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

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Expert
7th October, 2020
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Eight has become six, and this weekend it’s all-knockout footy, with upsets potentially on the horizon in both matches. This is The Roar’s NRL expert tipping for the semi-finals.

Last weekend’s elimination and qualifying finals turned out to be a fairly straightforward week for tipping, with most of the panel landing four our of four.

Unfortunately for AJ and The Barry, they both tipped the Roosters and landed with three. It means you, the Crowd, now have a three-point lead on AJ at the head of affairs, while Mary and David both draw to within three points of AJ.

The Barry and I may be a distant bottom of the table, but we are now equal on points and duking it out to avoid The Roar’s version of the wooden spoon come grand final day, where plenty of points will be on offer as we tip the game, the margin, the Clive Churchill, first try-scorer and the NRLW decider.

With all the favourites getting up last weekend, it means we have been left with the predictable semi-finals.

First, the SCG will be back in action as the Sydney Roosters – who haven’t been able to sell out a reduced capacity as yet – take on the Canberra Raiders in a rematch of last year’s grand final.

It’s the second year in a row the Tricolours play last year’s grand final adversaries during the following finals series, and after belting the Storm last year, they will like their chances against the Green Machine.

The other semi-final is a picture of inconsistency, as Saturday brings us back to the west where the Parramatta Eels host the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a game which is incredibly tough to tip.

Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEDT) on Friday to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2020 and be featured as part of the Crowd’s tips for Week 2 of the finals.

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Roosters fans

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

Tips: Raiders, Eels

Well done to all who got a full four last round. Sure, you all went the coward’s way and tipped favourites, but they won, so there you go. Things get very interesting this weekend, with two lower-placed sides a genuine chance of upending the stats and taking a win against a top-four side.

I’ve heard the Roosters are struggling to sell out their modified crowd allocation for the SCG eliminator against the mighty Canberra Raiders. It makes sense – which self-respecting Rooster fan would want to pay top dollar to watch their dishevelled, bedraggled mob capitulate against the people’s team? Trent Robinson was livid last week against the Panthers, and with good reason – he knows his men threw absolutely everything they had into winning that game and getting a week off.

After emptying the tank they have to back up against a chirpy Canberra side who had their problems with Cronulla but sorted themselves out before blowing them away.

Canberra cannot start slowly, because the Roosters won’t let them back. I’m comfortable, though, saying the Raiders will knock up a causal 56 points with thunderous vigour and take the win.

It may not be popular to say this, but aside from a horrible nine minutes in the second half, Parramatta were bloody good last week. You don’t have Melbourne fiendishly stopping play for cramp unless they’re fearful of your momentum, and the Storm had to break out all the tricks to keep the Eels at bay late in the game.

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Parra went to sleep at 18-18 for nine minutes and copped 18 unanswered points – and the Bunnies are more than capable of doing that too. This game will be a belter. You all know I love South Sydney. I love Uncle Wayne. But 2020 comes to an end for the cardinal and myrtle this weekend.

Nick Cotric dives over

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Roosters, Eels

After their performance last week I’m not sure the Roosters can win the premiership. They have been impressive and certainly have the talent, but there was a 30-minute period in their performance where they couldn’t match the physicality of Penrith.

That said, this week Jake Friend returns, which is a big boost and hopefully means we don’t see Mitch Aubusson playing at hooker. I think the Raiders will give this game a red-hot shake, but I’m going the Roosters. I think they will keep their three-peat dreams alive for one more week.

As a Parramatta fan I’m going down with the ship. The Eels are now without Maika Sivo, and Blake Ferguson is unlikely at 100 per cent and neither is Dylan Brown. On the other side are the Rabbitohs, whose halves pairing isn’t too far off from the competition’s best, Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai. I am tipping purely out of loyalty for this game and giving the Eels a chance when very few others will.

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David Holden

Tips: Roosters, Rabbitohs

Well, it finally happened. With the Crowd now out of sight, AJ is showing signs of cracking just three weeks out from season’s end. Mary and I are now only three behind, and with some unusual tipping categories coming up in the grand final, there are still enough points on offer if we are good enough.

If you believe the large majority of NRL coaches, the key to winning is focussing on your game and not focussing on the opposition. Footy tipping is the complete reverse.

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AJ has tipped the Raiders by 50-plus every week. Surely he picks them again. That’s good enough reason for me to tip the Roosters – well, that and my thought that the Roosters will win.

Trent Robinson would have been rocked to the core over the last fortnight, but he would also have been impressed by the way the Roosters fought back against the Panthers and almost got a miracle win.

The Raiders would have been happy enough with their 12-point win over the Sharks. However, the game momentum swung with the Raiders intercept before halftime and the Jack Wighton quick tap try shortly after the break. In retrospect, the win wasn’t that impressive.

With the potential draw in front of them, I’m not sure the Roosters can win the competition again. But at the SCG this Friday night I think they will keep their season alive.

Around six weeks ago the Rabbits thumped the Eels 38-0 at Bankwest Stadium. Cody Walker ran riot and the Eels looked short on both edges after the Rabbits launched raid after raid.

After conceding 36 points against the Storm last weekend, I’m not sure much has changed since that loss in late August.

The loss of Maika Sivo and possibly Blake Ferguson robs the Eels of two big targets on the wing but also two of Parramatta’s hardest workers out of the red zone. This could impact their go forward on Saturday night.

Although not perfect against the Knights, Souths showed enough to suggest they have further to go in this competition. The Rabbits will progress to the preliminary final.

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The Barry

Tips: Roosters, Rabbitohs

Friday brings us the third (and definitely last) grand final rematch of the season. The ledger stands at one convincing win each. In the first game an injury-ravaged Raiders routed the recalcitrant Roosters for revenge. However, Round 17 saw the resurgent Roosters relegate the resolute Raiders to return ruin. Sorry.

It’s not that long ago we were asking how far Canberra could keep going. To their credit, they ground out wins when they needed to but have since changed their attack to the point they’ve won nine from their past 11. The worry? In the last two months they’ve played top four teams only twice and lost both.

The first 20 minutes for the Roosters have been identical in the last fortnight. Cruise to a commanding early lead and then collapse like a marshmallow in a campfire (guess what I’ve been doing!). Maybe after two premierships the fire is burning low, but I still can’t give up on them turning things around and coming good. But I said that last week too!

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Broken record time, but it’s not that long ago the Eels looked the complete footy team – back three making massive metres in the early tackles, middle third dominating, halves playing creative footy and attacking threats down both edges. You’d be doing it tough to apply of those descriptions now. Their dummy half still has one of the best off-the-ground passing games I’ve ever seen.

At the same time, Souths looked busted. Their middle third was losing pretty much every battle and relying on their halves and outside backs to get them home.

Latrell Mitchell started finding form and then got busted. Gone.

All of a sudden Wayne Bennett has worked his magic. The middle forwards are playing out of their skins (still a few errors) but, more importantly, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker are playing like one of the great halves combos, Corey Allen is arguably the form fullback of the comp and Alex Johnston can’t stop scoring tries.

Walker’s performance against the Roosters was one of the greatest individual games I’ve ever seen. He’s playing eyes-up footy better than anyone in the modern game and arguably better than anyone since Cliff Lyons. Like Olive Twist: please sir, I want some more.

I think we’ll get it.

Thomas Burgess looks on

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Scott Pryde

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Tips: Roosters, Rabbitohs

I’m not sure where to start this weekend. They are both really tough games to tip.

At home you’d think the Roosters would have too much for the Raiders, but with their inconsistency and sudden struggles for form following the blowout loss to the Rabbitohs and nearly but not quite good enough fall to Penrith last weekend you have to wonder where they are really at.

The Raiders were hardly dominant against Cronulla though, and they aren’t the same team they were at this time last year either.

Still, they have already won once at the SCG this year. I can’t see the Roosters letting that happen twice, so they win in a low-scoring, close-fought tussle.

The other semi-final makes me want to flip a coin and be done with it.

I’m not sure the Eels will have the strike power they need without Maika Sivo. He is immense in starting their sets and scoring tries out wide, so with him on the sideline, it’ll be up to the forwards and Mitchell Moses to pick up the slack.

Can they do it to shut out Souths? I’m not so sure.

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I have to tip the Rabbitohs though. I’ve always said any team who plays a qualifying final against the Storm in Week 1 must win. It’s simply too difficult to back up from without a week off.

Reed Mahoney passes

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Finals W2 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
SYD v CAN CAN SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD
PAR v SOU PAR PAR SOU SOU SOU SOU
Last week 3 4 4 3 4 4
Total 118 115 115 108 108 121

Be sure to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm (AEDT) on Friday, and we will publish the results of the Crowd’s tips before the first semi-final kicks off.

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