Individual brilliance will decide the Grand Final
For the third year in succession, the Super League Grand Final sees Leeds Rhinos clash with St Helens at Old Trafford.
Despite the best efforts of Wigan and the Catalans last week, the two best teams, those that finished the regular season first and second, contest the final. Despite Leeds favouritism of 4/7 to win in 80 Minutes and the four-point headstart given to St Helens in the main handicap market there is very little to separate them.
Leeds Rhinos have the upper edge because of the recent form, however (and it's taken me a week to admit it) St Helens put in a very good performance last week against Wigan and, if there's any stage of the play-offs where form counts for nothing it's in the Grand Final. Leeds came into both of the last two finals as outsiders and won.
Both are very strong in defence and in the "notoriously" low-scoring final it's Under 38 Points at 4/5 that leads the Total Match Points market with Over 40 at 5/4 and 7/1 about 38-40 Points.
As a team, man-for-man, there's next to nothing in it - Leeds have the bigger pack and an extra day's rest, that's it. With so much rugby league talent on show it will take a little bit special individuality, a lucky bounce of the ball or a borderline video referee's decision to decide this game. So let's look at some of the potential match winners.
Keith Senior just loves to prove me wrong. A sulky, over-rated, one-trick pony that is lazy in defence is how I was describing him not so long ago but he is now one of the most influential players on the pitch for Leeds going forward. His support play and powerful (difficult to stop) running will stretch St Helens out wide. An outside chance of 25/1 to win Harry Sunderland Trophy (man of the match) but better odds than the 20/1 for a hat-trick which are probably one and the same thing. A 16/1 shot to score the first try, same odds last try and 7/4 to score in the match. Given the niggles he's been involved in in previous St Helens encounters he could spend time in the sin-bin - there's 7/4 that a yellow card will be shown.
On Senior's wing is Ryan Hall, the league's top try scorer. With an average of over one per game it's no wonder he's odd-on at 8/11 to score anytime. 10/1 first and last try.
Lee Smith is 16/1 to repeat last year's Harry Sunderland winning performance - it's a nice price but you've got to be looking at one of the favourites.
Sean Long, Danny Maguire and Rob Burrow are 8/1 co-favourites for man of the match. Long, making his final appearance after 12 years at St Helens, proved last week that he still has the magic (or persistent luck as I like to call it) to add the Harry Sunderland to his three Lance Todd trophies. You can imagine him nicking a late winner and can back him at 20/1 to score the last try (11/4 anytime).
Leeds' half-back pairing of Danny Maguire and Rob Burrow can create chances out of nothing and they way they support each other is a dream to watch. 12/1 Maguire first/last and 5/4 anytime is not as attractive as the 16/1 and 2/1 about the pocket-rocket that is Rob Burrow but he does share the record for the most Grand Final tries.
Leon Pryce is the most experienced Grand Finalist in Super League making his ninth appearance. His jinking runs make him difficult to stop, especially when the ball has gone to ground and the defence is stretched. He's 6/4 to score anytime and 10/1 to be the first person to win the Harry Sunderland trophy twice after his win with Bradford in 2005.
The phrase "to name but a few" is particularly apt as every player from 1 to 18 could and will have an impact and William Hill have a range of over 50 markets on the season's finale including Try Scorer Match bets, Team to Score First, Frist Try Scorer Shirt Numbers and of course Winning Margins, Double Results and more. Plus you can bet right up to the final hooter In-Play.