With the 2020 NRL campaign steamrolling toward the completion of its 20-week regular season, its’ time to find out which contests this coming week have the look of either, thrilling, can’t-miss matchups and which ones look like value-packed pairings. With that thought in mind, let’s get to my top three matchups on the Round 17 docket so you can set down your bets against their NRL odds.
NRL Round 17 Events Preview – Highlights, Odds and Picks
Newcastle Knights (9-1-6) vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (9-0-7)
Newcastle is sitting in seventh place in the NRL ladder with 19 points. The Knights have scored 323 points this season while allowing 268 points defensively. Newcastle had their three-game winning streak snapped in their embarrassing 36-6 road loss against New Zealand on Saturday. Gehamat Shibasaki scored a try at the 19-minute mark, but that was all the Knights could muster up while allowing six tries and five conversions defensively. Now, heading into Round 17, Phoenix Crossland replaces Chris Randall and Brodie Jones moves into the starting lineup for the suspended Pasami Saulo.
Cronulla-Sutherland is in eighth place in the standings with 18 points. The Sharks have put 402 points on the board this season while conceding 356 points and come into this affair off a commanding 28-12 win over the Cowboys on Saturday. Five different players scored tries in the win while Braydon Trindall went 5 of 6 on conversions. Now, heading into this matchup, halfback Chad Townsend is expected to return from a calf injury while Connor Tracey has reverted to the bench. Prop Andrew Fifita is fit but coach John Morris has demoted him to the reserves. Centers Jesse Ramien (head knock/blurred vision) and Josh Dugan (knee) have been named to start despite injuries last week.
The Sharks had won four straight in this rivalry until falling 14-8 on the road a year ago. Now, with Newcastle just in front of Cronulla and playing at home as they look to improve on their postseason hopes, I’ve got Newcastle getting it done in another closely-contested affair. The Knights have the far better defense in this clash – and defense wins championships.
Pick: Knights 28 Sharks 22
South Sydney Rabbitohs (10-0-6) vs Melbourne Storm (13-0-3)
South Sydney is sitting in sixth place in the NRL ladder with 20 points. The Rabbitohs have scored 403 points this season while allowing 272 points defensively. South Sydney has won five straight and comes into this clash off an emphatic 38-0 shutout win over third place Parramatta on Thursday as Campbell Graham scored a pair of tries to lead the way to victory and Adam Reynolds went 5-for-7 on conversions. While the Rabbitohs will be without star, fullback Latrell Mitchell for the rest of the season, Alex Johnston returns from a head knock at fullback while Dane Gagai returns from a hamstring strain at center in place of Steven Marsters.
Melbourne is in second place in the NRL standings with 26 points. The Storm have scored 404 points this season while limiting the opposition to a league-low 188 points defensively. Melbourne has won four of their last five matches and comes into this matchup off a resounding 30-6 home win over Manly on Sunday as Justin Olam scored a trio of tries to lead the way to victory. Now, as they get set for this matchup, Brenko Lee replaces Marion Seve at center. Chris Lewis starts in the back row, moving Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to lock with Nelson Asofa-Solomona out with a calf strain. Ryley Jacks is the new face on the bench while winger Josh Addo-Carr will make his 100th NRL appearance.
Melbourne has won three straight in this rivalry and four of the last five meetings overall, but I’m super impressed by South Sydney’s stunning win over Parramatta the last time out and Now, I believe they are poised for the huge upset in this Round 17 clash. This one will be an all-out thriller, but the Rabbitohs are my pick to get it done.
Pick: Rabbitohs 26 Storm 22
Canberra Raiders (11-0-5) vs Sydney Roosters (11-0-5)
The Raiders are sitting in fifth place in the NRL standings with 22 points. Canberra has scored 338 points this season while allowing 249 points defensively. The Raiders have won three straight and four of their last five and come into this matchup off a 34-20 home win over the Bulldogs on Sunday that saw Tom Starling and Jack Wighton both score a pair of tries in the win. Now, as they get set for this huge, Round 17 showdown, Curtis Scott is being monitored with a leg injury. Young star Matt Timoko is on standby in the reserves. Prop Josh Papalii and hooker Siliva Havili return to the starting lineup while Dunamis Lui and Tom Starling move back to the bench. Corey Harawira-Naera returns in place of Timoko on the interchange.
The two-time defending champion Roosters are sitting in fourth place in the NRL ladder with 22 points. Sydney has scored a league-high 450 points while allowing 226 points defensively. The Roosters have won two straight and four of their last five and come into this huge matchup off a resounding 58-12 blowout home win over lowly Brisbane on Friday. Three players (Sitili Tupouniua, Josh Morris and Daniel Tupou) all scored a pair of tries in the win while Kyle Flanagan went 9-for-10 on conversions. Now, heading into Round 17, two huge stars will be back on the field with five-eighth Luke Keary returning from a rib injury in place of Drew Hutchison and superstar Sonny Bill Williams signed to play his first NRL game since 2014 on the bench. Second-rower Boyd Cordner will start after getting through his injury comeback last week with Nat Butcher dropping to the interchange and Poasa Faamausili moving to the reserves. Center Josh Morris will make his 300th NRL appearance.
This premierships final rematch from last season should be an all-out thriller that goes in the books as one of the best matchups on the entire 2020 regular season schedule. While Canberra recorded a narrow 24-20 road win on July 16, the Roosters had won each of the previous three meetings and I like the two-time defending champs to get some revenge in this affair for their earlier regular season loss. The Roosters have the far more explosive offense in this matchup and they are the better defensive team as well. More importantly, Sydney is locked-in right now as the postseason approaches and I expect them to show up in a big way in this one to get the narrow road win!
Pick: Roosters 26 Raiders 18
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