Fri, Sep 28, 1:49pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 NRL Grand Final takes place this Sunday and features the Sydney Roosters and the Melbourne Storm.
The Storm are $1.67 favourites to win their second Grand Final in a row and are looking to become the first team this century to defend their title.
The Roosters are priced are $2.22 and last made the Grand Final in 2013, when they defeated Manly 26-18.
It has been a trying week for both sides, with an injury and suspension the narratives of Grand Final week.
Melbourne went to the judiciary on Tuesday night to fight a grade one shoulder charge that threatened to end Billy Slater’s career.
After more than three hours, Slater was deemed free to play in a huge boost for the Storm.
After the news was announced, the Storm’s price came tumbling down from $1.85 to $1.70 and it has dropped further today to $1.67.
During their pulsating 12-4 win against South Sydney last Saturday night, Roosters half back Cooper Cronk looked in considerable pain with an arm injury.
It turned out he has a rotator cuff injury, the severity of which is unknown.
Cronk has been named in the 23-man squad by coach Trent Robinson, but may believe it would be a miracle if he played.
The Storm are sure to send plenty of traffic towards Cooper Cronk if he does play, with the Roosters number seven lining up against the side he won a premiership with last season.
The Roosters aren’t flush with ready-made half back replacements, with the most likely option being Luke Keary moving from five-eighth to half back and Ryan Matterson slotting into the halves.
It is Mitch Aubusson who was named in the number seven jersey although it would be a huge shock if the utility ran out in the halves.
These two sides met only once this season and it was at the Adelaide Oval in round 16.
On that night it was a long Cameron Smith field goal that separated the two sides as Melbourne held on for a 9-8 win.
Prior to that, the margin of victory for either side had not been greater than six points since the start of the 2017 season.
The Storm to win by a margin of 1-12 points is paying $2.70, while the Roosters to win by that same margin is at $3.10.
The odds makers aren’t predicting a margin of victory greater than that, with the Storm 13+ at $4.20 and the Roosters 13+ paying a huge $7.
The Clive Churchill Medal is given to the player judged best on ground and has a rich history.
Players from all positions have won it, with Billy Slater taking home the prize last year.
The reigning Wally Lewis medallist for being the man of the State of Origin series, Slater is $4 to win his third Clive Churchill Medal.
Storm captain Cameron Smith is yet to win a Dally M Medal and is priced at $5 to do so on Sunday.
If the match is close, look for Smith to have a greater involvement in the middle, particularly defensively and he would be a sentimental pick for the panel.
If Cooper Cronk managed to play on Sunday then asking him to produce a man of the match performance looks steep, so his price of $9 is a bad one.
James Tedesco has shown he loves the big stage and is priced at $6 to lead the way for the Roosters.
Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster is the most creative player on the park with ball in hand and is a $7 prospect.
The first try scorer market is dominated by the Storm wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu.
Addo-Carr scored the first try in last year’s Grand Final and is $7.50 to do the same this year. Vunivalu is priced at $8.50.
For the Roosters, Blake Ferguson, Latrell Mitchell and 2013 Grand Final try scorer Daniel Tupou are all at $11.
The Roosters dogged determination in defence meets the Storm’s crisp attack, but who will prevail?
The Storm are still one of the league’s best defensive sides and you can guarantee they won’t allow the Roosters easy points on Sunday night.
The loss of Cronk is huge and it’s swung the pendulum in Melbourne’s favour.
Best bet- Melbourne Storm to win 1-12 at $2.70
NRL Grand Final Odds
Sydney $2.22 Melbourne $1.67
Handicap: Melbourne -2.5 ($1.90)
Margin: Sydney 1-12 $3.10, 13+ $7
Melbourne 1-12 $2.70, 13+ $4.20
Total match points: over/under 32.5 ($1.90)
Clive Churchill Medal Odds
Josh Addo-Carr $7.50
Suliasi Vunivalu $8.50
Blake Ferguson $11
Daniel Tupou $11
Latrell Mitchell $11
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