NRL Grand Final contenders at midpoint of season

We’re midway through the 2021 Telstra Premiership season. Some teams started off strong, others took some time to discover their form. Some teams have been sent on a rollercoaster and others probably wish they could push the restart button.

Let’s take a look at the eight teams that Betway Sports have given the best odds to make it to the NRL Grand Final and walk away with the Provan-Summons Trophy.

  1. Penrith Panthers

The 12-1 Ivan Cleary-coached Penrith Panthers are favourites to top the table and make a second Grand Finals appearance in two years. Their form has been phenomenal, with their praises belonging to halfback Nathan Cleary his side of Origin stars.

Odds with Betway: 2.75

  1. Melbourne Storm

The Melbourne Storm are the next favourites, even without Cameron Smith. The four-time Grand Final winners, most recently in 2020 and 2017, have won 10 out of the 12 games they’ve played. They’ve scored 410 and conceded 148 points at an average of 34 for and 12 against, thanks mainly to their try-scoring machine Josh Addo-Carr and defensive enforcer Kenneath Bromwich.

Odds: 3.40

  1. South Sydney Rabbitohs

Remarkably the South Sydney Rabbitohs are third favourites to end the season on top of the ladder. The 2014 winners have suffered some humiliating defeats, notably a 56-12 drubbing by the Panthers and a 50-0 caning by the Storm. The Bunnies have scored 317 points and conceded 272 in 12 games, averaging 26 points for and 22 against thanks to mastermind coach Wayne Bennett.

Odds: 6.00

  1. Parramatta Eels

After a decade of indifferent form, which saw them make the top eight only twice between 2007 and 2016 – the Parramatta Eels emerged as title contenders in 2017. Since then, they have made it to the finals on three occasions in the past four years. They’ve scored 320 points and conceded 208 in 12 games, 66 of which come in their last two games, where they lost to both the Sea Eagles and the Rabbitohs.

Odds: 9.00

  1. Sydney Roosters

Four-time NRL Grand Final winners and four times runners up, the Roosters are fifth favourites at this stage. They are also fifth on the ladder, with eight wins and four losses. They have the third-best attack, above the Rabbitohs and the Eels, with 344 points scored. They’ve conceded 197 points and sit seventh on the table for tackles made and eighth on the table for missed tackles. 

Odds: 13.00

  1. Manly Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles, who recently re-signed prop Toafofoa Sipley until the end of the 2023 season, have scored 265 points and conceded 264. Coach Des Hasler and Captain Daly Cherry-Evans have their work cut out to get more consistent performances out of the team. They’ve won six and lost six so far this season and lie seventh on the ladder but have encouragingly won four of their last six games.

Odds: 19.00

  1. Canberra Raiders

In 2019, the unfancied Canberra Raiders made it through to the NRL Grand Final. They pushed the Roosters all the way before eventually losing to them by a controversial refereeing decision in the game’s closing stages at ANZ Stadium. This season, their form has been poor. Lying fourteenth on the ladder – six places below a top-eight position – they have four wins and eight losses, scoring 219 points and conceding 305.

Odds: 81.00

  1. Cronulla Sharks

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Grand Final winners in 2016, recently secured the services of Storm five-eighth Nicho Hynes. They then promptly told ex-Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson that he is free to leave the club. Thus far, the Sharks have had a mediocre 2021 season, lying twelfth on the table, scoring 233 points and conceding 280. 

Odds: 81.00

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Although the table-topping Panthers and Storm are the two likely contenders to make it to the 2021 NRL Grand Final, the other six are not out of it just yet. Even some in the bottom half of the table may fancy their chances of a top-eight finish. Remember the Raiders in 2019 and the Sharks in 2016. The odds might be longer, but with another 13 games remaining, anything is still possible.