Mon, Sep 4, 9:10am by Head Editor
The St George Illawarra Dragons have missed the finals for the second year in a row after blowing their chance to grab a spot in the top eight, with a 26-20 loss to Canterbury on Sunday.
Led by a brilliant performance from both Will Hopoate and Michael Lichaa, the Bulldogs consigned Paul McGregor’s men to a ninth placed finish, in what was an extremely frustrating way to end 2017 for the Red V.
The Dogs, – at $3.20 – were also the biggest underdog to get the points in the final round of the season.
The team who benefited most from the result was the North Queensland Cowboys, who – after finishing 8th – will now travel to Sydney for an Elimination final against the Cronulla Sharks.
Heading into the contest, the Cowboys are at the highest odds ($41) of all the eight finalists, to repeat their heroics of 2015.
They’ll head into the do-or-die contest on the back of a 20-10 loss to the Brisbane Broncos, who sealed third place on the ladder, which means they’ll play the Roosters in a blockbuster Qualifying final on Friday night.
The Roosters left it late in their final hit out before the finals, but scrapped past the lowly Titans, 20-16. The tricolours remain the second top pick, at $5, while the Broncos are $8.
Cronulla remains on the fifth line of betting, at $13 for back-to-back titles, following their 26-18 win over the Newcastle Knights on Sunday.
The four tries to three win came on the back of a huge game by Paul Gallen, who ran for a massive 300 metres, and sees the Knights win their third wooden spoon in a row.
Parramatta secured a top four finish with a 22-16 win over Souths on Friday night, thanks to a hat-trick from Eels Winger Semi Radradra.
The team waiting for the Eels in the Qualifying final on Saturday is the Melbourne Storm, who were once again big winners, beating Canberra 32-6.
Melbourne have now won seven games in a row, and in the process, have moved into odds-on to win the Premiership, at $1.95.
Manly beat Penrith 28-12 on Saturday, which means that the clubs will meet again in the first week of the finals.
The Sea Eagles came into the contest needing a victory to secure their place in the top eight, while the Panthers needed to ensure they didn’t lose by more than 38 points.
Overall, the favourites won in seven of the eight games, but the line was only covered in four of those outings.
Finals Week 1 Odds: (Sportsbet)
Sydney Roosters $1.70 v Brisbane Broncos $2.15 Line: 2.5
Melbourne Storm $1.24 v Parramatta Eels $4.10 Line: 12
Manly Sea Eagles $1.67 v Penrith Panthers $2.20 Line: 3.5
Cronulla Sharks $1.32 v North Queensland $3.40 Line: 8
Melbourne Storm $1.95
Sydney Roosters $5
Brisbane Broncos $8
Parramatta Eels $12
Cronulla Sharks $13
Manly Sea Eagles $21
Penrith Panthers $31
Nth Queensland Cowboys $41
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