Thu, Sep 22, 6:21pm by Staff Writer
Date and Time: Friday September 23, 7:55pm AEST
Venue: Allianz Stadium
TV: Fox Sports/Channel 9
The current reigning NRL Premiers will arrive in Cronulla with a mountain to climb if they are going to be back-to-back Champions. Victory over the Broncos last week will has left them bruised and battered in what was a hugely physical contest. While the Sharks had the benefit of a rest week to prepare for this match. Will the battle hardened Cowboys be a match for the rested and revitalised Sharks in this Preliminary Final?
North Queensland are currently second favourite to retain their Premiership crown. Sportsbet have them priced at $3.75 behind the Storm. While their opponents in this fixture, the Cronulla Sharks currently stand third favourite at $4.25. Ultimately one of those prices will be proven wrong after this weekend.
Back to the Preliminary Final, and the Cowboys edge this fixture as favourites priced at $1.80 with Sportsbet. Despite the brutal encounter with Broncos in Townsville, they have consistently shown this season that they have the necessary firepower to overcome any opposition. The seesaw battle that took place last week highlighted their resilience and combination of strength up front in the forwards and the magic the backs can create.
WATCH: We pick out the Best Bets for the NRL Preliminary Finals
The Sharks are only just the underdogs heading into this match with Sportsbet pricing them at $2.05. A blip in form at the end of the regular season threatened to derail not only their hopes of the Minor Premiership but also any hopes of a Grand Final appearance. They managed to replicate their earlier season form, however, to overcome the Raiders in week one. Booking a week off to prepare for a Preliminary Final on home soil in doing so. If they can reproduce that form and keep the tempo of the match high, then they may just be able to run the Cowboys off their feet.
Sportsbet’s Big Win-Little Win prices are understandably in favour of a Cowboys victory but either way they are predicting that it will be a close game. For the Sharks to win by 1-12 points it currently stands at $3.40 with a Cowboys win by the same margin at $3.00. The likelihood of one side running away with his contest appears remote with prices of $3.85 and $5.50 for a 13+ point win for the Cowboys and Sharks respectively. A draw at the end of the 80 minutes is priced at $17.00.
Valentine Holmes of Cronulla along with Kyle Feldt and Javid Bowen of the Cowboys, are the key men who top the prices to cross the whitewash. All three players have matching prices with Sportsbet. They currently stand at $10.00 for First Tryscorer and Last Tryscorer, $2.10 for Anytime Tryscorer, $7.50 to Score 2 or more Tries in 80 minutes and $34.00 to Score 3 or more Tries in 80 minutes.
In the end the outcome of this match may well rest upon one key factor, experience. North Queensland have been in these situations many times before and will look to exploit that strength. The Sharks have the potential must fulfil it if they are to make the Grand Final.
Bet of the Match: Cowboys to Win by 1-12 points at $3.00
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