Wed, Sep 26, 9:25am by Staff Writer
The Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm have a rich history in Grand Finals and have been the two most dominant teams during the past two decades. They meet in Sunday’s NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium to crown the 2018 NRL premier.
A pulsating NRL finals series concludes on Sunday night when the Roosters and Storm play at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
It is Melbourne who are the favourites to win the match at $1.85, with the Roosters priced at $2.
There is plenty of intrigue ahead of the match, particularly concerning Roosters half back Cooper Cronk.
After playing his entire career at the Melbourne Storm, Cronk deflected in 2018 to play for the Roosters and it has paid immediate dividends for the Tricolours.
The half back looked to have injured his shoulder against South Sydney and played the second half looking worse for ware.
Souths seldom targeted Cronk, despite his inability to pass the ball effectively and word is that he has suffered a rotator cuff injury, the severity of which is unknown.
Should Cronk miss Sunday’s Grand Final, coach Trent Robinson will have a decision to make as to who plays half back.
It may be the current five-eighth Luke Keary, with Ryan Matterson pushed into the halves.
It could also be Sean O’Sullivan who has played most of the season with the Wyong Roos and has only one game of NRL experience, although that could be an enormous risk.
Despite potentially losing Cronk, the Roosters welcome back the suspended duo of Dylan Napa and Latrell Mitchell.
Napa adds ferocity to the Roosters’ forward pack, while Mitchell returns at centre and will take over the goal kicking duties after a combination of Blake Ferguson and Sio Siua Taukeiaho combined to go 0/4 last weekend.
The Melbourne Storm’s major selection headache revolves around whether or not Craig Bellamy opts to play Ryan Hoffman or Joe Stimson in the second row.
It will be Hoffman’s final NRL game, but Stimson was superb last weekend making 31 tackles, 13 runs and 103 metres.
Melbourne was clinical in a 22-6 win against Cronulla in the preliminary finals and held a 20-0 half time lead.
The Roosters played ferociously in defence to hold South Sydney without a try in a 12-4 win at Allianz Stadium last Saturday night.
In their only match this season in round 16 at Adelaide Oval, the Storm were 9-8 winners.
The match was played with a focus on defence as two of the league’s best defensive teams locked horns.
It was a long Cameron Smith field goal in the 79th minute that got Melbourne the victory, after they led 8-2 midway through the second half.
The last five matches between these sides have been decided by five points or less and four of them have involved a field goal to either side.
Melbourne is a 1.5-point favourite in handicap betting at $1.91 in this match.
In margin betting, either side to win by a 1-12 margin are the shortest options.
The Storm to win by 1-12 is paying $2.75, while the Roosters to win by 1-12 is paying $2.80.
A host of skilful attacking players makes the first try scorer market an intriguing one, with last year’s first tryscorer in the Grand Final Josh Addo-Carr leading the market at $8.50.
His team mate Suliasi Vunivalu is priced at $9.50, with full back Billy Slater at $13.
For the Roosters, the trio of Blake Ferguson, Daniel Tupou and Latrell Mitchell are all priced at $10.
The total match points is set at over/under 32.5 at $1.90, with oddsmakers suggesting this game will be a tight, defensive struggle.
South Sydney’s attack was poor last weekend and they failed to target an obviously injured Cooper Cronk.
Should the Roosters number seven play on Sunday night, you can be sure that Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy will be sending a lot of traffic his way.
Melbourne has multiple layers to its attack, whereas the Roosters rely heavily on the high ball to their wing players.
With plenty of Grand Final experience at their disposal, it is hard to turn down the Storm, who are poised to win their second straight Grand Final.
Best bet- Melbourne Storm to win at $1.85
Value bet- Melbourne Storm 1-12 at $2.75
First tryscorer- Billy Slater at $13
NRL Grand Final Odds
Sydney Roosters $2 Melbourne Storm $1.85
Handicap: Melbourne -1.5 ($1.90)
Margin: Melbourne 1-12 $2.75; 13+ $5
Sydney 1-12 $2.80; 13+ $6.50
Total match points over/under 32.5 ($1.90)
Josh Addo-Carr $8.50
Suliasi Vunivalu $9.50
Daniel Tupou $10
Blake Ferguson $10
Latrell Mitchell $10
Billy Slater $13
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