Well here we are, the start of another finals campaign so join me as I attempt to break down each game from the weekend ahead as well as giving my predictions for all the results.
1st Semi-Final Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea-Eagles
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. George Jennings 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Isaac Lumelume 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Harry Grant 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Nicho Hynes 19. Tom Eisenhuth 21. Marion Seve
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 15. Karl Lawton 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Josh Schuster 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka 20. Curtis Sironen 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Moses Suli
In what is one of the biggest rivalries in the game of the last 10-15 years and for the first time since 2009 it will take place in the finals. Melbourne come into the game after securing the minor premiership with a dominate victory against a hapless shark’s outfit, while Manly come in after a dominant display against the Cowboys. I don’t see this being a really high scoring affair and, in my opinion, it boils down to if Manly become to turbo-centric in attempting to score points as I feel the Storm’s defense will be able to suppress that danger in the Manly attack.
Prediction Melbourne 12 –Manly 8
1st Elimination Final Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Adam Keighran 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Lachlan Lam 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Sam Walker 15. Isaac Liu 16. Egan Butcher 17. Fletcher Baker 18. Dale Copley 19. Ben Thomas 20. Ben Marschke 21. Naufahu Whyte
1. Jayden Campbell 2. Phillip Sami 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 6. Tyrone Peachey 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Erin Clark 15. Sam Lisone 16. David Fifita 17. Jaimin Jolliffe 18. Sam McIntyre 19. Toby Sexton 20. Greg Marzhew 21. Anthony Don
In what a lot of people have said is possibly the most open game of the week in regards to who will win I tend to disagree. Now while yes, the titans have displayed amazing form in the back end of the season to make the finals, I feel like them being here is the brass ring that they have achieved. I understand the Roosters are missing almost a complete other first grade team and have numerous injuries to contend with I feel that their finals experience will see them through. With a rather easy win.
Prediction Roosters 24 – Titans 10
2nd Semi-Final Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Stephen Crichton 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Tevita Pangai Junior 17. Liam Martin 18. Matthew Eisenhuth 19. Izack Tago 20. Charlie Staines 21. Brent Naden
1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Jacob Host 16. Thomas Burgess 17. Jai Arrow 18. Jed Cartwright 19. Braidon Burns 20. Lachlan Ilias 21. Patrick Mago
What a game this is shaping up to be. Now I know that souths fans (and some certain commentators from the main free to air broadcaster) are feeling hard done by because of the suspension currently being served by Mitchell but that is neither here nor there. I don’t think anyone unless you have red or green eyes can see this going being anything other than a win for the Panthers, yes if Mitchell was playing it could have made a slight difference but I still think even blind Frank can see how this will play out.
Prediction Panthers 30 – South Sydney 16
2nd Elimination Final Parramatta vs Newcastle
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Haze Dunster 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Ray Stone 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Nathan Brown 14. Will Smith 15. Bryce Cartwright 16. Isaiah Papali’i 17. Makahesi Makatoa 18. Ryan Matterson 19. Oregon Kaufusi 20. Tom Opacic 21. Jakob Arthur
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Kurt Mann 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Jake Clifford 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Connor Watson 14. Sauaso Sue 15. David Klemmer 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones 18. Phoenix Crossland 19. Jirah Momoisea 20. Simi Sasagi 21. Jack Johns
In what shapes up as a massive end to the first week of finals for the year this could be a massive fizzer. In my opinion if the Eels play like they did when the beat Melbourne then they should wipe the floor with the Knights, however if Kalyn Ponga shows up and plays like he does when the Knights have played the Sharks recently and their defense is solid through the middle then the Knights have a chance. Despite that I think the Knights need too much to go right and I think they can get ready to go again next yar.
Prediction Parramatta 28 – Newcastle 16