting Trends: You can’t write a ticket for either side here, all punters are waiting for Saturday’s results before backing either side.
Final Thoughts: With coach Ricky Stuart declaring that he will rest his star Raiders if the Shark beat the Storm it is impossible to accurately preview this match until Sunday morning. But with our prediction of Sharks and Cowboys wins, it means that the Raiders will be far from full strength, and the Tigers will be playing for a spot in the eight. On that alone, the Tigers are value but bet early at your own risk.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Tigers win @ $2.34
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
History (since 1998): Played 33, Warriors 14, Eels 19
- The Warriors have won 58% of matches at Mt Smart Stadium
- The Warriors have lost their last 3 matches
- Parramatta have only won 33% of matches at Mt Smart Stadium
Betting Trends: There has been an avalanche of money for the Warriors, who are strong $1.38 favourites.
Final Thoughts: From Round 1 the Warriors have been the most overbet side in the competition, and this doesn’t change for Round 26. They have been absolutely awful over the last three weeks, conceding 111 points. Their loss to the Tigers last week would have been particularly disappointing, but showed the reality of where they are as a side. The Eels haven’t been travelling that much better of late on paper, but, in reality, they are still one of the better sides in the competition. Their performance against the Raiders was better than the scoreline suggests, and they looked quite sharp on Monday against the Dragons. The market looks completely wrong to me, could be a nice little earn to round out the season.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Eels win @ $3.05
Venue: Pepper Stadium
History (since 1998): Played 26, Panthers 13, Sea Eagles 13
- The Panthers have won their last 4 matches
- The Sea Eagles have lost their last 4 matches
- The Panthers won the last meeting between these sides 31-24
Betting Trends: Punters aren’t really interested in either side, money has been even for both sides at the line so far.
Final Thoughts: One team on the way up who has scored at least 38 points in three of their last four matches, against a side who has lost their last four matches in a row. Manly did look much better against the Raiders on Saturday but did have some very worrying signs in defence. If any side can blow them open again it is the Panthers, who also showed that they can scrap out a win with their one point victory over the Titans. They are one of- if not the form side in the competition at the moment, and should easily account for a Manly side who can’t wait for 2017.
The Early Crow’s Top Tip: Panthers -10 @ $1.90