This is a later round-up of the Grand Final betting than usual this week, and it’s going to be a bit different. We’re going to look at why the side sitting in eighth place, Wigan Warriors, are best priced 6/1 and are second favourites to win the Grand Final.
Castleford are unsurprisingly favourites, best priced Evens, after opening up a seven-point lead at the top of Super League last weekend. Their position is so strong that regular season betting seems to have closed for the foreseeable future.
Wigan are currently going through their worst winless league run in over 100 years having failed to record a victory since April. They are currently seven points off the top four with 11 games to play before the play-offs begin, and are also just three points ahead of the Super 8’s.
The Warriors have had well-documented injury problems but the majority of their well-known names have returned to the side now. Having seen some improvement in a draw at Huddersfield – which followed progression to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup – with three of their four games before the league splits at home, several will feel they have enough to at least avert the Middle Eights.
But for them to be in the hunt to defend their crown come the end of the season they need to be consistent. Earlier on in the season they strung some wins together – including their World Club Challenge triumph over Cronulla – which is probably why they are a shorter price than St. Helens (11/1) for the Grand Final, despite the Saints being two points ahead of them. Their longest winning run is two games, compared to Wigan who recorded five consecutive wins at the start of the campaign.
There is also the point that Wigan are the defending champions and if they were to get themselves in the play-off mix they have a track record for showing up for the big games. But then so do Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos who are ahead of them – with Hull having won the Challenge Cup last season and Leeds still have many members of their treble winning side from 2015 at their disposal. Both sides do have their faults, but they have had a taste for success like Wigan. Hull and Leeds are best priced 13/2 and 8/1 respectively.
Salford and Wakefield are also ahead of Wigan and look firmly in the mix for a strong finish but recent results may suggest their bubble has burst towards the top – hence longer respective prices of 16/1 and 66/1.
The next few weeks are pivotal to Wigan’s chances to closing the gap on the sides ahead of them, and a strong showing in the Super 8’s thereafter. Many would suggest that isn’t beyond them – and that if they are in the play-offs after 30 rounds then at the very least one big threat is going to be knocked out by another – who they’d potentially meet in the Grand Final.
Some will be scratching their heads as to why Wigan are second favourites to defend their crown given all the variables that are involved for them to repeat last season’s success – but there’s also an acknowledgement it isn’t impossible. But they need to start stringing Super League wins together quickly.