By Gerard Daffy

RUGBY LEAGUE

Melbourne ($1.80) has won 6 of their past 7 matches against Cronulla ($2.05), with the average winning margin for the Storm in those games 23 points. However none of those contests were Grand Finals and punters appear content to confine history to the dustbin. Our traders weren’t entirely sure which team the money would come for as both are brimming with ‘villains’ and struggle with support outside of their catchment, but the Sharks have been the ones adopted by the ‘band-wagoners’. As it stands, Gallen, Fifita Maloney and Co. have captured 75% of the head-to-head money and 66% of the bets, with Melbourne struggling to garner much in the way of financial support. That said, the expectation is the betting will flatten out closer to Sunday as the serious money comes for the Storm.

Clive Churchill Medal betting is always of interest and this year the clear top elects are Storm generals Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk at $5.50. James Maloney is next in line at $8.00, followed by Jesse Bromwich and Blues’ skipper Paul Gallen at $11 and Ben Barba at $13. Early shoppers have taken a shine to Smith, but there has also been an interesting push for Wade Graham at $17. Graham’s tailor made for big games and is in great form, so punters may just be on the money with this selection.

The market is also up for the National State Championship. Outsiders for much of the Intrust Super Cup season, Burleigh must overcome the odds once more to claim the National title on NRL Grand Final day. UBET had installed the Bears as $2.00 outsiders for the cross border clash, with New South Wales Intrust Super Premiership winners, the Illawarra Cutters, listed as $1.80 favourites. There was an immediate reaction with several 4 figure bets forcing the Cutters into $1.75 with Burleigh out to $2.08. There will be ‘live’ betting on this game as well as the Holden Cup before the NRL Grand Final gets under way.

AFL

Much to the delight of punters, Patrick Dangerfield scored a runaway win in the Brownlow Medal on Monday night. Dangerfield was always near the front of the markets, he opened at $7.00, and was into $6.00 favourite after round 1. He remained at the head of the market all season and was $1.14 when the count began, easily the shortest price ever!

So on to this week’s Grand Final….

We have all been waiting for the Western Bulldogs to hit a hurdle, yet here they are in the ‘Big One’. They have proven throughout this finals series that they hold no fear, and there is any amount of support for them ($2.40) to win the flag. They were well up in the betting at $17 before the season started, but drifted out as their injury list grew. The Bulldogs entered the final series as $51 pops as everybody knows, you cannot win from the bottom of the 8! Well that theory has been given a decent workout so far, and many think they can go all the way. The Swans go in as favourites (by price anyway), and the minor premiers were well in the market all season due to their form. They did open at $15 when the market was released last year and have already been backed to win it next year. Just on that, the GWS are $4.50 favourites (in from $5.00), Sydney are $5.50) and the Western Bulldogs have been $15 into $6.00, and included in their many bets are $1300 at $11, and $1100 at $8.50.

Apart from the game itself, the most popular bet type on the Grand Final is always the Norm Smith Medal, and Josh Kennedy was the opening favourite there at $7.00. The beauty of the Norm Smith as opposed to the Brownlow is that it hasn’t been dominated each year by mid-fielders, so it is more open. The early money has been for Luke Parker ($8.00), no doubt off the back of his 2nd in the Brownlow, Marcus Bontempelli ($9.00), and leading the way in both money invested and bet count has been Lance Franklin, now $9.00 after opening $11. If those punters are right, and Franklin dominates in the forward line, then that should mean a Swans win? That market will remain open for live betting throughout the match.

RUGBY UNION

Rugby punters appear to have regained confidence in the Wallabies, who after two diabolical defeats to the All Blacks, have managed to post back-to-back Rugby Championship wins. A bruising battle awaits the $2.25 underdogs at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria this weekend, but the initial money would suggest Stephen Moore and his men can weather the storm and pile even more pressure on the bumbling ‘Boks, the $1.65 favourites.

New Zealand will be popular through multi’s in their game, but their prohibitive $1.07 price will probably rule out most rank and file rugby punters. A line bet will be the trick and, judging by the early betting indicators, the world champions will be heavily tried to cover the 18.5 handicap. That said, Argentina took it right up to the All Blacks for 60-minutes last time they played and are a knockout hope at $8.50.

GOLF

Rory McIlroy ended up winning the Tour Championship after a playoff, and at the same time pocketed the additional $10 million for winning the FedEx Cup.

That concludes the regular PGA season, but all of the focus is on the Ryder Cup which will get under way on Friday. The USA team have been dominant favourites since betting opened, were as short as $1.50 last week, but have eased out to $1.57 following support for Europe ($3.00-$2.75). The tie is normally neglected and that is the case again as it is out to $13. The in-form Dustin Johnson heads the ‘top USA points scorer’ market at $4.75, just ahead of Jordan Spieth at $5.50, while McIlroy is clear fav (and best backed) to lead the points for Europe at $4.50. There will be a host of markets available for each of the days, and the feature markets will re-open at the end of the days play. For the record, Europe have won 6 of the last 7 Ryder Cups.

SUPERBIKES

Magny-Cours, France, will hold the 3rd last meet of the Superbike season at the weekend.

Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea were the 2 winners in Germany a fortnight ago, and both are to the fore in betting again this week. Rea has the form on the board in France having won both races here last year, with Davies and Tom Sykes finishing 2nd in those races. Sykes won both races here in 2013 so there is very little between these riders historically at Magny-Cours, making this weekends round an interesting contest.

SUPERCARS

Bathurst is only a week away and there is already a huge amount of interest with most of it centring on drivers inside $51. There has been unprecedented support for Car 888 (Lowndes /Richards), there always is and his record on ‘the mountain’ would be the catalyst for that. Car 97 (Van Gisbergen/Premat) and Car 88 (Whincup/Dumbrell) occupy the 2nd line of betting for the moment. There are a plethora of options already open on Bathurst with more to come in the next week and UBET will once again be betting live throughout the race.

GREYHOUNDS

The UBET Adelaide Cup series begins tonight (Thursday) with 7 action packed heats, leading into the final on Friday of next week. We have opened an ‘all-in’ market for the final, and there are 4 equal favourites at $8.00, Dundee Osprey, Weekend Binge, Aqua Cheetah and Invictus Rapid, all trained in Victoria. Local star and recent National Sprint Final winner Worm Burner is next in line at $9.00, and he has drawn well out wide in his heat. Fixed odds markets are open on all of the heats, and the final market will be re-opened after the box draw is done.