Melbourne Storm (2nd) vs Cronulla Sharks (4th) – Friday night – AAMI Park
The Storm are a very warm favourite, which is somewhat surprising given the Sharks have beaten them twice this season. The issue is how the Sharks beat the Storm, and whether they have a line-up that can win like that again. With Graham injured, and Gallen and Lewis racing the clock, the Sharks pack looks a lot less formidable than it usually is. Even if Gallen and Lewis play, the Storm will be nice and rested while the Sharks are travelling to Melbourne on the back of two tough games against tough opponents. Chambers returns to add some experience to the Storm backline. Cameron Smith will be playing with both eyes this time, and this is the last game for Billy Slater in Melbourne. It's not easy to win successive premierships, but the Storm look set to make successive grand finals – that's quite the feat in itself.
Verdict – Storm by 7
Result – Storm 22 defeated Sharks 6
Sydney Roosters (1st) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (3rd) – Saturday night – Allianz Stadium
Sometimes things happen for a reason, and in what is the last NRL game at this venue before it gets dismantled and recycled into a memory, we see the team that calls it home taking on the team that used to call this venue home until they moved west to the giant empty shell out at Homebush. The new Greg Inglis won't be playing given his suspension for a crusher tackle, while the old Greg Inglis escaped suspension for what (I suppose) wasn't a crusher tackle....so it's out with the new and in with the old. The absence of Mitchell and the presence of Inglis can go a long way toward determining the outcome here. The Roosters prevailed when last these sides met and they should be nice and rested after the break. Cronk and Reynolds are obviously key. It was their composed responses late in games that saw their teams progress to week three – there's every chance one or both of them will be kicking field goals on Saturday night too. The Bunnies were able to shake off the off-field dramas last weekend but sometimes these issues take a while to cook. They might be nice and tender by now...so tender they could fall apart. That Roosters defence has been tough to crack all season and I'll back their right edge defence to hold against that Rabbitohs left edge attack. That's the key battle I think. The winner there is the winner...and the winner is:
Verdict – Roosters by 1
Result – Roosters 12 defeated Rabbitohs 4
Wally Lewis - finals week three selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- STORM vs Sharks
- Rabbitohs vs ROOSTERS