Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks
Saturday, September 3, 7.30pm (AEST), AAMI Park, Melbourne
|Best Bet: Melbourne 1-12 ($3.05)
Other: Over 37.5 ($1.90)
Melbourne 7-12 ($5.50)
Regular season matches don’t get any bigger than this with first placed Melbourne hosting second placed Cronulla in a match that will determine the minor premiership and top seed in the finals. A win or a draw would secure the minor title for the Storm while the Sharks need a victory to secure their first bit of silverware since their minor premiership in 1999.
Melbourne have lost Nelson Asofa-Solomona to suspension with Christian Welch replacing him. Cronulla are unchanged.
Melbourne and Cronulla have played 30 matches with the Storm winning 20 and the Sharks 10. The teams met in Round 4 with the Sharks winning 14-6 in Sydney. The Storm have a perfect 6-0 record at AAMI against Cronulla with an average winning margin of 20 with four wins of 18-plus. The last three matches played in Melbourne have all topped 44 points. Jesse Bromwich has scored in 2 of his last 3 against the Sharks.
Melbourne lead the minor premiership race with an 18-5 record and a +241 differential which is clear best in the NRL. They enter this off a home loss to Brisbane but have won 13 of their last 16. The Storm have conceded 18-plus in their last three having done it only twice before this season. Melbourne have dropped two straight just once this season. The Sharks sit second on the ladder with a 17-5-1 record and the third best differential at +196. They had not won in a month before a dominant win at home over the Roosters. The Sharks have not won their last two against Top 8 opposition. Since Round 11 Melbourne ranks a clear first in defence and third in attack while Cronulla rank eighth in attack and fourth in defence.
Jesse Bromwich v Andrew Fifita. Arguably the two most destructive props in the NRL, Bromwich and Fifita are devastating ball-runners, brilliant offloaders and feared enforcers. There are no more dangerous bookends in the game. There are playmakers across the park but it will be who wins the middle that will take the two points.
Stats That Matter
Melbourne are 13-10 ATS with a 15-8 over record while Cronulla are 13-10 ATS with a 12-11 under number. The Storm have covered just 1 of their last 4 and have gone over in two straight. The Sharks have covered just 1 of their last 5 and gone over in 3 of their last 4. Melbourne are 16-22 ATS when favoured by more than a converted try at home since 2013 including a 4-4 ATS record this year. Home favourites of 6.5 or more off conceding 24-plus are 37-47 ATS since ’13. Cronulla have failed to cover their last three road games while they have gone over in 6 of their last 9 road games. Road underdogs of 6.5 or more are 13-19 ATS when coming off a win of 20 or more.
Melbourne are 15-1 when up at halftime while Cronulla are 12-2 when in front at the break.
This will be a smashing match between the two top teams in the premiership. Line betting seems about right here but there is some value on betting Melbourne 1-12 in margin betting. With the minor premiership on the line, it is hard to see the Storm losing this one, particularly with their dominant record at home over the Sharks.
How It’s Shaping Up
Melbourne by 8
Melbourne 1-12 ($3.05)
Melbourne 7-12 ($5.50)
Best First/Last Tryscorer
Cooper Cronk ($21.00)
Other Recommended Bets
Over 37.5 ($1.90)