NRL Betting: Melbourne Storm can edge Cronulla Sharks in NRL Grand Final

Melbourne Storm meet Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Sydney to decide the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final

Recommended bet: Melbourne Storm -1.5 points Handicap @ 19/20 (1.95) with bet365

Melbourne Storm and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks will meet to decide the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday evening.  

The teams finished first and second respectively in the regular season, so it’s perhaps fitting that they should be contesting the title decider, although neither team is particularly popular with neutral fans for a variety of reasons.

Sunday’s Grand Final will be Storm coach Craig Bellamy’s sixth NRL decider since his appointment in 2003.  By contrast, Cronulla will be aiming to win their first ever premiership, having failed to win in three previous Grand Final appearances (the last of which was way back in 1997).

The Storm will have to leave the comfort of their AAMI Park fortress after four consecutive home matches (their last two fixtures of the regular season and two finals games) over a five week period.  

One of the aforementioned games was in the final round of the regular season in early September, when they defeated the Sharks 26-6 to ensure that it was they who secured the minor premiership.  In Round 4 it was the Sharks who were victorious, 14-6, when the teams met at Endeavour Field. 

Melbourne saw off Canberra Raiders 14-12 in their Preliminary Final, with a typically professional performance in which they took full advantage after Raiders’ Jack Wighton was sin-binned for holding down a Marika Koroibete breakaway just before the 60-minute mark.

The Sharks were hugely impressive in seeing off the defending Premiership champions, North Queensland Cowboys, 32-20 in their Preliminary Final at the Allianz Stadium.

Cooper Cronk and Cam Smith are key figures if the Storm are to beat the Sharks.  With both players having now played 300 games for Melbourne, they know exactly what’s needed on these occasions.  In Cameron Munster they also have one of the best young players in the game. 

This is likely to be tight and that’s where Melbourne’s greater big match experience and their formidable defence might just sway things in their favour.  Backing Storm to win on the Asian Handicap -1.5 points looks viable, but they are unlikely to win this easily.