THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL FINALS WEEK 2 PREVIEW
Manly Sea Eagles v North Queensland Cowboys
Allianz Stadium, 7:45pm (local).
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Dean Whare, Jamie Lyon, Michael Oldfield, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, Vic Mauro, George Rose
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): James Segeyaro, Jason Taumalolo, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Anthony Mitchell, Joel Riethmuller
WHAT A DIFFERENCE ONE WEEK MAKES in the NRL as the Sea Eagles will attest to after coming into the first week of finals on the back of 6 straight wins and having fought their way into premiership favouritism. They now line up against the Cowboys with both teams at $1.91 with their 2012 lives on the line.
The Sea Eagles went down narrowly to the Bulldogs last week but the big talking points were their centres Jamie Lyon and Steve Matai.
Lyon suffered a calf injury and will be given right up until kick off to prove his fitness for the game. The co-captain is arguably the side’s best player and Manly struggled without him for most of last week’s match after he was forced to leave the field early and his absence may, or may not have been the difference between winning and losing.
Matai was pulled up for a high tackle and thanks to his fairly extensive record at the judiciary, received a one week suspension and will sit this one out on the sidelines as nothing more than a spectator.
The Cowboys were expected to beat the 8th placed Broncos last week and did so fairly comfortably although it was not what I would describe as ‘clinical’. They did however show off a very up-tempo game plan which left the Broncos floundering and the Sea Eagles will need every ounce of their renowned class if they are to take the fight to the Nth Qld side tonight.
Unfortunately the Cowboys’ club veteran Aaron Payne will not take the field after succumbing to injury which has forced him into a premature retirement.
The Cowboys have been hot in attack in the last month and have been able to run in plenty of tries in each of their last 4 games. Manly, unlike last week, will need to knuckle down, stay focused and play the full 80 minutes if they are to stop the Cowboys continuing their run of high scoring efforts.
This should be a close scoring game as reflected by the $1.91 odds given to both teams and I’m leaning towards the Sea Eagles who have that extra touch of class coupled with a superior record against the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium.
Last 8 Head to Head:
Sea Eagles, Sea Eagles, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Sea Eagles.
Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 49%, Cowboys 49%, Draw 2%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Manly Head to Head @ $2.00 (Centrebet)
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders
ANZ Stadium, 7:45pm (local).
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Andrew Everingham, Dylan Farrell, Justin Hunt, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Nathan Peats, Roy Asotasi, Eddy Pettybourne, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Luke Burgess, Chris McQueen, Issac Luke, Ben Lowe, Dave Tyrrell, Shaune Corrigan
RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl, Joel Thompson, Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, Josh Mccrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joe Picker, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Shaun Berrigan, Jack Wighton, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jarrad Kennedy, Travis Waddell, Dimitri Pelo
IT’S UNLIKEY SOUTH SYDNEY WILL PLAY as bad as they did last week when they turned out to greet the Melbourne Storm like a pack of frustrated adolescents. Poor attacking options, unforced errors and a complete lack of discipline in defence was the order of the day for the Rabbitohs and this lead to them being easily thumped by the Storm.
Dave Taylor in particular showed why some people still have doubts over his consistency after some poor decisions on his behalf left the Bunnies wanting in certain areas without his positive input. There is no doubting that when Taylor is firing on all cylinders he is a hard man to stop so hopefully for Souths’ fans he has been working on his attention to detail throughout the week.
The Raiders kept their dream run alive after playing a relentless 80 minutes against the Sharks last week where they arm wrestled for 60 odd minutes before shifting up to a gear that was too fast for the Sharks.
One of the crucial factors in this game, particularly if it turns out to be a tight contest, will be the Raiders’ loss of centre Jarrod Croker to a fractured cheekbone. Croker is the regular goal kicker and the 2012 competition’s leading point scorer and after he went off during last week’s game the kicking duties were left to Josh Dugan. Dugan ended up having 3 attempts at goal and it’s fair to say he was horrible at it. The Rabbitohs goal kicker on the other hand, Adam Reynolds, has the highest kicking percentage of any regular kicker this year and has also kicked the most goals. This factor alone could be worth up to 6 points head start for the Rabbitohs which will be absolutely vital.
This and the fact that it’s a home game for the Rabbitohs has me tipping that we will see the Bulldogs take on the Rabbitohs in week 3 of the finals.
Last 8 Head to Head:
Rabbitohs, Rabbitohs, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Raiders, Raiders, Raiders, Rabbitohs.
Chance of winning: Rabbitohs 60%, Raiders 39%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.42 (Centrebet)