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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions Finals Week 3: Last roll of the dice before the decider

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Editor
20th September, 2023
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Hey Roarers!

Another two teams have been shown the door while the rest have one last chance for survival.

We always knew Friday night’s blockbuster between the Storm and the Roosters was going to go down to the wire. We were treated to a 79-minute arm wrestle where neither side gave an inch, with the result coming down to a single play.

With one minute left on the clock, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of last week for the Chooks, who found themselves in front by one point thanks to a Sam Walker field goal. But Cam Munster had other plans, and when a pinpoint accurate crosskick was fielded by a flying Will Warbrick who then muscled his way over the try line, we were once again reminded to never write off a Craig Bellamy-coached side.

The Storm took out an 18-13 win and booked their ticket against the Panthers in the prelims, while the Roosters made their way to the fancy dress shop to pick out Mad Monday clothing.

And then on Saturday, I was reminded that all good things must come to an end. But hey, if my Knights’ winning streak and finals hopes were to be stopped by anyone, I’m glad it was the Wahs.

Shaun Johnson returned to the pack as if he had never been injured, while Tohu Harris played out of his skin. The big boys were just too strong, the backline just too fast, and the entire team just too bloody good. The screaming fans that packed out Go Media Stadium turned up for no other result than a dominant Wahs win – and that’s exactly what they got with an impressive 40-10 victory.

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The Warriors are now one win away from a Grand Final appearance, securing their spot against the Broncos. The Knights can hold their heads high, knowing they turned the year around and made their fans proud – and will make sure they all go to Bali mid-season every year from now on.

AJ, Mary, Mike, Stuart and you legends in The Crowd tipped 2/2, Paul and I only got one right each. Mike is still just out in front on 140, with Stuart right behind on 139. Mary still holds onto third spot on 136, with Paul in fourth on 132. AJ is in fifth on 126, The Crowd are sixth on 119, and you know who is all by herself again on 118.

Ok, onto Week 2 of the finals!

We make our way to Accor Stadium tomorrow night for the first of the premils between the Panthers and the Storm at 7:50pm, where the 2020 grand finalists will be battling it out to take their place once more in the final match of the season.

You can’t have a final without a bit of drama around a star player, with the Premiers reporting Nathan Cleary had scans on an injured finger earlier in the week. He has been given the all-clear, and the team will also be boosted by the return of Jarome Luai and Izack Tago. The Storm will be happy to have Jahrome Hughes back in the halves after a calf injury saw him miss his side’s thriller against the Roosters but Xavier Coates still hasn’t recovered from a dodgy ankle, so Remis Smith remains on the wing.

The Panthers are rested and ready to rumble. The Storm may be out on their feet but they are still swinging. When two of the powerhouses of the NRL meet, anything can happen. Cleary v Hughes. Luai v Munster. JFH v Welch. Everyone and anyone v Big Nelson. Oh, this is going to be good.

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Then on Saturday night we head up to a sold-out Suncorp Stadium for the Broncos and the Warriors at 7:50pm. Both these sides weren’t even in the Top 8 last year, but after a stellar 2023 that saw them both finish in the Top 4, they now stand in each other’s way of a long-awaited grand final appearance.

The Broncos are rolling with the same side that got the job done against the Storm in Week 1 of the finals, while the Warriors are sticking with the same 17 that smashed the Knights.

Like the Panthers, the Broncos will have benefited from a week off and ready to get the show on the road. The Warriors will still be on a high from last week, but know the job is far from done. Walsh v CNK. AFB v Haas. Carrigan v Harris. Reynolds v Johnson – here comes the boom!

Finishing first and second as well as being the best two sides of the competition this season, many predicted a Panthers v Broncos Grand Final. But can the Storm and the Warriors cause an upset?

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

Panthers, Broncos

Can the Storm stun the Panthers on Friday night? Highly unlikely based on recent form and with Nathan Cleary all good to go after a finger scare and Jarome Luai back on deck, it does look like yet another grand final for the mountain men. Should Craig Bellamy topple the apple cart, I’d suggest it could well be his greatest-ever coaching performance.

The Warriors used to be rubbish on the road, throughout much of their history in fact. However, they are far better travelling these days and the cauldron of Suncorp Stadium will test every bit of them on Saturday night. Adam Reynolds is the difference in a brutal forward encounter. His guile and poise decide the big ones and the Broncos will be back in their first big dance for some time.

Mary Konstantopoulos

Panthers, Broncos

It has been a big effort for the Melbourne Storm to reach this point, even without some of their key players like Cameron Munster and Harry Grant having their best seasons. But Penrith have been the best team by far this year and after a week off last week, I’m confident they will get the win. 

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Likewise for Brisbane whose attack has been electric this year. It’s been magic to watch the way the Warriors and Shaun Johnson have played this year, but given the magnetite of their last game, my view is that the Wahs played their Grand Final last weekend.

Paul Suttor

Panthers, Broncos

Melbourne were lucky to get past the Roosters last week and with Jahrome Hughes not 100%, their chances are slim against the rested premiers. Panthers by 16.

The Warriors are on a roll, they will take the fight to Brisbane and ride on emotion deep into the match but the home side will have too much class. Broncos by 4.

Mike Meehall Wood

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Panthers, Broncos

The bookies have the Panthers as big favourites and they’re right to. If they start well, this could be a big score as well.

The Wahs are the heart, but the head rules and it tells me that the Broncos are a lock. Bronx to win

AJ Mithen

Panthers, Broncos

Folks I love a good upset as much as the next person but let’s be realistic. This weekend is going to feature blowouts and bludgers of the highest order. I won’t insult you all by trying to sell you on the chances of New Zealand and Melbourne because they’re both already dead. 

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All we can do is pray for a sporting miracle, a rugby league miracle that maybe one of these games turns into a blinder.

Danielle Smith

Panthers, Warriors

The Storm will give everything they have, but I don’t think what they have left in the tank will be enough to beat the Panthers.

I can’t help it, I’m on the bandwagon. Up the Wahs!

Finals Wk 3AJDanielleMaryMikePaulStuartCrowd
PEN V MELPENPENPENPENPENPEN?
BRI V NZLBRINZLBRIBRIBRIBRI ?
Last week21221 21
Total126118136140132 139119
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