NRL Season 2018: Round 17 Analysis

Melbourne v St George Illawarra

Thursday 5th July 7:50pm AEST AAMI Park

There are an extraordinary 11 starters from the Storm and Dragons missing due to Origin duty with the Dragons naming a 29-year-old debutant at halfback and both sides looking highly unrecognisable. The Storm have a significant edge here though with Cameron Smith leading a team around that includes former Origin star Ryan Hoffman. The Dragons have Gareth Widdop but must perform behind a shaky forward pack.

The Dragons have not won in Melbourne since 1999 and have won just eight games overall against the Storm in the last two decades. Melbourne have won four straight and should make it five.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Melbourne -5.5

Penrith vs New Zealand

Friday 6th July 7:55pm AEST Panthers Stadium

Penrith have been highly reliable at home, particularly as a home underdog, and can continue that against a Warriors side that has returned to its flaky norm. The Panthers have covered 23 of their last 39 at home including 8 of 11 as a home underdog. They have also won eight of 10 against the Warriors including four straight at Penrith by margins of eight or more. The Warriors have covered just seven of 18 as a favourite.

Very happy to take the Warriors on here despite Penrith being without the NSW halves pairing.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Penrith +2.5

Canterbury v Canberra

Saturday 7th July 7:35pm AEST Belmore Sports Ground

Coming off their most impressive performance in over 12 months, the Bulldogs shape as an excellent bet getting a big start at their spiritual home of Belmore on Saturday night. The Bulldogs are a perfect 8-0 against the line as an underdog of 6.5 or more at Belmore/ANZ while they are 11-4 against the line getting a start of a try or more. Home underdogs of 6.5 or more off a win are also an excellent 24-15 against the spread over the last four years.

The Raiders have covered just six of their last 15 off a one-score loss and seem mentally beaten down by their continual failures to close games. The Bulldogs are a quality play.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Canterbury +6.5

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