Penrith have maintained their form at the top of the table with a convincing 32-12 win in challenging conditions against the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.
There is nothing better than semi-final time in rugby league. 12 teams are already gone and by Sunday morning, two more will join them. Any closer to the business end and you’d be drinking a latte with Richard Branson and Tim Cook.
Welcome to The Roar‘s NRL Expert tips for Week 2 of the NRL Finals.
It is the 2015 grand final rematch between North Queensland and Brisbane from Townsville with the winner going through to face Cronulla in Sydney. The Cowboys are back home after going down to Melbourne at AAMI Park last weekend and will face a Broncos outfit missing James Roberts. While much was made of the refereeing performance last Friday at Suncorp Stadium, the likes of Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt proved again they will be tough to beat. But do they have enough to eliminate the Cowboys on their home patch?
While the Sharks were the fairy tale story for the large portion of the season, Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers have both shown that fairy tales come in all shapes and sizes. The Green Machine and the Panthers have been the form sides in recent times but Canberra’s task is a whole lot tougher with star hooker Josh Hodgson out of the team. Penrith is the little red engine that keeps on chugging and no matter where Anthony Griffin throws his players they respond like seasoned professionals.
Age is just a number and so say all of Penrith.
*Catch Curtis Woodward and Lewis Shepperd this Sunday from 3pm for Mounties and Wests Tigers on steelesports.com.au*
“The Cowboys are favourites with the bookies on account of the home ground and that’s a strong argument for them. While both spines and backlines are stacked with quality players this one will be won in the forwards with the tidal wave trio of Matt Scott, James Tamou and Jason Taumalolo to improve on last week’s showing and be the difference.
“Canberra were somewhat disappointing in their return to finals football allowing the Sharks to control the tempo and with Josh Hodgson going down and without Blake Austin there to provide his unique brand of creativity the team never got the spark they needed. Whether those two players return on Saturday night remains up in the air but at the very least the style of game should suit the Green Machine better this week with the Panthers also preferring a more open contest. I’m taking the Raiders in the expectation that the injury turmoil will in fact set whichever players line up free to play the freewheeling style that got them this far in the first place.”
Tips: Cowboys, Raiders.
“Going to go the Cowboys because they win in Townsville and I’m not sure the Broncos have any centres left. The loss of James Roberts must be tough to handle for coach Wayne Bennett. The Broncos need their speed on such a fast track in Townsville.
“Raiders. I don’t know why. The match is statistically too close to call. Yes, Canberra will be missing their English hooker in Josh Hodgson, who has been sensational again in 2016, and Blake Austin will go into the game questionable (if he makes it) but I’m going to tip the home team. It really is almost too close to call.”
“I’ve been searching for reasons to try to tip the Broncos, but I really can’t see an area in which they’re superior. Seeing Tim Gore’s piece on Thursday morning only confirmed that to me. Sadly, I think this is the end of the line for my boys. They’re just running into a superior footy team, and James Roberts being out only makes it worse.
“The Raiders and Panthers is an intriguing battle, but I think Canberra have it in them to bounce back from a gut-wrenching loss and take this. Not sure if they’ll make it any further than that, though.”
Tips: Broncos, Panthers.
“I totally understand why most people are probably backing North Queensland at home against the Brisbane Broncos who will be without James Roberts. But I am not convinced the Broncos are going to fall over like everyone thinks. They almost put fifty on Gold Coast last week and the Cowboys have the short turnaround after a gruelling clash with the Melbourne Storm.
“It has been a hell of a year for Canberra but I fear it’s all catching up to them. To lose Josh Hodgson the way they have is heartbreaking and they’ll fight valiantly against Penrith but I just feel like the momentum is swinging and the Panthers will come home the stronger.”
|WEEK 2||Tim||Lachlan||Pat||Curtis||The Crowd|
Now it’s your turn! Tip against the experts: