Manly NRL player Joel Thompson is in a stable condition in hospital after smashing his head into rocks in an alcohol-fuelled incident during the long weekend.
And then there were six. After a first weekend of finals which felt like they were barely there, including a record being broken, we arrive at the semi-finals, with another two teams set to meet their doom. Here to tell you who they will be are The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel.
The two clubs that fell by the wayside in the opening week of action were the Cronulla Sharks and Brisbane Broncos, who everyone was so very disappointed to see get blown out 58-0 by the Eels.
Well, I mean, Broncos supporters sure were. Neutrals were debating whether to laugh or turn the game off, while the 30,000 at Bankwest Stadium had just about the day of their life.
The only game that was actually interesting to neutral fans was the high-quality qualifying final between the Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders, with the Green Machine stunning the minor premiers to claim a week off.
Which brings us to the second week of the finals, because on Saturday night, it’ll be those wildly consistent, but oh-so entertaining Parramatta Eels making the trek south to face what one can only assume will be a fairly peeved off Melbourne Storm.
They would have been more or less expecting to have the feet up, resting at home this week, but instead now have to win two knockout games in as many weeks, with the second of those set against the Roosters.
But first, they have to get over those Eels, who, if they play like they did against Brisbane, will pose more than a threat.
That will follow the first semi-final though, which was set up by another upset – and no, not the Friday night game, where the Sydney Roosters stamped their authority all over premiership favouritism by blowing the Rabbitohs off the park.
But rather, that elimination game on Saturday where the Manly Sea Eagles, missing their Turbo and Taupau, came away with a shock win over the Sharks?
Can they do it again? Taupau is back, but then, so is Sam Burgess.
This second week of finals. How interesting they can be. At any rate, for neutrals, hopefully more interesting than last week.
In terms of tipping, AJ’s tip of the Raiders and Stuart’s selection of the Sea Eagles gave them three a piece for the week.
The Barry’s selection of the Broncos… Well, it didn’t work out so well. The Crowd and myself had two.
What that now means is that AJ is off the bottom of the ladder, jumping The Barry and tying with myself on 114. Stuart stills leads the experts with 117.
Don’t forget to join in with your tips at the bottom of the article to try and beat the experts in 2019 as The Crowd and try your luck in our Roar NRL tipping comp. Crowd tips will close at approximately 6pm (AEST) on Friday evening.
Tips: Rabbitohs, Storm
Parramatta turned on possibly the most electrifying performance of Week 1 when they eliminated a pathetic Broncos unit 58-0.
Their reward? A trip to Melbourne to face a very annoyed Melbourne Storm. The Storm were upset by my beautiful Canberra Raiders (and the touchie) last week and it’s angry times down at the bubble dome.
I’ve said before that the Storm get routy when they get angry and the Eels are going to experience the highs and lows of rugby league all in the space of a week. Keep happy thoughts about last week, Parra fans. Melbourne win.
Manly wrong-footed pretty much everyone yet again when they manhandled the Sharks out of the finals last week.
Early domination stretched over 80 minutes and it was a fantastic win for a depleted squad. This week though coach Des Hasler comes up against the master Wayne Bennett, who is stung by his Rabbitohs turning in a lamentable outing against the premiership favourite Roosters.
Manly will fight this one out to the end, but Souths will get the win, unconvincing as it may be. Enjoy the weekend!
Tips: Rabbitohs, Storm
Last week proved that underdogs can get up in the finals with the Raiders and Sea Eagles playing well above their weight and beating the odds.
That said I am going to plump for the favourites to advance to the preliminary finals on their home grounds this week.
The reasoning is based on the coaches Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy. They are both experienced operators and are unlikely to go down for a second time in the finals without an almighty fight.
While the Sea Eagles have already overachieved and will most probably book their holiday flights on Monday, I give the Eels a chance of causing a stunning upset in Melbourne. However, it’s Souths and the Storm for me this week.
Tips: Sea Eagles, Storm
Well, I absolutely killed it last week with one from four!
Manly’s courageous win, Canberra winning in Melbourne and Parramatta’s demolition of Brisbane have breathed new life into the semi-final series. Now we see if the bottom of the eight teams can mix it with the best.
I just can’t give enough credit to Des Hasler and Manly. I’ve struggled to tip them for most of the year because in so many of their games they’ve appeared to be on the ropes injury-wise and outgunned. On paper, this week looks no different.
Souths’ big takeaway from last week was “winning” the second half after the Roosters had largely clocked off for the night. Souths get Sam Burgess back. Manly get Marty Taupau. I’m going to tip Manly here.
A couple of weeks ago the thought that Parramatta would be a live chance in Melbourne would have been out there. A 58-point win for the Eels and a Storm team that looks – by their lofty standards – a little clunky in attack has changed that around.
This should be one of those interesting ‘contrast of styles’ games. I can’t see the Eels getting anywhere near the time and space to play footy that the Broncos gave them. Chances will be at a premium. The Eels best hope is getting early points and getting the Storm chasing. The longer the game becomes a grind, the more it favours the Storm.
I’m tipping Melbourne but not by as much as I would have even a fortnight ago.
Tips: Sea Eagles, Storm
I couldn’t bring myself to tip the Sea Eagles last week, thinking they would get blown out by the Sharks, even at home.
But, that performance has given them new life and new confidence, and while they couldn’t beat anyone and everyone without Tom Trbojevic, they are still competitive.
And yes, that record without Trbojevic, which improved to five out of 13 on the weekend, is still a concern, the Rabbitohs haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire with their form or style.
The return of Sam Burgess for Wayne Bennett’s side is offset by the return of Martin Taupau for the Manly side, and if you look at what each will be able to produce given recent form of key stars, there isn’t much in it.
Daly Cherry-Evans needs a big one, but I’m taking Manly.
The other game should be a lot more simple to tip. I know, most probably said that last week about the Storm, but they are now going to be fired off and rarely lose two in a row at home.
They have had a far too good season to go out in straight sets, and shouldn’t, given the Eels horrendous record on the road, and the fact the style they employed against Brisbane – pass the ball until we no longer have it – won’t work quite as well against the well-drilled defensive structures of Craig Bellamy’s side.
Be sure to leave your tips on the form below by 6pm (AEST) on Thursday evening and we will publish results before the opening game of the round.
|Finals Wk 2||AJ||Stuart||The Barry||Scott||Crowd|
|RAB v SEA||RAB||RAB||SEA||SEA||?|
|STO v EEL||STO||STO||STO||STO||?|