Grand Final Preview NRL 2012
BULLDOGS v STORM
Homebush 5.15pm Sunday
Opening Pricing and Lines – Bulldogs $1.90 > $2.10 line + 2.5 / Storm $2.00 > $1.75 -2.5
Any market moves: There has been a significant move for the Storm since the markets first opened last weekend with them heavily supported from $2.00 in all week to $1.75 and the market position roles reversed. Should Hawthorn win the AFL GF on Saturday you can then expect the Storm to firm even further on the weight of longer term doubles. If you are looking to play the line dependent on who you wish to play it ranges from 1.5 to 2.5.
And so now the big dance has arrived!
A few facts and figures –
– Won their last 10 straight at the ground
– Won 14 of their last 15 games
– Won 7 of 8 this season when playing with a plus points start
– Won 7 of their last 8 at the ground
– Won their last 7 straight
– Won 14 of 24 this season when conceding a minus points start
– Storm have won 9 of the last 12 H2H contests
– None of their last 6 H2H match ups between these two sides have been at Homebush
– 13 of the last 19 grand final winners have been out ofSydneysides
– Hasler and Bellamy coached sides have played in 5 of the last 7 grand finals
– 4 of the last 5 GF’s have resulted in a 13+ margin result
– 7 of the last 9 GF winners have lead at half time
Both sides are line ball in attack and defence, the Bulldogs A 23.6 and D 15.3, the Storm A 24.1 and D 15.0.
Both sides should appear as named with no obvious or critical last minute injury issues.
An intriguing matchup with two sides who play very different patterns of attack play. Both sides have come through similar approaches to reach the GF, the Bulldogs through the Eagles then a commanding result over the Rabbits, the Storm a similar result over the Rabbits and then a comfortable enough touch up over the Eagles.
The Bulldogs have a clever mix of play. While not playing the traditional yardage and go forward game style they do have 3 big up front forwards who can carve particular plays as required. Their pet options are while going forward play after play to be pushing sideways across the park with the options of either quick tip on passing plays to the outer edge or quick return passing plays back at where they have come. With the options of Reynolds, Keating and Barba able to link in they have the speed and skill to catch defensive lines short or on the back foot. Alternatively they can crack your line off one of their big men, or in the final 30 metre attack zone look to play variations of their run around and or decoy plays. Although they play with a lot of speed and passing plays they are very well structured and drilled. Barba is the key to the Bulldogs attack, he is a game change, his freakish touches and speed can turn a game on its head in a matter of minutes.
Defensively the Bulldogs right edge has been exposed on a number of occasions, with each Reynolds,Jacksonand Inu being found out. The Storm like to favour their left edge in attack so we’ll see plenty of play targeted down this side. Their big forwards are also susceptible to being worked over (work rate) and run around, then targeted with clever dummy half play in and behind them. I’m sure the Storm will look to use Smith, Slater, Cronk and Widdop with various plays through these channels.
The Storm have looked their structured and disciplined best through recent weeks. All the hallmarks of Bellamy’s game plans are there, high completions (near 82% and 88% their last two games, near faultless), quality long kicking and field position, accurate short options (7 drop outs / repeat sets through their last two games) and a significantly improved defensive effort. They grind their opponents down with pressure and field position, and more often than not can weather the storm if and when it’s thrown at them.
They have had their moments when taken on physically through the middle, but interestingly here the consistent roll through the middle and work them over approach is not so much how the Bulldogs like to play. Like most they can get caught defensively against the up tempo play and clever ball shits to the edges, notably they have also had some problems on their left defensive outside edge which I’m sure Reynolds and Inu will look to play at.
The kicking tactics and general game of either side will have critical influence on this game. Both sides have brilliant fullbacks with outstanding kick return speed and skill so where and how the ball is placed (field position, on the ground or in the air) will be key. Following the injury to Reynolds last week the next 4 kicks from the Rabbits went to Barba on the full (as opposed to on the ground away from him or in a corner) allowing him reception on the run and additional time to play or set up their play. Keating also made a number of key error s with his kicking game execution last week which were not necessarily capitalised on, a repeat of such errors and the Storm won’t be as kind.
The Bulldogs have had an outstanding year and can win but I have the Storm marked on top for a number of reasons. I think their experience is a significant factor, especially at 9, 7, 6 and 1. I have quoted it before but rarely if ever is a premiership won by a side not led by a representative 7 or 6, the Storm have both on top of which all 4 key position players are current internationals. Kicking game and field position, I think Smith and Cronk have a decided advantage and if the Storm are playing off the back of their low error game then they’ll be spending a lot of game time playing the Bulldogs at their end of the park. Ruck play; Smith is arguably one of the best in today’s game, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of his skill and guile either out of dummy half and or linking with the other 3 to advantage.
Lastly I think the Storm are driven by a deep if not unique hunger. Regardless of what ever spin they have attempted to put on it through the last 18 months Bellamy, Smith, Cronk, Slater and co have endured much (of their own making) to get to this day, from stripped titles to rebuilding their player list to climbing step by step back to title contention. On the back of all of that they faltered in the preliminary final last year where the hurt and anguish was very obvious. I have no knock for the Bulldogs, and they can certainly win, but I think the Storm have an edge in a number of key game areas but in particular in the attitude, drive and hunger stakes.
Last Word : Tipping the Storm’s clinical, disciplined approach to set the foundation, also think they have an edge in a few areas and when it maters might well be driven by a unique fire in their belly.
Betting Interest : No need to get to clever, Storm at the line -2.5 and then play a few exotic options of your choice (try scorers, man of the match, etc).
The Storm were nominated here back on the 1st of Feb as our anchor bet for the season at $9 for the title. For those who followed I’d suggest you might save a little on the Bulldogs to cover your outlay and let the rest roll. For anyone looking for additional betting interests I’ve listed the following options.
Anchor Bet – Storm line -1.5 $1.91
Chance your arm – Storm Tri bet Over 6.5 $2.75
But I bleed Blue – Bulldogs H2H $2.10 or Margin 1-12 $3.20
Man Of The Match – Back three players, Cameron Smith $8, Ryan Hoffman $13, James Graham $13
First Try Scorer / Last Try Scorer – A Winger, Centre of Fullback has been FTS in 7 of last 9 GF’s & LTS in 6 of last 9. Based on that Morris, Barba or Wright for the Bulldogs and or O’Neill, Chambers or Waqa for the Storm.
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