Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Friday night – Sydney Cricket Ground
This is the third meeting between our foundation clubs in 2019, which is unusual. It's also unusual that the Roosters haven't beaten the Bunnies this season, because they usually beat them at least once. The last meeting was only a few days ago, so it's a handy enough guide, although the Bunnies had more to play for and there's been some roster changes for this match. The Chooks welcome back Keary, Taukeiaho, Aubusson and Morris. The Bunnies have two Burgess brothers returning (Tom and George) but Sam is out suspended. James Roberts also returns from suspension and will slot in to replace the injured Gagai. Cameron Murray could be the form player of the NRL right now, and he's become part of a very dynamic attacking combination with Cook, Walker and Reynolds. If the Bunnies win they are the four that get them there, but I'm with the Chooks who are bringing back plenty of big match players and what looks like a slight edge in the forwards.
Verdict – Roosters by 4
Result – Roosters 30 defeated Rabbitohs 6
Melbourne Storm vs Canberra Raiders – Saturday night – AAMI Park
While a loss doesn't mean the season is over for either side, you cannot underestimate the importance of winning a game like this – particularly for the Storm who can potentially make a grand final without having to leave Melbourne. Croft misses out for the returning Munster, who spent the week off retrieving his shoulder which was found several kilometres away from the point of impact. Neither side was super impressive last weekend against lesser opponents but at least the Storm won. That said, the Raiders bring back a whole bunch of proper first graders this weekend in Nicoll-Klokstad, Soliola, Bateman, Rapana and Leilua. The Green Machine will be heading to Melbourne free of fear, after running the Storm down in Melbourne earlier this season. I think they can do it again.
Verdict – Raiders by 2
Result – Raiders 12 defeated Storm 10
Manly Sea Eagles vs Cronulla Sharks – Saturday night – Lottoland (probably)
In the 1993 film Jurassic Park, a team of genetic scientists create a wildlife park of dinosaurs on the island of Isla Nublar. Des Hasler, not afraid to think outside the box, has jetted over and brought back the T-Rex in his over-sized baggage. It's unusual, and potentially just a complete distraction, but Des has always been one to play his own tune. Speaking of dinosaurs, we're likely to have a current Prime Minister (No 1. Sharks fan Morrison) and a former Prime Minister (No. 1 Sea Eagles fan Abbott) in the crowd on Saturday night. Hopefully they don't start throwing asbestos at each other. At full strength the Sea Eagles would be a warm favourite here, but a string of injuries and a likely suspension for Taupau leaves Manly short of proper footballers.
Verdict – Sharks by 14
Result – Sea Eagles 28 defeated Sharks 16
Parramatta Eels vs Brisbane Broncos – Sunday afternoon – Bankwest Stadium
The Broncos have made the eight even though they lost more games than they won this season. Their points differential is 107 points worse than the team in seventh, and 388 points worse than the minor premiers. It doesn't read well, and their efforts in Sydney this season read even worse. They've won just one game in Sydney this season, by 2 points over the Sharks. In every game they lost they were flogged, including last week against the Bulldogs and in round 14 against this opponent at this venue. Yuck!
Verdict – Eels by 8
Result – Eels 58 defeated Broncos 0
Wally Lewis - week one finals selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning
- ROOSTERS vs Rabbitohs
- STORM vs Raiders
- Sea Eagles vs SHARKS
- EELS vs Broncos