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

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15th September, 2021
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The first week of finals brought us three excellent encounters and a blowout, and this weekend’s semi-finals could bring us more closely run action. This is The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel for Week 2 of the finals.

While the Storm blew the Sea Eagles off the park on Friday night, it luckily didn’t set the tone for the entire round, with the other three games serving up tight finishes.

That has left us with a battered Sea Eagles set to face the Roosters in the first semi-final this weekend, before the Panthers look to recover from a shock loss against the Eels in a battle of the west, to be held in Mackay.

Last week’s results also mean the Panthers and Storm can no longer face off in the grand final, with the winner of that semi-final to play Melbourne next week, while the winner of the Sea Eagles and Roosters will play South Sydney.

With just five games and novelty grand final tips remaining this season, The Barry is still tied with The Crowd at the head of affairs on 149 after everyone apart from me managed to tip three last weekend.

Yes, wasn’t tipping the Sea Eagles and Titans a good idea?

Anyway, David is four back and still a chance at taking the win, although he’d need to gamble on just about every game to get there.


Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEST) on Friday evening to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2021 and be featured as part of the Crowd’s tips for the second week of the finals.

We’ll hand over to AJ to kick us off.

AJ Mithen

Tips: Sea Eagles, Panthers

Week 2 of the finals is when we revert to normal, when the higher placed teams are dominant. I won’t bother researching the actual figures because I’m certain one of my entries will have included the stats somewhere.

This week I’m on the Sea Eagles and Panthers and it just makes sense. The poor Roosters are busted and suspended and need all this to end and they’ll bow out in Week 2 for the second straight year.

It’s a shame too, because a fully fit Roosters squad thrived under V’landysball and I hope they can get right. They’ll check Manly and make a fight if it, don’t worry about that – but there’s little left in the tank.


Parra were dicey last week against the Knights but they’ve been eyeing bigger things from few weeks back. They’re set to roll against a Panthers side who did show a bit of immaturity when Wayne’s Bunnies took the fight right up to them.

Parra are a team who can act similarly, but the Panthers just have too much quality and I can’t see them making the same errors two weeks in a row. Panthers, just. In a low scorer.

Nathan Cleary of the Panthers celebrates kicking a field goal

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Barry

Tips: Sea Eagles, Panthers

Good for the Rabbitohs. Despite their win being the latest tragedy costing me a perfect tipping round, I couldn’t be happier. They’ve breathed life into these semi-finals and after 25 predictable rounds, we’ve finally taken a turn into the unknown.

Now, we’re tasked with working out whether the momentum gained from Week 1 is enough to overcome the higher finishing teams looking to bounce back from a loss lost week.

Manly were arguably the most disappointing team last week. Tagged by many as the team most likely to cause an upset, they were blown off the park by the Storm and even the mighty Tom Trbojevic – playing in only his second semi-final – struggled to get involved.


On the plus side for Manly, surely he doesn’t play that badly again. In the con column is that Manly are now 0-6 against top-five teams.

In a tale of two hookers, the Sea Eagles welcome back the underrated Lachlan Croker while the Roosters will miss Sam Verrills, controversially banned for his high shot on Brian Kelly. Personally, I don’t see the controversy. Verrills hit Kelly straight in the head with the point of his shoulder and Kelly barely fell an inch in the tackle.

The Roosters would have lost by 20 last week without James Tedesco. Even with him doing everything humanly possible and then some, they couldn’t put the Titans away despite several opportunities.

James Tedesco

James Tedesco (Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Manly won’t hand the game over as easily as the Titans and I think they pip the Roosters here.

Saturday sees the unconvincing Panthers against the uninspiring Eels. Did Souths show the blueprint for throwing the Panthers off course with tough efforts through the middle and brilliant scrambling defence? The more important question is, can Parramatta replicate that style of play?

Normally, this Eels team is more comfortable playing the flat track and not so associated with grinding out tough wins. But they showed signs a few weeks ago against Melbourne that maybe they’ve toughened up late season and can get in the trenches.

So many Panthers players will have a point to prove after missing out last season and maybe being a bit complacent and easily rattled last week. I think they’ve got more gears to go through than Parramatta and will win.


The battle of the beaches followed by the battle of the west. What a brilliant weekend of footy it looks like being!

David Holden

Tips: Sea Eagles, Panthers

Well, the first week of the finals is done and dusted. Penrith’s defeat means we aren’t going to get the grand final we all expected. I think there are more surprises to come.

I didn’t narrow the gap on the Barry or the Crowd. I need to find a point or two before the novelty picks in the grand final, and it may just happen this weekend.

This weekend is all about the bounce back. The challenge is determining whether the bounce is a trampoline bounce or one unfortunately reserved for our departed felines.

The Sea Eagles and the Roosters are first up. The Storm had a plan for Tommy Turbo and it worked a treat. They compressed their defence in the middle and relied on their speed out wide to nullify any Manly attack. The Sea Eagles didn’t have a Plan B and looked lost for long periods of the game.

Tom Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles

(Photo by Getty Images)


But the Roosters are not the Storm. Sydney scraped home against the Titans, with their error count bordering on horrific. It continues a trend, with the Roosters among the worst in the comp for completed sets.

In their only meeting this year, in Round 1, the Roosters prevailed 46-4. However, the Sea Eagles are a far better team than the one that ran out that day.

They will get more chances against the Roosters and they will be hungry to atone for last weekend. Tommy Turbo will have a big game and Manly will win.

The second semi-final will be closer. The Panthers were far from their best on Saturday night, while the Eels arguably should have won by more on Sunday afternoon, such was their dominance in the middle of the ground.

Souths put Nathan Cleary under plenty of pressure and Jarome Luai had a very quiet game. Whether it was nerves, complacency or something else, we may never know, but we do know that they will be desperate this weekend to not go out in straight sets.

The Eels didn’t repeat their form of a fortnight ago but they have definitely emerged from their form slump. Mitchell Moses had his best finals game for the Eels by a distance.

That said, though, the Panthers will be following the trampoline theory. They will be primed to take down their big brothers in the western derby.

It will be tight, but the Panthers will advance to the prelim.

Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Sea Eagles, Eels

Manly may have been blown off the park by the Storm but I’m predicting them to bounce back this week and end the Roosters season. The Roosters were lucky to get the win against the Gold Coast, look tired and are missing so many of their key players. You can also add Sam Verills and Siosiua Taukeiaho to that list too.

I’m a Parramatta supporter so am tipping with my heart for this game rather than my head. It’s not that I don’t think the Eels are capable of winning this game, it’s just that after a loss last week, I know Penrith will want to bounce back strongly. If Parramatta are to win this game their forward pack will need to bring the same intensity that it did last weekend against the Knights.

Nathan Brown is tackled.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Scott Pryde

Tips: Sea Eagles, Panthers

I can’t see any upsets this weekend, although the way I tipped last weekend, both of these games are now going to end up the exact opposite of what I’m suggesting.

The Sea Eagles were rolled by the Storm last week, but you just know Tom Trbojevic is too good to be held down twice in a row.

The Storm did establish the strategy to beat Tommy Turbo – up fast, into him and cut down his options by using the sideline as an extra defender as often as possible.

But I’m not sure too many other teams have the ability to do it. The Roosters are a gutsy team, but Sam Verrills is a massive loss, and at this point of the season, I’d suggest too big of a loss to overcome.

It won’t be a blowout, but Manly.

The second semi-final should be a little bit more one-way traffic. The Eels have been solid in turning things around, but if you’re letting the Knights score 20, the Panthers are going to score double that.

Penrith simply have too much talent. They will be reeling from last weekend, but one would think it has only sharpened their resolve to get to the spot they want to be.

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They’ll have to go through Melbourne to do it, but they are certainly going to get that chance with Nathan Cleary leading the charge.

Finals Wk 2 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
Last week 3 3 3 3 1 3
Total 119 141 145 149 129 149

Remember to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm this evening to be counted as part of The Crowd for this weekend.