Almanac Rugby League: 2018 NRL Finals Week 2 and NRLW Round 2

The first week of the 2018 NRL Finals and Round 1 of the NRLW were a tipster’s nightmare. Anyone getting four or better out of six did well. Somehow, I think this weekend might be a tad more clear but, hey, it’s Finals and anything can happen. Here’s how I see it:

 

Let’s start with the NRLW games. The Sydney Roosters host the Brisbane Broncos tonight. This is probably the toughest one to pick for the weekend. The Roosters were surprise losers last week while the Broncos put in a good effort against the Dragons. I expect that the winner of this game will meet the NZ Warriors in the Grand Final on September 30. The Roosters will want to make up for last week’s disappointment while the Broncos will realise that this game is their ticket to the GF even before they face the Warriors. I’ll let my heart rule my head and go for the Broncos by a very slim margin.

 

On Saturday evening, the young St George Illawarra Dragons take on the NZ Warriors. It’s hard to see a winner other than the girls from across the Ditch. I didn’t see the Warriors last weekend but reports suggest that they are tough and mean. The Dragons’ best bet will be to try to play a very fast game to run the Warriors off their feet. I’d like to see these youngsters prosper and I wish them well but I’m going for the Warriors, comfortably.

 

The Cronulla Sharks meet the Penrith Panthers tonight in what should be a terrific clash between ‘the grinders’ and ‘the mercurial’ respectively. No Wade Graham hurts the Sharks while Penrith’s biggest challenge is to roll up in the right head space. Fifita controlled himself last week and played better for it – he’ll need to do so again. The Panthers can let the situation get to them and give away too many penalties – they need to remember that they almost gave away their final round game to Melbourne through ill discipline before deciding to play footy and eventually winning well. Expect to see Maloney and Moylan targeted in defence for their respective sides. I think the Sharks have a bit more finals toughness about them so I’ll go with the bookies and pick Cronulla by less than 10 points. (As a rider, I’ll add that I would not consider a Panthers win to be much of an upset at all.)

 

The South Sydney Rabbitohs complete the weekend’s matches when they take on the St George Illawarra Dragons tomorrow night. It’s hard to go past the Bunnies. Their forwards can’t possibly play as poorly again as they did last weekend. Sam Burgess, in particular, has a point to make and along with his pack mates will dish it out hard and often before turning their swarming backs loose. The Dragons lose a lot without Widdop, and Ben Hunt is yet again on a flogging to nothing if he can’t get the Saints home. I think the best chance for the boys from Kogorah is to use their mobility in the forwards through Frizell, Sims and De Belin to vary their attack regularly through the middle and around the edges. Sims also needs to keep a lid on his emotions because you can be sure that Tom, George and Sam will test his temperament. I’m going for Souths comfortably when the Dragons run out of puff after last week’s out-of-the-box effort.

 

In the QCup, Burleigh Bears host Easts Tigers in the Preliminary Final tomorrow afternoon with the winner to take on the Redcliffe Dolphins next weekend in the Grand Final. Three weeks ago, the Bears gave the Tigers a real belting at Easts’ home ground and it’s hard to see a 30-odd point turnaround in that time in spite of Easts’ great form since then. The Bears are defending premiers and will not let this go without one hell of a stoush. But footy can be a funny old game, so nothing really surprises me. I’ll go for the Bears by about 10-12 points.

 

We’ll compare tipping sheets (and either puffed chests or bruised egos) on Monday.

 

 

Ian Hauser is not particularly known for his words of wisdom but he does have a certain wisdom with words. You can check out his editing services here.

 

About Ian Hauser

A happily retired ex-teacher with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through who looks for those beautiful moments in sport (and life) that capture the spirit rather than the law of the game. Love reading and good wine. I run my own editing service for aspiring writers. Check me out at writerightediting.com.au

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