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!
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!
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.
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.