NRL Preview: Raiders v Panthers


NRL Preview
Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers

Saturday, September 17, 7.45pm (AEST), Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Best Bet:  Canberra -1.5 ($1.90)
Other:  Under 38.5 ($1.90)
Canberra 1-12 ($3.00)

Canberra’s title aspirations took a crushing blow last weekend with a tough home loss to Cronulla following an apparent serious injury to Josh Hodgson. They get a second crack though, this time welcoming the red-hot Penrith team to the capital.

Selection Notes
Blake Austin is back for Canberra with Sam Williams out. Josh Hodgson was named but is highly unlikely. Penrith are unchanged.

Canberra and Penrith have met on 69 occasions with each remarkably winning 34 times with a single draw. More remarkably there is just a single point between them over 35 seasons with the Raiders having scored 1450 to the Panthers’ 1449. The teams most famously played off in the 1990 and 1991 Grand Finals with the Panthers winning their first title in the latter season. The teams have actually met in seven finals matches with the Raiders holding a 5-2 advantage including wins in 1997, 2000 and 2010. The teams have played twice this year with Canberra winning 30-22 in Round 1 before Penrith won 19-18 in Bathurst. The last 14 since 2010 have been split evenly but the Raiders have won 4 of the 6 matches at Canberra Stadium over that timespan. Jordan Rapana has five tries in four games against Penrith.

NRL betting odds database

Canberra soared to second on the ladder on the back of 10 straight victories before losing to Cronulla last week. They finished the season with a 17-6-1 record and a +232 differential. They finished the regular season ranked first in attack with 28.8ppg (4.5ppg more than second placed North Queensland) and seventh in defence (19.0ppg). Since Round 11 they have averaged 31.5ppg in attack (1st) while conceding 17.1ppg (3rd). The Raiders have scored 26-plus in 12 of their last 15. Penrith finished the year sixth on the ladder with a 14-10 record and a +100 differential. They finished the regular season with five straight wins, scoring at least 36 points in four of them before thumping the Bulldogs 28-12 in the opening week of the finals. They have won just 4 of their last 8 against Top 8 opposition. Penrith finished the season ranked fifth in attack (23.5ppg) and eighth in defence (19.4ppg) but since Round 11 they have risen to second in attack (26.2ppg) and fifth in defence (18.5ppg).

Finals Week 2 NRL Odds

Key Matchup
Jordan Rapana v Josh Mansour. It is incredible that a wing matchup could be the feature battle of a huge final but this is what we have with two of the most imposing, dominant wingers in the competition. Rapana has enjoyed a breakout season where he has done all a winger can do and more. Mansour just continues to improve, making his Origin debut this year and proving one of the most destructive runners in the game. This matchup will be immense.

Stats That Matter
Canberra are 15-10 ATS with a 16-9 over record while Penrith are 13-12 ATS with a 14-11 under record. Canberra have covered and gone over in 11 of their last 14 while Penrith have covered six straight with their last three going under.  Since 2008, Canberra are 2-4 ATS with a 5-1 over number in finals matches while Penrith are 2-3 ATS with a 3-2 under record. Since 2008 finals matches have gone under at a rate of 57%. Finals teams off a double digit win are 38-39 ATS with a 50-27 under record. The under is 56-36 when a finals team conceded 16 or fewer the week prior. Since 2008 in the second week of the finals home teams are 11-5 with a 10-6 ATS record and an average winning margin of 10.88. Home favourites of 3.5 or less are 14-5 ATS dating back to 2008 with a 13-6 under record. The Raiders are an awful 3-10 ATS as a small home favourite since 2013, covering just twice in the last three years. Small home favourites off a loss cover at just 44%. Penrith are 6-10 ATS as a small road underdog.

In-Play Stat
Canberra are 12-2 when ahead at the break this year while Penrith are 8-1 when in front after 40 minutes.

Behind The Curtains

Final Thoughts
Canberra appeared to be cruising towards a preliminary final berth before Josh Hodgson went down hurt. Cronulla turned the match into a grind and it choked the Raiders out of the match. Penrith won’t be able to do that – it just isn’t their style – and a more open game plays into the Raiders’ hands. The likely loss of Josh Hodgson is a blow but the betting here has gone too far towards Penrith. Small home favourites in finals cover at over 70% and home teams are typically the team to side with in the second week of the finals.

How It’s Shaping Up
Canberra by 7

Best Bet
Canberra -1.5 ($1.90)

Best Exotic
Canberra 1-12 ($3.00)

Best First/Last Tryscorer
Jordan Rapana ($9.00)

Other Recommended Bets
Under 38.5 ($1.90)