Fri, Sep 9, 5:38pm by Staff Writer
PREVIEW: SECOND QUALIFYING FINAL – MELBOURNE STORM V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Date and Time: Saturday September 10, 7:55pm AEST
Venue: AAMI Park
TV: Live on Channel 9, Fox Sports
The Melbourne Storm finished top of the ladder this season proving consistency is the key to winning Minor Premierships. Whilst the sides around them like the Raiders and Sharks, fluctuated in form. It was the Storm who charged through the year with no real highs or lows in form. They must now raise their game, however, as they welcome the reigning NRL Champions, the North Queensland Cowboys to AAMI Park. It was the Cowboys who knocked the Storm out of the Finals last year and will be looking to repeat that feat.
These two sides are favourites to progress through the Finals system and come out on top to be crowned NRL Champions. The Cowboys are currently priced at $4.00 with William Hill compared to the Storm who stand at $3.50. Losing this weekend will not end either sides chances of claiming the ultimate prize but it will certainly dent their title ambitions.
WATCH: We preview the first week of the NRL Finals
There is little separating the Storm and Cowboys as they head into this Qualifying Final. The Storm do however, edge in front as favourites with William Hill priced at $1.75. With a near capacity crowd in Melbourne, anything is possible as they showed just last week the potential they possess by demolishing fellow title hopefuls the Cronulla Sharks by 20 points to secure the Minor Premiership.
Going all the way to claim the title is notoriously difficult in playoff scenarios such as here in the NRL. The North Queensland Cowboys have shown in the past that they are adept at timing their run of form to coincide with the Finals. Despite being priced at $2.21, there will be an undeniable air of confidence to a side that has been in big game situations like this before. At this crucial stage of the season it often comes down to which team can handle the pressure most effectively rather than simply beating the opposition.
William Hill are expecting it to be a close fought contest with a Melbourne win of between 1-12 points the best priced margin at $2.77. The reversal of that winning margin with a Cowboys victory stands at $3.30. For either team to be runaway winners it would take a monumental effort with prices for 13+ point victory for the Storm at $4.25 and for the Cowboys at $6.10.
Suliasi Vunivalu tops the prices for the 1st Tryscorer and Match Winner Double on offer with William Hill. He is priced at $12.00 combined with a Storm win whilst his teammate, Marika Koroibete, is his closest competitor at $13.00. For the Cowboys the favourite to score first and North Queensland to win the match is Antonio Winterstein and Kyle Feldt both priced at $27.00.
The Finals system means that this may not be the last time these two teams meet this year. Whoever loses this match will have to make it the hard way but if the odds are to be believed it could well be a Grand Final consisting of the Storm versus the Cowboys.
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