NRL Finals Week 2 Preview and Tips





Sea Eagles v Sharks

Friday, 20/09, 7:45PM, Allianz Stadium
Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Richie Fa’aoso, Jamie Buhrer, Tom Symonds, George Rose, Peta Hiku, James Hasson, David Gower
Sharks: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Ben Pomeroy, Jonathan Wright, Beau Ryan, Luke Lewis, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Sam Tagataese, Jayson Bukuya, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Isaac De Gois, Chris Heighington, Anthony Tupou, Bryce Gibbs, Ben Ross

The Sea Eagles were involved in such an intense battle on Saturday night that the team masseuse must be working overtime on all of the players’ bruises and contusions. Coach Geoff Toovey is hardly taking a chance and has named a 7 man bench in case one or more of his men are unable to back up.

The Sharks suffered plenty of injury woes of their own from their match in the first week of finals and whilst gun forward Andrew Fifita is under an injury cloud for the time being, key playmaker Todd Carney has not been named at all thanks to a hamstring injury. Luke Lewis has been named to take over the 5/8th role but I won’t be surprised to see Wade Graham initiating plenty of running offense two out from the ruck on the left hand side of the field.

With the Sharks fielding a generally unfamiliar halves combination, the forwards really need to do their part to lay that proverbial platform for the 6 and 7. Plus with the Sea Eagles believed to be nursing plenty of soft tissue complaints, the Sharks forwards would do well to try and bash them out of the game.

The Sea Eagles play a fairly similar style to the Sharks but there is no doubt that they do it much better. I’m positive they will win this match and progress to a qualifying final against the Rabbitohs next week.

However they cannot afford to look for any easy spells just because they had a tough game last week.

Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Suggested Bet: All up the Sea Eagles Head to Head into the Storm Head to Head @ $1.78 (Odds approximate as of 18/09/2013)

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Storm v Knights

Saturday, 21/09, 7:45PM, AAMI Park
Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Maurice Blair, Justin O’Neill, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, Kenneath Bromwich, Brett Finch
Knights: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Joey Leilua, Dane Gagai, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, David Fa’alogo, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Robbie Rochow, Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Matt Hilder, Chris Houston, Neville Costigan, Alex McKinnon

Let’s start by having a look at the Storm V Rabbitohs match that was played out last Friday night. There’s no doubting that the best team won the affair but when you look at the basic battle for field position then I don’t believe the Storm played as badly as a lot of people are saying. Melbourne conceded a couple of tries through dropped balls and an overall slow opening 15 minutes to the game saw them fall behind the Rabbitohs early. That’s their own fault and you aren’t going to win against the top teams with errors and poor starts to games. But take those out and the Storm were practically on par with the Bunnies, and we won’t mention the two contentious video refereeing decisions.

My overall assessment of the Storm was that their game would have been another typical performance played out at a high standard had it not been for errors.

I’m convinced they will produce a similar performance, minus the errors, this Saturday night in front of their home crowd.

The Storm are a remarkably difficult force to be reckoned with when playing in Melbourne, and even when they have been playing against the Knights at Hunter Stadium, they haven’t lost to the Novocastrians since Round 23, 2009. The Knights have never beaten the Storm in Melbourne.

It’s obvious now that I’ll be suggesting the Storm to walk away the victors, but if you are keen to wager some of your hard earned on the Knights then you’ll be looking for some positives, and there are definitely a few. For starters, if you look at both matches this year between the two teams, the Knights were very competitive in both having led both of them at half time. They only lost the encounter at AAMI Park by 2 points.

It’s easy for me to make the following statement based on those previous two contests but I don’t see why the Knights can’t at least give the Storm a mammoth shake up during the first half. Even Storm Captain Cameron Smith told the media on Wednesday that he was a bit fed up with how poorly his troops were in the opening stanzas of matches due to a lack of focus and commitment.

Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Suggested Bet:

1. All up the Sea Eagles Head to Head into the Storm Head to Head @ $1.78 (Odds approximate as of 18/09/2013)

2. For the exotics fans it may well pay to have a Halfime/FullTime bet on Knights/Storm @ $7.50 (Sportingbet)

3. If you’re really keen on exotics, take a punt at the Storm to win by 1,7 and 13 points @ $26, $26 and $51 respectively. (Centrebet)

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