This finals series has seen the underdog clear the handicap line on 7 out of 8 occasions so far, with the Storm’s 30-0 victory over the Broncos the only match a favourite has cleared the line. On four occasions, the underdog has won the match, three of those occasions being North Queensland Cowboys victories. In the points totals betting markets, unders has got up on 5/8 occasions.
Like most NRL fans, we wrote the Cowboys off a long time ago. While they are always an honest, reliable team, huge doubts surrounded their ability to win big matches without Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott. Despite winning all three of their finals matches to date, they have been far from resounding victories, having to come from being behind in the second half of all three games. While their victories haven’t been dominating, the team looks to only be growing in composure and confidence on each occasion. Particularly, the confidence and self-belief in Michael Morgan, filling JT’s boots and guiding the Cowboys around the park.
The Storm are everything we expected them to be at this time of the year, shaping to be one of the most dominant teams seen for many years. Across the park, the Storm possess players that are just bigger than everyone else, yet still fit and mobile. In the forwards Kaufusi and Asofa-Solomona are simply dominating opposition, then the ball gets thrown out wide to Vunivalu, Chambers and Addo-Carr, all tall and strong in their own right. If the Storm to go on with the win, the victory will be a celebration of the ‘big 3’ with Cooper Cronk bound to move on, and Billy Slater possibly retire.
Both squads will likely enter the grand final unchanged from their respective preliminary finals victories. Australian prop, Matt Scott was once again named in an extended Cowboys squads but is unlikely to be called upon bar any injuries.
I think a lot of NRL fans would love to see the underdog Cowboys pull off a victory, but very much be expecting an emphatic Storm win. We will likely still cheer on the Cowboys, but simply can’t bet against the Storm here. We’ll be making a wager on the Storm -9.5 as well as under 36.5 points total to be scored. For something a little more recreational, we like Cooper Cronk as an anytime try scorer ($3.75). If Storm win, any one of the big 3 will be very likely to take out the Clive Churchill Medal. Cameron Smith deserves to be favourite but doesn’t represent much value at $3. For value, we are going to back Billy Slater ($8). If Slater has his hand in a couple of tries like last match, it would be fitting that the greatest fullback of the modern era wins the medal named after the all-time great fullback, Clive Churchill.
Line Tip: Storm -10.0 @ $1.95 – Ladbrokes
Totals tip: Under 36 points @ $1.91 – Ladbrokes
Anytime Try Scorer: Cooper Cronk @ 3.75 -Bet365
First Try Scorer: Felise Kaufusi @ $21- Crownbet
Clive Churchill Medal (MOM): Billy Slater @ $8 – William Hill