NRL FINALS WEEK 2
Sharks v Panthers
With James Maloney taking the field the Panthers are a completely different side as his energy and will to win clearly rubs off on the team; he’s also a pretty handy player and his combination with Cleary in the halves is one to be feared given the destructive qualities each of them brings. The full array of Maloney’s skills (and toughness) were on display in their win over the Warriors last week, as were those of the entire team as they reminded us why they were sitting at the top of the ladder earlier in the season playing like premiership favourites.
The Sharks were valiant in defeat in their loss to the Roosters last week as they blew some decent scoring opportunities and defended with the urgency we’ve come to expect from them; they will need to be every bit as sound on defence here as the Panthers look like they’ve rediscovered their attacking mojo which is worrying for the Sharks considering the number of game-breakers the Panthers boast.
The loss of Graham is a huge blow for the Sharks as he’s been a menace attacking on the left fringes for them all season and will certainly take some sting out of the Sharks offence which will be crucial against a Panthers side that has plenty of points in them.
Whilst I can see the Sharks getting an edge up front here ultimately the difference between the sides will be the energy that the Panthers bring to everything they do which is generated in the halves pairing of Maloney / Cleary and permeates through the team. Pick – 3 units on Panthers to win
Rabbitohs v Dragons
The Rabbitohs will have been hurting badly after the Storm snatched victory from them Friday night but they do get a second life here and are hot favourites to make it through to the preliminary finals against a Dragons side that shocked the Broncos on Sunday but did come away from that game with some casualties.
The impact Widdup has on the Dragons cannot be understated as they limped into the finals in his absence, losing nearly every game he wasn’t a part of, but as soon as he returned last week they thrashed the Broncos 48-18; sure a number of other players stood up too but he is the talisman for their entire attack. Widdup’s absence here is the reason the Rabbitohs are such hot favourites and it’s hard to argue with the odds given, as I’ve said, how poor the Dragons have been when he doesn’t play.
The Rabbitohs only need to stick to what’s served them so well all year – winning the battle up the middle mostly through the Burgess brothers, with Cook to then terrorise the markers with his pace to have the entire defence backpedalling and then throw it out to the damaging backline – simple but very effective.
The Dragons are carrying a few injuries into this game which is not what you want against a Rabbitohs side that’s formed a habit of bashing sides around all season.
It’s tough to see the Dragons getting into double digits here as they’ll lack confidence on attack without Widdup and the Rabbitohs defence will be uncompromising – we’ll take them to cover the large start. Pick - 4 units on Rabbitohs -12.5 point start (BEST BET)
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Week Two Finals -7 7 -100% LOST Week One Finals +12.96 12 108% WON Week Twenty-Five -11.27 17 -66% LOST Week Twenty-Four +6.36 15 42% WON Week Twenty-Three +0.54 14 4% LOST Week Twenty-Two +6.11 16 38% LOST Week Twenty-One +10.12 11 92% WON Week Twenty -0.6 14 -4% LOST Week Nineteen +9.02 15 60% WON Week Eighteen -6.32 13 -49% LOST SOO 3 +5.25 4 130% N/A Week Seventeen -7 7 -100% LOST Week Sixteen -1.7 11 -15% LOST Week Fifteen -3.87 17 -23% LOST Week Fourteen +3.44 10 34% WON SOO 1 +3.64 4 91% N/A Week Thirteen -7 7 -100% LOST Week Twelve +6.34 13 49% WON Week Eleven +1.24 15 8% WON Week Ten +3.96 12 33% WON Week Nine +9.67 10 97% WON Week Eight -1.09 13 8% LOST Week Seven +18.27 15 123% WON Week Six -3.51 15 -23% LOST Week Five -3.3 15 -22% LOST Week Four +3.6 11 33% N/A Week Three -7 7 -100% LOST Week Two -4.5 12 -38% LOST Week One -5.27 11 -48% LOST Total +31.09 359 9% 38%