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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions Finals Week 2: No second chances as finals series heats up

13th September, 2023
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13th September, 2023
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Hey Roarers!

That was a finals week for the ages.

Suncorp Stadium was rocking on Friday night, as the Broncos moved one step closer to a grand final appearance as well as breaking their longstanding drought against the Storm with a dominant 26-0 win. Payne Haas, Patty Carrigan and Tom Flegler were everything you want from your forwards, Reece Walsh was out the back just doing Reece Walsh things, and Adam Reynolds was as close to perfection as you can get.

It was a tough old night for the Storm, who were battered all over the park and kept scoreless which is a rarity for the club. But the heartbreak was felt right through the rugby league community when Ryan Papenhuyzen went down with an ankle injury. Thankfully the prognosis was not as severe as first thought, with the flying mullet hoping to be back for the start of the 2024 season.

On Saturday afternoon we headed to the foot of the mountains where the Panthers were far too strong for a Johnson-less Warriors side, taking out a 32-6 win. The Premiers showed everyone it’s going to take a herculean effort to stop them from a three-peat, as Nathan Cleary played one of his best games of the season.

The Warriors were tough and showed plenty of heart as always, but looked disjointed in attack without their halfback. They will be grateful that they have another roll of the dice to keep the dream of the Wahs alive.

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In the ‘Battle of the Stadiums’ the Roosters were victorious after downing the Sharks 13-12 in a thriller on Saturday night. The packed-to-the-rafters Shark Park crowd were left devastated as they once again watched their team fall at the finals hurdle, unable to send club legend Wade Graham out a winner in his last year.

The Chooks overcame injury and even had to spend ten minutes without skipper James Tedesco while he sat in the naughty corner. The Tricolours levelled the scores late in the game, taking the lead with a late Sam Walker field goal and holding on after some desperate Nicho Hynes blocking to stop him from getting one of his own. The Roosters lived to fight another day while Sharks fans will spend the whole offseason asking “Why did we take the two when they were down to 12 men?”

And then on Sunday, at a sold-out McDonald Jones Stadium, a sea of red and blue witnessed almost 90 minutes of bone-crunching, high-flying, arm-biting, edge-of-your-seat footy where neither the Knights nor the Raiders gave an inch. Dom Young was his electric self, Tyson Frizell kept his workhorse tag intact, while Kalyn Ponga didn’t let a dodgy shoulder get in the way of being brilliant.

Joseph Tapine and Hudson Young were enormous up front for Canberra, and even though the Knights were heavy favourites, and the Raiders weren’t given a chance, the teams couldn’t be split at the final siren. It took a Ponga penalty goal deep into extra time to see the home side take a hard-fought 30-28 win in one of the best finals games in recent time, knocking AJ’s Green Machine out of the finals. Sorry AJ.

Mike tipped the card with a perfect four, Mary, Stuart and you legends in The Crowd tipped three, while AJ Paul and I tipped two. Mike is out in front on his own on 138, with Stuart just behind on 137. Mary is still in third on 134, Paul is fourth on 151 with AJ in fifth on 124. The Crowd and I are out the back playing golf, both on 117.

Ok – onto Week 2 of the Finals – no more second chances.

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It all kicks off tomorrow night down at AAMI Park at 7.50pm. A battered and bruised Roosters full of confidence after their win over the Sharks, head down to Melbourne ready to take on the Storm looking to make up for their thumping by the Broncos.

The home side will be missing Paps and Xavier Coates, with Justin Olam being called back in from the wilderness. The Chooks are still without the suspended JWH, and will also be missing Joey Manu, Billy Smith and Joseph Suaalii who are all on the injured list.

The Roosters are coming off six successive wins but they would have felt like they were in survival mode in each one. The Storm on the other hand are facing their first real feeling of elimination all year.

Grant v Smith. Welch v Collins. Munster v Keary. Hughes v Walker. Bellyache v Robbo.

Hooley Dooley!

On Saturday, it’s the Warriors and the Knights fighting for survival at an absolutely jam-packed Go Media Stadium at 4:05pm. These sides haven’t faced each other since Round 6 and a lot has happened since then. Many at the start of the year had the Warriors finishing down the bottom of the ladder, while halfway through the season the Knights were drowning fast and their coach’s job was on the chopping block.

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The Warriors ended up having a season to remember finishing in the top four while the Knights finished in fifth and are coming off the back of 10 wins on the trot. They are both now playing for a spot in the preliminary finals – what a turnaround.

The Warriors have named Johnson at halfback and will have everything crossed that he is right to go. The Knights will be missing their number seven with Jackson Hasting ruled out with an ankle injury. Lachlan Fitzgibbon is also on the sidelines with a bung shoulder, with Adam Clune and Dylan Lucas to fill their spots.

The Knights had the backing of a sold-out stadium at home last week but will have to get the job done this time around deep into enemy territory. The Warriors are playing their first finals game at home since 2008, and their supporters will be in full voice to try and get them across the line.

CNK vs Ponga. DWZ v Young. AFB v Saifiti. The team everyone decided to go for after their team got knocked out v the other team everyone decided to go for after their team got knocked out.

Who will be left standing? The Panthers and the Broncos will be watching the games eagerly from their ice baths, waiting to see who they will be taking on next week.

If you want to see how you go up against the Experts this round, remember to get your tips in below by 5:00pm tonight to be counted in The Crowd’s tips.

Happy tipping everyone!

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Stuart Thomas

Storm, Warriors

Goodness me! Could the Storm play as poorly as they did against the Broncos for a second week on the trot? Unlikely. Massive injury concerns and outs for the Roosters have this match at AAMI Park as a dead-set certain win for everyone’s favourite team. Melbourne in a canter and into the final four for the millionth time.

I have simply no idea who will win between the Warriors and the Knights, although the loss of Jackson Hastings is crucial for the visitors. I think I will just sit back and enjoy the contest with both teams the chance of taking a leap into a preliminary final with a win. Perhaps the injury to a key Knight and the home ground gets the Warriors home?

Mary Konstantopoulos

Storm, Warriors

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It was an absolutely incredible effort from the Roosters to get the win last weekend, but that win came at a cost with injuries to Billy Smith, Joseph Manu and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii. As a result, the Roosters are rolling out an extremely inexperienced backline. 

The Storm have had challenges in their backline as well, but it is slightly more experienced than that of the Roosters. 
I’m tipping the Storm in this one, just because I think the Roosters played their Grand Final last week. Too many injuries and suspensions for this team to progress any further. Even though I think the Storm will win this weekend, it will be a similar story for them next week when they meet Penrith. 

I’m tipping the Warriors in this game to believe in some magic. A full stadium, Shaun Johnson returning and a Warriors team keen to bounce back after a loss last week. 
They’ll do it and then progress to the Preliminary Final.

Paul Suttor

Roosters, Warriors

The Storm look flat and are on the ropes waiting for the knockout punch to be delivered. Even though the Roosters are depleted, they can get the job done in Melbourne. Roosters by 4.

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It’s tough to tip against a team that’s won 10 on the trot but Newcastle were lucky to get past Canberra at home so if Shaun Johnson plays, it’s good Knight for 2023. Warriors by 10.

Mike Meehall Wood

Storm, Warriors

The Storm will have too much for a patched-together Roosters, who will depart with their heads held high.

The Knights have been in great form, but sorry Danielle, it’s got to be the Warriors at home.

AJ Mithen

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Storm, Warriors

Hello everyone. I’m at a lunch session in a meeting in Canberra so I must be brief but I’m doing this for you, because i know how important it is for you all to receive my guidance. 

Melbourne over the Roosters in a battle of the busteds. The Storm only get my pick because it’s in Melbourne and the Roosters are playing a fifth-choice backline.

Warriors can flush that result at Penrith and I’m on them to beat Newcastle, who got an almighty fright but showed 15 minutes of just irresistible rugby league

Danielle Smith

Storm, Knights

I tipped the Roosters last week, I thought they had a lot of fight in them and would get the job done against the Sharks. But I think the Storm in Melbourne may be a bridge to far for the busted birds.

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Most of us have a soft spot for the Warriors, and have loved everything they have done this year. It’s been a hell of a ride for them, they have played some brilliant footy and will be looking to make amends for their loss against the Panthers. A sold out home crowd, a whole nation behind them and Shaun Johnson steering them around the park helps the odds to be stacked in their favour.

But you all know what I think – as always, I’m tipping my Knights.

Finals Wk 2AJDanielleMaryMikePaulStuartCrowd
MEL V SYDMELMELMELMELSYDMEL ?
NZL V NEWNZLNEWNZLNZLNZLNZL ?
Last week2234233
Total124117134138131137117

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