NRL finals week 3 schedule, odds, 2021 title betting — Storm v Panthers blockbuster
Welcome to our early look at NRL preliminary finals weekend of the 2021 NRL season: South Sydney v Manly and the mouth-watering Melbourne Storm-Penrith clash.
Souths and Manly kick off the action on Friday night, September 24, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, with the Storm-Panthers match-up at 4pm on Saturday, September 25, also at Suncorp Stadium.
The winner of the two preliminary finals will advance to meet in the grand final at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, October 3.
In early markets, Australian bookies have the Rabbitohs-Sea Eagles clash as a fairly even contest, while they have made the Storm red-hot favourites at around $1.34 to beat the Panthers ($3.35) in what is a rematch of last season’s grand final.
Many pundits believed the Storm and Panthers would meet again in the NRL title decider but the Panthers slipped up against Souths in the opening weekend of the finals, meaning they will have to take the long route to the title decider.
And Penrith are there for the taking after their gut-busting 8-6 win over the Parramatta Eels in a semi-final on Saturday night.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has major concerns over his side’s misfiring attack which has delivered just two tries in their opening two finals, though their defence has been impressive.
Giant second-rower Viliame Kikau (ankle, gashed knee) is in some doubt but should play, while back-up hooker Mitch Kenny (ankle) seems less likely. On the positive side, hard-running winger Brian To’o is expected back from an ankle complaint of his own.
Meanwhile, the Storm are at full strength with brilliant winger Josh Addo-Carr ready to go again after a hamstring problem, while hooker Brandon Smith was cleared of a facial fracture after a heavy clash of heads in the first-week match-up against Manly.
Souths have kicked back enjoying the weekend off, though Manly rebounded from their dismal qualifying final loss to the Storm to end the Roosters’ misery with a 42-6 flogging last Friday night.
Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler could even afford to take star players Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans off late in the second half.
Souths and Manly have clashed only once previously this season for a 26-12 win to the Rabbitohs in round two, but that was when Manly were struggling without ace fullback Trbojevic.
Souths have won the past four clashes between these teams. They are at close to full strength, though of course they lost star fullback Latrell Mitchell to his long-term ban for a high shot. Blake Taaffe did a great job filling in against the Panthers and it will be interesting to see how well he can back that up.
NRL Premiership odds before week 3 of the finals
No great surprises in the NRL title betting markets after the weekend’s action, with top dogs Melbourne Storm firming from $2.05 into $1.85 as this week’s opponents Penrith struggled to overcome Parramatta.
The Panthers eased from $3.80 to $4.60 as it becomes apparent they are struggling slightly to rediscover their early season attacking brilliance to go with their smothering defence.
Meanwhile, well rested Souths were $5 to $5.50 and Manly $8 into $6 and if you think either is a clear winner for the prelim it would be a good opportunity to back them now for the grand final. Whoever advances will most likely firm to about the $3 mark for the decider against the Storm and possibly shorter against Penrith, should the Panthers advance.
$1.85 Melbourne Storm
$4.60 Penrith Panthers
$5.50 South Sydney Rabbitohs
$6 Manly Sea Eagles
Check out all the latest odds at TopSport!
NRL 2021 finals week three fixture, odds and times
Friday, September 24
- Preliminary final: South Sydney Rabbitohs $1.75 v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles $2.08, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday, September 25
- Preliminary final: Melbourne Storm $1.34 v Penrith Panthers $3.35, 4pm, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
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