After two teams were knocked out of the 2013 NRL Telstra Premiership in the opening round of finals last week, one under very controversial circumstances, there are six left fighting for the title – four of which fight it out this weekend.
In finals week one the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Minor Premiership winning Sydney Roosters earned a rest with their respective wins over the Melbourne Storm and Manly Sea Eagles.
Premiership favourites the Bunnies put 10 points on the reigning Premiers when defeating the Storm 20 – 10 while the Chooks were able to keep Manly scoreless in their gritty 4 – 0 win.
The North Queensland Cowboys, the sole Queensland team left in the comp, and the Canterbury Bulldogs were then knocked out going down to the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights in the two other games.
There has been plenty of hullaballoo over the exit of the Cowboys however after the referees allowed a seven-tackle try to the Sharks which won them the game.
All the pink shirts involved were subsequently sacked but it didn’t stop finals time being marred for many Maroons and Cowboys fans.
Still there’s a Premiership to win and we’re into the semis starting tonight so let’s take a look at the latest round of knock outs to see who’ll remain at the end of the week.
Friday September 20, 2013
Manly Sea Eagles ($1.27) v Cronulla Sharks ($3.75)
Allianz Stadium (7:45pm)
Manly couldn’t post a point against the Roosters last week but should have a much easier time against a depleted Cronulla outfit, but that doesn’t mean this won’t be a hard fought game between two bitter rivals.
Sure the Sea Eagles are likely to be pretty sore after their rough and tumble start to the finals but the Sharks are without skipper Paul Gallen or injured star Todd Carney opening them up for a thrashing.
The odds reflect this reality with Manly raging $1.27 favourites over Cronulla at $3.75 to move forward.
The Sea Eagles will be strengthened by the return of fullback Brett Stewart, absent last week, as they look to continue their great record over the Sharks – Manly winning 56 of the 81 games played and seven of their past eight against Cronulla.
It’ll be a classic battle between Manly’s backline and the big Cronulla forwards but don’t see Manly losing another final to a team they’ve gone down to just once in the finals’ arena – back in 1978!
Tip: Manly by 12
Saturday September 21, 2013
Melbourne Storm ($1.34) v Newcastle Knights ($3.25)
Melbourne looked behind the eight-ball right from kick off last Friday night but will be out to atone from here. They always manage to rise when needed at this crucial time of year and they’re expected to do just that against Bennett’s boys who are the $3.25 underdogs.
The stats really stack up against the Knights too as they have a disastrous record against the Storm including losing both games played this season. Still they didn’t go down without a fight in those and think they’ll be trying with all their might again here.
But really it shouldn’t matter as the Storm’s Big Three – Slater, Cronk and Smith – are too imposing and should see Melbourne win their 11th from 11th against Newcastle in Melbourne since 2004.
Expect a tight game until the final quarter when Melbourne dig deep and the Knights give up opening that final scoreboard up.
Tip: Storm by 16
Don’t forget to get your NRL Finals bets down now at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $250 bonus bet this season!
*All odds quoted head-to-head from Ladbrokes.com.au and time local – subject to change