It’s that time of year again, Footy Finals! Can you smell it? Half the teams and their supporters have been sent packing, ruing a season of chronic injuries, bad refereeing, drug scandals, and missed opportunities, whilst the other half of the teams are gearing up for the shot at the trophy. The top 8 teams all say it’s wide open and any of the teams can win, their supporters will swear blind that the premiership is theirs this season. Let’s look at the chances of each team:
Manly ($5.10 at wbx.com, $4.50 at TAB) and Souths ($3.95 wbx.com, $3.75 at TAB) have been the two form teams of the season so far and have class players across their full 17. Last Weekend’s injury to underrated back rower Jamie Buhrer will be an unwelcome headache for Manly. Still with one of the best halves combinations in the NRL in Foran and Cherry-Evans, they will feature strongly.
Souths are a side packed with power all across the park. Sam Burgess has shown all the signs of wanting to deliver a premiership to Souths before heading off to union next year and has led from the front all year. They can hurt you all over the park, but can be put off their game by opposition niggling at them and getting in their face. Teams that don’t do that to Souths don’t win.
The Danger sides
The Roosters ($3.60 wbx.com, $3.25 TAB) are on a real roll at the moment having won their past 8 games and this has made them favourite with many of the bookmakers. On their day they are unbeatable, but may just lack the all-round class to get the job done this year.
The Cowboys ($9.20 wbx.com, $7.50 TAB) are another team to watch, but their performance in Sydney hasn’t been great and may be their downfall towards the end of September, even with Thurston steering them around the park.
The Storm ($9.40) can never be discounted with Slater, Cronk and Smith leading them. They have a strong squad of 17 but will need to get a few referee decisions to go their way for them to win this year.
The Panthers ($19) have over-achieved since round 1 and many thought they would slide down the ladder, especially as the injury toll mounted. Born-again-player Jamie Soward has looked very classy as he put an abysmal 2013 with the Dragons behind him. Currently sitting in 4th, it’s hard to see anyone predicting them to be the team holding the trophy aloft on Grand Final Day
Those fighting for a Top 8 spot
The Bulldogs, Broncos and Warriors look to be the 3 teams fighting out for 2 spots, with the Eels ($100) likely to be left ruing their woeful for-and-against record and would need to beat the Raiders this weekend and hope both Warriors (v Panthers) and Broncos (v Storm) lose.
The Bulldogs ($34) seem to lack the point scoring threats of many of their finals rivals and would need to step this up if they are to challenge this year. There’s only so many tackles Graham and Tolman can make without their try-scorers helping them out.
The Warriors ($50) put together a series of good performances in the last third of the season which saw them climb the leader board. Johnson, Mannering and Matulino have been standouts for them. Even with that though, should they make the finals they’ll have to play 4 matches away from New Zealand which would prove a tough ask.
The Broncos ($85) have an attacking side and with Ben Barba finally starting to settle in to his new Five-Eighth role, could be a dangerous opponent. Their main issue would be consistency.
You could safely look at any of the top 5 teams and back yourself a winner, and if you do, you may as well make sure you get the best price. Betting Exchange wbx.com offers substantially better prices for the top 3 teams than either the TAB or Sportsbet, so make your dollar go further!
Best Bet – Souths
Outsider – Warriors
Lay – Roosters
*prices correct as at 5pm AET on 2nd September 2014