By: Gerard Daffy
It’s finally here! The NRL season begins tonight (Thursday), and what a clash we have on our hands. Reigning premiers Cronulla host Brisbane, both coming off losses in the UK a fortnight ago. The Sharks have plenty of critics out there, and although they are $15 to win the title, they are the 16th most popular side in betting numbers with only the Dragons and Knights behind them, and that pair are expected to fight it out for the wooden spoon. A similar betting trend exists in the game, with all of the money for Brisbane at $1.75 and few takers for Cronulla at $2.10.
The form of the New Zealand Warriors over the past few seasons has been a worry. Each year they seem to add to an already impressive list but just cannot get the job done. They are only $11 to win the title, and red hot $1.16 chances to beat the Knights on Sunday, which they SHOULD do, but it is the Warriors, and they are short. For that reason, punters have been apprehensive to climb into the short odds, or the -14.5 line, and really who can blame them?
Wests Tigers have firmed from $2.60 into $2.20 when Adam Reynolds was ruled out of Souths in their match on Friday night. Souths are out to $1.68, and one damning stat for them is that they have won only five of 15 matches without Reynolds since he debuted in 2012.
Speaking of records, the Bulldogs have a great record at home against Melbourne, and there has been a truckload of money for them in the first match on Friday night. The Doggies opened at $2.20 but sustained support for them has seen that price cut to $2 with the Storm out to $1.80. It is a different story with Premiership betting where Melbourne is the heavily supported $7.50 equal favourites with Penrith.
It took just one big upset in the India v Australia test series to turn the betting, and the series, on its head. Australia won the first test in the best of four series inside three days and all of a sudden there is huge interest in the upcoming second Test in Bangalore. India are still favourites to win that one at $1.97 with the draw at $3.40 and Australia at $3.65. Most identify the value lies with the Aussies and that is where most of the early money has gone. As far as the series is concerned, Australia hold all the aces with a 1-0 lead. They were $9 before the first test and are now $2.70. Oddly enough the host nation are still the favourites at $2.50 ($1.18 before first test) and a drawn series now right in contention at $3.25.
There will be a very important clash in the AFLW on Sunday when the two unbeaten sides, Adelaide and Brisbane, do battle at Norwood. The Crows are $2.10 to win the title ahead of Melbourne and Brisbane at $3.25 with Carlton the only other mathematical hope to make the finals at $26. In match betting, Adelaide are $1.50 with Brisbane at $2.60 but if the Lions can spring an upset, they will be on track for a home grand final.
With the start of the AFL season only a few weeks away, there is plenty of money coming in for various ‘futures’ markets. One that has created a lot of interest is how many matches sides will win this season. The two big money moves have been for the Gold Coast Suns to win UNDER 9.5 games ($1.85-$1.50) and Port Adelaide to win OVER 10.5 matches ($1.85-$1.75). I wonder if the game in Shanghai between these two sides this year will have a big bearing on that …
UBET has added more golf events to the menu this year and an increased number of exotics on those. The main event this week will be the WGC Mexico Championship where the field will be comprised of the top 50 in the world plus several others who meet the criteria to get a start. Most of the big names will be starting apart from Jason Day. Dustin Johnson is the favourite at $7.50 ahead of Jordan Spieth ($9), Rory McIlroy ($12) and Hideki Matsuyama ($14). Adam Scott is the shortest of the five-man Australian field at $26 and there has been money for him as he is the defending champion. Johnson won in 2015 but it is worth pointing out that Doral was the home of this event for several years before it moved to Mexico City this year.
The 2017 Supercar season starts this weekend with one of the most popular motor racing events on the calendar, the Clipsal 500. The format for Adelaide this year has changed with only two races on the menu, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, both over 78 laps of the street circuit. The ‘long’ race last year was 48 laps and if you recall, it went to Nick Percat, who was a 100/1 bolter in that race. In 2015, there was a race of 78 laps on the Sunday and that went to James Courtney who is a $21 chance to win race one this Saturday. Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen share favouritism at $4 for race one with Van Gisbergen the clear favourite with punters after winning the title last season. Sunday’s race will open at the completion of Saturday’s race and there will be live betting throughout each race with UBET (phone 138 238).
There was only one upset in the opening round of the 2017 Super Rugby season and that was a 24-15 win by the Chiefs over the Highlanders. The results were a lot less favourable for the minus takers on the handicap when only four of those favourites were able to cover. Several of the sides that were written off before the season were narrowly beaten last week, so we will wait and see whether the top sides have come back to the field or if they’re just a bit rusty. There haven’t been any major changes to the outright markets where the Hurricanes remain the $5 favourites.
Round two gets underway in Perth tonight where the Force host the Reds. The Force have lost 14 of their last 15 at home while the Reds have lost 14 of their last 16 on the road; hardly inspiring form-lines. However the new look Reds side got the job done last week and punters think they will make it two from two tonight.
The game of the round appears to be Saturday evening’s clash between the Highlanders and the Crusaders in Dunedin. The Highlanders have won the last two against the Crusaders who had won the previous six but it is a different looking Crusaders side now. The Highlanders are slight $1.65 favourites but the early push has been for the Crusaders at $2.25.
One side that can travel and win is the Waratahs but they face a tough assignment in Johannesburg on Saturday night as $2.95 outsiders against the Lions. Both sides scored scratchy wins last week but while the Waratahs did win four of seven games away last season, this is a quick back-up from Sydney last week and the money is with the Lions.
Round 22 looks a tricky one to tip on paper with relatively close markets in all five games. Still, it is safe to say the match of the round is the ‘Big Blue’ on Friday night at Allianz Stadium. Sydney rebounded well from their first loss of the season to demolish Melbourne City 3-1 last week and the Sky Blues go in as warm $1.95 favourites. Meanwhile Melbourne Victory maintained their momentum with a 2-1 win over Adelaide United and will also have plenty of admirers at $3.85.
Western Sydney and Brisbane Roar were both thrashed sideways in the Asian Champions League this week and it will be interesting to see if any of that form (or lack thereof) seeps into their respective A-League encounters. The Wanderers ($1.75) are odds-on to roll Adelaide ($4.40), while Brisbane is an easing $2.40 favourite against their bogey team, Newcastle ($2.80).
Perth leads the best of five NBL final series 2-0 after demolishing Illawarra on Wednesday night and on form they should wrap-up the series in Perth on Sunday afternoon. In game three, the Wildcats are $1.30 with Illawarra at $3.50 and the handicap has been set at 7.5 points.
On the other side of the globe, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors continue to reign supreme at the top of the NBA betting boards. As it stands, the ‘Dubs’ are out to $1.90 with the LeBron James and the Cavaliers at $3.75, the Spurs at $9 while the Rockets ($17) and Celtics at $29 are next in line. Of those teams, Boston has been the bigger mover this past month, improving from $51 to their current quote.