YOU could be forgiven for thinking you’re going through Déjà vu.
We’re eight rounds in the 2016 NRL season and there’s been no change at the top – North Queensland and Brisbane, the 2015 Grand Finalists, sit atop of the ladder.
How much are they dominating? Well, Sportsbet.com.au has already released odds on a Cowboys vs. Broncos Grand Final.
The Brisbane Broncos ($4) have come in from $4.75 in premiership betting, while the defending champion Cowboys ($4.50) have firmed in from season-opening odds of $8, which has been proven to be a generous quote to begin the season.
The biggest mover has been the Cronulla Sharks, which has moved onto the third line of betting at $8.50. The Sharks opened at $16 to win the NRL premiership, but after winning five from seven this season so far they’ve created some significant buzz and currently sit in third spot on the premiership ladder.
The Parramatta Eels are in a similar situation after opening at $17. The Eels have firmed into $10 and $2.25 at Sportsbet.com.au for a top four finish, but there are concerns about its season and punters should take note. The Eels are in some doubt of being deducted competition points for breaking the salary cap rules.
Any loss of points would significantly hamper their season, but our friends at Sportsbet like to refund punters’ money as part of their ‘justice payout’ specials and we would hazard a guess that any futures bet placed on the Eels might get refunded based on the recent breaking news.
There hasn’t been any other significant betting moves, but there have been plenty of teams on the drift. Punters of the Sydney Roosters won’t be happy as their season has moved from bad to worse. Despite off-season troubles prior to the season, the Roosters opened at $8.50 to win the premiership and after a poor start, they have drifted right out to $26.
We don’t think the Roosters can win the title after the season it has had so far, but Mitchell Pearce and other star players are set to return to the field soon, so the $26 at CrownBet.com.au might shorten over the next few rounds.
Also heading in the wrong direction is the New Zealand Warriors, which have started the season with three wins and four losses. The Warriors lost international fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a torn ACL and he won’t be available for the rest of the 2016 season.
As if the Warriors needed anything to damper its chances, the loss of Tuivasa-Sheck might be the nail in the coffin. It is only round 8 and there’s plenty of time to improve, but having opened at $9, the Warriors are now at $19 and $2 to make the top eight at Sportsbet.com.au.
Manly have also drifted from $9 to $16 after a disappointing start to the season. Manly look at sea without Kiwi international play maker Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans just hasn’t stepped up to the mark. Bookmakers adjusted the line accordingly and they could well miss the playoffs.
Updated 2016 NRL premiership market
Odds courtesy of Sportsbet*
Brisbane Broncos – $4.00
North Queensland Cowboys – $4.50 at Sportsbet.com.au
Cronulla Sharks – $8.50
Parramatta Eels – $10
Canterbury Bulldogs – $14
Manly Sea Eagles – $16
Melbourne Storm – $16
Penrith Panthers – $17
New Zealand Warriors – $19
South Sydney Rabbitohs – $21
Canberra Raiders – $26
Sydney Roosters – $26
St George Dragons – $81
Gold Coast Titans – $126
Wests Tigers – $151
Newcastle Knights – $251
NRL most losses market and tips
The most losses betting market is a hotly-contested one after eight rounds, with four teams in single-figure odds.
The Newcastle Knights are the favourites at Sportsbet.com.au to have the most losses at $2.25 – enticing odds for a struggling team. The Knights haven’t done much right in the NRL over the past few seasons and this year doesn’t look to be any different.
The mining men have played seven games for one win and only the Roosters have a worse record on points differential. The Roosters are $5 to have the most losses, yet remain a $26 chance to win the premiership – as sure as sign as any that both bookmakers and punters can’t make their minds up about their prospects.
On the second line is the Wests Tigers at $4. The Tigers sit in 14th position with two wins, but they have a good team on paper and we expect the Tigers to hold their own throughout the season. Those odds are far too short for a team which features James Tedesco.
The Gold Coast Titans is in a similar boat to the Tigers. The Titans have plenty of talent and have already scored three wins this season. The $6 for most losses looks a little harsh and might only be representative of its 2015 results.
Stick with the Newcastle Knights, who should be in for another long year as the cellar dweller.
2016 Dally M Medal winner market update
Anthony Milford has flown into favouritism on the back of a stellar season so far. The Brisbane Broncos halve is now a $3.50 chance to win the Dally M Medal and has pushed defending medalist Johnathan Thurston into double figures.
We can’t fault the way JT has played this season, which makes the $9 on offer look like great value. The Cowboys have won five from seven games and sit only behind the Broncos on the ladder. Milford is playing well at the moment, but expect Thurston’s class to shine later in the season.
Other movers have been Michael Ennis (Sharks) and Josh Hodgson for Canberra. The feisty hooker Ennis has firmed into $11 on the back of the Sharks success, but teammate Ben Barba might be the better option for punters.
Ben Barba has been tormenting the opposing defense this season and still remains a $26 chance in the Dally M market. Fellow Sharks player James Maloney is a $51 chance with Sportsbet.com.au.
The Melbourne Storm have three players inside the top 15 market chances. The best of them is Cooper Cronk at $26. The Queensland and Australian representative kicked a game-winning field goal on Monday night to beat the Wests Tigers and he should have gained a few points from that performance.
The other two Storm players well-fancied in the market are Jesse Bromwich ($26) and Cameron Smith ($34). Both will have good seasons, but we don’t fancy them to win the game’s top individual prize.
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