Wed, Sep 19, 12:09pm by Staff Writer
The Melbourne Storm is looking to reach its third straight Grand Final when it hosts the Cronulla Sharks on Friday night.
Melbourne is priced as a big favourite for the match at $1.37 in head to head betting. The Sharks are $3.10 outsiders.
The Storm enjoyed a week off after a hard fought 29-28 win against South Sydney a fortnight ago.
A Cameron Munster field goal proved decisive in that match as the Storm snuck home after trailing late in the match.
Cronulla slipped past Penrith by the same margin last weekend to book its spot in the preliminary finals, with a Chad Townsend one-pointer proving to be match winning.
The Sharks have won both encounters against the Storm this season.
In round four the Sharks won 14-4 in a match that featured only one try. The game will be remembered for its enormous penalty count, as 33 penalties were blown in total, 19 of which were conceded by Melbourne.
Storm captain Cameron Smith was sin binned for repeated infringements in the second half, in one of the most bizarre matches recently seen.
In round 22 the Sharks got the better of Melbourne again, this time at AAMI Park. The 17-14 win was Cronulla’s fourth in five meetings against the Storm.
The Storm are eight-point favourites at the handicap at $1.90 and oddsmakers have found it difficult to determine whether the Storm has the edge by 1-12 or 13+ in margin betting.
Melbourne to win 1-12 is paying $2.80, while a 13+ win is paying $2.63.
The Sharks have not lost by 13+ since a round six loss to St. George Illawarra by 40-20.
Melbourne’s most recent 13+ win came against Parramatta in round 23 by a 20-4 score.
The first tryscorer is a race in two, with Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu both priced at $7. For the Sharks, it is their leading tryscorer and full back Valentine Holmes who leads the market at $11.
The total match points are set at over/under 36.5 at $1.90, with the total points going under this mark in the last eight meetings between the two sides.
The Storm are the fresher side ahead of this match and it will be Billy Slater’s final game in Melbourne. Coach Craig Bellamy hinted that the Storm would benefit from the break, so it will be interesting to see if it has revitalised their squad.
Cronulla play with plenty of heart and will not go down easily and if their forward pack get going, they will be hard to stop.
Not much separates these teams and it should be a low-scoring game in Melbourne and points will be at a premium.
Best bet- Melbourne and Cronulla total match points under 36.5 at $1.90
NRL Preliminary Final Odds
Melbourne $1.37 Cronulla $3.10
Handicap: Melbourne -8 ($1.90)
Margin: Melbourne 1-12 $2.80; 13+ $2.63
Cronulla 1-12 $4; 13+ $10
Total match points: over/under 36.5 ($1.90)
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