By Stephen Gallagher
Cronulla Sharks V North Queensland Cowboys – Allianz Stadium – 22.00NZT
Two deserved semi finalists going head to head on Friday night. Both sides at a shot of history.
The luckless Sharks, with an empty trophy cabinet since 1963, and the North Queensland Cowboys – wanting to go back to back for the first time since their Brisbane counterparts did in 1992/1993.
These two have been evenly split this season, as the Cowboys won the opener 20-14, and the Sharks got the lollies later in the year 13-10.
The Sharks with a deserved week off will be ready to go with a full squad. They’ve been the most consistent side across the year and want to bring their forward dominance in a match up that’s very even.
The Cowboys play such a smart football game. Their forwards all have such a thorough and specific job to do, and then their backs are orchestrated by the best player in the game Johnathan Thurston.
This is going to be a tough game, a game worthy of the grand final.
The Sharks raw talent has been a wonderful thing all season, and I think that is what will get them over the line in this first semi-final.
TIP: Sharks 22 Cowboys 18
Melbourne Storm V Canberra Raiders – AAMI Park – 21.50NZT
The Storm are the experienced settlers when it comes to finals football, and up against a Raiders team who have for 26 games this season thrown caution to the wind – it’s going to be a great stand-off.
The Raiders got the better of Melbourne six weeks ago – and will be wanting to go to Melbourne and get the same result.
Melbourne are seemingly hard to penetrate. Kings of the ruck wrestle, and a team with no weak links – there’s going to be a strong showing by Bellamy’s boys to get them in the grand final again.
Hats off to Ricky Stuart. He’s getting 100% out of this squad every week. They’ve been a joy to watch all season. Whether carving teams up the middle, or scoring freakish four pointers from all over the park – this Canberra side rivals their glory days.
The Storm need to stick to their guns, and their guns involve big defence and smart football.
The Raiders can’t get sucked in to this style of play if they want to win. What makes them so good is that they’re a team that outdoes its own potential every week.
Hard, hard, hard Sportsbooks. To be cliche – it can go either way.
TIP: Raiders 18 Storm 16
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