NRL 2009: A Punter's Worst Nightmare, Part II

Jardine PattenContributor IOctober 2, 2009

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Eels fans enjoy the atmosphere during the first NRL Preliminary Final match between the Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on September 25, 2009 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Since I wrote the first article about this year being a punter's absolute worst nightmare, the game has seen it's fair share of upsets, odd results, and shocking games.

We've seen the first placed Dragons, second placed Bulldogs and third placed Titans all bow out one by one throughout the finals. We saw the reigning Premiers, the Manly Sea Eagles get taken out the first week of the finals. The bottom four put on a bigger push through the finals this year than any other in recent memory, making the top four teams work for their higher position on the ladder.

And now, the 2009 Grand Final is upon us, to be played this weekend by the Melbourne Storm who have made their fourth consecutive Grand Final, and then their most unlikely of opponents, the Parramatta Eels.

The Eels were looking at one point in the season to be no hope. After a bad start to the season, they were leaking points at a rapid pace, seemingly the only person able to tackle in the side being the always consistent Nathan Hindmarsh, who averaged roughly 30 to 40 tackles a game. Sometimes going over the 60 tackles mark.

Their attack wasn't any better.

When it came to the end of the season, no one expected them to be in the Grand Final, not even die hard fans. That is, until around two—thirds the way into the season where they began a remarkable resurgence that saw them win seven of their last eight games, and some of them by large margins.

The key to their winning was of course the turn around in form of this year's Dally M award winner, Jarryd Hayne. His performances in the last half of the year have earned him large amounts of praise from the Rugby League community and media, and spurned his team to perform better.

At one point, betting of Parramatta to make and win the Grand Final, the odds were paying around $101. That'll be some good money earned for the die hard punter's who thought they had a chance.

The Storm however, are a different thing altogether. Like I said earlier in the article, they are making their fourth consecutive Grand Final, something only one other team has come close to doing this decade.

They seem to be favourites no matter how utterly bad they play. The beginning of the season for them wasn't the best either, and it wasn't until just after State of Origin that their form started to improve.

However, they have always been favourites throughout the year to be in the finals, and to win the Premiership. I don't get it.

To state that I don't like the Melbourne Storm would be an understatement. I don't even like that the NRL is trying to force it's way into a market that will never truly accept Rugby League, and put their unyielding support behind the team, instead of trying to shore up Rugby League heartlands like the NSW Central Coast area.

But once again, this would be more appropriate for a different article.

Now, we wait for the weekend, and for the Grand Final. Who will win is up in the air, something that the betting fans are cursing. If Parramatta play well, they could absolutely destroy Melbourne...but if Melbourne come out firing, especially Greg Inglis, then it could be smoked eel on Sunday night.

I will be doing my usual random mystery pick the score. The randomness of the computer will hopefully offset the unpredictability of this season.

Hopefully, I can make a bit of cash.