By Stephen Gallagher
FRIDAY: Sydney Roosters (2) V Brisbane Broncos (3) – Allianz Stadium – 21.55NZT
The Roosters are going to have to bring everything to the table for this one. They’ve done enough to cement second spot, but the Broncos are always lurking to catch teams unawares.
Two mobile packs, and two really young confident halves going up against each other. Brisbane pose the biggest threat from broken play, but I would back the Roosters to hold their line the longest.
Everything about this says finals footy. A cracker of a match to open things up.
FIRST SCORING PLAY: Brisbane penalty goal
TIP: Broncos 1-12
SATURDAY: Melbourne Storm (1) V Parramatta Eels (4) – AAMI Park – 18.10NZT
If I am coach Craig Bellamy, I am very wary of the Eels and how they could upset the Storm.
Parramatta have an uncanny ability to bring a massive bag of tricks to the party and play.
The Storm won’t go away from their solid game plan which has seen them finish the season so well.
Parramatta have to play the game of their lives, and this is a game I can see them winning, but it is Melbourne’s match to lose.
FIRST SCORING PLAY: Melbourne try. Suliasi Vunivalu or Will Chambers
TIP: Storm 1-12
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (6) V Penrith Panthers (7) – Allianz Stadium – 21.40NZT
Both sides would have learnt a lot from their match last week against each other.
Manly are the stronger of the two sides to me, but there’s more of an unpredictability surrounding the Panthers.
Penrith have dug themselves out of a hole many a time this season, and I back them to do their best again in this match.
The Sea Eagles are going to try rush Penrith off their feet early again, and if they do – they will win.
FIRST SCORING PLAY: Manly try. Curtis Sironen or Api Koroisau.
TIP: Sea Eagles 1-12
SUNDAY: Cronulla Sharks (5) V North Queensland Cowboys (8) – Allianz Stadium – 18.10NZT
These two teams always seem to meet each other in NRL Finals football.
Cronulla’s defence of their premiership is a tough assignment, especially with the Cowboys knowing just how lucky they were to make the top eight.
The Sharks will keep to their basic style of football which sees Townsend and Maloney kicking long, and kicking often.
The Cowboys just have to worry about their own ways. A few injuries hasn’t stopped them becoming a tight unit.
They’re going to ask plenty of questions of the Sharks defence.
FIRST SCORING PLAY: Cowboys try. Te Maire Martin or Ethan Lowe.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
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