By Gerard Daffy
League punters are saddling up to the Cowboys at $1.45 ahead of their sudden death semi-final showdown against the Broncos at $2.85 Friday night in Townsville. Money is steaming in for North Queensland outright and there were also any number of takers for them at the 4.5 line, which has now moved to -6.0. About 80% of the head-to-head money is for them and 95% of the spread money is as well, while for Brisbane, all our traders are seeing is tumbleweeds. 1300 SMILES Stadium has been a fortress for the Cowboys this season, so the steady support for them is understandable but history says the match will be close and perhaps closer than the money trail suggests. All three of their recent encounters have gone down to the wire, including the 2015 Grand Final, with a field goal separating the arch rivals on each occasion.
From a betting perspective, the other semi-final is quieter, but what money we have seen, has mostly been for the outsiders. $2.00 pops Penrith are playing footy for fun at present and punters think their ad-lib, backyard-style of play will see them progress to Week 3 of the NRL Finals and perhaps even deeper. Canberra has a host of injury worries, headlined by Josh Hodgson and Blake Austin and will likely ease from their current $1.85 quote if both are ruled out.
The GWS Giants are only one win away from playing in this year’s AFL Grand Final, but it appears that there are still a stack of non-believers out there! After defeating Sydney comprehensively last Saturday, again, the Giants are into $3.25 to win the flag, just behind Geelong ($3.00). Oddly enough most of the money this week in premiership betting has been for Hawthorn ($6.50) and Adelaide ($9.00-$8.00), with both sides having to take the hard path to the flag by winning an extra match.
Hawthorn will be in action on Friday night against the Western Bulldogs and given their well- documented finals form, the Hawks have attracted some heavy betting early in the week at $1.48. The betting suggests UBET customers are expecting Hawthorn to go through to the preliminary final to play the Giants. Hawthorn have won 8 in a row against the Bulldogs, the streak going back to round 14, 2010. However, back in round 3 of this year the Bulldogs went close at Etihad, going down 93-90 with the Bulldogs fighting valiantly in the latter part of the year as their injury toll has grown.
The Sydney v Adelaide game has thrown up some interesting betting moves. Naturally these finals are huge betting affairs, but there is a groundswell of support for the Crows this week. The ratio of bets coming for them is 3:1 over Sydney and it looks highly likely that the $2.55 will disappear. They met once this season, in Adelaide, when the Crows prevailed 113-103, but the performances of both sides last weekend have made this match all the more intriguing.
As each match is resulted, betting on the preliminary finals will open and also the flag prices will be updated as well.
The last 4 times that South Africa have played New Zealand , the All Blacks have won 3 times, but in those wins it has only been by an accumulated 13 points. The Kiwi’s won 20-18 in a World Cup semi last year and that was on the back of a 27-20 win in Johannesburg during the Rugby Championships. In 2014, South Africa won at home in Jo’burg (27-25), while New Zealand won 14-10 in Wellington. Recent history says there isn’t much between them, but the form this year has meant that New Zealand are a red hot $1.04 to win at home this week with South Africa at $11. Perhaps the value way on this game is to take South Africa receiving 21.5 points start at $1.90?
Argentina have only one win from 12 matches played against Australia since 2000 and that was in Mendoza as part of the Rugby Championships in 2014. They met in a semi of the World Cup in England last year and the Wallabies got home 29-15, but the Pumas were good in defeat. That followed a big win (34-9) in Mendoza as part of the 2015 Rugby Championships. Argentina were good in the first half against the All Blacks, but ultimately went down 57-22, not an ideal preparation to be going to Perth with this week. Australia has had their problems since the World Cup, but is expected to win this week. They are rated a $1.25 chance with UBET, the Pumas are $4.00, with the handicap set at 10.5 points start
New England emerged from Week 1 as the new outright Superbowl 51 favourites at $7.00, after their unexpected 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. With the ‘Gronk’ on ice with a hamstring injury and talisman quarterback Tom Brady confined to his couch serving a four-game suspension, the Pats were expected to make a slow start to the season but the backup shot-caller, Jimmy Garoppolo, must have missed the memo. Garoppolo showed poise beyond his years to make 10 of 16 third downs and the rookie has a great chance to lead his team to back-to-back wins in Week 2 when the Patriots play the Dolphins at home. New England will be spurred on by the fact they are 7-0 when hosting Miami since 2009.
Green Bay also came in for a trim in title betting – from $9.00 to $7.50 – after a tough 27-20 win over Jacksonville, as did the Steelers – from $10 into $8.50 – who were simply electric with the ball in hand, led by Antonio Brown, who posted 126-yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh are the best backed team for Super Bowl 51 with UBET and based on what we saw last week, we could be in the hole with them next February, because their offensive line looks near impossible to contain. Denver was likewise slashed from $19 to $15, although it was their defence that did the damage against the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl 50 re-match.
The PGA Tour has a week off leading into next week’s Tour Championship with a market now open. Dustin Johnson is the $5.50 favourite with UBET after an emphatic win in the BMW, while Rory McIlroy is 2nd pick at $6.50. Jason Day had to withdraw during the BMW with back trouble, and although we are not sure how well he is positioned following that injury, he is a $10 equal 3rd favourite with Adam Scott. Paul Casey hasn’t been named in the European side for the Ryder Cup and they may rue that decision as he is in terrific form at the moment and sits at $17 to win the Tour Championship.
Just on the Ryder Cup, the USA has firmed into $1.53 (from $1.62), Europe is currently $2.80, and the tie is at $13.
On the European Tour this week, Martin Kaymer heads the betting at $14 to win the Italian Open, an event he finished 2nd behind Rikard Karlberg in last year when held at the same course in Milano. Karlberg is in the field, priced at $67, and there has been early support for Danny Willett ($19) and Joost Luiten ($21). Luiten won the KLM Open for a 2nd time last week, and Aussie Scott Hend was in contention throughout. Hend is $34 to win the Italian Open.
South Africa will be visiting our shores later in the year, but before that happens Australia will be in South Africa for a best of five ODI series and both are open for betting.
South Africa have opened at $1.53 to win the ODI series with the Aussies at $2.50 and in the correct score market, South Africa winning the series 3-2 is the $2.75 favourite. There has been early money for Australia to clean sweep the series (5-0) at $21.
The Test series in Australia will be a best of three, played in Perth, Hobart and ending with an historical day/night test in Adelaide late in November. On home soil, Australia opens at $1.63, South Africa at $3.25 and the drawn series at $6.50.
Stan Wawrinka has been popular with Aussie tennis fans since winning the Australian Open a couple of years ago and there were plenty cheering him on when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the US Open. Wawrinka attracted plenty of money both before the tournament got under way ($26), and all the way through. Djokovic did go into the final under a slight injury cloud and Wawrinka firmed from $3.60 into $3.15 before the final commenced.
Stan the Man now has the US Open trophy to add to his trophy cabinet and has opened on the 3rd line of betting at $9.00 to win the Australian Open in January. Djokovic is the favourite at $1.80 ahead of Andy Murray at $4.00, while Aussie ‘bad boy’ Nick Kyrgios is $26.
As has been mentioned in the past, the Singapore F1 is one of the most popular betting races on the F1 calendar and there are a couple of reasons for that. The tightness of the Marina Sands circuit makes for close racing and the novelty factor of the race being held under lights. The betting market for this week looks a lot different than it has been for most races this season. The street circuit in Singapore is the slowest on the calendar and means that the horsepower advantage of the Mercedes is somewhat nullified. Combined with this the high down force chassis that the Red Bull cars possess puts them right in the race.
Lewis Hamilton is $2.50 to win ahead of Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo at $3.75. Next in line we have Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen at $7.50, so as you can see the Red Bull of Ricciardo and Verstappen are a lot shorter than they have been in earlier races. Vettel is the form driver around Singapore having won 4 of the last 5 there, while Hamilton is a 2 time winner having won in 2014 and 2009.
The Superbikes return on Saturday after the summer break and they are also making their return to Lausitzring in Germany. Last held there back in 2013, Tom Sykes won race 1 and Chad Davies won the 2nd race. Sykes hasn’t really been the dominant force this season, but he did win a race in the USA the last time the Superbikes raced, with Jonathan Rea winning the other (Sykes finished 2nd in that). So while there appear to be 3 main chances in Sykes, Rea and Davies going into the weekend, perhaps Sykes might well be the one to win the opening race on Saturday.
The Enduro part of the V8 season begins with the Sandown 500 on Sunday which is the first of three longer events. Sandown is the first, the Bathurst 1000 the second and it all culminates with the Gold Coast 600. A reminder when betting in these events, they are team events meaning each car has 2 drivers and betting is done by car number in the event that there are changes to the drivers. Some of the teams have changed from last year, but the Whincup/Dumbrell combo in Car 88 is going around again and they have been installed as the $3.00 favourites to win at Sandown. Car 88 finished well down the track in 15th place last year but did win in 2014 and 2013, so are clearly the team to beat. UBET will be trading live throughout Sunday’s race and will be looking to open the Bathurst 1000 market early next week.