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The big clue this weekend gave us about the 2024 NRL Grand Final

Panthers and Storm put masterclass performances

Another weekend of NRL is complete, and this time, it’s given us a big clue about who will be contesting the NRL Grand Final in October.

Both the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm executed impressive victories in the face of stern challenges.

Meanwhile, the Brisbane Broncos against proved that they are an inconsistent factor in 2024. Throw in the fact that the Roosters just lost to the Cowboys, while the Cronulla Sharks have been as hot and cold as Katy Perry in 2008, and it seems clear.

The Panthers and Storm are the two teams to beat in 2024. But do NRL bookmakers agree?

Penrith and Melbourne both get tight wins

Up against the Newcastle Knights, the Melbourne Storm were favourites to win.

However, they were made to work for their points in the face of a tough challenge by the 13th placed Knights.

It was a back-and-forth affair in Melbourne. The home side opened the scoring after 17 minutes through Nick Meany, but Newcastle hit back immediately with a try of their own. They made it two in a row when debutant Fletcher Sharpe scored.

Two tries in the last two minutes of the half gave the Storm an edge, but not for long. The Knights scored immediately after half-time to draw level once again. More tit for tat unfollowed over the second 40, with a late effort from the Knights being held out as Melbourne prevailed 36-28.

For Penrith, it was a similarly ebb and flow match against the Sea Eagles. Two men dominated the contest: Brian To’o, scoring a first-half hat-trick from the Panthers, and Tommy Talau, doing the same for Manly but adding a fourth in the second half as well.

Despite Talau’s heroics, it wasn’t enough for the Sea Eagles. Penrith held strong in the second half, edging the match 32-22.

Bookmakers favour Roosters, Broncos over Storm

The Storm’s Round 14 victory takes them top of the NRL ladder, with nine wins and three losses for the season.

However, NRL bookies are hesitant to favour the Melbourne side too strongly at this stage of the season. They put the Storm on +600 to win the Grand Final, level with the Cronulla Sharks and behind the Panthers (+210), Broncos (+475) and Roosters (+500).

Given the Roosters and Broncos records of seven wins and six losses this year, plus the way that the Sharks folded 42-0 to the Panthers a fortnight ago, we’re not quite so sure.

Ask us, and backing Melbourne to win—or at least make the Grand Final—is a great bet at this point in the season. Particularly given the healthy odds they’re being given after 14 rounds.

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