South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm
The 2013 NRL Finals series begins with your first Qualifying Final from ANZ Stadium on Friday night and it just so happens to be a replay of last year’s semi final when Melbourne took advantage of the Rabbitohs inexperience and crushed them to death. The test here, as the 3rd place finishers travel to Sydney to face the Minor Premiership runners up, will be on Souths, to see how far they have come in 12 months.
We know what the Storm will bring to this match. We know that they’ve learnt how to manage the gruelling 26 round schedule, get through origin and then finish strongly every year. They will be primed and prepared to perfection and will hope to starve Souths of possession and suffocate them when they do actually get their hands on the ball. What we don’t know is if Souths can go a gear higher and match it with their ugly older brother. Melbourne too good in Wrestlemania 27.
My tip: Melbourne 14-12
Cronulla Sharks v North Queensland Cowboys
Sudden death footy; the best kind. Your first elimination final opens up a Moore Park double header on Saturday arvo at 4pm as the North Queensland Cowboys bring their 6 match winning streak to Allianz Stadium to face the Sharks. This will be an absolute cracker. The Sharks have paid up big to solidify their roster and this will be when Cronulla fans expect these mercenaries to earn that paycheque. Luke Lewis, Wade Graham and Michael Gordon will not disappoint.
Then again, neither will the mighty Cowboys. They average over 32 points per game over the past 6 weeks including the 31 they scored against these very Sharks only a fortnight ago. Their attack is relentless and Jonathan Thurston has been brutal. Semi final/sudden death footy might bring a different pressure to the Cowboys and the Sharks can easily beat the crap out of you on their day, but the Cowboys win this one by a whisker.
My tip: North Queensland 22-20
Sydney Roosters v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Part 2 of your Saturday double header has the Roosters hosting the Eagles from Allianz Stadium. The Chooks have been sensational in 2013 and are deserved winners of the JJ Giltinan Shield. They defend bravely, as opposed to dangerously, and love to throw the footy around. Their big test here will be to push this style against are battle hardened, rock solid, full strength Manly squad. It will be a violent opening 15 minutes.
Speaking of violence, the home side will miss Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner but will hope to get their dirty work done through the toughness of Sam Moa and Mitch Aubusson. Sounds like a stretch, but if the Roosters can win enough yardage up front, they have more weapons than Manly can defend in this one. James Maloney v Kieran Foran one of many highlights as the tri-colours beat Manly for the 3rd time this year.
My tip: Roosters 18-14
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Newcastle Knights
Elimination Final number 2 comes from ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon as the ‘Dogs host Wayne Bennett’s Newcastle Knights. Tune in, buckle up and stick around because this one will go down to the wire. The Knights spent the season perfecting their defensive structure and have done a pretty good job over the past fortnight. The Bulldogs have struggled with their attack this season. Showing bursts of flare at times, but never consistently.
These teams have near identical records with the Bulldogs only 1 premiership point better after 26 rounds. Canterbury start as favourites here, surprisingly and probably due to home ground advantage but this is a contest that will test their cohesion in attack, the fitness of their forward pack and their mental resolve. Newcastle have beaten the Bulldogs twice this year and will throw everything at them for 80 minutes. Upset on the cards.
My tip: Newcastle 20-16
2013 NRL Match Previews - Finals Week One
- by Paul Mitry
- September 12 2013 11:50PM
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm
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|2||South Sydney Rabbitohs||24||18||0||6||40|
|4||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||24||15||1||8||35|
|8||North Queensland Cowboys||24||12||0||12||28|
|9||Gold Coast Titans||24||11||0||13||26|
|11||New Zealand Warriors||24||11||0||13||26|
|14||St. George Illawarra Dragons||24||7||0||17||18|
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