South Sydney look primed to win their 22nd premiership and give Wayne Bennett an eighth title at a record third club, sending out the champion coach a winner after a stellar three-year stint at the Rabbitohs. Here are The Wolf’s best bets for the 2021 NRL Grand Final.
Be sure to check out The Wolf’s Clive Churchill Medal tips here too.
After losing three straight preliminary finals and with two dominant teams in the competition this year, it looked like we would once again be dealing with Souths falling at the preliminary final stage again. That all changed in the opening week of the finals when Souths stunned Penrith and ended up on the good side of the draw.
Destiny now awaits them and it is a very real factor going into this one. Normally the narrative can be overplayed going into a game but the love South Sydney have for Wayne Bennett is very real and very deep. The club credits him with the smooth transition of power and the players adore him for not only making them better but having their back at every turn. This will also be Adam Reynolds’ last game for Souths after a stellar career in the cardinal and myrtle.
Penrith have their own narrative, of course, looking to avoid losing back-to-back Grand Finals and atone for last year’s loss to the Storm. No team has lost consecutive deciders since the Roosters in 2003-04.
The numbers also dictate Souths are a bet here. Favourites have covered just two of the last seven deciders. Pressure is a factor but Grand Finals have been low-scoring tight affairs of late. This is a good spot for Souths. They cover at 59% off a win and have covered 19 of 31 as an underdog. As a dog off a win of 18 or more, they have covered seven of nine. They have covered six of nine as an underdog of less than a try and four of five off scoring 30-plus.
Penrith have struggled outside of Sydney with just nine covers from their last 27. They have covered just four of 12 off a win.
The Panthers have played Souths well recently but when it really mattered this year, the Bunnies found a gear probably only Wayne Bennett could find. Penrith’s scoring or lack thereof is a major concern too. The value is unquestionably with Souths this week.
The under is typically the norm in the Grand Final and so it is in this one. The line opened at 40.5 and is already down to 38.5. It would be a surprise if it started there. Grand Finals are usually low-scoring affairs with 11 of the last 14 deciders going under the total. Four of the last six Grand Finals have finished no higher than 33. Five of the last six Rabbitohs-Panthers games have failed to top 37 points and gone under the total. This is a huge under spot for Penrith, who are 17-4 under in their last 21 interstate games. The under is 10-5 when the Panthers are off scoring 10 or fewer. The Panthers cannot score. Both teams will be relying on defence. This total is too high.
Though this match is projected to be a low-scoring affair, an early try is fairly common in the decider. There has been a try in the eighth minute or earlier in the last three Grand Finals. In the last nine Grand Finals, there has been a try shy of eight minutes in six. This finals series there has been a try inside of eight minutes five times from eight games.
Paulo is an underrated tryscorer who has scored nine tries in 11 games this season. He gets a good matchup against Brian To’o in that he has a large height differential so is a big play against the kick. Souths have also shown a tendency to go right when meeting the strong teams. Paulo also has five tries in five finals appearances so is not overcome by the pressure of finals football
Cody Walker has been quietly an excellent tryscorer as his career has developed. He has scored 15 tries in 24 games this season. Under Wayne Bennett, Walker has scored 41 tries in 70 games. He has scored three tries in their two finals this season and has taken a much bigger running role without Latrell Mitchell in the team.
SAME GAME MULTI
South Sydney Win/Under 34.5 Alternative Total Points/Jaxson Paulo Anytime Try ($11.50)
Souths are plenty of value to win this Grand Final. This match will not only be a low-scoring affair but a final tally in the 20s would not surprise. Jaxon Paulo provides plenty of value to score a try.