NRL Finals Week 3 – Prelim Finals Previews and Tips


Rabbitohs v Roosters

Fri 26 Sep, 7:55PM, ANZ 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. Dylan Napa 18. Remi Casty
Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a  5. Lote Tuqiri 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. John Sutton 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Ben Te’o 16. Chris McQueen 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Ben Lowe 19. Luke Burgess 20. Bryson Goodwin


The NRL finals series heads to ANZ Stadium for the game between two teams that many were expecting to see in the Grand Final.

Now meeting in the 1st preliminary final, the matchup between the Rabbitohs and the Roosters still has many a pundit drooling over the imminent clash.

A crowd of 50,000 plus is almost certain to grace the stands given that these two sides have engaged in arguably the longest running rivalry in the history of Australian Rugby League.

The Roosters have carved their path to week 3 of the finals in the hardest possible fashion after losing by a point in week 1 to the Panthers, then winning week two after staving off the Cowboys by a point.

The Rabbitohs have achieved week 3 status in a contrary manner having cruised to victory over the Sea Eagles in week 1 and earning themselves a week off to freshen up for this Friday night.

It’s hard to believe that this is the first time these two rivals have met in a finals match since 1938, and it’s also hard for some supporters to stomach that this is the last time we will see either Sam Burgess or Sonny Bill Williams who have both opted to switch codes and play Rugby Union in 2015.

The 2014 record between the Rabbitohs and Roosters is square at one-all after the Rabbitohs ended up as the victors in round one whilst the Roosters exacted revenge in round 26 and picked up the minor premiership along with the 2 competition points.

Despite the Rabbitohs’ effortless path into week 3 of the finals, the big wigs at the TAB have barely separated the two sides in betting. The Rabbitohs are currently $1.80 favourites over the Roosters who sit on $2.00.

Looking at the Betfair market early (22/9/14) and a lot of the money sitting in the exchange is asking to either back Souths or lay the Roosters, so it’s clear at this stage that the majority of punters believe the Roosters will struggle to make a second consecutive Grand Final, and I for one agree.

I myself am going with the Rabbitohs and am attracted to the head to head odds enough to post them as a best bet. The extra week off may not prove to be a major benefit in normal week to week play, but here the Rabbitohs have a massive pack of forwards who will be fresh as daisies against a Roosters outfit that has endured two, one point victories in particularly trying games.

If you’re with me, get on the Rabbitohs early as their odds are dropping by the day.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.77 (Palmerbet)



Panthers v Bulldogs

Sat 27 Sep, 7:55PM, ANZ Stadium

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Will Smith 7. Jamie Soward 8. Sam McKendry 9. James Segeyaro 10. Brent Kite 11. Sika Manu 12. Matt Robinson 13. Nigel Plum
Interchange: 14. Adam Docker 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Lewis Brown 18. Kevin Naiqama 19. Sam Anderson
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


Only small percentage of NRL followers would have predicted that we would be sitting down to watch the Panthers take on the Bulldogs in a preliminary final.

The Panthers have largely been written off at every corner whereas the Bulldogs looked to have written themselves off having entered the finals with a 2 from 8 record which had pundits declaring a week 1 exit for the Canterbury side.

So how have these sides managed to defy public opinion?

The Panthers have done so with true grit and absolute determination in the face of adversity which came in the form of crucial injuries to key players.

Where they have lacked first choice players they have become adept at filling those voids with fearless, in-your-face defence that left some opposing teams a bit stunned and unable to claw back deficits.

Add halfback/five eighth Jamie Soward to the mix and the result is a grinding powerhouse which many have underestimated.

When talking of how their entire side’s determination has put them at the forefront of the competition, such a description is encapsulated by one single man in the Bulldogs side, prop James Graham.

Graham outputs the hit up and tackle stats of a prop yet defies the traditional, and modern stereotype of a front row forward with his silky smooth ball playing abilities.

The Englishman, who came to the NRL in 2012 after 220 games with St. Helens in the English Superleague, has invented his own front rower style. I’d like to say he leads the way but that would imply that others are following and I personally think he is one of a kind right now.

The Canterbury halfback Trent Hodkinson has been pivotal at the right moments, and love him or loathe him, hooker Michael Ennis has also been coming through with the right decisions at the right time, barring of course the moment where he cost his side a try last week against the Sea Eagles.

The bookies have the Bulldogs as favourites but their price ranges from $1.73 to $1.83 depending on where you opt to bet and the outsiders the Panthers are holding tight around the $2.15 mark.

Personally I have rated both sides as $2.00 chances and could almost be lured into backing the Panthers at the earlier mentioned $2.15, simply because it’s overs, but all in all I’d rather stay out of this one and just observe the way both sides approach their biggest game of the year.

A spot in the Grand Final is up for grabs and unless the winner of the Rabbitohs v Roosters match suffers an inordinate amount injuries, the winner of this game will start the big one as outsiders.

So with that in mind, pay close attention to these two sides so you can make direct comparisons to the first preliminary final and take a step towards finding value in the Grand Final, assuming it’s there to be found.


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet:

Mike’s Casual Bet: Total match points under 37.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



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