Round 20 wasn’t a good one for the NRL premiership pretenders with the genuine contenders making it clear who will be relevant in September.

Reality Strikes For Premiership Pretenders

The Cowboys, Warriors, Broncos, Knights and Panthers all entered Round 20 with hopes of improving their chances of making the Top 8. All had a good enough opportunity; the Panthers were even favourites. All crumbled like a house of cards in the wind.

Tigers 24 def. Cowboys 4
Raiders 46 def. Warriors 12
Storm 40 def. Broncos 4
Sea Eagles 30 def. Knights 6
Bulldogs 16 def. Panthers 8

The Eels, Sharks and Tigers now occupy the three Top 8 spots on offer. Parramatta have a nice little buffer at 6th while Cronulla showed some strong form in Round 20 to slot into 7th. It’s Wests’ 8th spot that is under the biggest question. They have a history of disappointing at this time of the season. It’s tough to trust them to get the job done leaving some value for punters in the teams currently on the outside looking in at the Top 8.

Roosters & Storm Separate From Punting Pack

The Rabbitohs had been sniffing around the Roosters and Storm in the NRL premiership market for most of the season, but their 39-24 loss to the Sharks has seen them blow out to $7.50.

Sam Burgess’ impending suspension makes it difficult to get behind the Rabbitohs, too. Finishing in the top two is crucial to any clubs premiership hopes. Now down at 4th behind the Raiders and Roosters on points differential, it’s a big ask for the Bunnies to make up the difference without Burgess.

Highlight Play Of The Round

The Raiders are for real.

Their defence is one of the best in the NRL, and their attack is capable of pulling off miracle tries.

Closing in on the favourites at $8, the Raiders deserve a look in the premiership market. Defence wins championships. The correlation between defence and lifting the trophy is well-documented. If the Raiders attack can get close to what it was in 2018, we could be in for an upset in October.

NRL Against The Spread Ladder

It keeps getting for Manly backers. The Sea Eagles did it easy over the Knights on Saturday afternoon and paid for a few sandwiches. They’ve got a tough draw ahead but will be worth a look as underdogs in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are doing a decent job of climbing the ATS ladder. The +14.5 head start they took into Round 19 against the Roosters was more than enough to cover with the +6.5 start not necessary against the Panthers.

Sea Eagles14-5Panthers8-2-9