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National Rugby League Week 2 begins with caution

After Week 1 of the NRL in front of empty stadia, there are already controversies ahead of Week 2

Panthers players fist pump fans after the round 1 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Sydney Roosters at Panthers Stadium on March 14, 2020 in Penrith, Australia. Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images

It’s a dramatic time in the NRL, with controversy about the mass testing of all National Rugby League players for coronavirus regardless of symptoms. With the country short on tests, it shows how desperate the league is to keep things going, and it’s not very popular in the country.

The crisis has put possibly the future of the sport in Australia in question and even Russell Crowe has some ideas how the league, which is in dire straits financially, can keep going through the crisis. His beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs are in play tonight, but for how much longer?

The Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said if the league shuts down, it would be “catastrophic.” Because if the league doesn’t play, they don’t get paid by their tv partners, and there might only be a couple months of runway for the entire enterprise.

And on that note, here are the lines for tonight’s action in the National Rugby League.

Penrith Panthers vs. St. George Illawrra Dragons, 3:00 a.m. ET

Penrith Panthers -4.5
St. George Illawarra Dragons +4.5

Over/Under: 38.5 (Over -105/Under -121)

Money Line:
Penrith -177
St. George Illawarra +148

Penrith beat the Sydney Roosters last week 20-14, while the Dragons lost to the Wests Tigers 24-14. Both teams missed the final eight playoffs in the NRL last season, with the Dragons finishing 15th of 16, and expected to be in the same range this year.

Brent Naden, Stephen Crichton, and Viliame Kikau all had tries for the Panthers in the opener.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Brisbane Broncos, 5:05 a.m. ET

South Sydney Rabbitohs -2.5 +100
Brisbane Broncos +2.5 -124

Over/Under: 40.5

Money Line:
South Sydney -141
Brisbane +118

The Rabbitohs won 22-18 over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Week 1 behind a try and five kicks from Adam Reynolds, but only in front of 6,235 people at their home ground. That number will be 0 this week, but it shows how bad things are for the league.

Brisbane is also 1-0 following their 28-21 win over the North Queensland Cowboys, with Jamayne Isaako racking up 12 points for the Broncos. They finished eighth in the table last season, and fell 58-0 in the opening round of the NRL Finals Series.

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