NRL Round 14 Betting Preview: Game Odds, Trends, Analysis for Week Ahead

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2017

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 27:  Jayson Bukuya of the Sharks is tackled during the round 12 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Southern Cross Group Stadium on May 27, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The scene is set for one of the toughest betting rounds in the NRL in recent memory with four of the eight games in Round 14 having a line of 2.5 or less.

Two games, Cronulla vs. Melbourne Storm and Parramatta vs. North Queensland, have equal favourites, while Penrith are slight favourites in their clash with Canberra, and Gold Coast Titans just hold the edge in their clash with the New Zealand Warriors.

It's fair to say that given those clashes, the NRL ladder could look very different by Monday night. However, the top team is unlikely to change regardless of whether the second-place Sharks defeat the Storm in their clash Thursday night.

The Storm are a game clear and would need a larger than 14-point defeat at Southern Cross Group Stadium to concede the top spot. The Sharks have won three of the past four against the Storm, including of course last year's Grand Final, but they haven't beaten the Storm by that sort of margin in 12 years.

The Storm do get back Cameron Smith after he was rested following Origin duty, and that is one of the key reasons why they are considered equal favourites for this match, according to AustralianGambling.com.au. They will need a much better performance than when they were beaten 11-2 by the Sharks two months ago.

Both Friday night matches are expected to be fairly clear cut. Sixth-placed Manly are set at $1.20 AUD to beat the bottom-placed Newcastle Knights ($4.65) at Brookvale. The Knights have lost their past six to the Sea Eagles by an average of 18.5 points and haven't won at Brooky since 2006.

The Brisbane Broncos endured a difficult first Origin period, losing both their games either side of Origin 1 to slip to fifth on the table. They are expected ($1.22) to bounce back and be far too good for South Sydney, who are $4.40 at Suncorp Stadium.  

Both Gold Coast and New Zealand are battling for relevance as the season wears on, and Saturday's game at Cbus Super Stadium is a crucial test for both sides. The Titans are $1.72 favourites against the Warriors, who are winless outside of New Zealand this year and are $2.15 to get the points here for just the second time in their past 11 trips to the Glitter Strip.

Penrith, currently 10th, can stake a claim for the top eight when they host ninth-placed Canberra Raiders at Carrington Park in Bathurst on Saturday. Just one point separated the teams when they met at this ground last year, and the oddsmakers are predicting a similarly tight contest here with the Panthers at $1.82 and the Raiders at $2.

Parramatta and North Queensland are also taking the NRL show on the road with a match at TIO Stadium in Darwin. The Eels are 3-0 when playing in the Top End and sit just one spot behind the Cowboys in eighth place. The oddsmakers can't pick a favourite, with both at $1.91, but that will likely tip in the Eels' favour when it is confirmed Johnathan Thurston won't play for the Cowboys as he battled to be fit ahead of Origin 2.

Sunday's two games see the Sydney Roosters as the $1.20 betting favourite over the Wests Tigers ($4.40) in their match at Campbelltown, a venue where the eastern suburbs team haven't played since 2010.

The round concludes with a Monday afternoon match for the Queen's Birthday at ANZ Stadium, with St George Illawarra a $1.48 pick to beat the Canterbury Bulldogs, who are $2.70.

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