2013 NRL Finals: Complete guide to Week 3

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    South Sydney 's preparations for the World Club Series have been less than ideal. (AAP Image/ Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

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    Just four teams remain in the hunt for the 2013 NRL Premiership this season, and if the finals season so far is anything to go by, this weekend promises to be an absolute cracking bout of games.

    We’ve broken down all the action scheduled for this weekend in our complete guide to the weekend’s action – complete with all the important details, viewing information, analysis and predictions.

    The Roar will also be providing live blogs for both games.

    Read on to see how the weekend ahead could unfold.

    [2] South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. [4] Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
    Date and Time: Friday, September 27, 7:45pm AEST (ANZ Stadium)
    TV Coverage: Live via Channel 9

    Having narrowly gone down against the Sydney Roosters two weeks ago and simply fallen over the line against Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last weekend (albeit in controversial circumstances), the biggest question heading into this one is as to how fatigued the Sea Eagles are.

    A number of their stars will be carrying injuries into this one, with Jamie Lyon, Anthony Watmough and Jamie Buhrer all expected to play with some niggling concerns, and the elephant in the room is seemingly whether Manly are worn down or simply battle-hardened.

    Their supporters will desperately be hoping it’s the latter of the two, with a monstrous Souths back awaiting them this weekend.

    The Burgess boys will be reading to rip into Manly’s pack, but the key for Souths could very well be their marquee man at the back—Greg Inglis—whose troublesome knee will certainly be better after two weeks off.

    Just what type of impact he’ll have – in returning kicks as well as in an around the ruck – still remains to be seen, but it’s hard to see him from not finding open space at some point in this one.

    Manly will remember being in this position last year, and will certainly remember the masterclass they were given by the Melbourne Storm—unable to match the Victorians’ clinical attack or defence.

    Geoff Toovey’s side will be much stronger from that encounter (and everything else that they’ve gone through in the past two weeks), but it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll be able to match the boys from the CBD this weekend.

    Souths’ squad is simply too big and too strong, and will be far too fresh for Manly after two weeks off.

    They rank second in the league for tackle busts this season and will likely repeat that again here, especially in the second half as tiredness starts to kick in.

    Michael Maguire’s side won both encounters against Manly this year, and it’s hard to see anything changing in this one.

    Prediction: Souths by 13 points.

    [1] Sydney Roosters vs. [7] Newcastle Knights
    Date and Time: Saturday, September 29, 7:30pm AEST (Allianz Stadium)
    TV Coverage: Live via Channel 9

    Few expected that the Knights would get the better against the Brisbane Bulldogs in their first elimination final.

    Even fewer predicted that they would repeat the process against Melbourne, in Melbourne, one week later. And yet Wayne Bennett’s side produced the goods.

    They’ll come into their semi-final against the Roosters as the underdogs and outsiders, and while that’s for good reason, it’s certainly no reason to rule out the Knights pulling off a staggering upset.

    After all, they’ve done just that in the past two weeks.

    The minor premiers will no doubt have relished the week off and the chance to rest up, and will welcome back star forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves following his suspension.

    The Roosters’ giant pack featuring Sonny Bill Williams will once again be looking for the chance to rip in and gain an advantage over their opponents as they have done to most teams this season, and will be keen to dispel the doubters that emerged after their shock loss to the Sharks.

    However, they’ll certainly find their match in the Knights’ hungry forwards as well, who have seemingly found a new lease of life under Bennett.

    Trent Robinson’s men have been the best defensive team in the competition this season, but it’s their attack that needs to thrive if they’re going to get over the line here.

    Newcastle are riding a wave of momentum and have genuine game-breakers right across the field, and will be more than happy to grind it out in the trenches for 80 minutes.

    They’ve done that in back-to-back games now against highly-skilled attacks and have won, and must be considered a serious threat in this one.

    The key for the Knights will be whether they can get halfback Tyrone Roberts on the field this weekend or not. He sustained a key injury last week but has been named to play, and his inclusion (or omission) stands to have a huge impact on this one.

    Robinson’s men thumped the Knights just eight weeks earlier, but Newcastle are a different team now.

    They’re playing with a new sense of belief and enthusiasm, and are making tackles right across the field that they were missing two months ago.

    If they can get their playmakers with the chance to drive it down field and put the Roosters’ attack on the back foot, then the battle-hardened Knights stand a real chance at pulling off the upset.

    They have the best mind in rugby league in their coaching booth, and having done it twice already this finals series, will ride the underdog title into the 2013 NRL Grand Final.

    Prediction: Knights by four points.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • September 27th 2013 @ 7:19am
      Joe said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Mmmm you picked Souths to beat Manly , Newcastle to down Easts , oh dear , il leave my comments at that

      • September 27th 2013 @ 8:14am
        maximillian said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        What’s wrong with those predictions? When you get to the final 4, anyone can win so I don’t think a Souths v Newcastle GF is that far fetched.

        • September 27th 2013 @ 9:07am
          Joe said | September 27th 2013 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          My point is Manly is supposed to bet busted yeh , so they “can’t” win , Newcastle is up against the best team by a mile and there going to win ??

          • September 27th 2013 @ 9:55am
            maximillian said | September 27th 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

            at this stage anyone can win. Newcastle have won 4 in a row which is the longest winning streak of the remaining 4 teams. Their opening 20 minutes last week against Melbourne was arguably the best start by any side in the finals series. They have the best coach in Bennett who has won 7 GF’s compared to the other coaches who have won 0. Add to that the Roosters HGH dramas & Newcastle winning is a definite possibility.

            • September 27th 2013 @ 9:57am
              Benny said | September 27th 2013 @ 9:57am | ! Report

              I definitely think the Knights can win. I am a die hard roosters fan but I am getting a little worried about this match. Despite the off-field dramas, I don’t think we willl be too affected as we have been told we have nothing to worry about. It will be a really close game but in the end I think the roosters will just pull away with too much class

    • September 27th 2013 @ 8:21am
      The eye said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      ‘Brisbane Bulldogs’ has made it into this article too..becoming a running joke with the editors ?
      Love the Knights and hope they can make a few miracle plays they’ll need,similarly Manly need a monster of a Rabbits choke to get away with this one..

      • September 27th 2013 @ 9:10am
        Joe said | September 27th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        The is a monster ,,,, it’s 42 , that’s bigger than a monster all pressure is on the bunnies , if Manly win many won’t be surprised , if Souths win many will be relived

    • September 27th 2013 @ 8:40am
      Rebecca said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      I definitely agree with the prediction. Knights will pull off a massive upset by winning and the Bunnies will be too strong for battle-weary Manly. Maybe not 13 points margin for Souths though, Manly won’t go down quite THAT easily but at least 6-8 points. Knights will win with a field goal.

      • September 27th 2013 @ 12:08pm
        Wozza said | September 27th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        The roosters will belt the knights of the paddock , by 3 tries .
        They’ll win it in the 1st 20 minutes and the boys from Newie will learn what is needed to win an elimination semi…

    • Roar Guru

      September 27th 2013 @ 8:56am
      Will Sinclair said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      I have an inkling that the Easts / Manly form is the testing material this season, and that the Storm had hit the wall so the form around them is a little suspect.

      However, I reckon Souths will still get over Manly tonight because the Sea Eagles just look like they’ve had enough this year. They were only clinging on against the Sharks and I suspect this is a week too far.

      The Roosters will do a number on the Knights. Roosters 13+ is the bet of the week. Roll it into Souths 13+ (in the hope they just finish over the top of an exhausted Manly) and you’ll be farting through silk.

    • September 27th 2013 @ 12:03pm
      21 said | September 27th 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

      KNIGHTS BY 4

      RABBITOHS BY 24 IN GF over knights

    • September 27th 2013 @ 1:38pm
      tooveys right hand said | September 27th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

      and will certainly remember the masterclass they were given by the Melbourne Storm—unable to match the Victorians’ clinical attack or defence. Masterclass????? Who are you mate? Masterclass? Any team bar parramatta would of beaten manly that game… Masterclass bahaha when you make over ten unforced errors against any team let alone the eventual premiers your going to get towelled up! Masterclass how insulting the 40-0 that’s a masterclass buddy a game where Melbourne tried Everything and failed… Last years semi was manly playing there worst game in two years.. masterclass bah! Like tony Williams on zero tackle fumbles the ball into cronks hands for him to run thirty metres and score… Yea real masterclass there you have no.idea mate don’t insult the Real pride of the league with such lies

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