The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Semi-finals

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

By , Scott Pryde is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    And then there were six. Six complaints and then some about the referees that is. Instead of talking about footy, we have spent most of the week talking about the men in the middle, so The Roar‘s NRL expert tipping panel are here to steer things back on track.

    Let’s not beat around the bush – there were controversial decisions last weekend – but we aren’t here to discuss them. We are going to talk about the footy.

    While the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters enjoy a week off, hopefully avoiding nightclubs and team bonding sessions, the Brisbane Broncos, Penrith Panthers, Parramatta Eels and North Queensland Cowboys will be slugging it out for the right to face them next weekend.

    In the second semi-final, which is conveniently being played first, because the Broncos are playing and it needs to be on Friday night because of cause that’s the way it has to be, Brisbane will host Penrith.

    Brisbane, of course, were involved in that horrendous opener to the finals which ended in a tense standoff. The game won’t be remembered for its quality, but it will be remembered for Latrell Mitchell putting a fend on James Roberts which allowed him to run away for the match winner.

    On Saturday, the Panthers got over Manly thanks to the hand knee of god Tyrone Peachey. To say it got Manly fans and coach Trent Barrett hot under the colour was an understatement as Peachey was ruled to have not knocked on.

    Of course, Barrett’s outburst at the press conference was nothing compared to Shane Flanagan’s pre-prepared speech after his Sharks lost to the Cowboys on Sunday. He read off the piece of paper like a nervous year five student presenting their public speaking speech and copped a $30,000 fine for his trouble.

    Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan. (AAP Image/Jane Dempster)

    (AAP Image/Jane Dempster)

    The Cowboys had no right to beat the Sharks, but they did, and that books them a match with the Eels, who fans thought were similarly robbed against the Storm last week after a strong effort.

    Notice the trend here? Our tipsters will agree. We have been robbed all season, which is why The Crowd is so far ahead. I mean, come on, there has to be an investigation into this. Right.

    Don’t forget that on the form below, you can put your own tips in on behalf of The Crowd. We will have the results at 4pm (AEST) tomorrow, so be sure to have them in before then. Who knows, The Crowd might prove themselves to be better than the experts.

    Mary, who tipped Tyrone Peachey’s try will lead us off this week.

    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Tips: Broncos, Eels

    2nd semi-final: Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
    Broncos. There’s a rivalry brewing between these two teams, particularly since Anthony Griffinn has coached both of them.

    The Panthers were good last week without being brilliant, while the Broncos were unlucky not to get away with a win after Lattrell Mitchell scored late in the game to put the Roosters ahead. I see Brisbane winning this game.

    Since round 23, the Broncos have been scoring big at Suncorp Stadium and I expect them to do the same in this game. The big question is, will Darius return? If he plays at fullback I don’t see the Broncos losing.

    1st semi-final: Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys
    Eels. The Eels should win this game but it doesn’t mean they will. It’s quite incredible that the Cowboys have been able to scrap their way to the second week of the finals despite all the injury concerns they still have.

    I’m tipping Parramatta to win this game, but not by much. Just quietly, how good has it been to see players rising to the occasion during finals football – Will Smith was close to the Eels best on ground last week – I hope it wasn’t a once-off.

    Parramatta Eels NRL Rugby League Finals 2017

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    Tim Gore

    Tips: Broncos, Eels

    2nd semi-final: Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
    Broncos. Only because they are at home. I expect this to be a high scoring game of no holds barred attack. Will Matt Moylan play? Does it matter? Will David Mead go okay at fullback? Will Ben Hunt make any tackles? It is all before us people. The loser goes home.

    1st semi-final: Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys
    Eels. They played real good last week. Really good. However, they didn’t quite have the luck to roll the Purple Horde. The Cowboys know they got lucky last week and while they could drag out another win, I reckon their journey ends here.

    Greg Prichard

    Tips: Broncos, Eels
    2nd semi-final: Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
    Broncos. They should never have gotten as close to winning as they did against the Roosters last week, but that was the fault of the Roosters not ramming home their advantage.

    At least the Broncos keep going even when they’re being out-gunned, in case something major happens that might turn the game around.

    The Panthers have got a shot at winning this on the road if they maintain a high level of intensity and commitment throughout, but that’s a big challenge for them. They’re not reliable when it comes to playing for 80 minutes and the Broncos will get opportunities to rack up points during the opposition’s down periods. It’ll get too hard for the Panthers in the end.

    Josh McGuire Brisbane Broncos NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    1st semi-final: Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys
    Eels. You’ve got to admire the Cowboys for the adjustments they’ve made in the absence of Johnathan Thurston and the fact they keep turning up every week, but they meet their match here.

    The Sharks had multiple chances to put the Cowboys away last week, but didn’t capitalise on opportunities and their discipline was bad. The Eels will surely have learned their lesson from going in with the wrong attitude against the Knights in round 23 and losing that game.

    They’re tough, they mix things up in attack to keep the opposition guessing and they’ve got more game-breakers than the Cowboys, who are on a six-day turnaround with travel from Sydney to Townsville and now back.

    Scott Pryde

    Tips: Broncos, Cowboys

    2nd semi-final: Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
    Broncos. Surely, the Broncos end the Panthers’ season here. Penrith have been less than impressive for a majority of the season, despite all their wins.

    The cracks finally showed up during the last two rounds of the season when they lost back-to-back against the Dragons and Sea Eagles, costing themselves a potential spot in the top four and almost, so nearly one in the top eight.

    Even taking into account exactly how ordinary the Broncos were last week, they aren’t going to play that badly at home. I expect them to win and win well here.

    1st semi-final: Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys
    Cowboys. Logic says the Eels, but where the hell has logic gotten me this season? Nowhere, that’s where.

    The Cowboys are such a team of fighters. They had no reason to win against the Sharks, but making the most of the opposition errors and defending like their lives depended on it, they managed to scramble to victory in extra time.

    That level of composure under pressure and fatigue leaves them in a good spot for this match against the Eels. If they can get away to a good start, the Eels, without a great deal of finals experience may struggle to remain at the top of their game. We know their defence has cracks from time to time, and the Cowboys will not have as many problems scoring points.

    I’m going the Cowboys. Deal with it.

    Finals Wk 2 Tim Greg Mary Scott The Crowd
    Last week 3 3 4 3 3
    Total 109 127 119 120 132

    Now it’s your turn to try and beat the experts. Using the form below, select your tips for the weekend ahead and we will have the results at 4pm (AEST) on Friday.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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