Finals week one

Melbourne Storm vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Friday night – AAMI Park

I'm sure the Storm could name a few other top eight teams they would rather be playing on Friday night, but there is one statistic that will fill them with a little confidence heading into their first final in season 2018 – the Rabbitohs have not won a game in Melbourne...ever. Of course the Bunnies would rather be playing someone else too, but their confidence can come from their comprehensive victory over the purple machine in round 21...just a few short weeks ago. The Storm did well in that game to not lose by more, but it was always going to be a Rabbitohs victory that night. What's more the Storm will be without Asofa-Solomona and Will Chambers this time around, while the Bunnies add Greg Inglis. Cameron Smith is (probably) playing with niggling injuries, and Billy Slater taking some personal leave means the start of their finals campaign has been a little disrupted. The Storm are the most professional club in the NRL, and I'd be a fool to suggest they can't overcome those sort of things, but I still have the Bunnies pencilled in as a 2018 grand finalist, and to do so they probably need to win this. It's time for the Bunnies to break their Melbourne drought.

Verdict – Rabbitohs by 4

Result – Storm 29 defeated Rabbitohs 28

Penrith Panthers vs New Zealand Warriors – Saturday night – ANZ Stadium

These sides have already met twice this season for one win apiece, but rightly or wrongly I'll be using the round 24 clash (just two weeks ago) as my guide. On that occasion the Warriors were convincing winners by 36-16, and they led by 36-4 until the 70th minute. While that game was played in New Zealand the Warriors have been much better on the road this season, so the trip to Sydney doesn't concern me. Since the change of coach the Panthers have won two from four, but one was an extra time victory over the Titans and the other was against a vastly under-strength Melbourne Storm. It's not convincing...and I'm not convinced.

Verdict – Warriors by 10

Result – Panthers 27 defeated Warriors 12

Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla Sharks – Saturday night – Allianz Stadium

It took the Sharks a long time to win their first premiership, and right now they have a team that is capable of winning a second. If they don't win this season they may not win for a while, because their premiership window is closing fast. Gallen, Prior and Lewis are near the end of their careers. Graham and Dugan can't keep getting strapped together forever. Andrew Fifita could combust at any moment. Valentine Holmes will, I think, sign a long term deal with the Cowboys from 2020. Their time is now, but are they good enough? These sides met just once this season and it was way back in round 5. On that occasion the Roosters prevailed 28-10 at Shark Park. The Sharks had their fare share of possession in that game but they couldn't find a way through the Roosters defence when it mattered. The one player that can change this game, for better or worse, is Andrew Fifita. If he has a night out the Sharks will win, but he has a lot more nights in. Like most people I'm expecting a bruising affair – it's what the Sharks do. No doubt the winner will appreciate a week off.

Verdict – Roosters by 1

Result – Roosters 21 defeated Sharks 12

Brisbane Broncos vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Sunday afternoon – Suncorp Stadium

These sides met way back in round 1 in the very first game of the 2018 season, and hasn't a lot changed since then. The Dragons won in a canter that night, everyone thought the Dragons were the real deal again and everyone thought Wayne Bennett had lost his mojo (again). Bennett has heard that a lot over the years, and he's heard it several times this year, but in the last three weeks his team have beaten the top two teams in premiership betting and then put on a show for the locals by thumping the Sea Eagles. In doing so they picked up a home semi-final, which is pretty important in a knock-out semi and especially important when your opponent hasn't won at Suncorp since 2009. The Dragons have had a few wins in recent weeks but I still feel they peaked around ANZAC Day. Their strength is in their forwards but that's hardly a weakness for the Broncos, and this Broncos backline can rack up some points if they need to. Of all the games this weekend, this is the only one where a Dragons victory would be seen as a genuine upset. Good luck Ben Hunt...may your demons be temporary.

Verdict – Broncos by 16

Result – Dragons 48 defeated Broncos 18

Wally Lewis - finals week one selections (in bold)

Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

  • STORM vs Rabbitohs
  • Panthers vs WARRIORS
  • ROOSTERS vs Sharks
  • BRONCOS vs Dragons


newbie from perth's picture

RE: Storm vs Rabbitohs

As our friend “a” mentioned, this was indeed an amazing game. Like I messaged my brother late in the second half … “why would you be watching the AFL on 7 when you could watch this?”

@ Mr Ashford
Just been looking at the NRL Finals Bracket (I think I’ve got my head around it correctly) and assuming results fall in a certain way, it’s entirely possible we could have a Roosters and Broncos GF. Then again, it’s possible that we could meet in the 1st Prelim Final if we win and you beat the Dragons this week and the Bunnies next week. If the “unthinkable” happens and the Dragons beat you, then we won’t meet each other at all.

A lot of other possibilities too (making my brain hurt a bit) so better just to take one game at a time I reckon. Not that I think you will need much, but best of luck to your Broncos mate. Anyways, it’s been a long week, I’m buggered so I’m off to bed. Cheers y’all…

Brad S's picture

What an absolute cracker of a game! Probably the best I've watched this season. Shouldn't have changed my tip to the Bunnies!

I've been dreaming about the similar scenarios.
Broncos to beat the Dragons, Bunnies then the Roosters.
Sharks lose to the Roosters then beat the Warriors and Melbourne.
Broncos v Sharks grand final.
Broncos win and everyone is happy.
Mark and I anyway.

Have a great weekend everyone.

BigPeteBx's picture

Hello Mark and others here.
I agree with you about Bulldogs behavior on Mad Monday.
They've been there before, but this time, they weren't locked up to curb any "antics".
I have seen many Mad Mondays, get a bit long-toothed and go for too long. I've seen players suspended from their licensed club/s, because they decide to want to finish up at that location and my then, they're as full as "googs".
They reap what they sow!

BigPeteBx's picture

Hello Christine -
I'm a little late in reading your posts but, I/we are thinking of you and keep you in our thoughts, as we always have.
It is hard to say, "but keep strong!"

You never know, the change, may be as good as a holiday, but of course in situations like that, changes have to be made. There are programs from various agencies, that can assist you, if you make the approach to them, which with some, you have already done.
There are also times, where you feel you are stuck between a rock and a hard place and need to revisit those approaches.

I won't get into saying too much, as there are other viewers here, that may read into you current posts and make avenues to advocates, who may see your situation as a bad case of bullying or other.
Especially if Centrelink were to become involved and review certain benefits and real Carers clauses.

Yes, we are very fortunate to have a few ladies that communicate openly on Thinker site. Mary S is the main one of them and one of our backbones here.

You take care, keep strong and yes, dig in deep and stand up for your feelings and well-being.

We are thinking of you.
Big Pete in Bx Country

Christine 's picture

Newbiei just wanted to say to you with what you said to me yes you can talk to other people in your situation because they have what you have so they can relate to you but they can't help you when you fall & can't get up the other thing is you get stereo typed that you can only associate with other people with your condition & at the end of the day that's what family is for mine is just trying to get out of any responsibility to Me ...

christine 's picture

Big pete
In regards to your post to me yes I am between a rock & a hard place & making a change isn't always an easy thing for me to do as I have said before in regards to people with a disability you need familiar things around you as in places & faces to avoid confusion well that's what I find now & my doctors say the same thing so I believe it to be true & as bad as things are at times with my father & me most of the time we just stay out of each others way but what I need is for him to change his mind but about not living with me any more but he is very stubborn ...

BoozeMaster2000's picture

Today, I discovered something new and interesting about frangipani plants. I discovered that when you trim a few branches off, in particular, if you trim some of the branches with the little flowers on them, it somehow causes your missus to launch into a frenzied and hateful attack upon your person.

mark ashford's picture

Mary S
Thank you for those kind words. Now I can sleep at night.
As Big Pete said you are a valued contributor here.
Storm/Rabbits was a sensational game. As others have said Storm probably got a few bad calls but that's footy.

mark ashford's picture

Currently watching Roosters-v-Warriors game in the woman's league.
Wow those girls don't muck around. Huge hits and heaps of skill on show. We have come a long way.

manyana's picture

Oh dear boozemaster 2000, a lesson learnt. Bet you won't do it again. lol. Cheers, manyana.

mark ashford's picture

Booze Master
Frangipani are wonderful trees.
For about a month they start growing lovely leaves.
Then for another month they produce sweet smelling flowers.
Then everything falls off over another month and you're constantly picking up dead leaves.
For the remainder of the year you have this stick like thing to look at.
Ignore your missus and cut them down. Put in a variety of citrus (depending where you live) at least you'll have year round greenery and maybe some fruit. Don't under any circumstances tell your good wife this advice came from me.

christine 's picture

Booze master
Surprise your wife by giving her a pink frangipani , she might do something else you don't expect to your person that you may like ...

Steel Panther's picture

Warriors their own worst enemy tonight. 12-2 up and all the momentum then two senior players Blair & Luke make school boy errors handing the momentum back to Penrith and they gratefully accepted with 25 unanswered points. A disappointing end to the 2018 season for NZ. Well done Panthers!!

christine 's picture

I bet coach resurfaces now ...

Mary S's picture

You know Christine - I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw the result of the Panthers/Warriors match!

Baggy_Gee's picture

You may not like fafita but damn can he bend the line when his head is in the game.

mark ashford's picture

Hi Baggy
Yes I fit into the category of not liking the bloke. He seems to be a bit of a thug on and off the field but saying that I believe he is the best forward in the NRL bar none.
Broncos women just had a nice win over the Dragons women another quality game. Just hope the boys can do the same.

Baggy_Gee's picture

I agree Mark, not a brain in his head, but watching him last night was awe inspiring. The only people the Sharks can blame is themselves, how many great defensive set did they have where the Roosters only made 20 M before the kick, and they still lost?

mark ashford's picture

Latrelle Mitchel has been charged with a dangerous tackle. Looks like he'll get at least a week off. As the Roosters won last night and they get a week off does that count for Latrelle or does he miss the following week?

mark ashford's picture

Dragons blowing the Broncs off the park in the first half.
Commentators saying "where has this Dragons team come from"?
I'd rather say why are the Broncs letting this happen. Their defence has been appalling and attack dismal. BUT isn't it nice to see two brothers go at each other.

Anonymous's picture

Hey Alfie mate, tht song’z comin back to bite u on the ass. Go u Dragons!

mark ashford's picture

When Alf sang that song the Broncs had beaten them in two consecutive grand finals. That was 20 years ago you idiot.
Times and teams have changed a lot since then.

a's picture

Sad to see Broncos lose

mark ashford's picture

I think the Broncs came to this game after a big win over Manly thinking the Dragons were also an easy beat. What a mistake they made.
The Dragons are to be congratulated on their commitment and hard tough football. Well done the Red V you earned your win.

The Thinker's picture

When the Broncos were beating Manly, Wayne Bennett sent Alfie out to tell the team to stop scoring points. He wanted the Broncos to play the Dragons this weekend, and if they scored anymore they would have ended up 5th and faced the Warriors.


mark ashford's picture

"a" yes it's sad to see the Broncs lose but that's footy.
So now there's only 6 teams left. 5 are from the Sydney region with Storm holding up hope for a non Sydney win.
I know who I'll be cheering for.

mark ashford's picture

I know I said Fiffita was the best forward in the game but what about Tyson Frizelle? He was amazing.
Next year both of our clubs face the Sims brothers at the Dragons. they were so strong in opposing clubs today.

Baggy_Gee's picture

I think your right Mark, the Broncos never got out of second gear and the Dragons maintained the rage even after losing 3 players to injuries. It keeps my mind flicking back to the mental side of the game and how do you coach to avoid it. Wayne would have told them to reset and treat it like it was the most important game ever, but they looked as if they were waiting for the Dragons to fall apart as they usually do, but they hung tough today. It was a good game and thee equal of all the games we have seen this weekend.

mark ashford's picture

Had the Broncs scored a few more points and faced Warriors they may just have won as the Warriors were very ordinary against the Panthers.
No point talking about what if or maybe it's done.
Warriors and Broncs need to look at 2019 along with the other 8 clubs who finished below the line.
Sharks are $1.65 v Panthers at $2.25
Rabbits are $1.28 v Dragons at $3.70
After watching the Dragon's effort this afternoon find the $3.70 very interesting. Maybe the reinjury to Widdop

Baggy_Gee's picture

Add DeBellian and possibly Graham to that list of injured. And that was their first finals win since their gf win in 2010 as we were told several times over there telecast.

Anonymous's picture

Hey Baggy
For me it's been a difficult year to tip this comp. I think I relied too often on my Broncs who let me down. When I tipped against them they won.
Also so many favourites went down making it even harder.
I've gotta take my hat off to Rocket Ryan & Tiger Girl and others who remain on top. Earlier this year I accused Rocket of using a dart or a pin for his picks. His consistency has showed how clever a Rocket he is.
I've no idea who will win from here, just looking forward to some good games.

mark ashford's picture

Hey Baggy
The above post Monday @ 6.58 is from me. Somehow I keep getting locked out.

Baggy_Gee's picture

Yeah happens to me often as well. Its all good I figured it was someone from here as I remember the comment about darts and Rocket.


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