It’s now officially the end of the regular season as we head into the first week of the 2020 NRL finals.
It all begins on Friday night with the Panthers against the Roosters. Following this mouth-watering clash we have three other intriguing encounters.
I’ll provide my own tips and predictions for this week’s clashes while picking a margin, either 12 or less or 13 or more. Good luck to everyone with your tipping!
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters
Panthers by 12 or less
Penrith put in a very impressive performance against the Bulldogs, defeating them by 42 points, and the Roosters have an absolute shocker, going down 60-8 to the Rabbitohs. It’s certainly not ideal for any side to go down by 50-plus a week before the finals, which is the primary reason I’m tipping the Panthers here.
It’ll take too much of a toll on the mindsets of the Roosters squad to be able to bounce back and actually beat the minor premiers on their home turf, and Jake Friend’s crucial injury doesn’t make it any better for the back to back premiers.
Canberra Raiders vs Cronulla Sharks
Raiders by 12 or less
As these two teams faced off last week, both teams will get a number of players back for this week’s match. There has been a lot of talk and speculation about whether the Sharks are pretenders heading into the finals or not, the reason being they haven’t defeated a top-eight side all year.
As the Sharkies will be inspired by the miracle heartwarming announcement of former Shark Fine Kula being cleared of brain cancer, I would have to pick Canberra here as it will simply be too hard for the Sharks to win in the nation’s capital, especially still without Shaun Johnson.
Melbourne Storm vs Parramatta Eels
Storm by 13 or more
As Melbourne rested about 11 of their most important players, they went down to the Dragons by a narrow margin last week. However, all those 11 rested players return for this week’s clash against Parramatta, where they beat a spirited Tigers outfit by a narrow margin.
The Eels haven’t been very convincing for most of the second half of the season after getting off to an excellent start. If the Eels can’t find their dominant attacking selves like they showed us earlier in the year, the Storm will win, and by a comfortable margin.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights
Rabbitohs by 13 or more
The Bunnies absolutely destroyed their rivals, the Roosters, while breaking a number of records, and the Knights missed a crucial opportunity to play their first home final in quite some time when they went down poorly against a much-improved Titans side.
After last week’s performance the Knights might be there just to make up the numbers but have the potential to provide a scare for the Rabbitohs. However, with the way the Bunnies played last week, I just can’t see anything other than the Rabbitohs getting over the Knights here to move on to Week 2 of the Finals.