Can the Penrith Panthers run the table in their quest to be named Premier Grand Finals champions in 2021? Could the Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs or defending champion Melbourne Storm take down the prohibitive favorites as we move into the second half of the season?
Rugby NRL Round 11 – Trio of Value-Packed Picks On Tap
Canberra Raiders (4-0-6) Vs Melbourne Storm (8-0-2)
- When: Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 4:35 a.m. ET
- Where: GIO Stadium, Canberra
- NRL Odds: Melbourne -1249 / Canberra +495
- Total: 45.5
Analysis: Canberra is in eighth place in the ladder with 193 points scored and 227 conceded. The Raiders have gone 1-4 at home. Defending champion Melbourne is in third place with a league-high 336 points scored and 126 allowed. The Storm have gone 2-2 on the road.
For the Raiders, coach Ricky Stuart has been forced into multiple changes by the suspensions of Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii and Josh Hodgson. Veteran playmaker Sam Williams is the new five-eighth, Dunamis Lui moves from lock to prop to cover for Papalii and NSW Cup halfback Brad Schneider has been named to make his NRL debut off the bench in place of Hodgson. For the Storm, with Ryan Papenhuyzen (head knock) missing round 11 as expected Nicho Hynes returns to fullback and Chris Lewis is the surprise choice to partner Jahrome Hughes in the halves.
Canberra picked up a 20-18 win over Canterbury in Round 10 to snap an ugly losing streak. Melbourne throttled St. George Illwarra 44-18 to extend its winning ways. The Storm beat the Raiders 20-10 in July and 30-10 in October the last two times these two have met. Melbourne gets it done again despite being on the road.
Pick: Melbourne 30, Canberra 12
South Sydney Rabbitohs (8-0-2) Vs Penrith Panthers (10-0-0)
- When: Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 11:00 p.m. ET
- Where: Apex Oval, Dubbo
- NRL Odds: Penrith -434 / South Sydney +259
- Total: 47.5
Analysis: South Sydney is in fourth place in the NRL ladder with 267 points scored and 196 allowed. The Rabbitohs have gone 3-1 in four home dates this season. Penrith (10-0-0) sits atop the NRL ladder after going 18-1-1 a year ago. The Panthers have played some stunning defense while limiting the opposition to a league-low 72 points while putting 308 points on the board offensively (2nd).
For the Rabbitohs, Latrell Mitchell reclaims the No.1 jersey after completing his suspension which allows coach Wayne Bennett to shift Cody Walker back to five-eighth and return Benji Marshall to his bench utility role. For the Panthers, back-rower Kurt Capewell (head knock) returns this week after sitting out Magic Round. Liam Martin moves to the interchange and J’maine Hopgood to the reserves.
South Sydney got past Cronulla-Sutherland 32-22 last weekend and has gone 4-1 over its last five. Penrith bombed Gold Coast 48-12 one week after smacking the Sharks senseless 48-0. The Panthers recorded a pair of narrow wins over the Rabbitohs last season, winning 20-12 on June 25 and 20-16 on October 17. Penrith just won’t lose. The Panthers are the pick to make it three in a row.
Pick: Panthers 26 Rabbitohs 18
Parramatta Eels (9-0-1) Vs Manly Sea Eagles (5-0-5)
- When: Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 1:05 a.m. ET
- Where: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
- NRL Odds: Manly +184 / Parramatta -277
- Total: 45.5
Analysis: Parramatta is in second place in the NRL ladder with 294 points scored and 142 allowed. The Eels have gone 4-1 at home this season. Manly is sitting in seventh place in the NRL standings with 227 points scored and 270 conceded. The Sea Eagles are 2-3 on the road this season. These longtime rivals split two meetings a year ago with each winning at home. Parramatta scratched out a narrow 9-16 at home on June 6 before Manly got some revenge by picking up a 22-18 win on July 18.
For Parramatta, halfback Mitchell Moses, who left the field late in the Sunday’s win over the Warriors after having his foot stepped on, has been named as expected. For Manly, coach Des Hasler has named Cade Cust to replace Kieran Foran (hand) at five-eighth with Josh Schuster remaining in the back row.
Parramatta got past New Zealand 34-18 in Round 10 while Manly blew out Brisbane 50-6. This season, Parramatta is far, far superior to Manly and should record a much bigger win at home than they did a year ago. Keep it simple and back the Eels to prevail.
Pick: Parramatta 26 Manly 16