Mon, Sep 12, 11:22am by Jake Equid
The NRL finals series started in sensational fashion with plenty of action across three days in four different states. The Storm and the Sharks booked their place in the preliminary finals in tight, gripping contests while the Broncos ended the Titans season on Friday night and the Panthers did the same to the Bulldogs on Sunday.
The Storm are now $2.65 favourites to win the Premiership, with the Sharks now second pick at $4.50. The Cowboys may have lost, but are still third pick at $5.50, with their opponent the Broncos at $8. The battle of the Raiders and the Panthers this weekend is the battle of $10 and $11 outsiders respectively.
Here’s a look at the early odds for the semi-finals:
First Semi Final –North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos, 1300Smiles Stadium – 7:55pm, Friday September 16
The Broncos survived a pulsating end-to-end contest against the Titans but now face their second Queensland derby in as many weeks on Friday night. The Cowboys kept the Storm to two tries in Melbourne and will go in as heavy favourites at home.
The Cowboys will be extremely hard to beat on their home patch, having won 11 of their 12 games at home this year. Their only loss coming to the Storm in Round 21.
These two teams met in last year’s decider, the contest went into extra time and is considered one of the greatest Grand Finals in history. Johnathan Thurston’s field goal sealing the 17-16 win to give the Cowboys their first ever Premiership. Every time these two clubs play it is a massive occasion as the two original Queensland teams and this will be no different.
The visitors looked a little shaky in defence against the Titans conceding 28 points and will have to be at their best here if they are to topple the reigning premier. The winner will be on the road for the Preliminary Final against the Sharks.
Second Semi Final –Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers
GIO Stadium – 7:45pm Saturday September 17
Canberra lost a thriller to the Sharks on Saturday and now face a rampaging Panthers team who pushed aside the Dogs with ease.
The bookies were obviously impressed by the Panthers domination of the Bulldogs on Sunday as this match is pretty much a toss of the coin in the head to head market. The Raiders are $1.80 with Penrith at $2. The line is just 1.5.
The green army were incredibly excited pre-game on Saturday with their now synonymous viking clap. It was a different story when the Sharks pulled off a dramatic comeback to steal the win. The Green Machine must now take the long road to the Grand Final if it is to break a 22-year title drought.
Making things even harder for Canberra as it looks like star hooker Josh Hodgson will miss with an ankle injury. He rolled his left ankle when he collided with teammate Aidan Sezer early in the second half.
Penrith were supposed to kick on after their fourth-placed finish in 2014 but severely disappointed last year. Now is the time to shine for the mountain men who certainly looked the goods on Sunday against a stunned Bulldogs side. This one has the makings of a classic with the winner to face the Storm in the preliminary final in Melbourne.
NRL Semi Final odds:
Stay tuned to australiangambling.com.au over the coming days for betting previews including best bets and video previews and as we continue to preview the NRL finals.
Odds sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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