Who: Melbourne Storm vs. North Queensland Cowboys
When: Saturday, September 26th, 7:45pm
Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
A SPOT in the 2015 NRL grand final is up for grabs as the Melbourne Storm host Johnathan Thurston and the North Queensland Cowboys.
The story couldn’t be more different for two sides that are used to varying successes. The Storm are looking to book their sixth final berth in the last 10 years, whereas the Cowboys last made the final 10 years ago.
From the outset, this season was tipped to be the year the Cowboys got their premiership, but standing in their way is the professional Storm outfit which holds a very good home record at AAMI Park.
The Storm not only hold a good home record (54 wins from 64 games), but they also hold dominance over the Cowboys with a 20-9 record.
There are some injury concerns for the Storm with Marika Koroibete suffering a lacerated Achilles in the qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters. Christian Welch Nichol and Dayne Weston have been named on an extended bench to cover.
This game is one of contrasting styles as the Storm will be looking to slow the ruck down and the Cowboys will be vying to play as quickly as possible. If referees Matt Cecchin and Ben Cummins let Melbourne get away with a slow play-of-the-ball, then the Storm might get the better of the Cowboys in this pivotal game.
Betting the Storm vs. Cowboys
Melbourne Storm – $2.05 (+1.5)
North Queensland Cowboys – $1.80 (-1.5)
The Cowboys opened as shorter favourites at $1.70, but there has been 50 per cent more money invested on the Storm according to Sportsbet.com.au.
Both sides have been backed to win 1-12, which isn’t surprising as it’s a good way to return a profit, but seeing as this is do-or-die, we’re focusing purely on the head-to-head market.
On paper, this game is effectively a coin-toss as you can make positive and negative statements for both teams this Saturday.
The Storm are the older brother; they have been there before and most of the players have big-game experience in the NRL. They took down the Sydney Roosters away from home in their last game and the Roosters have since manhandled the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The Storm are vying for their sixth final berth in 10 years and when you have the experience and class of both Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, it makes them awfully tough to beat.
The negatives for the Storm is that their flying winger Marika Koroibete could miss the game due to a nasty laceration of his Achilles, and they don’t really have a top-class replacement.
The Storm’s expectations have also been reached, according to some NRL insiders, and many believe the Cowboys have built into this season with more momentum.
The Cowboys have had an interesting season to say the least. They started very poorly before going on a long winning streak which was only broken due to State of Origin duties. They have also given some teams very big leads, but they flexed their muscles by storming back into contention and eventually winning those games.
There were doubters that the Cowboys would allow teams to get big leads in the finals, but they have been staunch on defense and their offense looks stellar.
It’s obvious to say this game could go either way and there is no real bad bet in this. You should feel confident in backing both the Storm and the Cowboys as they both have every reason to win on Saturday night.
First tryscorer lineups and odds
There is still no report on whether Marika Koroibete will line up for the Storm and that potential exclusion will likely have an effect on the betting markets.
Korobiete is the stand-alone favourite at $9 to score the first try and the Storm need his attacking prowess. Filling in for the injured Billy Slater has been one thing, but covering for a potent try-scoring winger is an added worry coach Craig Bellamy will not want.
“He has really improved a lot in the last 24 hours, we were all a bit doomy and gloomy on Monday to be quite honest,” Bellamy said.
“We haven’t really made a decision there yet, I don’t want to have to make a decision if we don’t need to.
“We will just see how Marika goes today [Thursday] and if it doesn’t look so good we will probably make a decision from there.”
The Cowboys remain unchanged and Kyle Feldt has seemingly come through his injury scare with a full bill of health. Rap Thompson has been added to an extended bench.
1. Cameron Munster – $15
2. Marika Koroibete – $9
3. Will Chambers – $14
4. Kurt Mann – $18
5. Matt Duffie – $10
6. Blake Green – $0
7. Cooper Cronk – $26
8. Jesse Bromwich – $31
9. Cameron Smith – $35
10. Tim Glasby – $51
11. Kevin Proctor – $26
12. Tohu Harris – $34
13. Ryan Hinchcliffe – $41
14. Ken Bromwich – $34
15. Dale Finucane – $61
16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona – $41
17. Jordan McLean – $61
18. Christian Welch Nichol – $0
19. Dayne Weston – $0
North Queensland Cowboys:
1. Lachlan Coote – $15
2. Kyle Feldt – $10 at CrownBet.com.au
3. Justin O’Neill – $19
4. Kane Linnett – $18
5. Antonio Winterstein – $9.50
6. Michael Morgan – $0
7. Johnathan Thurston – $23
8. Matthew Scott – $41
9. Jake Granville – $18
10. James Tamou – $56
11. Gavin Cooper – $21
12. Ethan Lowe – $26
13. Jason Taumalolo – $26
14. Rory Kostjasyn – $0
15. John Asiata – $26
16. Scott Bolton – $34
17. Ben Hannant – $61
18. Ray Thompson – $0
Storm vs. Cowboys – who wins?
If you can detect some uncertainty in this article, you’d be on the money. We simply think this game is too close to call as both sides match up evenly.
Put a gun to our head and we will tip the Cowboys at $1.80.
Why? As previously mentioned, they were expected to make the final this year and they haven’t done anything to push us off that idea.
We would be very surprised if either team won by a big margin, but that threat does lie with the Cowboys. They have the potential to blow teams away like the Sharks last week, but the Storm usually keep it close and try score the ugly win.
Enjoy the game and we’ll be back to preview the NRL final next week.
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