Holden Cup Grand Final – Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters
Sunday, October 2 – 1.30pm – ANZ Stadium
The Holden Cup Grand Final will feature minor premiers and clear standard-bearers Penrith against form team the Sydney Roosters.
There is no question at all that Penrith have been the dominant NYC side of 2016. They lost just four regular season games and led the NYC in both attack (35.46ppg) and defence (15.92ppg). Their form has continued into the finals with wins of 22 over Cronulla and 14 over North Queensland during the post-season as they look to win their third youth title in four seasons.
The Sydney Roosters were just fair in the regular season. They finished fifth on the ladder with a 14-9-1 record and though they finished fourth in attack (29.59ppg) they were a lowly eight in defence (26.75ppg). They hit this in hot form though on the back of three straight wins including a 48-0 Week 1 finals hammering of Canberra, a 28-18 upset of Cronulla and a 26-20 come-from-behind win over St George Illawarra.
Penrith have a lot of talent unavailable with Nathan Cleary now in first grade and Jarome Luai suspended. They are still chock to the brim though with Dylan Edwards the most dangerous fullback in the competition with 138 tackle breaks in1 6 games and 260-plus metres in both finals appearances. Tryscoring freak Ratu Tuisese (22 tries in 18 games), hooker Soni Luke and hardened prop Oliver Clarke round out a well-balanced and classy side for coach Cameron Ciraldo.
The Roosters though are not short of talent themselves. Joseph Manu showed he can cut it in first grade. Nat Butcher ranks Top 4 in run metres, offloads and tackles in the NYC. Grant Garvey has an incredible 18 tries and 22 assists in 2016. Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck has busted 200 metres in two of the Roosters’ three finals.
Penrith hold a 9-6 all-time edge over the Sydney Roosters and have won four straight including 50-4 and 40-22 hammerings in 2016.
Penrith go in deserved favourites here but the line of 12 seems obscenely big with the Panthers missing so many key components and the Roosters in such hot form. Momentum goes a long way at this level so the plus is without question the bet.
Recommended Bet: Sydney Roosters +12 ($1.90)