NRL FINALS WEEK 2
Broncos v Panthers
The Broncos came agonisingly close to having this week off but for a late Mitchell try last week which secured the Roosters the two-point win, still they won’t be too unhappy though returning home to play in front of what will be a packed Suncorp Stadium. It was fairly obvious the Broncos missed the services of Boyd at fullback last week and they’re sweating on his fitness here as he’s likely to be a game-day decision, regardless of whether he plays though I like them to get the job done.
Even though they’ve essentially had the same personnel on deck over the past fortnight we’ve seen two very different Panthers sides; they were thrashed a fortnight ago by the Sea Eagles where they looked well short of a gallop and then last week they came out with a spring in their step and put in a much more composed and determined performance to come away with the win over the same opposition. I believe we’ll see more of last week’s effort this week but the experienced Broncos pack are going to pile on the pressure and will grind them down up front, putting a lot of pressure on young Cleary who is playing in the biggest match of his career to date.
The Broncos have a ‘statement game’ in them and I believe it’ll be here as they grow another leg off the back of the enormous home support they’ll have, it’ll be won up front but iced off by their classy backline. Take the Broncos to cover the line. Pick – 4 units on Broncos -6.5 or better point start (BEST BET)
Eels v Cowboys
The Eels put in another very spirited performance last week and just like the Broncos came agonisingly close to getting the week off but the class of the Storm got them home by two points; they’ll be anything but discouraged by that effort though. The measure of a good coach, and Brad Arthur is emerging as one of the very best in the game, is being able to bring in replacement cover who can hit the ground running and that’s exactly what Will Smith did last week as he was absolutely brilliant at fullback in place of the injured French. One of Arthur’s many other qualities is the fact he has his team firing every game (we’ll forgive the Knights blip) as they seem to have an endless hunger for success, despite not having the biggest pack or the quantity of big names many of the other sides.
The Cowboys went into last week’s match against the Sharks having won just one of their past six games but that didn’t show as they put in a very gutsy effort to win in extra time albeit off the back of a poor Sharks performance where they missed plenty of tackles and kept turning the ball over at crucial times. I can’t see the Eels affording the Cowboys the same armchair ride this week.
Stopping the wrecking ball that is Jason Taumalolo will be a top priority for the Eels as he’s been simply devastating with ball in hand and lifted his side last week with a 200+ metre performance, this Eels pack is as tough as any though and they’ll muscle up on him more effectively than the Sharks did.
I can’t see the Eels breakout season ending this week as they’ve finished it with a wet sail, unlike the Cowboys, and have knocked off some big skelps along the way. Whilst there is a lot to admire about the Cowboys guts and determination the Eels are, thanks to Brad Arthur’s tutelage, playing as a collective unit with each player executing his role brilliantly. We’ll take the Eels to cover the start. Pick - 3 units on Eels -8.5 or better point start