NRL Finals Week Three Previews
On Friday night, we have the 3rd placed Rabbitohs facing off against the 4th place Sea Eagles. A battle pitches the 2014 Premiers up against a side which returns to Finals Footy after a long year out.
It’s said every week for Manly, but Tommy ‘Turbo’ is how they’ll aim to prevail! Producing two tries, one try assist and 201 running m’s in their win against the Roosters, he was yet again unstoppable! South Sydney will have an incredible amount of motivation to triumph in this encounter because if they don’t, then it will be stalwart Adam Reynold’s farewell to the only professional club he’s ever known.
Melbourne is aiming to go back-to-back and for their third Premiership since 2012. Then on Saturday afternoon, it’s the 1st placed Storm up against the 2nd place Panthers in a rematch of last seasons Grand Final. As for Penrith, they’ll need to prevail with the entire Rugby League world against them after their ‘trainer fiasco’ of the previous round.
Cameron Munster is an elite Five-Eighth, and the proud ‘Maroon’ could make all the difference here. Whether it’s his elite kicking game, his tantalising runs, or his ability to lay tries on a silver platter for his teammates, there might be no stopping him here. For their rivals, they’ll focus on doing what they’ve done all season, and that’s making it a team effort. If they stick to their guns, then Ivan Cleary’s soldiers will give the Victorian’s a real run for their money here.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles – FRI 24 SEP @Suncorp Stadium – KO @7:50PM
The men from Redfern have won 10 of their previous 14 clashes against the Northern Beachers. The last three, in particular, have been incredibly noteworthy, as earlier in the season, they bested them 26-12 in Brookvale. In Homebush before that, they trounced them by 40 points! Then in the last finals game between these clubs, going down to the wire, they won again 34-26. Manly had two sent to the sin bin that day and Souths one.
In a bright spot for the Sea Eagles, the Rabbitohs weren’t convincing in Week One against the Panthers. Winning 16-10, they still managed to muster up only two tries. At the same time, they missed 21 tackle attempts. And the absence of Latrell Mitchell, in particular, is something that Manly will look to capitalise. Realistically, South’s will only be able to grind out a result. This clash could swing in either direction; Manly will look to blitz through their attack with ‘Turbo’, Reuben Garrick and Morgan Harper.
If the Manly attack starts firing at some point, then the likes of Cameron Murray and Mark Nicholls will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility for shutting it down. Murray has been insane this year as he has completed 96% of his attempted tackles (644/668). The ex-Australian Schoolboy is one of the most efficient locks globally, and his hits are venomous. Even Manly’s forward pack might struggle against him.
The club captain wears his heart on his sleeve. Nicholls epitomises the fighting, never give up Rabbitohs spirit. The Wagga Wagga-born veteran will sooner lose his breath and faint than not give 100% in the tackle for his side, no matter his physical state. These men are vital for Wayne Bennett’s side.
Ultimately, my pick is for Manly to prevail. They showed last week just what they could do to a side when they reach their peak. This team displays some of what the 2008 Manly team showed. ‘Turbo’ and Brett Stewart both scored tries for fun. Martin Taupau and Steve Menzies are some of the most creative ‘big men’ the game has ever witnessed, while good old Dessy was the coach back then, as he is now. It won’t be an easy task, but come 80-minutes, the Eagles will be feasting on some Rabbit stew.
My Tip: Manly by 10-16 points.
Anytime Try Scorer: Jason Saab.
Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers – SAT 25 SEP @Suncorp Stadium – KO @4:00PM
Melbourne led by 26 points in last seasons Grand Final! That was before they eventually escaped the newly renamed Stadium Australia (formerly ANZ) by just a converted try. Penrith almost caught them out. Since that faithful day, Penrith has won by 2-points at home and Melbourne by 27 in Brisbane. The Suncorp Stadium affair saw the Storm score three tries by the time the 19th minute had come around, including two in the opening 12. Another positive start here, and the Victorians could run away with it, so Penrith will have to be on red alert exceedingly early in the match.
The Storm made light work of Manly in Week One of the Finals, as they won with ease, 40-12. With the Sea Eagles considered one of the few/major threats to snatch away the Storm’s crown this campaign, Craig Bellamy’s side embarrassed that notion to the highest degree possible. With Manly, not themselves, Melbourne took full advantage to earn a well-deserved rest ahead of this matchup.
While for Penrith, they may well only be here because their trainer controversially stopped play late in the game to address an ‘issue’, right as the Eels were threatening to take the lead and potentially the match. The end score being 8-6 as The Panthers (or the referees) controversially ended the Eels season.
Apisai Koroisau, in the absence of several Panthers, might be their best bet to make a game of it here. He’s a crafty NO.9 who’s demonstrated throughout the year can create something out of nothing. Not to mention he can run a bit, while he’s also averaging 43.2 tackles per game, despite weighing just 88KG. He’s small but feisty! He’ll no doubt have to do a fair bit of everything here for his side. But it might just work out for them in the end.
I’ll go for the shock here and pick the Nathan Cleary-led Panthers to prevail. They’ll have ice in their veins after last campaigns Grand Final and a BIG point to prove. They’ll want to show that they can get it done on the biggest stage of the season. However, not only that, but Ivan Cleary will also have learnt and fixed what went wrong in last year’s Decider in preparation for this all-in clash. This week, the Panthers are a different team that plays for one another and is bloody brilliant with the ball. They’ll get this one by a hair.
My Tip: Penrith by 2-8 points.
Anytime Try Scorer: Nathan Cleary.
Four teams, two games and two spots in the Grand Final, who will win? Bring it on!