The Super League Grand Final is the final game of the Super League season and it determines the winner of the top rugby league competition in Europe, one that is not a million miles behind the National Rugby League in Australasia.
Super League began in 1996 in what was a watershed year for rugby league in the northern hemisphere. It replaced the Rugby Football League Championship and saw rugby league switch from being a winter sport to a summer sport.
Neither Super League I in 1996 nor Super League II in 1997 had a Grand Final, with the championship trophies going to the league leaders in those seasons, St Helens and Bradford.
Super League III in 1998 saw the first Grand Final at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United and the venue for every Grand Final up until the present day. Wigan played Leeds in the inaugural Grand Final, with the Warriors beating the Rhinos 10-4 in front of 43,533 spectators.
St Helens have graced the Super League Grand Final a record nine times but the most successful side is Leeds, with the Rhinos winning five titles, including three in a row from 2007 and 2009 and last year’s decider versus the Saints.
Leeds will contest the 2012 Super League Grand Final against Warrington in what is a repeat of this year’s Challenge Cup final. The Wolves beat the Rhinos 35-18 at Wembley Stadium two months ago but they are making their Grand Final debut and, naturally, many of their players will be nervous.
Neither Warrington nor Leeds qualified for this year’s Super League Play-Offs as the top seed. The Wolves won 20 and drew one of their 27 matches to finish the regular season second, while the Rhinos had a 16-0-11 record to place them fifth.
But Warrington bounced back from losing to St Helens to beat Hull and the Saints in the games that mattered most, while the Rhinos defeated Wakefield, Catalan and top seed Wigan – the Dragons and the Warriors away from home – to reach their eighth Super League Grand Final and fifth in six years.
The most important thing to do when considering which way to bet on this year’s Super League Grand Final is not to take too much notice of this season’s three games between hot favourite Warrington and dangerous outsider Leeds because none of them featured both teams at full strength.
When the Rhinos beat the Wolves 26-18 at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium in April, thereby becoming the first side to get the better of Tony Smith’s team in the Super League this term, they did so without having to face Chris Bridge and two of the away side’s Australian imports, Brett Hodgson and Michael Monaghan. Therefore, that form is a bit suspect.
And when Warrington defeated Leeds 37-18 in its home Super League match and 35-18 in the Challenge Cup decider, the Rhinos were missing their key playmaker, Danny McGuire. So those form lines are not the most trustworthy, either.
Is there a way to derive something out of those results? Well, maybe. If one awards six points for home advantage and, also, six points for having the better of the team news, the Wolves were superior to Leeds by four, seven and 11 points in those games. That points to a Super League Grand Final winning margin bet on the favourites, with odds of around 9-5 available about them beating the Rhinos by between one and 12 points. It looks like decent value.
However, if one does not mind going off the beaten track for a Super League Grand Final bet, there could be some value in the market on the number of drop goals in the match, with odds of around 2-1 available on there being at least one kicked. Six of the 14 championship games have featured a drop goal and there has been a one-pointer in two of this year’s three matches between Warrington and Leeds. Wolves five-eighth Lee Briers and Rhinos lock Kevin Sinfield are two of the competition’s most prolific drop-goal kickers.
If either Warrington or Leeds scores a drop goal during normal time of the Super League Grand Final, Paddy Power will refund all losing try scorer bets on the game, up to a maximum of 100 British pounds or 100 euros per customer.
Because several UK bookmakers are betting on the possibility of a drop goal and the market is steady at around 2-5 no and 2-1 yes, one can say that the world’s odds compilers think that there is about a 32 per cent chance of a one-pointer.
Generally speaking, try scorer bets are not the smartest of wagers but it is difficult to find fault with a Super League Grand Final betting offer that has such a high probability of paying off for punters who back a try-scorer loser. Check out the table below for the top ranked bookies online for betting on the Super League Grand Final.
Bet against fireworks
No Super League Grand Final has featured more than 48 points and the average is less than 33. Wait for the total points line to come out and back the under if ends up in the 40s.
Lay centres and props in Harry Sutherland Trophy odds
No starting centre or prop has received the Harry Sutherland Trophy, which goes to the Super League Grand Final’s man of the match. Fullbacks have the best record with four wins.
Back a drop goal to be kicked
The generally available odds of 2-1 about either the Wolves or the Rhinos booting a one-pointer is generous given the history of Super League Grand Final and the presence of Briers and Sinfield in the Old Trafford starting sides.