NRL FINALS WEEK 3
Storm v Broncos
The Storm have been the standout team all season and are rightfully hot favourites to get the win here, just like the Roosters though they’re having to start again somewhat following the week off and given how close they were pushed by the Eels two weeks ago the Broncos will feel they have a sniff in this one.
The Broncos go into this off the back of a mammoth defensive effort against the Panthers on Friday night, that win did come at some cost though with several players forced off the field, the most notable being Oates who was KO’d in an ugly collision, but all those players have been named in the squad to make the trip to Melbourne. The big news for the Broncos is the return of Boyd at fullback having missed several weeks with a hamstring injury and his inclusion sees Nikorima move into the halves with Marshall dropping back to the bench, all and all very positive news for them especially when you consider how well Nikorima went when slotting into the halves during the regular season.
I can see most of this match being a defensive battle of attrition which will favour the Storm being the fresher of the two sides; the Broncos were running out of steam towards the back end of the Panthers match and with the Storm being arguably the fittest side in the competition they’ll capitalise on the tiring Broncos defence in the final quarter. The Storm will use the scare they received against the Eels as motivation, as if they need any more with Cronk playing his final season at the club, and will be as clinical and hungry as ever. We’ll take the Storm to kick away late and cover the line. Pick – 3 units on Storm -9.5 or better point start
Roosters v Cowboys
Does the Cinderella story of the NRL finals have another chapter to it? Nearly every NRL fan outside of the Roosters supporters will be hoping so as the Cowboys are an easy team to like and they’ve shown a tonne of heart in upsetting the Sharks and Eels in the past two weeks.
It will remain to be seen whether the week off was good for the Roosters or not as they’re up against a Cowboys side who have plenty of momentum behind them and are riding a tidal wave of emotion into this match. Given the Roosters have won more close games this season (by six and under) than any other side in the NRL history they’ve not been leaving themselves much of a margin for error and I’m leaning towards the two week break being more of a negative for them when compared to the now battle hardened Cowboys.
The Cowboys have named an unchanged side to that which upset the Eels last week but have included Matt Scott in the reserves; if he was to take the field that would no doubt make the Cowboys grow yet another leg and would give the Roosters pack even more to think about as they’ll already have their hands full containing Taumalolo.
Just a month ago the Cowboys attack looked pedestrian but with Coote back on board, Morgan hitting top form, Martin playing with maturity and Taumalolo muscling up the middle plus throw in the healthy contributions from the rest of the side and this amounts to anything but a walk in the park for the Roosters. Also throw into the mix that, even though he’s out injured, JT’s influence in getting this side up for each match as his presence in the changing sheds is invaluable.
The start on offer to the Cowboys looks good to me, they have wind in their sails and personnel that can really trouble the Roosters who have not been burying teams this season but doing just enough to get the wins. Pick – 3 units on Cowboys +8.0 point start (BEST BET) and 1 unit on Cowboys to win by 12 points and under