I can finally put a woefully inadequate season of tipping behind me. For a guy that had an Elo rating system that could practically see the future last year (up around 67%), Euclid did let us all down really badly this year.
But how good has the football been? This weekend sees the fairy tale-esque giant-slaying North Queensland Cowboys take on the machine-like Terminators of the Melbourne Storm to decide which side gets to take home the 2017 premiership.
Melbourne (20-4) vs North Queensland (13-11)
The Cowboys have ridden an improbably large share of possession to starve their opponents of the ball coupled with an improbably well-timed run in form, particularly for star players like Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo, to get through to what the media insists on referring to as the “Big Dance”. Why? Who knows? Wendell Sailor hasn’t done his jig on a football field in over a decade and there hasn’t been much in the way of successors.
While even their presence in the final eight was something of a fluke, there’s no doubting that the Cowboys have handily accounted for the Sharks, Eels and Roosters to annihilate NSW’s best chance of having a presence in the grand final. Peak Queenslanding that is and I’m confident that most of the state – and Sydney – has jumped on the Cows’ bandwagon.
Melbourne have won 22 games this season. They’ve lost to the Sharks, Titans, Roosters (golden point) and the Eels. Their last loss was on July 8. The grand final is played on October 1. That’s three months undefeated. It’s a supremely crazy level of dominance that we ran out of superlatives to describe two months ago. The only thing that would require an even more extreme superlative is if they somehow managed to stuff this up.
The two teams have met twice this year with the Storm winning both games. The first, during Origin period, was by a single point in extra time, and the second much more comfortably in Townsville back in August. Since 1998, the two teams have met 36 times with Melbourne winning 25 of those for a winning percentage of 69%, roughly in line with their long term winning rate.
North Queensland are by no means out of this. Indeed, they are as good a shot as any team of stopping the Storm. Melbourne have their weaknesses – they don’t love being behind and aren’t quite sure what to do when challenged – and the Cowboys may get lucky enough to exploit them. The Broncos weren’t and got laughably steamrolled in the process.
But yeah, I’m tipping the Storm. Sorry, everyone.
After week 3: