The Penrith Panthers vs. Melbourne Storm betting analysis loses a bit of its luster from a couple of weeks ago for a variety of reasons.
First, Penrith has run away with the top of the ladder this year, going 18-2 with a three-game lead over 15-5 North Queensland with three games to play.
These two teams were 1-2 for most of the first half of the season, but Melbourne has dropped off quite a bit in recent weeks, and at 13-7, they are just trying to hold on to a top four spot. This is still a great rivalry game for rugby betting odds, however, and it’s a nice leadoff for round 22.
Teams’ Previous Matchups Scoreboard
Panthers Performance Recap
The Panthers looked human a couple of weeks ago, falling 34-10 to Parramatta in somewhat of a shocker – even though the Eels are a quality team.
Penrith had won nine straight prior to that, interestingly suffering their only other loss of the season also to Parramatta 22-20 back on May 6th.
Penrith did return to form last Saturday, beating the Raiders 26-6. There was some controversy in that game after Canberra coach Ricky Stuart called Panthers player Jaeman Salmon a “weak gutted dog,” but that seems to be behind Penrith heading into the big match with Melbourne.
Storm Performance Recap
The Storm were 8-1 at one point this season, neck and neck at the top of the ladder with Penrith. Then some injuries came into play, and a 32-6 loss to the Panthers on May 14th has put Melbourne into a bit of a tumble.
The Storm are just 5-6 over their last 11 games, although they have won two straight coming into Thursday’s rugby betting picks.
That includes 24-12 over the Warriors and 32-14 against the Titans last Friday – solid wins but also against two of the three bottom teams on the ladder.
Panthers vs. Storm Betting Analysis
As expected, Penrith is favored in round 22 rugby betting predictions, but not by as many as one would think at just -4.5.
The Panthers were dominant in this matchup back in May with the 32-6 win, and these two teams split in the regular season last year, with Melbourne winning 37-10 and losing 10-6.
Penrith eliminated the Storm in the finals last season in a hard-fought 10-6 victory. These two clubs have played each other fairly close in recent years, but is this just a really special Penrith team in 2022?
The Panthers are -195 on Thursday, with the Storm being the +145 rugby betting odds underdogs.
The Panthers are headed to the finals undoubtedly, but instead of resting up, they are battling right now. Fullback Dylan Edwards fought through a sore shoulder to get the man of the match honors in the win over Canberra.
Edwards has to step up as co-captain Nathan Cleary served the first of his five-game suspension last weekend.
Cleary picked up a grade three charge for a dangerous throw in the loss to the Eels and will be suspended for the remainder of the regular season.
Can Penrith rest easy for Thursday’s match based on their dominant 32-6 win over Melbourne earlier in the season?
That was the Panthers’ biggest win ever over the Storm, with 20-point wins in both 2002 and 2005.
Melbourne looked downtrodden in their loss to Penrith in round 10, but the Storm was also without Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes, and Reimis Smith. Cameron Munster was solid in the first meeting, but Melbourne looked very undermanned.
Papenhuyzen did return from leg injuries, but the injury bug struck again when he fractured his kneecap against Canberra and is now looking at a six to eight-month recovery.
NRL Scoring Ranking
Papenhuyzen is still fifth in the NRL in scoring despite playing six to seven games fewer than the players ahead of him on the ladder. That’s an idea of how big his loss is.
Melbourne has looked solid the last two games, but the competition has to be taken into consideration as well.
Munster had three tries last week to bail out the Storm in an underwhelming performance against the Titans, so Melbourne doesn’t exactly come into this match sharp.
Panthers vs. Storm Betting Preview
The fact that Penrith is just a -4.5 favorite for Thursday’s rugby betting picks is somewhat shocking. The Panthers have easily been the best team in the NRL all season, and although these two squads have had some close matchups in recent years, 2022 just seems different.
Panthers vs. Storm Betting Prediction
Penrith wants this one to show their dominance over the Storm with a regular season sweep, with these two teams potentially meeting up in the finals. Panthers big.
NRL Pick: Penrith 4.5