THE Melbourne Storm will enter the 2017 NRL finals series as the $1.90 favourites at Sportsbet.com.au after recording their seventh straight win in the last round of the regular season.
The Sydney Roosters ($5) and the Brisbane Broncos $8 at Sportsbet.com.au are the only other teams in single figures heading into the finals.
The Storm hammered the Raiders 32-6 at home and subsequently firmed into $1.40 to make their second consecutive grand final.
— Melbourne Storm (@storm) September 2, 2017
The Storm will face the last team to overcome the minor premiers in the form of the Parramatta Eels, who are $4.35 outsiders to win Saturday’s qualifying final at AAMI Park.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy believes there is a lot his side can take from their last loss two months ago.
“They (Parramatta) got off to a really quick start that night. We were missing a few through Origin, without a doubt,” Bellamy said.
“We paid for a bad start, a slow start so we will be trying to make up for that this week.
“It was a while ago now, they’ve played a lot of games since, so have we, we’ve just got to get ourselves prepared as best we can so hopefully we can be at our best.”
The man the Storm will need to contain on Saturday night is Fijian superstar Semi Radradra.
The prolific speedster has scored seven tries from his last two games and was brilliant against Bellamy’s men back in round 18, running for a game-high 201 metres.
The Storm coach knows Radarada will need to be nullified if his team is to progress past the Eels.
“He has had a pretty big impact on a few games lately,” Bellamy said.
“Obviously we need to be aware of that and the last couple of games he has played for them have been outstanding.
“We will need to do a good job on him defensively but having said that it will also be about what we do on the players inside of him and how we defend that.
“They’ve won their last couple of games really well, their game against Brisbane was a tremendous so they’ll come down here full of confidence but we’ve just got to get our game right.”
Storm trio smashed in Clive Churchill Betting
Given the bookmakers believe it is a borderline formality that the Storm will make the big dance, it is no surprise to see Melbourne’s key men are the main elects in the Clive Churchill Medal market.
What is surprising however is the fact that four of the top five players in the market all come from Melbourne.
Melbourne’s Big Three of Cameron Smith ($3.50), Cooper Cronk ($6) and Billy Slater ($13) are all towards the head of affairs at Sportsbet.com.au, while 22-year-old star Cameron Munster is paying $11.
Brilliant Bronco Anthony Milford ($15) is another player expected to be in the frame on grand final day, but last year’s winner Luke Lewis ($67) is not expected to go back-to-back.
Despite dominating the final fortnight of the NRL season, Semi Radradra is not listed in Sportsbet.com.au’s Clive Churchill Medal betting market.