By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: FINALS WEEK 3 – Sydney Roosters V Newcastle Knights – Saturday, Allianz Stadium. 19.45 local time, 21.45NZT.
LAST WEEK: A week off last week for Sydney after winning a tight one in Finals Week 1.
Newcastle upset the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne in a weird, tough match 18-16.
THIS WEEK: The Minor Premiers, it’s your time to prove why that title was yours. The best team through 26 rounds and this is their chance to go one better and attempt to win a Grand Final. However, the mind has to be on the task at hand, as Newcastle will be no easy beats. A war in on their hands.
You could say the Knights upset the Storm last week, but if you look at just how good Wayne Bennett coached sides go in the post season, you’d realise that it was on the cards. Now the side who came in to the finals in seventh place, are one win away from the Grand Final. Everyone loves a good underdog, so you know there will be support for them.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Sydney have a rampant outfit that all run like props, but have the skills of a halfback. No matter who has the ball, no matter where on the field – they have the firepower to strike at any time and turn the game on its head. A real spectacle this season this team. It’s the professionalism that has been a real turn around.
Newcastle will throw a spanner in the works. How did they get past the Bulldogs? How did they beat Melbourne? Well, they did and now it’s their chance to beat the top team. Wiley ol’ Wayne will have something planned, no doubt. His troops will give that extra pass, do anything out of the ordinary to show how willing they are.
THE BATTLE OF: Big Boys. Sonny Bill Williams has been dynamite. One of the greatest players to ever play rugby league, and now has a massive challenge ahead of him to help his side get over the line in to the Grand Final. His range of skills are legendary. Cometh the man. Cometh the hour.
Robbie Rochow has been exceptional for Newcastle this season. I think he has been the player of the season for the Knights. His determination is seen in every single run, and puts his body on the line ten out of ten times.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Keep an eye on him, if you can. Lightning pace and a ground shaking step. A player with real raw skills. Every time he gets ball in hand, anything can happen.
Tyrone Roberts. A guy who just seems to fly under the radar. He kicks with extreme accuracy and has a great halfback skillset. One of the guys who doesn’t really seem to take much praise, but deserves it.
The Roosters, the best team all year up against a team who could throw up anything on the day. I think the Roosters however will be too good, with a 30-14 win.
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