Gamblers Guide to NRL Playoffs Week 1

nrl-playoffs

We’re a fair chance of the most unlikable NRL Premiers in quite a while.  No-one wants to see Ricky Stuart, Paul Gallen, Jarryd Hayne (It’s my ULTIMATE DREAM!) or Jimmy Graham win a premiership, because excessive whining should never be rewarded.  There’s no Sonny Bill, Sam Burgess or Jonathan Thurston story this year.  People are sick of Melbourne and Wayne Bennett lifting the Telephone Trophy.  And no-one, I mean no-one, will be able to tolerate the insufferability of Phil Gould if Penrith were to somehow get home.

Your best move to avoid extreme nausea, might be to cheer for Thurston again.

THE GAMES

FRIDAY NIGHT – Brisbane (-10) vs Gold Coast

Brisbane have won five straight, without looking thoroughly convincing aside of the home win over the Storm.  They’ve spent most of the season since the start of the Origin period making life hard for themselves with lethargic defence, a crappy kicking game and a propensity for clumsy errors.  Bennett must be getting an ulcer waiting for Ben Hunt to come alive.

Niel Henry should be the coach of the year for getting this team into the 8.  But they’re the sort of team, just like every year, that doesn’t belong in the playoffs.  They’re mediocre, which was enough of an achievement in itself.

They should get beat pretty good at Suncorp.  If Brisbane can’t win this well, you can write them off.

Who to hate:

Jarryd Hayne gold coast

BET: Broncos -10.

SATURDAY – Raiders (-5.5) vs Sharks

The Sharks have had one successful half of football in their last six games, although the immensely punchable Paul Gallen missed a bunch of those.

After spending the first 10 weeks of the season folding like a cheap suit, the Raiders caught fire and won their last 10, including smashing the Storm and Sharks.  They scored 18% more points than anyone in the league this season, and since their second bye have got their defensive points per game down to 15.

There’s always a hot team that makes the top four before capitulating cheaply in the finals.  They usually pick up 10 points during the Origin period and have a soft back end of the schedule.  Also, they’re usually called “Cronulla”.

The Raiders also have the usual characteristics of cheap finals exiters: young team, mentally unstable coach, reliance on offence to win.

If the Raiders are hot, they’ll blow that spread away.  If Cronulla can stop the errors and dud penalties from the last encounter between the two teams, they’re a fair shot.

Who to hate:

paul-gallen-whining-at-refereericky-stuart-press-conference

BET:  Sharks +5.5.

SATURDAY NIGHT – Storm (-2) vs Cowboys 

These two teams played out a classic in Round 10 (Thurston was missing in the Round 21 game).  They’re each not in their best form of the season, but they’re the two best teams.  I won’t bullshit you, it can go either way – they have great defenses, great packs, and great 7 & 9s..  I’ll go with the home team.

Who to hate:

egged-car

BET: Storm -2. 

SUNDAY – Panthers (-6) vs Bulldogs

The Bulldogs, on closer inspection, have been very ordinary all season.  Their last quality win was over the Storm in April.  They only really suffered one belting though.

Penrith have won 7 of their last 8.  The biggest difference in that run has been the emergence of Nathan Cleary.  The kid is cool as a cucumber, has time on the ball and a great kicking game.  I can’t imagine the playoffs fazing him.  I have no idea what Griffin is doing with Cartwright at 6.

The Bulldog’s offense has been their weak link.  Des Hasler’s a smart guy, and maybe he comes up with enough to keep it close.

Who to hate:

james graham david klemmer referee

book-of-mormon-2

BET:  Bulldogs +6.

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Author: Max Smith

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