It is preliminary finals weekend, where we determine the two NRL grand finalists. Can the Panthers stop the Storm's march towards back-to-back titles? Will the hot and cold Sea Eagles tear the Rabbitohs apart?
It all kicks off on Friday night, when Wayne Bennett's Rabbitohs line up to face Des Hasler's Sea Eagles at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium. On Saturday afternoon we see a replay of last year's decider when the Panthers seek revenge against the Storm in a 3pm start, again at Suncorp Stadium.
Good luck with your tips.
Friday, September 24
Rabbitohs: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jaydn Su'A 13. Cameron Murray Bench: 14. Benji Marshall 15. Jacob Host 16. Thomas Burgess 17. Jai Arrow Reserves: 18. Taane Milne 19. Patrick Mago 20. Braidon Burns 21. Jed Cartwright
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau'atu 12. Josh Schuster 13. Jake Trbojevic Bench: 14. Dylan Walker 15. Karl Lawton 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka Reserves: 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Moses Suli 20. Curtis Sironen 21. Tevita Funa
Verdict: The Sea Eagles received some bonus possession early last week against the Roosters, they cracked their defence and it was a procession from there on. The Rabbitohs have had two weeks rest after upsetting the Panthers in a controlled display of disciplined rugby league. I have tipped the Sea Eagles incorrectly both times in these finals and so it is will little confidence that I say the Rabbitohs should take this one and be the first team into the Grand Final.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 8
Saturday, September 25
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. George Jennings 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane Bench: 14. Harry Grant 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Nicholas Hynes Reserves: 18. Aaron Pene 19. Tom Eisenhuth 20. Chris Lewis 21. Isaac Lumelume
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Stephen Crichton 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brent Naden 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo Bench: 14. Tyrone May 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Tevita Pangai Junior 17. Liam Martin Reserves: 18. Izack Tago 19. Spencer Leniu 20. J'maine Hopgood 21. Brian To'o
Verdict: The Panthers were lucky to escape with a win over the Eels last week, and still look far from their best. It started with a reluctance to engage in a forwards battle and resulted in their backs not having room to move against the swarming Eels. Unless coach Ivan Cleary has been keeping something up their sleeves for this game against the Storm, it is hard to see them having the form to win. Melbourne would have spent the last two weeks working on niggling injuries and fine tuning their game ahead of resuming their charge towards another premiership.
Tip: Storm by 12
All odds correct at time of publication. Check tab.com.au for the latest.