30 weeks of the 2023 NRL Premiership have left us with unquestionably the two best teams, setting up a fascinating grand final featuring a tantalising contrast of styles.
Penrith Panthers are favourites to become the first team in 40 years to win three straight grand finals, while Brisbane Broncos are striving to end the club’s 17-year title drought as they head into their first decider since 2015.
Penrith Panthers vs Brisbane Broncos
Sunday 1 October, 6:30pm, Accor Stadium
Little separates the teams looking at their season overview, as both finished with 18-6 records with Penrith claiming the minor premiership on for-and-against.
Penrith have won 11 of their last 12; while Brisbane has won nine of their last 10.
The Panthers ruthlessly picked apart the Warriors (32-6) and Melbourne (38-4) in their two finals matches.
The Broncos crushed the same opposition, getting tough to overwhelm bogey team the Storm (26-0) and blowing the Warriors away (42-12) in a blistering attacking performance.
The Panthers boast the most points per game (27.5) in the NRL and have conceded the least (12.4); the Broncos are second in both departments, scoring 27.2 points and leaking 16.8 per game.
Grand final experience overwhelmingly favours the Panthers, who will field 11 players who took the field in the 2021-22 triumphs over South Sydney (14-12) and Parramatta (28-12). Nine of Penrith’s named 17 played in the loss to Melbourne in the 2020 decider.
Until last weekend, only two Broncos had appeared even in a preliminary final.
Adam Reynolds won a grand final with Souths in 2014 and lost one in his last game for the Rabbitohs, against Penrith in 2021 while Kurt Capewell was part of the Panthers’ 2020-21 grand final sides.
Brisbane kicked off its watershed campaign with a shock 13-12 victory at Penrith in Round 1.
But the Panthers grafted out a brutal 15-4 win at Suncorp Stadium in Round 12 – their fifth win in the teams’ last five encounters.
Both teams’ forward packs have been utterly dominant in the finals so far and on paper, they cancel each other out.
The Panthers’ clinical offence has kept the scoreboard ticking over, while the Broncos’ brilliant adlib ability helps them pile on tries in bursts.
The Broncos – headlined by the irrepressible Reece Walsh, the balanced halves pairing of Adam Reynolds and Ezra Mam, a centre pairing that has scored 28 tries between them in 2023 and a dynamic set of forwards – have the only attacking arsenal in the competition capable of unpicking the Panthers’ historically great defence.
But the offload-at-all-costs approach that blew the Warriors off Suncorp is unlikely to work as effectively against the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Broncos were stripped alarmingly easily on both edges for tries last week – which will have Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Jarome Luai and a super-potent three-quarter line contingent licking their lips on Sunday night.
The Panthers have won nine of their last 11 at Accor Stadium, while the Broncos have won their only two matches at the venue since the start of 2022.
But the Broncos have left Queensland just twice (away games against the Bulldogs and Raiders) since early-June.
Defence and poise wins grand finals – and on both counts the Panthers hold a significant edge.
The Broncos ($2.30) are capable of becoming the biggest grand final outsiders to salute since 2001 and it shapes as a classic, but the signs are pointing towards a historic premiership threepeat.
Tip: Back the Panthers to Win by 1-12 @ $2.70
SGM: PANTHERS WIN / BRONCOS UNDER 15.5 TOTAL POINTS / BRIAN TO’O TO SCORE 2 OR MORE TRIES / REECE WALSH ANYTIME TRYSCORER @ $59.16
The total points line for the grand final has been set at 37.5 – a tally just four of the last 12 NRL deciders have exceeded.
Meanwhile, only one of the clubs’ last seven meetings have produced more than 37 points.
Of the Panthers’ 27 games in 2023, 14 have had totals of 36 or less and only eight of the Broncos’ 27 games have produced 36 points or less.
Tip: Back Under 37.5 Total Points @ $1.90
CLIVE CHURCHILL MEDAL
Nathan Cleary, the 2021 winner, is a runaway $3.50 favourite to become the third player to win two Clive Churchill Medals – and he has been untouchable throughout the finals.
Halfbacks account for 11 of the 37 Churchill Medals handed out since the award was inaugurated in 1986; Adam Reynolds ($9.00) is on the third line of betting.
Fullbacks have made even more of an impression recently, however, with No.1s named best on ground in five of the last 14 deciders.
Reece Walsh ($6.50) is on the second line of betting, while Dylan Edwards is $11 to create history by becoming the first player to earn consecutive Churchill Medals.
Only three forwards have won the honour in the past 13 years, but Isaah Yeo ($13), Payne Haas ($13), Patrick Carrigan ($15), Liam Martin ($19) and James Fisher-Harris ($34) are all in with a huge shout.
No centre or winger has ever won the Churchill Medal.
FIRST TRY SCORER
Centres have scored the opening try in the past three grand finals: Justin Olam in 2020, Matt Burton in 2021 and Stephen Crichton in 2022.
But Brian To’o is the favourite in this market after crossing for the first try both of the Panthers’ wins in this finals series; a hat-trick against the Storm took his tally to a career-high 21 tries in 22 games this season.
Fellow wingers Sunia Turuva ($9.75) and Selwyn Cobbo ($10.50) are next in the first tryscorer market, while Crichton is $12.50 to repeat his 2022 effort.
Others sure to attract some interest are Reece Walsh ($14), Herbie Farworth ($16), Dylan Edward ($16) and Liam Martin ($19). Value options include Jarome Luai ($26) and Jordan Riki ($29).
Tip: Back Stephen Crichton as First Tryscorer @ $12.50
The 2022 NRL season concludes with a dream grand final match-up between Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels – western Sydney neighbours and among the most bitter rivals in the premiership.
The Panthers are one of the shortest favourites in grand final history, but the Eels have a head of steam up and enough recent form in this derby to give it an almighty shake in the big one.
Can Parramatta channel the sense of destiny to claim its first title since 1986, or will the weight of history bog the blue-and-golds down?
Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels
Sunday 2 October, 6:30pm, Stadium Australia
Penrith Panthers are exactly where everyone thought they would be: in a third straight grand final as they look to become just the second team in the NRL era to successfully defend their title. But after cruising to the minor premiership, they haven’t had it all their own way in the playoffs.
The Panthers took almost an hour to take the ascendancy against the Eels in week one, putting the foot on the throat after Mitch Moses’ HIA exit to carve out an ultimately convincing 27-8 win.
In last week’s prelim, Ivan Cleary’s men were in trouble at 12-0 down, struggling for attacking rhythm and losing the physical battle. Souths gifted them a crucial Brian To’o runaway try on halftime, however, and three tries from kicks allowed Penrith to power away 32-12.
Nathan Cleary was the key in both second-half surges, taking control in outstanding ‘follow-me’ performances. Fullback Dylan Edwards has been typically, unwaveringly superb at fullback, while Jarome Luai and Apisau Koroisau made strong contributions last Saturday behind a bruising pack.
Parramatta has regrouped magnificently since its qualifying final loss, blowing Canberra away 40-4 with Dylan Brown and Clint Gutherson untouchable and Moses providing touches of class.
In their first prelim in 13 years, the Eels pulled off an amazing 24-20 comeback win over the Cowboys despite a dearth of possession and opportunities.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard continued a fine finals series with a rare double, Shaun Lane exploded to turn the game in the last 20 minutes and Isaiah Papali’i was enormous on both sides of the ball.
Brad Arthur has pulled a selection surprise by recalling Nathan Brown – an aggressive wildcard – for the first time since Round 17. But it’s Bryce Cartwright who drops out rather than Jake Arthur, who shapes as purely a contingency pick on the bench – stand by for a late change.
Meanwhile, Bailey Simonsson has again been named at centre after doing a fine job filling in last week, with the injured Tom Opacic named in the reserves.
Controversial winger Taylan May has failed to overcome a hamstring winger, which gives Charlie Staines another opportunity – and he’ll be an Eels target marking Maika Sivo. Staines, Izack Tago, Mitch Kenny and Jaeman Salmon are the only Panthers who did not feature in last year’s GF win.
Grand final experience overwhelmingly favours Penrith. Ryan Matterson, who won a comp with the Roosters in 2018, is the only Parramatta player to have previously featured in a decider. Eleven of the Panthers’ 17 also played in the 2020 grand final loss to the Storm.
But this will be a different experience to playing in a half-full stadium at Homebush in 2020 and at Suncorp, which was at 75 percent capacity, last year.
Despite the result three weeks ago, the Eels will be more confident than most of taking down the Panthers. They produced two excellent wins over the champs during the 2022 regular season, while they went within an ace of a semi-final boilover in Mackay last year with a shorthanded team.
Mouth-watering individual match-ups abound all over the park. The keys for the underdog Eels are shutting down Cleary’s time – as Queensland did so well in the Origin decider – and high energy and involvement from Gutherson and Dylan Brown, in particular, and composure from Moses.
Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo have proved they can match it with James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and co. Papali’i versus Viliame Kikau will be pivotal. And if Waqa Blake has another Cleary-induced nightmare under the high ball, it could be curtains for the Eels.
Too much has to go right for the $3.05 Eels to have a great deal of confidence about an upset. The $1.38 Panthers are experts at riding out choppy waters in big games and seizing their opportunities.
But the blue-and-golds can at the very least push the Panthers to their limit in what has the hallmarks of a grand final for the ages.
Tip: Back the Eels to Cover the Line (+8.5 Points) @ $2.00
SGM: PANTHERS BY 1-12 / MAIKA SIVO ANYTIME TRY SCORER / STEPHEN CRICHTON ANYTIME TRY SCORER / EELS TO WIN EITHER HALF @ $26.79
The total points line for the grand final has been set at 38.5 – a tally just three of the last 11 NRL deciders have exceeded.
The Eels have a 19-8 over record in 2022, while 15 of the Panthers’ 26 games have gone over the total line. But like last year’s close-fought thriller – with the Panthers edging the Rabbitohs 14-12 – expect tries to be at premium on Sunday night.
Tip: Back Under 38.5 Total Points @ $1.90
CLIVE CHURCHILL MEDAL
Nathan Cleary is a runaway $3 favourite to become the first player to win consecutive Churchill Medals, following his back-to-back man-of-the-match displays in these finals. Opposing No.7 Mitch Moses is comfortably the shortest-priced Eel at $10 .
The value in the market this year may come in the form of the fullbacks – Dylan Edwards ($7.50) and Clint Gutherson ($15) are busy, courageous and dynamic competitors likely to be in the top bracket of performers, whether their team wins or loses.
Only three forwards have won the honour in the past 12 years, but the always outstanding Isaah Yeo ($11), indefatigable James Fisher-Harris ($26) and blockbusting Isaiah Papali’i ($26) are big shouts.
Tip: Back Dylan Edwards to Win the Clive Churchill Medal @ $7.50
FIRST TRY SCORER
Brian To’o scored the first try in each half of the teams’ qualifying final clash and is the $8.25 favourite to dot down first in the grand final – just ahead of the Panthers’ other winger, Charlie Staines ($8.75). Maika Sivo, with 67 tries in 82 NRL games, is the top Eel in the market at $11.50.
Parramatta got off to quick starts in the past two weeks – and on both occasions it was young centre Will Penisini who bagged the sixth-minute openers. He’s a juicy $21 to make it three in a row.
Expect the Panthers’ to pepper the Eels’ inexperienced centres with their first good ball opportunities, which brings $12 chances Stephen Crichton and Izack Tago into the equation, as well as rampaging Viliame Kikau ($16).
Tip: Back Stephen Crichton as First Tryscorer @ $12
It’s an unlikely grand final match-up in the fifth edition of the NRLW, with Parramatta Eels coming from nowhere to make it. Winless with one round to go, the Eels stunned the Broncos 28-16 to squeak into fourth then beat unbeaten defending champs the Roosters 24-10 in a semi boilover.
The Eels are sweating on star centre and co-captain Tiana Penitani’s fitness, with Abbi Church named in her place at this stage.
Newcastle Knights have charted an impressive path to a maiden NRLW decider, going 4-1 in the round-robin and thrashing St George Illawarra 30-6 in the semis. Fullback Tamika Upton scored two tries against the Dragons, while five-eighth linchpin Kirra Dibb and captain Millie Boyle also crossed.
The Knights are warm favourites with a notable advantage in key-position experience and strike-power. The Eels boast a big pack with plenty of rep talent capable of laying a platform for another upset, but the Knights’ all-round class and big-match poise should secure the title on Sunday.
Tip: Back the Knights to Cover the Line @ $1.90
There is no shortage of storylines heading into Sunday’s epic Grand Final between the Panthers and Rabbitohs at Suncorp.
Penrith is looking to atone for last year’s disappointment to the Storm, while the Bunnies can cap off a remarkable finals campaign by sending Wayne Bennett off with another premiership.
As the market suggests, there is very little separating the two sides after they met only three weeks ago in the first week of finals.
For our thoughts on both teams, as well as our best bets, be sure to read our 2021 NRL Grand Final Preview here!
Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Sunday 3 October, 6:30pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Panthers are back on the Grand Final stage for the second year in a row following last week’s defensive masterclass against the Storm.
Despite not having much of the ball, Penrith managed to drastically limit Melbourne’s completion percentage while also forcing a handful of key errors on the way to a 10-6 upset.
Meanwhile, on attack, the Panthers made the most of their limited opportunities as Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o scored right after the opening whistle in each half.
Ivan Cleary will look to install a similar game plan this week, but it will take more than 10 points to down a high-flying Rabbitohs side that has no problem scoring.
Penrith know they can run in the tries against this Souths side – as witnessed in their 52-16 win back in Round 11 – but Cleary does have some injury concerns to address this week that make a similar blowout unlikely.
The most worrying situations come in the middle with both Tavita Pangai Jr and James Fisher-Harris in doubt after suffering injuries in the win over the Storm.
The Panthers still have the pieces in place to win their third premiership though, and there is no denying they are the rightful favourites in this contest after downing the reigning premiers.
Not only was Nathan Cleary’s leadership on full display last week, but he was also largely responsible for the pressure Penrith created.
The pressure of potentially losing back-to-back Grand Final’s is immense, but if the Panthers can follow that same blueprint and suffocate the Rabbitohs, they’ll go a long way to avenging last year’s disappointment.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs return to the Grand Final for the first time since 2014 following last week’s demolition job over Manly.
Like they have for most of the year, the Bunnies started fast and finished strong as Cody Walker and Alex Johnston both helped themselves to a try-scoring double in the 36-16 win.
South Sydney will take plenty of confidence into this game knowing they also held the Panthers to just 10 points three weeks earlier in the Qualifying Final.
In what was a low-scoring game, the Rabbitohs completed close to 85% of their sets and kept the penalties to a minimum – a performance they’ll hope to replicate in search of their 22nd premiership.
Nobody has been tougher to score against than the Panthers this season, but the Rabbitohs have more than enough attacking weapons to really put pressure on Penrith from the get-go.
South’s ability to win possession and basically suck the life out of their opponent was on full display last week against Manly, and if Bennett can get his men to follow the same script, the Bunnies will be tough to beat.
On the injury front, the only real area of concern is Adam Reynolds, who will play his final game with the club before departing for the Broncos next season.
In all likelihood the Rabbits are set to start the same 17 that featured last week though, meaning there are no excuses for a club that has been among the favourites all year.
Betting Pick: Rabbitohs +2.5
It’s hard to say which team has momentum on their side, but when it comes down to it, this year’s Grand Final will likely be won and lost on the wing.
Alex Johnston finished the season on top in the try-scoring department for the second year in a row, and if he can rely on some clutch kicking from Reynolds close to the line, the Bunnies might have the advantage through the air.
The fact this is Wayne Bennett’s final game as coach will also play a part.
The legendary coach is looking to win his eighth premiership, and while hardware is the ultimate goal, there’s no doubt Bennett’s players will want to send him off in style.
As the line suggests, this game should be close, but with an outstanding 5-1 record as the away underdog against South Sydney, the well-disciplined Bunnies are a good bet with some insurance.
The last two games between the Panthers and Rabbitohs have gone under the total, so it’s no surprise to find only 38.5 points on offer for the decider.
South Sydney has held its last four opponents to under 20 points, while Penrith’s efforts against Manly last week also suggests a low-scoring game could be on the cards.
Heavy rain is also forecast in Brisbane for later in the week, so all signs point towards the Under.
Tip: Under 38.5 Total Points @ $1.90
First Try Scorer
Backing the First Try Scorer is always a crapshoot, but Cody Walker does look a decent value bet after making his presence felt against Manly last week in the early stages.
If Souths kicking game is on-point, Alex Johnston is also a must-include to get on the end of a bomb from Reynolds.
On the Penrith side, Stephen Crichton is hard to go past as a $9.00 option.
The youngster has scored the first try in two of Penrith’s last three games, including last week’s thriller just two minutes in.
Tip: Back Cody Walker @ $15.00 & Stephen Crichton @ $9.00
Clive Churchill Medal
Cody Walker has gone to a whole new level during the finals, and it is no surprise to find him sitting towards the top of the Churchill market.
The six-year veteran is only one try away from tying his career-high, and he looks likely to reach that mark coming off a double against Manly last week.
Walker finished third in Dally M voting, while on a more personal note, this is also his final game alongside good friend Adam Reynolds.
Tip: Back Cody Walker @ $7.00
One of the most highly anticipated Grand Final’s in NRL history will kick off on Sunday night as the record-setting Penrith Panthers host the powerhouse Melbourne Storm from ANZ Stadium.
The market for this game is almost as fascinating as the contest as punters toss up between Penrith’s unbeaten record and Melbourne’s outstanding track record in winner-take-all games.
To help you split the two, we’ve analyzed both teams, as well as all the key markets, in our 2020 NRL Grand Final Preview below!
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
Sunday 25 October, 6:30pm, ANZ Stadium
Head to Head and Line Betting
The Storm have been an outstanding bet against the Panthers in recent years winning 14 of their last 16 contests, so it’s no real surprise to find Craig Bellamy’s side as short as $1.70 heading into Sunday’s decider.
Melbourne actually lost to the Panthers 21-14 when these two sides met back in Round 6, a game the Storm will hoping to use as motivation on the quest for their fourth Premiership.
Typically speaking, Melbourne tends to avenge previous losses to opponents rather comfortably, but it’s fair to say they won’t have things all their own way against this record-breaking Penrith side.
For those living under a rock, the Panthers have now won 17 straight games dating back to Round 5 and are also a perfect 2-0 at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith’s defence has largely been the catalyst for the team’s success, particularly during the finals where they’ve survived two serious scares against the Roosters and Rabbitohs in succession.
That said, punters can feel relatively confident in Penrith’s chances based on their 3-1 record both head-to-head and at the line as the underdog this year.
The line currently stands at just -1.5 points, which looks just about right when you factor in both teams finished top five in points and tries to end the season.
Ivan Cleary’s side has been difficult to fault this season as they continue to tick all the boxes, but it remains to be seen how they cope with the pressure of the big stage against one of the competition’s most feared outfits.
Not only have the Storm won 14 of their last 16 against Penrith, they’ve also won six of their last eight against the Panthers as the away favourite.
With Josh Addo-Carr and Cameron Smith playing in what appears to be their final game with the club, back the Storm to add to their trophy cabinet.
Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-1.5 Points) @ $2.00
Low scoring games have become pretty common whenever these two clubs get together.
The Panthers and the Storm have combined for over 35 points in only one of their last five contests, which leaves the 35.6 Total Points line looking a little high in Sunday’s Grand Final.
Penrith had their hands full against the Roosters, but don’t forget they’ve held 12 of their last 13 opponents to under 24 points.
When you throw in the fact 14 of Penrith’s last 22 games have all gone Under, or perhaps more impressively, six of the last 10 games between Penrith and Melbourne, suddenly a low-scoring game seems highly likely.
Tip: Under 36.5 Total Points @ $1.90
First Try Scorer
One of Melbourne’s biggest attributes is their ability to score points in a hurry, so there’s certainly a lot to like about a Storm player finding the line first on Sunday.
Josh Addo-Carr as the $8.00 favourite stands out as the obvious choice based on Alex Johnston’s success on the wing last week, while further down, Ryan Papenhuyzen looks goof odds if the Storm can set up their brilliant kick chase like they did against the Raiders.
On the Penrith side, there are three names to consider: Brent Naden, Viliame Kikau and Brian To’o.
To’o has been Penrith’s first try scorer in three games this year, so it’s no surprise to find him on the second line of betting at $11.00.
Kikau, on the other hand, looks well over the odds @ $19.00 after scoring Penrith’s first try on four occasions during the home/away season.
Tip: Josh Addo-Carr @ $8.00, Viliame Kikau @ $19.00
Clive Churchill Medal
Ryan Papenhuyzen has quickly developed into one of the most exciting young players in the competition and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to watch him follow in Billy Slater’s footsteps by winning the Churchill.
Papenhuyzen has been electric during the finals scoring a combined three tries against the Eels and Raiders, while he also mopped up defensively last week with five tackles.
Penrith struggled to contain Rabbitohs fullback Corey Allan last week surrendering 112 metres and a try, a slightly worrying sign ahead of the Grand Final.
Paps is arguably a much tougher assignment than Allan, and if the selectors are paying close to attention, they should see full well why he is regarded as one of this generation’s top stars.
Tip: Ryan Papenhuyzen @ $9.00
The 2019 NRL Grand Final is here!
The Canberra Raiders have qualified for their first NRL Grand Final since 1994 and have the majority of neutral supporters on their side, but standing in their way is an outstanding Sydney Roosters outfit that has the chance to become the first back-to-back premiers in the NRL era.
It is no surprise that the Roosters are currently clear favourites in NRL Grand Final betting, but the Raiders have surpassed expectations all season long and their brand of football is ideally suited to the finals.
We have analysed both sides, as well as a wide range of betting markets, and our complete 2019 NRL Grand Final tips can be found below.
Sydney Roosters vs Canberra Raiders
Sunday 6 October, 6:30pm, ANZ Stadium
Head to Head & Line Betting
The Roosters have opened as the short-priced favourites ahead of Sunday’s game but there is still plenty of value to be found in the Raiders.
Sydney are a near perfect 11-2 as the home favourite this season while Canberra are 5-1 as the away underdog. The Green Machine will take plenty of confidence into this game knowing they held the Rabbitohs to just 10-points last week, and with a 9-3 record on the road during the home/away season, there’s nothing stopping Canberra from pulling off a huge upset.
That said, the Roosters have plenty to feel good about themselves. Sydney have allowed only two tries in their last two games – an impressive feat against both the Rabbitohs and Storm in back-to-back weeks.
These two sides have already played twice this year with the Roosters winning on both occasions, and for those keeping count at home, Sydney has also won two of their three games at ANZ.
For Canberra to win, they need to settle into the game early. For a side that hasn’t played in the Grand Final since 1994, you can expect plenty of nerves from Ricky Stuart’s men – especially against the reigning premiers.
The Raiders defence is worth banking on though, especially when you factor in Canberra has lost by an average of only 5.6 points this year – the second-lowest margin behind the Storm.
In turn, the Green Machine’s stingy defence has helped the Raiders earn a perfect 6-0 record as the away underdog against the line.
Back-to-back premierships are hard to come by in the NRL – just ask the last 26 reigning premiers.
So, for those looking for a safer bet than the head-to-head price, back the Raiders to keep this one close.
Tip: Back the Raiders to Cover the Line (+7.5 Points) @ $2.00
They say defence wins championships, and that couldn’t be more true of the modern day Roosters.
A year ago Sydney held the Storm to just six points on Grand Final day, and after holding Melbourne to the same margin last week, all signs point towards the Unders on Sunday.
The Raiders’ defence will also play a part on the scoreboard as they look to limit the Chooks’ potent forward line. Canberra hasn’t allowed a try in their opening 20-minutes since the finals began, while the Raiders’ last four games against Sydney have also gone Under the Total.
Tip: Under 33.5 Total Points @ $1.90
First Try Scorer
Great players save their best for the Grand Final, as we saw last year from Latrell Mitchell.
The Roosters’ talented centre tore apart the Storm in the early goings and also slotted three crucial penalty goals. More recently, Mitchell was a little quiet during last weeks win over Melbourne, but with three tries in two games against the Raiders this year, you certainly can’t go past the talented 22-year-old.
Sydney will need to come up with a creative gameplan against a Canberra defence known for choking the life out of their opponents. Possession alone won’t win it for the Roosters, but if they can feed the ball to Mitchell early and often, he’s bound to make an impact on the scoreboard sooner rather than later.
Tip: Back Latrell Mitchell @ $9.00
Clive Churchill Medal
Cooper Cronk is already a Clive Churchill winner thanks to his brilliant Grand Final performance with the Storm back in 2012. What has eluded the great man in 16 years of rugby league though is back-to-back premierships – meaning we should see a spirited and motivated Cronk on the field this Sunday.
This time last year Cronk took the field in a shoulder sling as he willed the Roosters over the line with a broken scapula. It’s been a much more comfortable leadup this time around for the 35-year-old, and if Cronk’s recent form is anything to go by, he might just put on a show.
Cronk has shown no signs of regression during his second year with the Roosters, and with the Raiders’ focus being on Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco, there’s every chance the orchestrator at half back leaves his fingerprints on this game.
As far as experience goes, Sunday will mark Cronk’s ninth Grand Final, and although he’s already achieved legend status, a second Clive Churchill would not only make him the sixth multiple Medal winner, but also put him among some fairly elite company.
Tip: Back Cooper Cronk @ $6.00
The game that we have all been waiting for is here and the Sydney Roosters will take on the Melbourne Storm in the 2018 NRL Grand Final this weekend.
Has there ever been a Grand Final with more uncertainty heading into it? One question was answered when Billy Slater was cleared by the NRL judiciary, but we still don’t know whether Cooper Cronk will overcome a shoulder injury to play.
What we do know is that we are in for an outstanding game of rugby league on Sunday!
We have analysed both teams and our complete 2018 NRL Grand Final tips can be found below!
Sydney Roosters vs Melbourne Storm
Sunday 30 September, ANZ Stadium
Billy Slater was cleared to play by the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night and that has seen the Melbourne Storm surge into clear favourtism in our 2018 NRL Grand Final betting market.
In saying that, there is still not a great deal between the two sides and we do look set for a very close Grand Final.
There was plenty expected of the Sydney Roosters heading into the 2018 NRL season and they really have come good at the right time.
The Roosters made a slow start to the season and it took a while for the likes of Cronk and James Tedesco to have a positive impact, but they have been excellent over the past couple of months and it is fair to say that they are the best defensive side in the competition.
Their defence was nothing short of outstanding against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last weekend and that will need to be the case again, especially if Cooper Cronk is not passed fit.
Cronk does seem like a big longshot to be able to take the field and he truly is an impossible player to replace.
The Roosters have won 10 of their past 14 games with a home ground advantage, even though ANZ Stadium isn’t technically their home ground, and they are 9-5 against the line when playing in front of their home fans.
Melbourne’s big game experience proved vital against the Cronulla Sharks last Friday night and Slater inspired them to a very comfortable win.
I was already leaning towards the Melbourne Storm, but the fact that Slater has been cleared to play has definitely tipped things in favour of the defending Premiers.
Slater has been nothing short of outstanding during the NRL Finals to date and his game-breaking ability is likely to prove extremely important in what we believe will be a low-scoring affair.
When you add in the leadership and big-game experience that Slater brings, along with Cameron Smith, and his inclusion really does make as big a difference as the market suggests.
Winning in Sydney is not an issue for Melbourne and they have won eight of their 12 games on the road this season, but they are only 4-7 against the line.
The time is now for a team to finally win back-to-back Premierships in the NRL and the Storm are the team to do just that.
Back Melbourne To Cover The Line (-2.5 Points)
This has low-scoring Grand Final written all over it and the Total Points line has been set at 32.5 points.
Backing the Under has been a profitable play in games involving either of these two teams this season and when they met earlier this season they played out a 9-8 defence-fest.
Melbourne scored more than 32.5 points themselves when they beat the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL Grand Final last year, but in recent years Grand Finals have been fairly low-scoring affairs and the Under has saluted in five of the past seven.
This match looks set to be a genuine grind and the Under is definitely the way to go in Total Points betting.
Back Under 32.5 Points
First Try Scorer
Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell are currently locked in a battle for favourtism in our 2018 NRL Grand Final First Try Scorer betting market and both are priced at $9.
Blake Ferguson is on the second line of betting at $10 along with Daniel Tupou and Suliasi Vunivalu, while the two full-backs, Billy Slater and James Tedesco, are $12.
Josh Addo-Carr scored the first try in the Grand Final last year and he has proven to be a serious big-time player.
Addo-Carr has proven over the last couple of seasons that he is capable of scoring tries from anywhere on the field and he is a deserving favourite for this market.
Latrell Mitchell will be raring to get back into action, after he missed last week’s win over South Sydney due to injury, and there are few more dangerous centres in the game.
Melbourne had serious issues controlling Greg Inglis in the first week of the finals and Mitchell has a very similar skillset.
Both these sides are very strong defensively up the middle and the tries are likely to come out wide, so both Mitchell and Addo-Carr represent value at their short odds.
Back Josh Addo-Carr @ $9 & Latrell Mitchell @ $9 To Score The First Try
Clive Churchill Medal
It should come as no surprise that our Clive Churchill betting market is headlined by all the usual suspects.
Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and James Tedesco are locked in a battle for favourtism at $6, while Cameron Munster and Cooper Cronk are on the second line of betting at $8.
Cameron Munster looks set to be the key-man for Melbourne in this clash and the $8 for him to claim the medal appeals.
He was the Storm’s best in the 2016 NRL Grand Final and he has shown at State Of Origin level that he is a genuine big game player.
The Roosters best chance of winning this game is in a low-scoring, forwards-dominated game and Boyd Cordner could prove to be the key man.
Cordner is another player that has generally thrived on the big stage during his playing career and the $13 for him to be Best On Ground does look over the odds.
Back Cameron Munster @ $8 & Boyd Cordner @ $13
The NRL Grand Final is always one of the highlights of the Australian sporting calendar and we are set for an outstanding game at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The Melbourne Storm have been the best team in the NRL all season long and they are clear favourites in our 2017 NRL Grand Final betting market, but in their way is an extremely plucky North Queensland Cowboys outfit that has been nothing short of sensational during the NRL Finals.
Will the Melbourne Storm claim another premiership or will the North Queensland Cowboys continue their incredible run?
We have analysed both teams and our complete 2017 NRL Grand Final tips can be found below!
Melbourne Storm vs North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 1 October, 6.15pm (AEST), 7.15pm (AEDT), ANZ Stadium
Melbourne Storm 34 - North Queensland Cowboys 6
The Melbourne Storm have clearly been the best team all season long in the NRL and they are deserving of their position as dominant favourites.
Melbourne were fairly unconvincing against the Parramatta Eels in the qualifying final and they were slow out of the blocks against the Brisbane Broncos, but the way they put away the Broncos late was very impressive.
The scary thing for the North Queensland Cowboys is that the Storm can still play much better than that.
This is a side that is absolutely packed full of big-game players and the likes of Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater rarely disappoint in a big game.
Melbourne have won 21 of their past 24 games as home favourites for a clear profit and they are 13-11 against the line in this scenario.
North Queensland were very lucky to sneak into the NRL Finals after they won just one of their last six regular season games, but the way they have played over the last three weeks was nothing short of outstanding.
They have improved each time that they have played in the NRL Finals and they were always in control of their clash with the Sydney Roosters.
Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo have gotten most the wraps, but there hasn’t been a weak-link in this North Queensland side and their forward pack has won the points battle over the Sharks, Eels and Roosters.
There is no fitter team in the competition and if the Cowboys are in touch late they will be tough to hold out.
North Queensland have won seven of their past 15 games as underdogs for a clear profit and they are a most impressive 10-5 against the line in this scenario.
It has been impossible not to like what the Cowboys have been able to produce in recent weeks and the 2017 NRL Grand Final will be closer than the current market suggests.
Back North Queensland To Beat The Line (+10 Points)
First Try Scorer
Suliasi Vunivalu and Jose Addo-Carr are clear favourites in First Try Scorer betting markets at $7 from Billy Slater ($12), Will Chambers ($13), Antonio Winterstein ($15) and Curtis Scott ($15).
Josh Addo-Carr has been in outstanding form in recent weeks and he was able to score the opening try when Melbourne recorded a comfortable win over North Queensland in round 22.
He is a deserving favourite and he looks likely to be involved in the action early.
Coen Hess has scored the majority of the tries from the Cowboys forwards this season, but Gavin Cooper is another forward that often finds his way over the stripe and he has a habit of scoring the first try in big games.
Cooper is often used as a decoy runner when the Cowboys are attacking their oppositions line, but if they do feed him the ball he can be tough to stop.
The $29 for Cooper to claim the first try is well and truly over the odds.
Back Josh Addo-Carr @ $7 & Gavin Cooper @ $29 to score the first try
Clive Churchill Medal
Cameron Smith is a dominant favourite in our 2017 Clive Churchill Medal betting market and he is currently available at $2.25 to win the award for the first time in his illustrious career.
There is no doubt that Smith will be heavily involved for the Storm and he is a deserving favourite, but $2.25 is incredibly short and that means there is plenty of other value to be found.
Cooper Cronk is on the second line of betting at $6 and he is the value selection for the Storm.
This will likely be Cronk’s final ever game for the Storm and he is just as important to their winning chances as Smith.
Jason Taumalolo and Micahel Morgan have both been outstanding for the Cowboys during their unlikely NRL Finals charge and it is no surprise that both are prevalent in Clive Churchill betting markets.
Taumalolo is just about a lock to run for 200 metres and he could prove to be the difference between the two teams – a couple of offloads or a try are all that the damaging forward needs to be in the Clive Churchill Medal conversation.
Back Cooper Cronk @ $6 & Jason Taumalolo @ $9
The NRL Grand Final is one of the biggest days on Australian Sporting calendar and history could be made in the 2016 edition.
The Cronulla Sharks have qualified for their first Grand Final since the Super League decider in 1997 and they may never have a better chance to win their maiden NRL Premiership.
Standing in their way is a Melbourne Storm outfit that have a host of big-game experience and have been the most consistent side in the competition all season long.
Will The Sharks finally win an elusive Premiership or will there be more success for the Storm? I have analysed both teams and below are a wide range of betting plays for a number of different betting markets.
Cronulla Sharks vs Melbourne Storm
Sunday 2 October, 6.15pm (AEST), 7.15pm (AEDT), ANZ Stadium
There is very little between these two teams in betting and the Melbourne are only very narrow favourites.
Melbourne have only lost five games in 2016 and the majority of those came in games in which they were missing Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.
The Storm are just a consistent side that keep performing season after season and they have actually improved in 2016 edition with a full-season from Cameron Munster as well as two of the most exciting wingers in the game in the form of Suliasi Vunivalu and Marika Koroibete.
Melbourne play the perfect style of rugby league for a Grand Final and there is little doubt that they will be able to handle the big occasion.
The Storm have won 19 of their past 22 games as favourites for a sizeable profit and they have won nine of their past 10 games as favourites against the Sharks.
Cronulla only ground out a win over Canberra in the opening week of the finals, but they were nothing short of outstanding against the North Queensland Cowboys in the preliminary final.
Their forwards simply out-enthused the Cowboys pack and there is little doubt that their backline is the most underrated in the entire competition.
Cronulla have been an excellent betting play throughout the 2016 NRL season and they have won five of their past eight games as underdogs for a healthy profit.
The real issue for the Sharks is their truly horrid record against Melbourne as well as the fact that they have only a couple of players with any Grand Final experience.
The market has got this game just about right, but there is one betting market where there is still plenty of value.
I expect this to be a very low-scoring affair and the under has been a profitable betting play in 18 of the past 26 games played by the Storm as well as the majority of Sharks games this weekend.
Back Under 34 Points
First Try Scorer
Suliasi Vunivalu ($7) is a dominant favourite from Marika Koroibete ($10), Valentine Holmes ($10), Sosaia Feki ($11) and Ben Barba ($12).
Vunivalu is a try-scoring machine, but there is no doubt that he is a touch of unders at his current price.
The one winger that does appeal at their current price is Holmes.
Holmes is capable of scoring from any part of the field and he is more than capable of taking advantage of any deficiencies in the defence of the Storm wingers.
The forward that is excellent value at their current price is Storm forward Kevin Proctor.
Proctor is a very dangerous runner close to the line and he has scored the first try for the Storm three times already this season.
Back Valentine Holmes @ $10 & Kevin Proctor @ $21
Clive Churchill Medal
There are no better big game players in the NRL than Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and it comes as no surprise that they are the clear favourites in Clive Churchill Medal betting.
Kicking in general play is sure to be crucial in what will be a very tight-affair and because of that I believe that Cronk will be crucial.
He has already won the Clive Churchill Medal once back in 2012 and he has an excellent chance to become the first player since Bradley Clyde in 1991 to win the Clive Churchill Medal on multiple occasions.
The value in Clive Churchill betting markets is Luke Lewis.
Lewis is not often rated up there with Michael Ennis, James Maloney and Paul Gallen as the Shark’s most important players, but he is easily their most consistent and he has a stack of big-game experience.
The $23 currently on offer is well over the odds.
Back Cooper Cronk @ $7 & Luke Lewis @ $23
NRL Grand Final Money Wire
The Ladbrokes Money Wire delivers you information on the big bets, key markets and all the moves ahead of the NRL Grand Final.