Melbourne Storm (-325) vs North Queensland Cowboys (+333), Draw (+2500)
Few expected the North Queensland Cowboys to make it to the 2017 NRL Grand Final, but here we are. The eighth-place finishers barely edged through to the postseason yet somehow managed to claw their way to the very end. They’ll face regular-season winners Melbourne Storm on Sunday, October 1st for the 2017 premiership.
The match itself has been overshadowed recently by the outrage from same-sex marriage opponents, who are offended by the choice of Macklemore for the halftime act. Australia is currently in the midst of a same-sex marriage referendum and Macklemore plans to perform his hit Same Love, a marriage-equality anthem.
But let’s turn our attention back to the game. The North Queensland Cowboys are huge underdogs heading into the match. In fact, these are the longest NRL Grand Final odds since betting was made legal in Australia. Top sportsbooks stand to lose millions if the Cowboys stage one final upset.
North Queensland are accustomed to being underestimated, though. They weren’t even expected to make the postseason cut and have entered all three of their Finals series matches as underdogs. But they defied the odds each time, beating Cronulla (15-14), Parramatta (24-16), and Sydney (29-16) to en route to the Grand Final.
Their success has been especially shocking given that their two star players, co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, were ruled out after season-ending injuries.
Anything other than a Grand-Final appearance would have been a disappointment for the Melbourne Storm. They led the league since the eighth week and finished the regular season six points clear of second-place.
Their breakout star winger, Suliasi Vunivalu, finished the season as the league’s top try scorer, and captain Cameron Smith was awarded the Dally M Medal (Player of the Year). They only lost four games all year and are currently on a nine-game win streak.
If you’re not a Storm fan, chances are you’re hoping for North Queensland to defy the odds one last time. But after thrashing Brisbane 30-0 to reach the finals, Melbourne looks untouchable right now. The Storm have beaten the Cowboys in their last six encounters and North Queensland isn’t well-positioned to buck the trend.
Pick: Melbourne Storm (-325)