There is the potential for several peculiar results in the final rounds of the Australian Football League and National Rugby League competition, with the pick of the speculative punts being Gold Coast to win its intrastate match against North Queensland at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday.
Do not bother trying to construct a watertight case for Gold Coast based on this season’s National Rugby League results because there is not one. Gold Coast is 13th on the National Rugby League ladder with one round to go and it has avoided the wooden spoon by the skin of its teeth – Newcastle and Penrith play off for that prize this weekend and one of them will collect it until they draw and Wests Tigers lose, which is unlikely given that there has not been a draw this term.
Gold Coast and North Queensland have not faced each other in the National Rugby League this season but their most recent meeting resulted in a 28-8 home win for the Cowboys in which their superstar halfback, Johnathan Thurston, scored one try of set up his team’s other four four-point scores in what was yet another outstanding playmaking performance. Thurston is the reason why one is interested in backing Gold Coast at odds of +400 with Ladbrokes and Totesport to upset North Queensland in the tropical climate of Townsville.
Every National Rugby League team has to name a 17-man squad on a Tuesday afternoon but no side has to stick to its guns. North Queensland boss Paul Green listed Thurston at halfback for Saturday’s National Rugby League match versus Gold Coast but, with the Cowboys almost guaranteed to end the regular season in third position, it would be folly for them to risk losing the man known as JT to injury or suspension with the all-important finals series getting under way next week.
We tipped Thurston to win this term’s Dally M Medal and he is long odds on to win the National Rugby League’s premier individual prize. North Queensland is a live National Rugby League premiership contender provided that Thurston remains fit and healthy but the Cowboys would have close to zero chance of winning their first title if he could suit up, particularly in light of Michael Morgan’s recent injury. Green has named Thurston but surely there is a very high probability that sense will prevail and JT will be a late withdrawal from North Queensland’s meaningless game. One would not want to be Green if Thurston sustains a serious knock against Gold Coast when the result is irrelevant.
Gold Coast is dreadful and its captain, Nate Myles, appears to have played his last National Rugby League match for the Titans ahead of his 2016 switch to Manly. Therefore, some punters may want double-digit odds about anything involving Gold Coast. The purpose of this weekly article is to flag bets at big prices that have a better chance of collecting than bookmakers think so, if Gold Coast’s plain win odds of +400 are a bit too low to warrant a small wager, perhaps you may be more interested in backing the Titans to win both halves of Saturday’s National Rugby League at odds of +1100 with sister companies 888Sport and Unibet.
North Queensland without Thurston is like what Edmonton used to be without Wayne Gresky, with the Cowboys being awful in both defence and attack when JT does not play. Thurston is the National Rugby League’s most influential player since Andrew Johns and Joey was, arguably, the greatest rugby league player of all time. One is willing to take a punt on North Queensland resting Thurston and Gold Coast taking advantage of his impromptu absence to win on the road.
Gold Coast to beat North Queensland
5th September 10:35 GMT
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