Well, that was a wild weekend of finals footy, and now we’re down to 6 teams and 5 games to conclude the NRL season. The first game of semi-final week kicks off at 7:50pm on Friday, with the Parramatta Eels welcoming the Canberra Raiders to CommBank Stadium. The Eels couldn’t match the class of the Panthers, while the Raiders kept scrapping for 80 minutes to yet again overcome the Storm on their home turf, and have been playing really well for a while now. This should be a good one.

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Team News

As can be expected at this time of the year, we’re looking at some very settled line-ups. The Eels have no changes, with the Matterson/Niukore shuffle between lock and bench the only moving part over the last few weeks. Mitch Moses was concussed last week, so his progression through protocols has been the only real question mark, but he should be okay. There’s no doubting this is a really good team, who for whatever reason tend to switch off mentally every now and then.

The Raiders have one change, with Adam Elliot succumbing to a groin injury that must have been bothering him for weeks (dwindling form). Corey Harawira-Naera is promoted to lock, with Ryan Sutton joining the bench. Nothing really changes for the team, with Sutton and CHN potentially interchangeable in their roles and capable of reproducing Elliot’s output. The hooker split between Starling and Woolford is close to a 40/40 (minutes) with Woolford starting, but has fluctuated throughout the season. Guessing which one gets the bigger slice of the pie could unearth and interesting value play.

Betting Odds

Eels $1.50 v Raiders $2.60 - Bet now at Ladbrokes!


There’s no such thing as lopsided game at this point in the season, and I roughly agree with the bookies installing the Eels as favourites at home (they’re perhaps a little short for my liking though). The Eels are probably slightly better, and they’re objectively slightly younger and also more experienced, which is a nice combo. So, I expect an Eels win, but it should be tight, so I think any type of line-up construction is in play here.

Love It - Dylan Brown $16,510

Brown already has 85 NRL games under his belt at the age of 22, and it’s been his best season so far. He’s not a consistent scorer, because Moses controls the kicking game, but he still has a strong base from 25 tackles, 120 run metres, and 3 tackle breaks per game. Take out his two games at centre this year and he’s averaged 55, which makes this price just a little too generous. I expect Reed Mahoney to grab a big chunk of the HH ownership after looking much better last week, while Browns 29 was his lowest score since Round 1. He projects as well (or better) as Wighton and Fogarty above him, so I’m looking to buy the slight dip on Brown.


Love It - Maika Sivo $11,620

A big game from Brown could correlate nicely with some attacking opportunities for those outside him on the left edge. That’s Sivo and Opacic, and I like both of them quite a lot on this slate. The big Fijian has now played 13 games straight since returning from an ACL, and there’s been little sign that his scoring has dropped away. We know the ceiling is there, and this price is probably 1K lower than it should be. As is often the case in these close games, no-one is particularly expensive so it’s wise to spread it around at OB, but Sio is the #1 seed.


Love It - Ryan Matterson $16,260

Mattersons minutes have been hard to project lately as he switches between lock and coming off the bench, but we have enough evidence now that he should play ~55 minutes regardless. That’s enough to project him for 50+ points, and if he starts of the bench again as I expect, then we could see a bit of an ownership discount. He was really strong last week for 59 points in a well-beaten team, and I’m happy to project him for 50+ again in this one. There’s 6 FWDs on this slate that score big on a consistent basis, and Matterson is the cheapest of the group with just as much upside as the rest.


Hate It - Elliot Whitehead $11,550

After a season high 55 points last week (next best of 48), there is no clearer fade than the veteran English backrower. A season average of 35 is ample evidence that he’s on the decline as a 33 year old. His minutes have often been trimmed below 60 in the second half of the season, with the rest of the forward pack brimming with youth and explosiveness. Even if he gets more minutes in this one, I don’t see much upside when Harawira-Naera is 1K cheaper.


Hate It - Jack Wighton $17,460

I like Wighton as a player, and I can’t deny that he could explode on a big stage like this if he chooses to take the line on and try to win the game himself. But, the price tag is pretty steep for a player that averages around 50. Brown and Fogarty both go at 55 in the same price range, and Mahoney averages 53 over the last two season and is almost 4K cheaper. Even if we use Mahoney 10 game average of 44 he’s a much better value. I’ll be happy to see Wighton succeed, but I don’t think he’s a great DFS play.


Who Knows - Xavier Savage $9900

The 20 year old fullback has played 13 of the Raiders last 14 games at fullback, benefitting from the decision of Charnze Nicoll-Kolkstad to sign with the Warriors. I and many others have called him he next Kalyn Ponga in terms of his explosive talent, and so far he’s shown a similar proclivity for getting banged up and scoring wildly inconsistently.  Including two games last year he averages 34 at the position, but only 29 in his last 10. I’m not sure if he’s cut out for the big stage just yet, but he’s extremely cheap for someone with so much explosive upside. I think we have to respect that ceiling and play at least 30% of him, while hoping the field is scared off by last weeks 15 points.

Draftstars Suggested Team

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