By Stephen Gallagher
This finals series kicks off with a bang. The Storm and Rabbitohs played out a very tense match only a month ago, where Souths prevailed.
The Storm have to slow the game down in order to win. Their wrestle is their go to.
Souths get their best go forward in a fast game plan based around hooker Damien Cook. He tore the Storm apart last time.
The Storm at home will be really tough to beat, but both sides are stacked with talent.
TIP: Storm by 8.
SATURDAY Panthers (5) V Warriors (8) – ANZ Stadium – 19.30NZT
Despite Penrith’s success in over the last few years, they’ve not made a grand final. The Warriors haven’t seen any finals football in what feels like forever.
The Panthers side looks very dangerous on paper, and the Warriors boast some very experienced finals campaigners which could see them home.
I don’t think either side will know which team will show up, but I do expect plenty of fireworks.
The Panthers are slow starters, and will have to be better against the Warriors than their last outing.
TIP: Warriors by 4
Roosters (1) V Sharks (4) – Allianz Stadium – 21.40NZT
No one is a sure bet victory in this finals series. Not even the first placed Roosters.
The Sharks have toiled away and managed a great campaign through the regular season.
When Cronulla get in to a tough game, they more often than not grind out a victory.
The Roosters have had slight hiccups in close matches, something they’ll be working on this week for sure.
What I love about the NRL is that it’s just too tight to call. I can see both sides winning.
TIP: Roosters by 6
SUNDAY Broncos (6) V Dragons (7) – Suncorp Stadium – 18.10NZT
The Broncos are probably the form team going in to the finals, but they are not susceptible to a defeat.
They did the hard yards earning a home final, and play a side who has not beaten them at Suncorp Stadium since 2009.
All odds point to the Broncos, but the Dragons get their main man Gareth Widdop back. A huge inclusion.
The forward battle is scintillating here. The young bucks of Brisbane will love the challenge of the experienced Dragons.
This could be the game of the first week of the finals. Lots of pressure on both sides.
TIP: Dragons by 10.
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