The Early Line: Round 24

Filed in NRL, The Early Line by on August 17, 2011

South Sydney face their biggest match in four seasons when they host North Queensland on Friday night in a must win affair. Bookmakers have opened the red-hot Bunnies up 2.5 to 4 point favourites.

Leave me out of South Sydney as a favourite in a high-pressure encounter that their season swings on. It is not a club renowned for stepping up when the pressure is on. The Cowboys are a much tougher test than the Eels or Raiders and with Thurston better for the run, Souths are in for a tough test. I like the points here. Bet 1.5 units on North Queensland with 4 start.

There is a 1 unit over play here if the total is 42 or lower. Scores have been skewing higher in recent weeks, these two have scored 50-plus in three of their last four and both teams are 12-9 over.

COVER FORM:North Qld 14-7 (LWWLL), Souths 8-13 (LLWWW)
OVER-UNDER FORM: North Qld 12-9 (OOOUO), Souths 12-9 (UOOOO)

In one of the most anticipated matches of the season, Melbourne are 2.5 point favourites against St George-Illawarra.

These two haven’t met since April last year and this clash has all the feel of a heavyweight title fight. This is one of the fiercest rivalries in the NRL with the two best coaches in the game going head-to-head. The Storm are missing Cooper Cronk but should still make it 12 straight wins, particularly with Jamie Soward in severe doubt. The Storm have lost only four of 22 since the ’99 Grand Final win and they have won 16 of 21 at AAMI Park. The Dragons will lift for this but the Storm are the team to be on at the moment. Bet 2.5 units on Melbourne -2.5.

Both of these two are strong under teams, the Dragons have scored more than 10 points only twice in their last nine matches in Melbourne and only one of their last eight has totalled more than 38. Bet 3 units on the under if the total is 34.5 or bigger.

COVER FORM:Melbourne 16-5 (WWLWW), St George-Ill 10-11 (WLLLL)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Melbourne 8-13 (UUOUO), St George-Ill 7-14 (OOOUU)

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Gold Coast will start 2.5 to 3.5 point favourites in their bottom-of-the-table clash with Canberra.

I can’t recommend a bet here. These two have exchanged matches over the last five years and each win went to the home team until the Titans shocked the Raiders earlier this year. Alan Tongue retiring will surely galvanize the Raiders but with no Josh Dugan, they can’t be tipped with confidence.

These two tend to be over teams but at Skilled tend to shoot under. No total.

COVER FORM:Gold Coast 5-16 (LLLWL), Canberra 6-15 (LWLLL)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Gold Coast 11-10 (OOOUO), Canberra 12-9 (UOUOO)

Following on from their shock win over St George-Illawarra, the Sydney Roosters are 4.5 to 5.5 point favourites over Cronulla.

I expect the Roosters to be in a letdown spot this week after a huge effort against the Dragons. They won’t be able to keep up that intensity. The Sharks have won the last three against the Roosters including a 42-18 win in this clash last year when the Roosters were actually playing well. The Sharks are riding a five-game non-cover streak, which is concerning, but they showed some fight on Monday and they may get the Roosters. Bet 1 unit on the Sharks with 5.5.

No total play.

COVER FORM:Sydney Roosters 10-11 (WWWLW), Cronulla 9-12 (LLLLL)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Sydney Roosters 6-15 (UUOOU), Cronulla 12-9 (OUOUU)

Penrith have opened up 7.5 home underdogs against the red-hot New Zealand Warriors.

The Warriors have won 5 of 6 with their only loss coming to Brisbane by a point, covering in their last seven. They are legitimate title contenders to my eye and against a Penrith team missing stars Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon, Lachlan Coote, Travis Burns and most likely Luke Walsh, they should bolt in. The Warriors have lost only two of eight against the Panthers and should win this well. Bet 2 units on New Zealand -7.5.

This looks like an under play but 7 of the last 8 between these two have totalled 44 or more so no total.

COVER FORM:Penrith 12-9 (LWLLL), New Zealand 13-8 (WWWWW)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Penrith 9-12 (OUOUO), New Zealand 7-14 (OOUOU)

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Manly have opened 10 point favourites in their clash with Canterbury on Sunday afternoon.

The line is too big. I remain unconvinced about Manly. Their attitude and application was poor against Parramatta and Canterbury have their season on the line. Trent Hodkinson will be at his best against his old club as well. Manly have won all 13 matches in Sydney this year but they have been an inconsistent cover team and the big number has me siding with Canterbury for 1.5 units with the big start.

Both these teams are under teams and with a finals berth on the line for Canterbury, we will speculate on an under play of 1 unit if the total is 38.5 or bigger.

COVER FORM:Manly 12-9 (WLLWL), Canterbury 11-10 (LWLWW)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Manly 9-12 (OUUOO) Canterbury 8-13 (UUOUU)

The Wests Tigers have opened up 8.5 to 10 point favourites in their clash with Parramatta on Sunday afternoon.

No bet here. The Tigers thrashed Penrith but were unconvincing and who knows what kind of Eels team is likely to show. The Tigers have won three of five against Penrith but I have no inclination to bet in this one.

The lean is an under here but not enough for a total play.

COVER FORM: Wests Tigers 9-12 (WLWWW), Parramatta 10-11 (WLWLW)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Wests Tigers 8-13 (OUUUO), Parramatta 11-10 (OUOOO)

Newcastle are 3.5 point underdogs against Brisbane in a cracking Monday night football match.

The Knights have been honest as always but the most telling stat with Rick Stone's men is that they have won only two of 11 against top-eight teams this year. They win when they should and they lose when they should. Brisbane are a quality outfit and fighting for a top-two berth. They should have too much class. Bet the Broncos -3.5 for 2.5 units.

I have an under lean here but no confidence so no bet.

COVER FORM:Newcastle 10-11 (LWWWL), Brisbane 13-8 (WLWLW)
OVER-UNDER FORM: Newcastle 7-14 (OUOOU), Brisbane 10-11 (UUOOO)

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Tipping:North Queensland, Melbourne, Canberra, Cronulla, New Zealand, Canterbury, Wests Tigers, Brisbane

1.5 units on North Queensland +4 at Sportsbet at $1.91
1 unit on Over (Rabbitohs-Cowboys) if line is 42 or smaller
2.5 units on Melbourne -2.5 at Luxbet at $1.92
3 units on Under (Storm-Dragons) if total is 34.5 or higher
1 unit on Cronulla +5.5 at Sportsbet at $1.91
2 units on New Zealand -7.5 at Luxbet at $1.92
1.5 units on Canterbury +10 at Centrebet at $1.92
1 unit on Under (Sea Eagles-Bulldogs) if line is 38.5 or higher
2.5 units on Brisbane -3.5 at Luxbet at $1.92

Remember, a standing 2 unit under bet exists on any game when the rains have come

Round    Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned         +/-
1                   3         1.5                 0.95                            -0.45
2                   6          6                   0.92                            -5.08
3                   7         11                  7.38                            -3.62
4                   8         13                 16.51                           +3.51
5                  10       16                  13.15                           -2.85
6                   8         14.5              19.60                           +5.10
7                   8         15                 11.66                           -3.34    
8                   9         18.5              27.74                           +9.24   
9                   4         6.5                 9.64                            +3.14
10                 7         14                 15.29                           +1.29
11                 5          11                 4.78                             -6.22
12                 9         18                 15.38                           -2.62
13                 7         14.5              13.38                           -1.12
14                 6         10.5              15.32                           +4.82
15                 6         11                 18.19                           +7.19
16                 9         16.5              23.89                           +7.39
17                 7         13                 20.13                           +7.13
18                10        18.5              12.43                            -6.07
19                11        20.5              13.40                            -7.10
20                 9         16                 22.94                           +6.94
21                 7         13.5              3.84                             -9.66
22                10        15                 12.27                           -2.73    
23                 8         12.5              16.23                          +3.73

Total      Bets     Units Bet    Units Returned          +/-

                174         306.5            315.12                   +8.62

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