NRL Semi Finals 2022 Preview – Matches, Betting, Predictions & Tips

The NRL Finals began last week in enthralling fashion, with no less than three of the four games ending in upsets. There were thrilling finishes and an inordinate number of sin bins, while the reigning Premiers made their intentions clear in the first game of the finals. Let’s take a brief look at how all those games went down, before looking ahead to the semi-finals to come this weekend. 


NRL Finals Week 1 Recap


Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels

The Panthers are universally viewed as the team to beat as they hunt a second consecutive Premiership, but having locked up top spot on the ladder so long ago, they still had to prove they were capable of switching into finals mode against an Eels team in simmering form. As it turned out, that wasn’t a problem. The first half was a tough and tight affair, with both sides managing just a solitary try and the Panthers heading into the break with a 7-6 lead. In the second stanza, however, they flexed their collective muscle. Three tries in ten minutes saw them extend their lead to 17 points, before Nathan Cleary helped himself to a couple more points via a penalty goal to give them a 27-8 victory and book themselves a home preliminary final.


Melbourne Storm vs Canberra Raiders

Despite their indifferent second half of the year, the Storm entered this game expected to make their way through to a semi-final, but the form of the Raiders meant that it was never going to be easy. And from the outset of the game, it was clear that Canberra had come to play. They took just seven minutes to open the scoring, and though the home side wrestled back the lead with consecutive tries to Xavier Coates, the visitors struck back with a double of their own to take a 16-8 lead into half-time. The Storm scored the first two tries of the second half to take back the lead and had all the momentum, but in a 20-minute period which was indicative of their season, they conceded the last two tries to Canberra and succumbed 28-20.


Cronulla Sharks vs North Queensland Cowboys

This was a qualifying final between two of the fairy tale teams of the season to date, and it could hardly have delivered more. A high-scoring first half saw the Cowboys strike first, the Sharks wrestle back the lead, the Cowboys do the same before the Sharks levelled things up on the stroke of the main break, with the pulsating period ultimately ending with the scores locked at 18 apiece. The second half followed a similar trend, but with ten minutes to go Cronulla had manufactured a valuable seven-point lead. A Valentine Holmes penalty goal got it back to six points in the dying minutes, but as the clock ticked down that margin remained. Enter Jason Taumalolo. He burst across the line in the 79th minute before Holmes converted his try to send the game to overtime, where it took 12 long minutes for either side to score. Eventually, Holmes was the hero, scoring a 92nd minute field goal to send the Cowboys to a prelim with a famous victory.


Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

This was always going to be a fierce encounter between the two oldest rivals in the league, both of whom entered the game in rampaging form, but few could have predicted the extent. It took just four minutes for the first sin bin to take place, and by the end of the game no less than four Bunnies and three Chooks were sent there to repent. The game itself lived up to expectations in a captivating first half, with both sides scoring two tries but the Rabbitohs taking a four-point lead into the break courtesy of Latrell Mitchell’s conversions. In the second half, however, the visitors put the foot down. Three tries to the Roosters one saw them jump out to a 30-14 win, securing them a spot in the semi-finals and sending Sydney packing early after a second half of the year which promised so much.


NRL Semi-Final Previews


Parramatta Eels ($1.49) vs Canberra Raiders ($2.65)

September 16, 7.50pm @ CommBank Stadium

The first semi-final will see the Eels welcome the Raiders to CommBank Stadium, and though the home side has certainly been the better-performed of the two this year, the visitors enter the game on the back of a vastly superior result. Of course, that’s always the case in a semi-final – the top four team is coming off a loss while the lower ranked team is coming off a win – but the nature of those two results is certainly worth consideration. The Eels were simply outclassed by the Panthers; they didn’t play badly as they have had a tendency to do at times this year, but while they were able to keep pace with the best team in the league for the first half they were completely overwhelmed in the second. The Raiders, in contrast, put in one of their best performances of the year, and have now won five in a row and eight of their last nine.  

Last time they met, the Eels were too good in Canberra, and this time around they will have the benefit of the home ground advantage. The Raiders side in its current form, however, is a far more dangerous proposition than they were a few months ago. A lot of their victories over the past couple of months have been against bottom eight teams, but the nature of those wins has been hugely impressive, and adding the Storm to their list of scalps for the second time in just over two months is indicative of their capability. The Eels, at their best, are a very, very good side and should feel confident in this game on their home turf, but if they’re even a little off the Raiders are capable of capitalising. 


Notable Stats and Trends

  • Canberra’s Joseph Tapine has been the best in the business in terms of post contact metres this year, accumulating 1,667 in total to date.
  • Neither of these teams shies away from a risky pass, with the Eels comfortably leading the league in offloads with 344, and the Raiders in second with 305.



Cronulla Sharks ($1.99) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.83)

September 17, 8.00pm @ Allianz Stadium

The second semi-final shapes as an extremely difficult one to pick, with compelling cases existing for the winning chances of both sides. The Sharks, for their part, can point to the fact that they won 18 games and finished second at the end of the home and away season. They’ve been brilliant all year, and were literally one minute away from advancing through to a home preliminary final, only to have their hearts broken by Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes. The Rabbitohs, however, might have won a few less games this year, but enter this one in form as good as any side in the league. Their performance against the Roosters last week was clinical, and adds to an 11-week period in which they’ve lost just three games – each of those to very good teams. 

One of those teams, incidentally, was the Sharks, who beat them a month and a half ago at PointsBet Stadium. It was, however, not exactly an easy win. That game ended up tied at 20 points apiece, and it was only in overtime that the home side was able to secure the points. That game could very possibly be indicative of what’s to come this weekend. Each of these teams would be a worth preliminary finalist, and with an unenviable matchup in Penrith the reward for the winner, it’s very easy to imagine this one going down to the wire.


Notable Stats and Trends

  •  The Rabbitohs have a horrible record at Allianz Stadium, having won just 29 of their 90 games here.
  • The Sharks have been hard to contain with ball in hand this year, leading the league in tackle breaks with 921.



NRL Finals Futures

Take a look at the odds for some of the biggest NRL Finals markets below.


Premiership Winner

Penrith Panthers – $1.82

North Queensland Cowboys – $5.50

Parramatta Eels – $8.25

South Sydney Rabbitohs – $9.50

Cronulla Sharks – $10.00

Canberra Raiders – $21.00


Clive Churchill Medal

Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers) – $3.70

Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers) – $10.00

Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers) – $14.00

Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers) – $17.00

Dylan Edwards (Penrith Panthers) – $18.00

Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys) – $26.00

Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels) – $26.00

Scott Drinkwater (North Queensland Cowboys) – $26.00

Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys) – $26.00

Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers) – $26.00


NRL Semi-Finals Tips


Raiders +6.5 @ $1.90

The Eels might have been the better side than the Raiders all year and they could still very well win this game, but the Raiders appear to be value at the line. They are in sparkling form and last week accounted for a Storm side which finished right alongside Parramatta, and are more than capable of at the very least keeping this one close, if not winning it.


Rabbitohs to win @ $1.83

It would be such a disappointing end to what has been a terrific year for the Sharks if they were bundled out in straight sets, but they are going to have their work cut out avoiding that. The Rabbitohs are simply flying, and though they haven’t travelled particularly well this year they will be extremely tough to beat.


**Odds and lines quoted are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.