Magic Round is upon us and with all 16 teams playing at Suncorp over three spellbinding days, it is the Melbourne Storm who once again present as a supernatural betting option this week even with some big names sidelined.
Here are The Wolf’s best bets for Round 10.
Canberra/South Sydney/Sydney Roosters/Penrith/New Zealand +7.5 ($4.27)
Tigers To Top Knights
Magic Round opens with a game between two teams who have been anything but magic this season.
The Tigers are 15th on the ladder and have just two wins. They have conceded 30 or more in six of their nine appearances. The Knights are 10th on the ladder and have regressed notably from last season. They rank bottom five in scoring.
This is simply a game where the value rests with the underdog. Betting either of these teams is poison.
The Tigers look like they will get a major kick up the backside with Michael Maguire rumoured to be dropping Luke Brooks. Jock Madden was named to debut on the bench but a reshuffle is likely to smother the Brooks axing.
Newcastle have covered just four of 11 when favoured by more than a try and just four of 12 interstate. The Tigers have covered four of their last six against the Knights and are the bet this week.
Same Game Multi: Wests Tigers Win/Jacob Liddle Try ($9.50)
Broncos Eyeing Magic Win
Brisbane will fancy their chances of coming away with the win against Manly, even with the Sea Eagles looking rejuvenated with Tom Trbojevic returning.
The Broncos have looked markedly better with Tyson Gamble and Anthony Milford as their halves pairing, covering their last two and winning against the Titans two weeks back. As a big underdog back at Suncorp, the Broncos are live chances this week.
Despite their woes in recent years, the Broncos have really snuck under the radar as a good bet at Suncorp. They have covered six of seven at the ground, are 14-7 against the number at Suncorp off a loss and have covered five straight at the venue getting more than a converted try.
Manly have won four of their last five with five straight covers but showed some vulnerability conceding 32 to the Warriors last week in a shootout. The Sea Eagles have covered just 12 of 28 off conceding at least 28 points.
Brisbane have covered five of their last six against Manly and look a strong bet to make that nut again.
Same Game Multi: Brisbane +8.5/Tom Trbojevic Try/Xavier Coates Try ($6.00)
Raiders Ready to Rock
Canberra could not get a better game to alleviate the pressure on their season than running into a hapless Canterbury team that are starting to look historically bad. There is no better way to end a five-game losing streak than to see the Bulldogs on the schedule.
Canterbury aren’t just last on the ladder – they are historically bad. Only two teams since 2008 have failed to cover at least two of their first nine games. They rank last in scoring. They rank last in defence. They have conceded at least 28 in seven of their nine games and have a head coach whose former team was a defensive joke.
The Bulldogs have failed to cover their last nine off a loss of 13-plus, they have not covered any of their last eight day games and they have covered just one of their last seven getting double digits.
The Raiders are having their difficulties. They have a large injury toll that has seen Joseph Tapine, Ryan Sutton and Jordan Rapana added to a long injury list, their star halfback claiming home sickness and the club’s co-captains both seemingly dropped.
Canberra are 28-19 against the spread on the road though and have covered 14 of 22 on the road off a loss. This is a great chance to bounce back for Canberra.
Same Game Multi: Josh Papalii Try/George Williams Try ($13.00)
Bunnies to Blast Sinking Sharks
Both teams will be shaken after last week with both teams held scoreless in very heavy defeats. The Rabbitohs lost 50-0 at home to the Storm while the Sharks were beaten 48-0 on the road to the Panthers.
Those defeats though, as similar as they were last week, are notably different when given context.
Souths were without stars Adam Reynolds and Latrell Mitchell, as well as a host of other players including Cameron Murray. While the latter two remain out, Reynolds is named to return to a team that sits squarely in the Top 4.
Cronulla have descended into the bottom four and are winless in four games since moving on from coach John Morris. They include a loss to Canterbury and conceding 40-plus in their last two.
Souths have covered seven of nine when favoured by more than a converted try away from ANZ. The Sharks have covered just three of their last nine off scoring 10 or fewer.
Reynolds is key here. His return brings some organisation and some kicking and against a team that is in all sorts, that is enough.
Same Game Multi: Alex Johnston Try/Cody Walker Try/Dane Gagai Try ($7.00)
Chooks to Carve Up Cowboys
The Sydney Roosters have lost three games this year. All have been against Top 4 opposition. In their other six games they are a perfect 6-0 with five of those wins being by 20-plus.
The Cowboys, most definitely, are not a Top 4 team.
The Roosters have been hit hard by injury but still field a team that could push any in the competition. James Tedesco remains the best fullback in the premiership, Sam Walker is an emerging star and there are other internationals that will turn out.
Betting on top-tier teams against those at the bottom has proven healthy this year with those elite teams covering 15 of 21. The Roosters are just a super-reliable betting proposition in this spot too. They are 18-8 against the number off a loss including 9-3 against the spread off a double digit defeat. They are 29-19 against the spread when favoured by more than a converted try.
The Cowboys cover at just 42% off a win and rank bottom four in defence. This is bad matchup for them and it is hard to see them being able to go with a Roosters team that still has a ton of firepower.
Same Game Multi: Sydney Roosters 13+/Sitili Tupouniua Try ($5.50)
Warriors Standup to Short-handed Eels
The arrogance of the Eels could be their undoing this week.
For reasons known only to Parramatta, they defied an NRL recommendation to rest top grade players from NSW Cup last week. That could leave them short-handed this week with the NRL allowing the Eels to name some players but they will be under stringent guidelines if they are to play.
This is not an ideal scenario at the best of times but with Jacob Arthur set to debut at five-eighth and a new hooker potentially needed if Reed Mahoney fails his concussion protocols, no training could be disastrous.
The Warriors have a very good recent record against the Eels with 12 covers in the last 19 clashes. This is also a good spot for New Zealand. The Warriors have covered 10 of their last 13 getting a start of a try and they have covered 11 straight afternoon matches. The Warriors are 28-13 against the number off a poor defensive showing where they conceded at least 20.
Nathan Brown’s team are also getting back to close to full strength. Ben Murdoch-Masila is back while Euan Aitken and Elisea Katoa have been named among the reserves. The Eels have lost Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore.
The start in this one is big and Wolfie is very keen on the plus.
Same Game Multi: Adam Pompey Try/Clint Gutherson Try ($5.75)
Storm To Shine Again
The big news in this game is that Melbourne will be without representative stars Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Harry Grant. That would be enough to gut most teams. The Storm are still favoured by nearly three converted tries against a Dragons team firmly in the Top 8.
Such is the brilliance of the Melbourne Storm.
The named Storm team almost definitely won’t take the park. Ryan Papenhuyzen will return at fullback. Nicho Hynes will most likely play the majority of the game at hooker. Kenny Bromwich will play on an edge.
The Dragons have lost just youngster Mathew Feagai with Mikaele Ravalawa returning from suspension. Cody Ramsey is also a hope of making a comeback.
Melbourne have historically dominated the Dragons with 19 wins in the last 26 meetings and this has unquestionably been a year for big favourites with double digit elects 15-9 against the number.
This is just a magic spot for the Storm. They have covered 13 of their last 19 road games and have covered 13 of their last 18 at Suncorp. They have scored 40-plus in five of their last six and hold form when their attack is firing, covering 11 of 14 off a win of 13-plus.
The injuries bring the Dragons back into this slightly but Melbourne still have the weapons to rip the Saints to shreds.
Same Game Multi: Jahrome Hughes Try/Justin Olam Try ($6.75)
Panthers to Expose Stuttering Titans
Penrith look good things to finish off the round and should be covering a big line that has been lengthening all week.
The Panthers have won a remarkable 27 straight regular season games and have been remarkable defensively this season, conceding just 60 points in nine matches. They also rank second in scoring and come off a punishing 48-0 demolition job of the Sharks.
That bodes extremely poorly for a Gold Coast team, who are have descended into a defensive disaster. The Titans have conceded 142 points in their last four matches, three of which have come against teams who missed the Top 8 this season and are likely to miss the finals again.
Penrith are extremely reliable as a big favourite, covering 10 of 13 when laying double digits. They have also covered five of their last seven after conceding six points or fewer.
Gold Coast look to be in a very poor spot here. They have covered just 1 of 12 on the road off scoring more than 30 and make the nut at just 40% after conceding more than 28 points.
Penrith should have few problems with the Titans.
Same Game Multi: Matt Burton Try/Stephen Crichton Try/Nathan Cleary Try ($13.50)