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Storm clinch NRL minor premiership, favourite to take 2016 title

THE Melbourne Storm have all but sealed the 2016 NRL minor premiership according to bookmakers.

Craig Bellamy’s men are just $1.04 to hold off the flailing Cronulla Sharks, who are currently $9 to win the regular season title.

The Raiders and the Bulldogs round off the top four, but the Cowboys could take over fourth place if it defeats the Bulldogs on Thursday night. North Queensland is currently $2 for a top four finish at Sportsbet, which would require it to win on Thursday, but that price is better than the $1.67 offered in the head-to-head market for that game.

A battle for the final playoff spot is also up for grabs with only three teams in the running. The Titans might be in hot water off the field, but it’s in a good position to make the top eight and punters have jumped on the $1.22 on offer with bookmakers.

The Warriors and the Tigers are the only two teams that could see the Titans removed from the playoffs, but given the form of the Warriors ($4.50 for a top eight finish), the Titans should be able to see them off.

The fate of both the Warriors and the Tigers depends on which team wins this weekend as they play each other on Sunday afternoon, but their points differential is significantly worse than the Titans so it’s a tough situation for both.

The 2016 NRL Premiership market is an exciting betting proposition for punters this season as the unpredictability factor is starting to kick in.

2016 NRL Premiership market update

The Cronulla Sharks looked unstoppable three weeks ago, but three consecutive losses have put them on the back foot.

Despite being seven points clear of defending champions North Queensland Cowboys, the Sharks have drifted to the third line of betting at $6 with the Cowboys currently second favourites at $5.50. Punters are getting a much better price for the Sharks now and the return of Paul Gallen should see them right the ship heading into the playoffs.

The Raiders are one of the form teams at the moment and also sit at $6. The 15-win team would be shorter in the premiership market, but the lack of finals experience in the team has bookmakers and punters treading carefully. Canberra will face some hardened finals teams in the Cowboys, Broncos and Storm in the finals, but it is an exciting outfit.

Updated premiership market (as of round 25):

Ladder position in brackets*

Storm – $3.25 (1)
Cowboys – $5.50 (5)
Raiders – $6 (3)
Sharks – $6 (2)
Broncos – $9 (6)
Bulldogs – $11 (4)
Panthers – $29 (7)
Titans – $41 (8)
Warriors – $151 (9)
Tigers – $501 (10)

The Melbourne Storm have firmed into favourites following their 38-18 win over the Sea Eagles last week. It was however defeated handily by the Raiders in round 23, which will give Raiders punters confidence heading into the playoffs.

$9 for the Broncos would have been snapped up prior to the season starting, but after a good start to the season, the Broncos have been treading water since. The Wayne Bennett-coached side doesn’t look like the team which lost in the final last year and it would need a big turnaround in form to go one better this season.

The three best betting options are with the Storm, Raiders and Sharks, which will secure punters a profit if they back all three to win at Sportsbet.

NRL quinella betting

Betting on the quinella market is a fun and potentially profitable way to make money betting on the NRL. We think the Storm, Raiders and Sharks are the top three winning prospects, but the Cowboys should also be thrown in the mix.

Below are the following options involving all four suggested teams:

Canberra/Cronulla – $19
Canberra/Melbourne – $7.50
Canberra/North Queensland – $12
Cronulla/Melbourne – $8
Cronulla/North Queensland – $13
North Queensland/Melbourne – $7

The likelihood of the Raiders making the final against the Storm is the strongest possibility at this stage of the season. Both teams are situated at the top of the premiership ladder and the $8 at Sportsbet is a good price for the best two teams throughout the season.

Melbourne looks the best chance to make the final so base your selections around the multiple premiership-winning club.

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