NRL Finals Wk 2 – Previews and Tips


Roosters v Cowboys

Fri 19th Sep, 7:55PM, Allianz Stadium

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange: 14. Mitchell Aubusson 15. Frank-Paul Nuuausala 16. Isaac Liu 17. Remi Casty 18. Kane Evans
Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Tautau Moga 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui  7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matt Scott 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. Ashton Sims 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Glenn Hall 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. Ethan Lowe 17. James Tamou


The majority of punters didn’t expect that we’d be watching the Roosters go around in the second week of finals which has come about as a result of a loss to the Panthers by a single point on Friday night.

Some are blaming the Roosters for taking the Panthers too lightly whilst others are directly crediting the Panthers for one of the grittiest performances of the year. Then there are the select few that are resting the blame on Anthony Minichiello’s shoulders which I find personally a bit rough.

They way I viewed it was as a game with two fantastic sides playing two different brands of Rugby League football. The result was a game for the ages and there was always going to be a winner. So I don’t think blame should play too much of a part in the post game analysis.

To pinpoint a potential game changer this week I’m looking to the Roosters forward pack. They got on top against the Panthers last week and Sonny Bill Williams certainly busted a gut with a good array of metres and offloads. His stats were restricted compared to other games, but most players numbers were down due to the intensity of the contest.

The Cowboys forwards can be scratchy as hell sometimes and if I were Roosters’ Coach Trent Robinson I would seriously consider playing Sonny Bill on the left hand side in attack which was where that ‘scratchiness’ was evident and saw the Broncos penetrate the North Queensland defence on several occasions last week.

When it comes to the Cowboys, despite their victory, a bit of blame should be attributed to their failure to play any sort of good footy after racking up a decent lead over the Broncos in the early stages of their elimination final last week.

It’s understandable that a side would want to make life as easy as possible for themselves when they have a big lead under their belt, well aware that they have a big game coming up the following week, but some of the defensive lapses the Cowboys displayed were simply woeful.
I have my suspicions that ‘stepping up’ to take on the Roosters this Friday night won’t be as easy as many Cowboys fans are making it sound and being on the road against a Roosters side fighting for their premiership life, the Nth Qld troops are facing one of, if not the toughest, games of their season.

I’m keen on the Roosters to do a number on the Cowboys and I can’t say I’d be knocked to the floor if the Roosters won by 20+


Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Best Bet: Roosters -6.0 @ $1.90 (Centrebet)



Sea Eagles v Bulldogs

Sat 20th Sep, 7:45PM, Allianz Stadium

Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. Peta Hiku 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Jason King 9. Jayden Hodges 10. Brenton Lawrence 11. Tom Symonds 12. Justin Horo 13. Dunamis Lui
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. Cheyse Blair 16. James Hasson 17. Josh Starling
Bulldogs:  1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Ennis 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood
Interchange: 14. Reni Maitua 15. Dale Finucane 16. David Klemmer 17. Frank Pritchard 19. Moses Mbye 20. Harlan Alaalatoa


A solid stream of money has flowed in for the Bulldogs since Monday, indicating that many are predicting the demise of the Manly Sea Eagles for 2014.

With players in the side looking for contracts elsewhere for 2015, a loss for Manly could also spell the end of an era for the club. The players themselves aren’t looking at it that way and they are keen to build a victory with the grit and perseverance that has won them many a game in the face of adversity.

The rumours that in house fighting (which has been going on for about 18 months now), had reached boiling point, appears to now be the stone cold truth and could finally be eating away at some of the senior Sea Eagles’ players’ resolve.

Such dishevelment has to have an effect on the team and this unit can’t afford any more weaknesses having already suffered the loss of hooker Matt Ballin who is one of the strongest links in the Manly chain.

The Sea Eagles have been synonymous with hard core Rugby League, so it’s fair to say the Bulldogs ‘did a Manly’ last week against the Storm when they hit the ground running form the opening whistle and demolished Melbourne, in Melbourne.

As massive outsiders, the Bulldogs rallied and showed the Storm what finals footy is all about and lifted to a level we haven’t seen them reach in the last two months. The question that remains is; can they pull it off again? The bookies seem to think so.

The Bulldogs’ forwards were particularly brilliant with James Graham and Tony Williams leading the way with a combined total of 295 metres in attack and an array of other match winning assists and plays. Greg Eastwood was also heavily involved and as we’ve seen before, the Bulldogs forwards know not only how to go forward, but play laterally as well which creates all sorts of problems for opposing players trying to contain them.

To summarise, I’m of the opinion Manly will struggle to master the aforementioned containment of the Doggies’ forwards, particularly without Matt Ballin, but with both sides likely to compete until they are blue in the face, it makes assessing a points line somewhat difficult.

I’m happy to back the Bulldogs head to head with $1.65 available and I think we’re looking at another low scoring match on an Allianz surface that will have suffered some degradation following the previous night’s NRL match and two Holden Cup matches.


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bets:

  1. Bulldogs Head to Head @ $1.65 (Pinnacle)
  2. Total match points Under 38.0 @ $1.90 (Luxbet)



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