There are plenty of big lines this week and The Wolf is very keen on the favourites covering the large starts. Here are The Wolf’s Best Bets for Round 14.
Penrith/Sydney Roosters/South Sydney/Melbourne/Parramatta ($2.98)
Brookvale Shootout Looms
The biggest pall hanging over this game is Tom Trbojevic’s status. Manly were horrendous when he was missing earlier in the season and have become a genuine force since his return. It would seem utter madness for Manly to risk him two days after playing a bruising State of Origin. Des Hasler rarely follows common logic though so he could well play, particularly with the Sea Eagles still holding hopes of a Top 4 finish.
There are some other notable inclusions for the Sea Eagles with Kieran Foran, Dylan Walker and Cade Cust all named to return. Sean Keppie, one of Manly’s best in recent weeks, is out.
North Queensland will have Valentine Holmes and Kyle Feldt backing up from Origin while there are a ton of changes from the team that rolled the Warriors including Jason Taumalolo and Lachlan Burr returning from suspension and Tom Dearden debuting for the club.
If Trbojevic plays, the Sea Eagles are going to start much shorter than the current 9.5-point line. If he does not, the Cowboys clearly present as value. Taking an early side bet is not advised.
There is one play though that can be taken with confidence and that is betting the over in this game. All signs point to a shootout. Both teams can score points and both are defensively suspect.
This is a huge over spot for Manly, who have gone over in 22 of their last 31 at Brookvale and in 20 of their last 31 when favoured. The Sea Eagles are an insane 16-4 over when playing at Brookvale off a loss while the over has hit in six of seven at Brookvale when the Sea Eagles are favoured by more than a converted try. The over has hit in 12 of the last 15 North Queensland games when they are off conceding 18-plus points.
The over is an excellent bet. The extended over provides excellent value.
Same Game Multi: Jason Saab Try/Brad Parker Try/Valentine Holmes Try ($9.00)
Panthers Eyeing Sharks Slaughter
No team has been hit harder by State of Origin duty than Penrith. The Panthers were without seven starters last week when 12 months of unbeaten regular season football was ended last Friday by the Tigers and will now need those players to back up two days after what is sure to be a rugged affair.
Naturally, this is another match that needs to be bet late when final teams are announced. Only 18th man Api Koroisau has been named to start by Ivan Cleary with the other six representatives named as reserves. Assuming the starters backup though – and they are young and Penrith clearly put a lot of stock in the regular season – Penrith look a play laying just over a converted try.
The Panthers have dominated the Sharks, putting on at least 38 in their last three while covering the start in five of the last six clashes. Penrith are 16-8 against the number in NSW when favoured by more than a converted try while the Sharks have covered just four of 12 getting more than a converted try.
Cronulla are showing some signs of life and were impressive dominating the Titans in their last game prior to a bye but Penrith are a different team. If they roll out anything resembling their best they are a bet in this one.
Same Game Multi: Stephen Crichton Try/Matt Burton Try ($5.75)
Despite being the best side across the last three seasons, the Roosters have just a single player on Origin duty, that being Blues skipper James Tedesco. That squares up with four Titans playing Origin, their largest ever haul.
The Roosters go into this game fresh off a bye and mentally fresh off having little to worry about Origin. They have a lengthy injury toll and Victor Radley remains suspended but this is a Roosters team that is elite across the park.
Gold Coast dug in deep against an undermanned Melbourne last week but the quick backup is a concern for their four players, particularly AJ Brimson who has carried an injury all through camp.
This is just a bad matchup for the Titans, who have conceded at least 28 in six of their last eight matches. They have conceded 20-plus in every game since Round 3. The Roosters are an attacking juggernaut that have topped 30 in seven games this season and have scored 26 in all bar one match against teams outside of the Top 4.
Travelling is of no concern to the Roosters because they are a team that holds form when their attack is on song and they are at their best when heavily favoured. The Roosters have covered nine of 13 off scoring 40 points while they have covered 13 of 19 when favoured by double digits.
Gold Coast struggle in day games, covering just six of 20 in the afternoon.
A more settled Roosters team will have few issues winning this one with a leg in the air.
Same Game Multi: Angus Crichton Try/Sitili Tupouniua Try ($8.75)
Bunnies to Blast Nightmare Knights
If there is one team that absolutely terrifies the stuttering and extraordinarily fragile Newcastle team, it is the dynamic and potent South Sydney.
Souths can carve up any defence. A team that has conceded at least 36 in four of their last six meetings and sits firmly in the bottom four will not pose a problem.
The recent history between these two makes for ugly reading for the Knights. Souths have won 10 of the last 12 clashes. In the last nine matches, the Rabbitohs have posted at least 34 in six of those. They have covered 12 of the last 17 meetings.
This is just a bad spot for the Knights, who have covered the start in just two of their last nine road games and in five of their last 16 when getting a start of at least eight points. Souths really hold form off a big attacking performance with eight covers in their last 10 off scoring 38 or more points, just as they did against the Eels last start.
Souths have five players on Origin duty but Dane Gagai and Jai Arrow have already been ruled out. The key will be Latrell Mitchell backing up. Souths are so much more potent and he is likely to back up having missed so much football of late.
This has all the hallmarks of a rout. The Knights are struggling and will be without their key playmakers and their top forward. This could get very messy.
Same Game Multi: Alex Johnston Try/Cody Walker Try/Braidon Burns Try ($6.75)
Desperate Raiders Looking for Bronco Bounce
Canberra just cannot stay out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. They made the most of their bye week by seeing troublesome centre Curtis Scott get into a nightclub altercation. He has been stood down this week.
Losing Scott though may be a blessing for the Raiders. He has been a defensive liability distrusting of those inside him while his attack has been bumbling at best. Matt Timoko is a major upgrade.
More important to the Raiders though is the return of Josh Papalii from suspension and Joe Tapine from injury. Both have been horribly out of form but are two of the premier forwards in the NRL when at their best.
Canberra have been the major disappointment this season and have failed to cover their last eight so it is hard to get overcome with excitement in taking the minus but this really is a must-win clash for the Raiders and they enter this with more lineup stability and far more talent.
The Broncos side is in such a state that Karmichael Hunt has been recalled to play his first NRL game in 12 years. His halves partner is Albert Kelly. Fullback Jamayne Isaako has also been dumped after his epic shocker last week.
Brisbane are awful on the road, going 11-23 against the spread interstate, while they have covered just 9 of 26 off scoring 24 points. Conceding 52 to the Dragons last week was just horrific.
It may not feel good but Canberra can be bet with confidence.
Same Game Multi: Canberra 13+/Sebastian Kris Try/Josh Hodgson Try ($15.00)
Storm To Continue Warriors Woes
Do you know who bets against the Melbourne Storm? Psychopaths, sociopaths and those with a deep disdain for money.
An understrength Melbourne failed to cover a big start last week against the Gold Coast but they had covered nine straight prior in which they won each game by 13-plus, the first team to do so in premiership history. With plenty of big names likely to return this week – even if they have to back up from Origin – they look primed for another runaway win.
The Storm have just owned the Warriors in recent years. They have won 10 straight against New Zealand with the last three all by at least 22. The Storm covered eight of those 10. Melbourne have covered 12 of 16 as a double digit favourite away from AAMI and 13 of 16 off a big defensive showing where they conceded 14 or fewer.
The Warriors get Addin Fonua-Blake back in their squad and he will likely play but the loss of rising star Reece Walsh cannot be underestimated. He has become the fulcrum of their attack and his absence is likely to throw the entire attack asunder.
New Zealand play their best football at Gosford and go well off a loss but this is the Storm and Melbourne have to be the play.
Same Game Multi: Jahrome Hughes Try/Harry Grant Try ($8.75)
Electric Eels to Tame Tigers
Parramatta have made a significant habit of taming the Wests Tigers. Getting yet another Sunday afternoon game, another Tigers touch-up is on the cards.
The Eels have won 10 of their last 12 against the Tigers including six straight, where they scored at least 24 in each. They have won four of the last five by double digits. Parramatta just carve a typically poor defensive team to shreds.
Brad Arthur’s team also plays their best football in day games. Parramatta have covered 11 of their last 17 day games and have scored 34-plus in three of their last four.
While the dominos are lining up nicely for Parramatta, the same cannot be said for the Tigers.
Michael Maguire’s team has found some form of late but a heavy fall back to reality seems to be in their immediate future.
The Tigers are awful off a win, covering at just 38%. They have covered just 7 of 19 off a double digit win. Day games are poison for the Tigers, covering just 7 of 24 day games. They have covered just 4 of 13 when an underdog of more than eight points.
Parramatta have too much firepower for the Tigers.
Same Game Multi: Ryan Matterson Try/Clint Gutherson Try ($6.00)
Bulldogs to Battle Saints Tough
There could be a bigger upset on the Queen’s Birthday holiday than Harry and Megan naming their kid Lillibet with the Bulldogs a real runner against the Dragons.
Canterbury remain dreadful. They have just one win and they are bringing precious little to the future. This is a game they can show up in though.
This line is very big for a team that opened the season as the wooden spoon favourites. They come into this off a big win over Brisbane but they still allowed the Broncos to score 24. The Saints have covered just six of their last 15 off scoring 18-plus.
The Bulldogs, of course, have no player on Origin duty. The Saints have Tariq Sims, who has been very important to the Saints this year.
This projects to be a low-scoring affair so happy to take the big plus in this one.
Same Game Multi: Jake Averillo Try/Jack Bird Try ($13.50)