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NRL second qualifying final betting preview: Manly Sea Eagles v South Sydney Rabbitohs; Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW; Friday, September 12, 7.55pm (odds: Manly $2.95, Souths $1.43 – line 6.5)
Finals footy kicks-off with an old-fashioned rivalry tonight when second-placed Manly takes on third-placed South Sydney at Allianz Stadium. There’ve been the usual rumblings during the week about the fact that the Sea Eagles won’t be hosting this final at Brookvale having qualified for a ‘home’ final. However, in-fighting in the Manly camp and a dip in form over the past six weeks are probably more relevant issues for coach Geoff Toovey to address. Down their two most underrated contributors in Jamie Buhrer and Matt Ballin, while a third – Brenton Lawrence – is struggling with a knee injury and a fourth (Anthony Watmough) has been the subject of intense media speculation over his future, the Manly engine room is under the pump. Superstar full-back Brett Stewart (ankle) and Lawrence have been named to return after both were late scratchings from Saturday’s 30-16 defeat at the hands of the Cowboys. Toovey’s side have lost three of their last five games and are badly out of form after looking premiership favourites six weeks ago.
These long-time rivals have a storied history going back almost 70 years. The overall record stands at 74-60 in favour of Manly, but Souths hold the wood over Manly more recently. However, the Rabbitohs are still smarting from last year’s preliminary final 30-20 loss to the Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium that sent a fancied Souths side out of the finals. The Rabbitohs are still beaming after reversing their 14-2 loss to the Sea Eagles in round 2 with a 23-4 victory at the SCG just a month ago. Rabbitohs half-back Adam Reynolds returns from a one-week suspension. He joins Luke Keary in the halves, forcing John Sutton into the second row. Greg Inglis is battling a hip complaint and won’t train fully this week but is a definite starter despite his inability to run at full pace. The Rabbitohs are otherwise relatively injury-free, with the only concern a persistent wrist injury to centre Beau Champion that has kept him sidelined for much of the season. The Bunnies trailed the Roosters 22-4 last week before piling on three tries but fell short of the win, 22-18.
Manly Sea Eagles v South Sydney Rabbitohs -6.5 (one unit @ $1.92) – Souths have hardly cruised into the finals with a scrappy seven-point win over Canterbury sandwiched between losses to the Cowboys and the Roosters. But over the course of scrappy wins over the Panthers and Titans, and those losses to North Queensland and Parramatta, the Sea Eagles have turned in at least one half of football where they completed their sets at less than 70 per cent. With Manly’s already vulnerable pack severely weakened and with Sam Burgess in career-best form, Souths may have too much for the September specialists.
Most recent results: 1-0-1, no change; overall record: 26-1-22, +4.34 units
Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs +4 (one unit @ $1.92) PUSH (22-18)
• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to BetEasy (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.