Almanac Rugby League – NRL 2020 Finals Week 2 + NRLW Round 2: No excuses

Week 1 of the NRL Finals didn’t disappoint with four entertaining, high-scoring games. Defence-minded purists may have been a bit underwhelmed by the scorelines but, for the great majority of fans, there’s nothing like a bit of end-to-end, flowing footy. Week 2 tends to be a bit more desperate, especially with four high profile teams involved, so I won’t be surprised if we return to more intense, arm-wrestle battles this weekend. However it plays out, there will be no excuses for any of the teams as they are about as close to full strength as they could hope to be at the tail end of an intense, albeit shortened, season.

 

Last year’s Grand Finalists kick off the weekend tomorrow night when the Roosters take on the Raiders. The Roosters are coming off an uncharacteristic two losses in a row and, as back-to-back defending premiers, should be up for this one. Look at their line-up and it’s hard to image them going down three times in a row. The key will be the No. 6, Luke Keary, who has been down on form of late after a stellar season. If he can be contained again the Raiders are right in this. ‘Sticky’ Stuart will not have to look far for motivation for his charges. It may well be a different season but the taste of defeat in last year’s decider will still be a driving force. It will be his No. 6, Jack Wighton, who will be the key for his side, too. Expect a ding dong, drag ’em down, full-on slog for 80 minutes. I’d love to see the Raiders get up but the head says it’s the Roosters by 6.

 

On Saturday night the Eels take on the Rabbitohs. The Eels are a little disadvantaged with the loss of Maika Sivo and doubts over the fitness of Blake Ferguson but it’s their forwards who will win or lose this one, particularly Shaun Lane and Ryan Matterson who have to be at their mobile best to provide dangerous edge bursts running off Dylan Brown. Waqa Blake has been well below par of late and defensive weaknesses down his side will be a highway for Souths unless he can find some form. The Rabbitohs, I hope, will continue to play with the flair and freedom they have shown in the past two weeks. It’s great to watch. If they do, they win handsomely; if they don’t they may struggle with Parra’s willingness to go the whole way. I’ll stick with the Rabbitohs by >10.

 

The opening round of the NRLW was solid if not quite up to the mark, a result no doubt of first game rustiness and new squads. I expect Round 2 to see a marked improvement in both skills and tempo. First up, the Warriors meet the Roosters. The NZ girls were game and not without their opportunities last week but found the Broncos’ all-round strength and stamina too much. No shame there. With a game under their belts, and with Kirra Dibb is very good form from the get-go, I think they might give the Roosters a run for their money. The Roosters were out of the blocks early last week but didn’t really go on with it. This might be a better test of their credentials as the Warriors are a full 60-minute team of competitors. I’m undecided on this one but will punt on the Warriors by <6.

 

If the Dragons’ big names can find form this week, they can, at least on paper, match it with the powerhouse Broncos. Boasting the likes of Jessica Sergis, Isabelle Kelly, Maddie Studdon, Steph Hancock and Kezie Apps, how can they be anything but a threat? But the Broncos answer with the exciting Tamika Upton, Julia Robinson, Meg Ward, Raecene McGregor, Ali Brigginshaw, Millie Boyle, etc, etc – strength across the park – and the likes of Annette Brander and Tallisha Harden on the bench. Will Kezie Apps and Raecene McGregor be fully fit for their respective outfits? It’s the Dragons’ outside backs versus Brisbane through the middle and their halves. I’ll go with the Broncos by 7+.

 

After tipping 4/4 in the NRL and 1/2 in the NRLW last weekend followed by two chip-in birdies on Monday, I’m on a roll. So let’s go with the Roosters and Rabbitohs in the NRL and the Warriors and Broncos in the NRLW.

 

Friday October 9

Roosters v Raiders at Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.50pm

 

Saturday October 10

NRLW Warriors v Roosters, Bankwest Stadium at 12.30pm

NRLW Dragons v Broncos, Bankwest Stadium at 4.00pm

Eels v Rabbitohs, Bankwest Stadium at 7.50pm

 

Due to daylight saving, match times vary from State to State, so please check your local guide.

 

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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

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