By Gerard Daffy
After their gruelling loss to Melbourne in week one and their energy sapping extra-time win over Brisbane last Friday leaves people asking how much petrol is left in the tank of the Cowboys? Punters have been pondering this question all week and, judging by the money trail, the conclusion they’ve come to is not enough. Crunched from $2.20 into $2.15, Cronulla has all the betting momentum heading into Friday’s clash and, somewhat surprisingly, there has also been a significant push this week for the Sharks to win the title at $4.50. North Queensland will still go into Friday’s match as the favourite, albeit an easing one, at $1.73.
Canberra comprehensively defeated Melbourne a few weeks ago, but league followers must have short memories because the betting trend on their match on Saturday suggests the Storm will avenge that loss big time. A big 75 per cent of all money held is with Melbourne, already cut to $1.40 from $1.45, and judging by what UBET customers have been doing to date, that price may well disappear as game day approaches. As we know, the Storm are relentless in attack and defence, and the Raiders’ relative inexperience in finals seems to be a major concern for fans. Canberra do have some support at $3.05, but it appears as though punters think that the proven finals experience of Melbourne will see them through to Sunday week’s Grand Final. Melbourne have firmed up to win the title since Monday, now $2.50, in from $2.60.
The Western Bulldogs continue to defy expectations, but a trip to Spotless on Saturday night to take on the Giants will really test them out. The Giants have won two of their last three matches against the Bulldogs, and have the added advantage of being at home. They are equal favourites with Geelong at $3 to win the flag, and have already been $1.52 into $1.47 to go through to the Grand Final. The Bulldogs are attracting a lot of smaller bets, but the big dollars are on the Giants to not only win, but cover the line of 13.5.
In Friday night’s preliminary final we are seeing money coming through at a rapid rate for both Geelong and Sydney. The Cats are the $1.62 favourites, and while history says that the side that has the second week of the finals off is at an advantage, don’t forget it is different this season as we had the bye after the last round. So perhaps we may see different results? The Swans have won three of their last four matches against Geelong, and they were relentless in ejecting Adelaide from the finals series last week. The number of bets coming through is split right down the middle, so UBET punters are saying it could go either way.
Monday night will see the Brownlow medal awarded, and it appears as though everybody expects Patrick Dangerfield to win, and he is now $1.20 to do just that. UBET has over 70 individual markets open on the Brownlow, and with such a red hot favourite ruling most people out of having a bet to win the medal itself, there is a huge amount of interest in a lot of the other markets. Most popular is the market WITHOUT Dangerfield. In simple terms, this one is based on the best finish excluding Dangerfield, so his position does not count. As this is not the official medal, it allows us to include ineligible players like Rory Sloane as they will still be allocated votes. Close to $10,000 has already been placed on Dustin Martin here ($3.75-$2.75), but there is solid money for both Luke Parker and Sloane at $5. The plan is to also have this market open during the count as it is likely to be more competitive.
The PGA Tour season finishes this week with the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. With no events being played on the Tour last week, the market has been opened for about 10 days, and there has been plenty of activity across a host of players. Dustin Johnson remains the $5.50 favourite ahead of Rory McIlroy at $6.50, but the big money this week has been for Jordan Spieth ($9), Jason Day, Adam Scott (both $11), and Patrick Read at $19. As we know Spieth won here last year, and while he hasn’t really been able to recapture that form in the latter part of this season, UBET punters think lightning will strike twice. The support for Day is interesting given he has had health issues again, but most expect him to be right for this week.
The European Tour event is the European Open which will be played at Bad Greiesbach in Germany. Thomas Pieters has been in terrific form and heads the market at $10 ahead of the well fancied Martin Kaymer at $12. Outside of that duo, there has been good money for Thongchai Jaidee ($34) who won this event last year but at a different course, and Rikard Karlberg ($34) who was close up in the Italian Open last week. Scott Hend heads a five-man Aussie contingent, and he is well in contention at $29.
There was a big upset in the Sandown 500 on the weekend when Car 2 (Tander/Luff) were able to win the first of the three Enduro races for the season. Car 2 was a $41 chance going into the weekend, and not surprisingly there has been plenty of early money for Tander and Luff to win at Bathurst when that market was opened on Sunday night. Clearly it is a different proposition racing around the mountain at Bathurst as opposed to the purpose built track at Sandown, and that has seen a huge amount of early interest in well over a dozen cars to date. Current race favourite is Car 888 (Lowndes/Richards), and that won’t change given the record that Craig Lowndes has at Bathurst. That race is still a couple of weeks away, but there will be a raft of markets opening on Bathurst in the coming week or so.
Dani Pedrosa showed a welcome return to form at San Marino last start, and that would give him plenty of confidence heading to Aragon this weekend. Pedrosa was $41 at San Marino when he defeated Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, but did finish second behind Lorenzo at Aragon last year. Lorenzo has actually won the last two years here, and was runner-up to Marc Marquez in 2013, so it is easy to justify his price in the market. After that win in 2013, Marquez hasn’t had a lot of luck at this circuit finishing 13th in 2014, and crashed out on lap two last year after smashing the lap record in qualifying. Marquez is the early favourite, but he hasn’t been as dominant this year as in the past.
The NBL Challenge will be played in Brisbane this week, so we all get to have a look at the NBL sides in action with the start of the season proper only two weeks away. All eight NBL teams will play, along with two teams from China, and while there will be a lot of rotations for this mini-series, we should get some gauge as to what these sides are going to be like going forward. There have been a few moves to win the title where Melbourne are in to $3.25 (from $3.50), Adelaide have been $11 into $10, while the price for the Cairns Taipans has nearly halved from $41 into $26. Last season’s winner the NZ Breakers haven’t moved from an opening $7.50, while the least popular of the sides has been the Perth Wildcats, currently on the third line at $4.50.