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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Finals Week 2

Hey Roarers!

Well, if that first week of the finals didn’t knock your socks off then nothing will!

Let’s recap –

The Cleary-led Panthers were far too strong for the Eels on Friday night, with a 27-8 win in front of a packed BlueBet Stadium. The Prince of Penrith didn’t put a foot wrong in his return from a five-week suspension, silencing any chatter that he would be rusty after his stint on the sideline.  

While it was quite the arm wrestle in the first half, the Eels seemed to lose their way after Mitch Moses left the field midway through the second when his head met Viliame Kikiau’s knee during a tackle. The Panthers now get to put their feet up while Parramatta gets set for next week’s sudden death match.

And put your hand up if you had a bit of a chuckle when Taylan May was sin-binned and eventually suspended after all the drama surrounding his delayed suspension for next season and being allowed to play in this final series? (Danielle raises her hand).

On Saturday we traveled down to AAMI Park to watch the first elimination final game of the weekend between the Storm and the Raiders. Canberra has a great record down in Melbourne, but many thought that finals would be different as the Green Machine were apparently just making up numbers.

Well, didn’t they prove the masses wrong?! In an absolutely brilliant game, a Joseph Tapine led Raiders were just too strong for the Storm, knocking them out of the finals with a 28-20 win. Not only did Bellamy and the boys make a shock exit, but they also had to say goodbye to departing players Brandon Smith, Felise Kaufusi, as well as Jesse and Kenny Bromwich.

Once we caught our breath, we all squeezed into a chocker-block PoinstBet Stadium for the clash between the Sharks and the Cowboys.

These sides were neck and neck the entire match, deadlocked at halftime and again at the fulltime thanks to Jason Taumalolo taking himself off the nudie run list with a barnstorming try right on the siren.

80 minutes? Nope, not enough. Extra time? Sorry, we wanted more. An epic 93-minute battle for the ages finally ended with a 45m Valentine Holmes field goal to give the Cowboys a 32-30 victory and a week off.

Valentine Holmes. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Then on Sunday, after we thought we had seen it all, the Roosters and the Bunnies told us to hold their beers.

Seven sin bins, both 18th men activated, and what felt like 1087 minutes of edge of your seat, can’t believe your eyes footy. And by the time Ashley Klein had replaced his whistle a few times, Souths had somehow managed a 30-14 win over their archrivals, sending the tricolours packing for season 2022 and earning the Bunnies bragging rights for years to come.

Mike and you legends in the Crowd tipped 3/4, AJ, Paul and myself tipped 2/4 with Mary tipping 1/4. AJ remains in the lead on 144 with Paul still hot on his tail with 143. The Crowd are now in outright third on 140 with Mary in fourth on 138. Mike is in fifth on 128 – and you know where I am on 114.

And then, there were six. Let’s check out what we have in store for the second week of finals.

While Penrith gets to have fun at Cables Water Park or do some indoor sky diving at Panthers, and the Cowboys will hang out by the beach or take a relaxing ferry trip to Magnetic Island, there will be four teams bashing the bejeezus out of each other to try and keep their season alive.

On Friday night Parramatta and Canberra face off at CommBank Stadium at 7.50pm. It’s been a long time since either side were the last one standing, with the Raiders’ last premiership victory in 1994, and the Eels even further back in 1986. Now they are two games away from having another chance and they won’t give up that privilege easily.

Mitch Moses is confident he will play, and the Eels will have everything crossed that he does as his presence on the field is instrumental for their chances. The Raiders will be without Adam Elliott who suffered a hip injury last week, with Corey Harawira-Naera coming into the starting side.

The battle of the big guys is going to be phenomenal, with the likes of Joseph Tapine, Josh Papalii, and Hudson Young taking on Isaiah Papali’i, Junior Paulo, and Reagan Campbell-Gillard. I can hear the ‘KABOOMS’ already!

Nicho Hynes (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Then on Saturday, it’s the Sharks and the Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium at 8:00pm. Both these sides were in epic games last week, and I have a feeling we may be in for the same (minus 87 people getting sent to the naughty corner).

This game shapes up to be a high-scoring bonanza, with both sides having an X-factor player who will hope gets them over the line. Nicho Hynes has to be one of the best buys of the year, and his role at number seven for Cronulla has been close to perfect. Latrell Mitchell is, well, Latrell Mitchell, and the change in Souths since he returned from injury has been undeniable.

The Sharks are fielding the same 17 that lost to the Cowboys, while Michael Chee Kam comes onto the Bunnies’ bench for the suspended Tom Burgess.

Can the Sharks bounce back from their 93-minute heartbreak, or are Souths on an unstoppable mission to go one better than last year?

Ok, onto the tipsters. I’m going to let Mary lead us off.

If you would like to see how you go up against the Experts this round, just remember to get your tips in below by 5:00pm tonight to be counted in The Crowd’s tips.

Good luck with your tipping everyone!

Mary Konstantopoulos

Eels and Rabbitohs 

The Eels have not lost back-to-back games this year and they aren’t starting now. The Eels were beaten by a better team in Penrith last week, but this week back in front of their home crowd I expect to see Parramatta play the type of footy that suits them with big runs up the middle and plenty of offloads. The Raiders have been impressive but may have played their Grand Final last week.

The Bunnies will be high on confidence after beating their archrivals last week. Given the ferocity of the match last week, my concern is that that will impact Cronulla and as a result we’ll see the Bunnies win on Saturday.

Paul Suttor

Eels and Sharks

Parramatta will match Canberra’s hustle and bustle through the middle and then have too much class out wide.

Cronulla and South Sydney is a flip of the coin job but the Sharks seem calmer in pressure situations so they should squeak home by a point or two.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Junior Paulo of the Eels in action during the round 12 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium, on May 29, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

Raiders and Rabbitohs

An almost unassailable lead after just one week of finals tipping! That’s how true courage gets rewarded. Now to streak away while the rest of you flounder like a player acting for a penalty.

After a straightforward victory over Melbourne your presumptive champions, the people’s team, the Canberra Raiders will wander up to Commbank Stadium and lay a casual 56 on Parramatta, who had their defence and spirit broken last week by Penrith. It won’t matter if Mitch loses plays or not, the green machine will lay waste to their hosts and we shall see straight sets exit number one.

We will then see straight sets exit number two when South Sydney knock over Cronulla. The Bunnies are better organised and in better form, although the Sharks did show some good stuff at their construction site last week in going down to the Cowboys. I think the Bunnies have the edge in attack but after last week’s relative points orgies both clubs played in, this one will be a lot grindy-er and that’s where the Sharks might be able to make it work.

Mike Meehall Wood

Eels and Rabbitohs

Raiders v Parra is close as anything, and it’s doubly hard to call as Canberra is the team that I have seen least in person this year. Both sides love the middle battle so that will decide it, and I lean towards the Eels there.

My hunch is that Parra will have too much at home, so I’m going for them – without much confidence, it has to be said.

Sharks v Bunnies will be a lot more expansive, with both sides more comfortable attacking than defending. For all that Craig Fitzgibbon lauded his side in defeat to the Cowboys last week, I can’t back a team that conceded 30 points – especially when facing one of the best attacks around.

Souths will take this one in a high-scoring thriller.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Keaon Koloamatangi of the Rabbitohs rusn the ball during the round three NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters at Accor Stadium, on March 25, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Danielle Smith

Raiders and Sharks

With the pressure and expectations firmly on the shoulders of those in Blue and Gold, it’s the Green Machine for me!

Ahhh, my back and forth. This one is so tough to pick. Both teams are coming off the back of two epic games. But I’m going Sharks in another golden point thriller.

Finals Week 2 AJ Danielle Mary Mike Paul Crowd
Last Round 2 2 1 3 2 3
Total 144 114 138 128 143 140

James Graham’s tips  courtesy of the Bye Round Preview Podcast

Parramatta Eels $1.50 v Canberra Raiders $2.60

Friday 7.50pm, CommBank Stadium

“I fancy Parramatta to get back to their winning ways. They were so impressive against Melbourne at home. They dipped a bit towards the end, but I fancy Parramatta in this one.”

Cronulla Sharks $2.00 v South Sydney Rabbitohs $1.82

Saturday 8.00pm, Allianz Stadium

“t is on a knife’s edge. I’ve got the Sharks to win this one. I just think the Sharks have been so good all year and the Rabbitohs, it was a brutal encounter with a lot of emotion. And sometimes you look at the physical impact, but also that emotional impact as well. It zaps your emotional energy.”

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