The NRL Grand Final is the final game of the National Rugby League season and it determines the winner of what is regarded as rugby league’s top domestic competition.
South Sydney won the first of its record 20 premierships in the inaugural 1908 tournament and the Rabbitohs were close to featuring in this year’s Grand Final but lost out on their bid to play in their first decider since 1971.
Canterbury and Melbourne will contest the 2012 NRL Grand Final that, for the 14th consecutive season, will be held at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games main venue, commercially known as ANZ Stadium, in front of more than 80,000 fans.
The Bulldogs are the minor premiers, the title bestowed upon the team that ends the regular season at the top of the ladder. They won 18 of their 24 matches to claim their seventh minor premiership since being founded in 1935. One of the NRL sides representing a region in Sydney’s western suburbs, they have won eight premierships, including the 2004 NRL Grand Final in which they defeated Sydney 16-13.
The Storm were the second seeds going into the NRL Finals Series and they have progressed to the NRL Grand Final by beating South Sydney in the first week and 2011 premier Manly in the third week. Despite only being established in 1998, they have won one premiership fair and square and had two annulled for serious salary cap breaches. Under Craig Bellamy they are about to appear in their fifth decider in seven years. Theirs is a quite remarkable recent record.
Unlike the AFL Grand Final, the NRL Grand Final cannot go to a replay. In the event of an 80-minute draw, the two teams play golden-point extra time. The first side to score wins.
Trying to pick the winner of the 2012 NRL Grand Final is, frankly, a headache that punters do not need. Bookmakers are having trouble splitting Canterbury and Melbourne and it is easy to see why. The Bulldogs have won 15 of their last 16 games and the Storm have won their last seven matches after recovering from their post-State of Origin slump. Also, the Storm began the season with nine victories on the spin. Even their head-to-head series is tied at 1-1, with the Storm winning in Melbourne and the Bulldogs winning in Mackay.
But it is those two encounters this year – there is no point going further back in time because Canterbury is a different animal under Des Hasler than it was 12 months ago – which identifies the best value NRL Grand Final bet of them all.
Get short of total points in the NRL Grand Final, with the early markets suggesting that the line will settle down at around 36.5. Their two games during the regular season produced a total of 42 points and that was despite the Bulldogs scoring some freakish tries in Mackay, the most incredible of which saw Ben Barba pick up the ball inside his own in-goal area and the play end 100 metres down the field with the fullback passing to try scorer Josh Morris.
If either Barba or Billy Slater scores a try and the first bet that you place on the NRL Grand Final is a loser, Centrebet will refund the first $100 of your losing bet in the form of a bonus bet. It is exclusive to Australian residents, as are its other NRL Grand Final betting offers.
Back either Canterbury or Melbourne in the head-to-head market and, if your selection is losing after 60 minutes and goes on to win the game, Luxbet will match your head-to-head betting stake with a bonus bet, up to a maximum of $200.
Sportsbet will refund all losing first bets placed on the NRL Grand Final, up to a maximum of $100 in cash rather than bonus bets, if six or fewer points decide the match.
Barba and Slater, the last two Dally M Medal recipients, are try-scoring machines. Barba has scored at least one try in 36 of his 60 NRL games as Canterbury’s starting fullback, while Slater has scored at least one try in 96 of his 217 NRL matches as Melbourne’s starting fullback. Therefore, based on those statistics, the true odds of either Barba or Slater scoring a 2012 NRL Grand Final try are just under evens, with both to score at around 11-4 and both not to score at around 7-2. That is close to a 100 per cent book.
It is difficult to assess Luxbet’s value proposition because such data is not accessible easily. However, one suspects that there is a lower probability of its NRL Grand Final betting offer being actioned than that of Centrebet.
Not since 2004 has a NRL Grand Final been decided by six or fewer points. Sportsbet’s offer is interesting because the Bulldogs and the Storm should play out a tight, low-scoring game but history says that it is not the best out there.
Take advantage of Centrebet’s special offer
Get short of total points with Centrebet because the career numbers of Barba and Slater suggest that there is a 50:50 chance of them scoring a try in the NRL Grand Final and, thereby, actioning the bookmaker’s match betting offer.
Lay centres and wingers in Clive Churchill Medal betting
Neither a centre nor a winger has won the Clive Churchill Medal for being the best player in a NRL Grand Final and it has been going for 26 years so consider laying the eight men who will start in those positions. Canterbury centre Morris is likely to be the shortest odds at around the 20-1 mark.
Bet late and keep one eye on the weather forecast
Sydney weather can change in the blink of an eye and, with the ANZ Stadium surface not one of the best in the rugby league world, it would not take much rain on game day to radically alter how the match could be played.