Bookmakers can't split NRL top four
ALREADY wide open, the gates to the NRL's premiership trophy were pushed further ajar after the weekend's matches, with Ladbrokes installing four teams as equal favourite at the halfway mark of the season.
New competition leaders, Penrith, the side they defeated to move to top spot, St George Illawarra, reigning premier, Melbourne and the biggest firmer in the past five weeks, South Sydney, are all now rated a $6 premiership chance by Ladbrokes NRL bookmakers.
"Quite often by the halfway mark of the season we see a team breakaway as a clear top pick, sometimes it's two teams, but four equal favourites and a fifth on their hammer is quite remarkable," Ladbrokes spokesperson, Roger Oldridge said.
Pre-season premiership favourite, the Sydney Roosters, sit on the second line of betting, but fifth in the market, at $7, while Cronulla ($11), New Zealand Warriors ($13) and Brisbane ($15) round out the 'bookmakers' top eight'.
Penrith was the big firmer from the weekend, with its comprehensive victory over the highly fancied Dragons enough for Ladbrokes to wind them in from $9 to the top-of-market $6 quote.
The Dragons subsequently eased from $5 out to $6, as did the Storm after their narrow victory over the lowly Cowboys in Townsville.
South Sydney - rated a $26 shot after round four - firmed from $7 into $6 after they smashed the Warriors in Auckland, a result which saw the latter eased from $11 to $13, having been as short as $8 after round 7.
The Cowboys' season is essentially over in the eyes of bookmakers. The $6 second favourite before the season kicked off, North Queensland are $34 out to $81 after their ninth defeat of the season saw them slip to 15th on the table.
Only the Eels, Knights, Bulldogs and Titans (all $151) sit behind them in the premiership market.