We have an interstate Grand Final for the second time in three seasons.
Melbourne did what many expected and knocked off Brisbane in the first Preliminary Final but North Queensland became the first team in eight seasons to reach the Grand Final from eighth spot.
The Cowboys win over the Roosters in the second Preliminary Final makes their run to the big dance of the most memorable finals runs in history – can they go all the way?
Under siege from Brisbane from almost the opening kick-off, some uncharacteristic errors put them under pressure on their own goal line but they repelled wave after wave of attack.
Consider this – Brisbane has Anthony Milford, Kodi Nikorima and Ben Hunt at their disposal while Golden Boot winner Benji Marshall was also thrown into the mix to try and breach the line.
None of them could do it and ultimately the Storm held them scoreless. Just reflect on that for one moment because to hold a team scoreless during the regular season is a big achievement in itself, but to do it in a Grand Final qualifier, that is something else!
It is no wonder the best price available on them is just $1.30 (@ Unibet) this Sunday to win the Grand Final.
As mentioned by our expert in his exclusive match preview for Oddschecker, North Queensland’s big hope of beating the Sydney Roosters was if they maintained their league-best percentage in completions and the Roosters did not.
Well Trent Robinson’s side may have finished second at the end of the regular season but that was a huge achievement considering they were the third-worst team in the NRL when it came to completing their sets.
That came back to bite them on Saturday night as they committed 13 errors and completed only 68 percent of their sets. In contrast, North Queensland completed at a whopping 90 percent.
Despite the ill-discipline the Roosters hit the front during the second half and should have gone on with the game but errors such as kicking out on the full from the kick off (TWICE!) won’t win you many games.
No doubt the boys from Bondi had a huge turnaround this season after finishing second last in 2016. Ladbrokes have the Roosters @ $6 equal favourites to win the title in 2018.
Last season Anthony Milford was the star of the team early on but this season he didn’t have the impact that Wayne Bennett would have been hoping for on a regular basis.
Losing Andrew McCullough close to the finals was definitely a huge blow because Ben Hunt had to switch to hooker plus there were one or two others playing injured in the past few weeks (Darius Boyd, Corey Oates).
Even still they weren’t the Broncos that most would have expected in the finals and with a few key departures in 2018 it is hard to see them returning to the Grand Final next season without changing the style of their play.
Ladbrokes are offering $7.50 about them to win the 2018 decider.