And then there were six. With the Titans and Knights left pondering what could have been, four sides head into the do-or-die semi-finals weekend with a spot in the prelims on the line. The two beaten sides will have only Mad Monday to look forward to.
Here are my predictions for the two NRL semi-finals.
Sea Eagles vs Roosters
The Manly Sea Eagles will take on the Sydney Roosters to open Week 2 of the NRL finals on Friday night. Manly are coming off the back of a poor first finals match as they suffered a 40-12 defeat at the hands of the minor premiers Melbourne Storm.
Manly were expected to be an extreme threat to the Storm, however, this is not how it eventuated. I don’t know how it looked on television but from ground level you could barely tell that Tom Trbojevic was on the field as he was not around the ball as much as we are accustomed to.
I don’t know whether it was because of the big stage, or the Storm were just too good and were able to express their great defensive game plan to shut him down.
This just proves that to a point you can survive with a one-man team but once you start to come up against teams like the Melbourne Storm that’s not how it works. Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans tried to his fullest but most of the team were just making silly mistakes that of course the Storm capitalised on.
On the other hand, the Sydney Roosters scraped their way to victory against the Titans on Saturday afternoon as the game finished in a thriller, with just one point and one missed pass to split the two sides.
The extremely undermanned Roosters side are still surging through the season and the way their fantastic mentality has been all season, I would not be surprised if they come up with an upset on Friday night. Despite the Chooks’ amazing efforts all throughout the season, I believe that their season will be ended on Friday night.
Manly by 6.
Panthers vs Eels
Penrith were favourites to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs last week, however, unfortunately for them they couldn’t come home with the finals win. They possibly underestimated Wayne Bennett’s Rabbitohs as the Rabbits played a lot grittier football than a lot of people thought they were capable of. They were out-worked at the end of the day and now they will have to look forward to a knockout match with Parramatta on Saturday night.
Parra will be attempting to prove the doubters wrong as they have been very weak in the finals throughout the past years. This would make a huge statement if they can progress to face the Melbourne Storm in Week 3.
Mitchell Moses will need to step up again, which is what he did well in their tight win against Newcastle on Sunday; but for this upcoming match up he will have to take it to another level. Overall I believe that Parramatta will continue their finals struggles and not be much of a threat to Penrith as they will be out-skilled in most areas.
Ahead of the 2018 NRL season the Newcastle Knights signed Mitchell Pearce on a multimillion-dollar deal. He was signed as a premiership-winning general who would attract other quality soldiers to the cause and lead a young team of potential future stars out of the doldrums and onto many glorious victories.