By Gerard Daffy

RUGBY LEAGUE

The win by Cronulla in the NRL premiership was similar to the Western Bulldogs in many ways. It has been well documented what has happened to the Sharks since they entered the competition, and they also won as outsiders, closing at $2.10 when the match got under way. Ben Barba was well in contention for the first try at $11 while Luke Lewis was $21 to win the Churchill Medal.

The Australian Test side has been announced for the Four Nations, but there has already been plenty of interest in next year’s NRL title. It is a wide open market with Brisbane the $7 favourites ahead of North Queensland and Melbourne at $7.50, and then follows Penrith at $9. The Broncos have been the best backed so far, but both Melbourne and Penrith are not far behind them. There have been a few takers for Cronulla at $10, but not as many as we though considering they won the Cup this year. The Warriors ($13) and the Sydney Roosters ($15) are others to attract good early support.

AFL

The Western Bulldogs delivered the fairy-tale finish for their fans when they won the AFL flag on Saturday. As mentioned last week, the Doggies were only $17 prior to the season getting under way but did touch $67 before the finals began. They broke all records to go all the way, and have already attracted plenty of support to win again in 2017. The Bulldogs did open at $15 a month ago but as they progressed through the finals their price firmed. As it stands now they are $6, on the third line behind GWS ($4.50) and Sydney ($5.50). That trio have had similar amounts placed on them, with interest also shown in Adelaide at $8 and Essendon at $26.

A LEAGUE

Football has been firmly on the radar for months thanks to the signing of Socceroo legend Tim Cahill to Melbourne City, but the real action begins tomorrow (Friday) when the Brisbane Roar meet Melbourne Victory in the season opener at Suncorp Stadium. At this stage, punters are warming to the home side, tipping the Roar to start their season the right way at $2.45. Coming just a week after the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium, the all-Sydney derby will also a be a big betting game. From that perspective, there’s nothing in it, but punters do seem keen on the Wanderers at $2.60 ahead of the Sky Blues at $2.65 and the Draw at $3.65. Even though Cahill is away on national duty with the Socceroos, there’s also an early money trail for his Melbourne City ($2) to roll the Wellington Phoenix ($3.35) on the road. Wellington is, of course, also missing a swathe of first team stars to national duty, which may well explain the push for City.

As far as title betting goes, UBET punters have predicted the ‘Cahill factor’ will play a big role in the outcome, with Melbourne City crunched from $7.50 to $5.50 favouritism. Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory are next in line at $6, followed by a well tried Brisbane Roar at $7. Defending champions Adelaide have been the big sliders, from $5to $8 after losing the likes of Djite and Kamau to other clubs.

BASKETBALL

A massive 3,143 days have lapsed since we last saw the Brisbane Bullets in action but tonight (Thursday), at the Brisbane Convention Centre, the wait is over and boy are hoops punters happy! Readmitted to the league over the off-season, the Bullets kick-start their campaign as $1.67 favourites against defending NBL champions, the Perth Wildcats, priced at $2.20. At this stage, there’s more money and bets for the home team, but this is more than likely a result of the build-up around Brisbane’s return. Our in-house experts prefer Perth and are tipping the much-hyped homecoming to be a bridge too far for the reinvigorated Bullets franchise.

Melbourne United, the current $3.25 title favourites, cross the Tasman for the second game of the season, which is tipped to be a walkover job on the New Zealand Breakers. New Zealand ($2.25) was awful all pre-season and could struggle early on, while Melbourne ($1.60) will be boosted by the additions of Rio 2016 Olympians Chris Goulding and David Anderson.

Preseason standouts the Illawarra Hawks ($1.60) are also in action on Friday night, pitted against Jerome Randle and the Adelaide 36ers ($2.25). Randle led the league in scoring last season, but the import guard is currently under an injury cloud, so if he doesn’t suit up, it could get ugly quickly for the 36ers. Illawarra was the most impressive unit by far in the recent National Basketball Challenge pre-season event and the Hawks do look a decent smoky at $9 for the title.

UBET also has a stack of NBL Futures markets open, including the MVP, Minor Premiership, Top 4 and Wooden Spoon.

BATHURST

It is a big weekend at Mount Panorama this week, and a huge weekend as far as betting goes. Bathurst is clearly the biggest of the Supercar races each year with the betting, and is always extremely popular ‘live’ as the fortunes of the cars fluctuate. As we have seen in the past, the race is never over until it is over.

Betting on the Enduro (team) races is always done by car numbers on the off chance that teams could change. Car 888 (Lowndes/Richards) won Bathurst last year, and they have been the big mover for Sunday, into $4 after opening at $5.50. Car 97 (Van Gisbergen/Premat) is $5 and hot on the heels of the favourites in dollars invested, with Car 88 (Whincup/Dumbrell) also at $5, and the third most popular car with punters. Because of the nature of the race, and with so many upsets over the years, most cars under $101 have also attracted a stack of business, and a look down the menu of options available on UBET for the big race reveals there is something there for everybody, no matter which team or make of car you follow. A reminder again that we will be betting ‘live’ throughout the great race.

FORMULA 1

Daniel Ricciardo capitalised on the misfortune of others to win his first race of the season in Malaysia last weekend. That made a lot of UBET customers very happy as there was plenty of money for Ricciardo at $16.

There is a quick back-up this week in Japan, and while Ricciardo is significantly shorter at $6, there are plenty who think he can win again. Lewis Hamilton is the $2.10 favourite ahead of Nico Rosberg at $2.60, then follows Ricciardo with Max Verstappen next in line at $8. Verstappen finished second in Malaysia. Hamilton has a great record in Japan having won there the last two years as well as in 2007, while Sebastian Vettel has an even better record there with wins in 2009,2010,2012, and 2013 . Vettel was out of business at the start of the race in Malaysia, and is a $19 chance this week.

GREYHOUNDS

Friday night will see the running of the UBET Adelaide Cup, and the race has a big drawcard with local champ, and ruling National Sprint Champion Worm Burner drawn in box 1.

Worm Burner was the slowest heat winner (30.31) but had to overcome difficulties on a very heavy track. It was about 18 lengths slower than his best time here. He has had six starts off the red for four wins and is the ruling $2.75 favourite. The other advantage Worm Burner has is that the runners in boxes two and three are tardy early. There are six Victorian trained greyhounds in the final and the one to beat is Weekend Binge ($3.30). The Kel Greenough trained speedster is a faultless beginner and looks the early pilot, so is the one to beat. Benteke, an ex NSW runner, and also a finalist in the Sprint Title behind Worm Burner, has been heavily supported since the market went up. Benteke was never at home on the heavy track last week, running wide in winning in a respectable 29.97, and on that run looks ideally suited out in box eight. After opening at $9, Benteke is now $6.50.