Finals week one

Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles – Friday night – Sunshine Coast Stadium

First plays fourth and we have two of the real heavyweights of the competition facing off here. Their recent (colourful) history only adds to the occasion. These sides met in round 21 in front of exactly zero spectators, where the Storm prevailed 28-18. That was a proper tussle and the Sea Eagles were well and truly in the contest for much of the game. The line-ups here aren't much different than they were in round 21. The only real difference is with the Melbourne wingers, with Jennings and Lumelume replacing Ieremia and Addo-Carr. Usually wingers don't make a lot of difference, but they could here, as the Manly wingers have scored about 50 tries between them this season. Their forwards will need to match this mighty purple engine room, but they're big boppers and I think they can. It's a proper upset if it happens, but I'm Cherry-Evans to ice the game with a late field goal.

Verdict – Sea Eagles by 1

Result – Storm 40 defeated Sea Eagles 12

Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday afternoon – Queensland Country Bank Stadium

The Titans were very impressive when they needed to be against the Warriors, but the Warriors seemed cranky - given they'd received news that they are likely to be stuck in Australia until Christmas they had every right to be. Even though the Roosters are weakened by injuries this is still a step up in class, and here's the proof. The Titans have played top eight sides ten times this season, and they've lost eight. Their two wins were over the Knights (twice). That means they haven't beaten a top six side this season. Fifita will need pain-killing injections to play and there is some chance Proctor could be a late withdrawal. This isn't a walk in the park, but I expect the class of the Chooks to prevail. 

Verdict – Roosters by 4

Result – Roosters 25 defeated Titans 24

Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Saturday night – Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Second plays third and the Bunnies should be feeling fresh after they rested much of their best thirteen last weekend...they still won. The Panthers were effectively full-strength against the (under-strength) Eels and got the job done. These sides have already met twice this season and the Panthers were comfortable winners on both occasions. In round 11 it was 56-12 and in round 23 (just three weeks ago) it was 25-12. Latrell Mitchell played in that round 23 game, when the Bunnies raced to a 12-0 in the first 25 minutes...then didn't trouble the scorer again. He's replaced by Blake Taafe, clearly promising but he's not Mitchell, and Cleary will test Taafe often with those towering, pinpoint bombs. Perhaps more importantly, in round 23 the Panthers didn't have the services of James Fisher-Harris or Brian To'o. That duo have delivered the Panthers upwards of 700 metres with the ball in hand during the past fortnight. Wayne Bennett is still capable of pulling off some miraculous things with his football teams (the 2020 Origin series to name one) but winning this would be one of his best yet. I think they'll fall short. 

Verdict – Panthers by 13

Result – Rabbitohs 16 defeated Panthers 10

Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights – Sunday afternoon – Browne Park, Rockhampton

Most seasons, there is usually one or two teams that sneak into the top eight. They've made it, but they're effectively making up the numbers, and they usually get thumped by a fair margin in week one of the finals and head for the exits. The Knights look like that team this season. While they finished in 7th place, they only played top eight teams nine times (out of 25) this year. Of those nine, they lost seven, and they weren't particularly convincing when they did win. One of those seven losses was against the Eels in round 13. That was in Newcastle in front of a healthy crowd - the Eels were never troubled and won 40-4. To be fair, Ponga and Pearce didn't play in that game, but it's hard to ignore the magnitude of that round 13 victory. The Eels rested ten of their best last week, so Gutherson, Paulo, Papali'i, Campbell-Gillard, Moses, Matterson, Blake, Niukore and Browns (Dylan and Nathan) should be feeling fresh and revitalised. The last time most of those guys played they beat the Storm. One should never make assumptions when it comes to Parramatta (they've been letting their fans down for decades now), but on form like that they must surely beat the Knights on Sunday.

Verdict – Eels by 20

​​​​​​​Result – Eels 28 defeated Knights 20

Wally Lewis - finals week one (in bold)

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

  • STORM vs Sea Eagles
  • ROOSTERS vs Titans
  • PANTHERS vs Rabbitohs
  • EELS vs Knights


The Thinker's picture

Greetings football fans,

I have updated the final NRL ladder for the season - congrats to our J.J. Giltinan Shield winners for 2021...the Melbourne Storm. That's 4 of the last 6 seasons - quite a dynasty however you slice and dice it.

I have also updated the tipping comp after round 25. Quite a handful of you got 8 from 8 this round, but another shout out to Taka - if the Bulldogs have a good season next year he'll be up near the top of the leaderboard instead of the bottom.

If anyone notices anything in the scores that needs attention just let me know.

As you can see we keep tipping all the way through the finals series. The Last Samurai has a handy lead but there's still a large pack of contenders chasing prizemoney this year.

Take note there is also a seperate little finals comp this season with a couple of prizes - Getting under the cap.

All the best

The Thinker

newbie from perth's picture

"Dia duit gach duine" i dteanga ní mo theanga féin,

@ The Boss,
You had me down last week (Round 25) as getting 8/8 but I only actually got 7. As much as I’d love to have scored the perfect card I just gotta ‘fess up and ask you to take a point off me my man. The game in question was the Rabbitohs and the Dragons. I was gonna tip the Bunnies but changed my mind at the last minute and went the Dragons so obviously missed out on that one. D’oh! If you could take one off me it’d be appreciated. Gotta be honest with these things eh? 😉 Cheers buddy.

Let’s do this thing … TLDR: the four “home” sides.

(1) Storm vs. (4) Manly 65-35 @ Sunshine Coast
Bookies Favourite = Storm $1.39

Another impressive effort from the Storm last week. Even without their “rested” players they went about their job in a professional and clinical manner and did what good teams do. Great contributions from Papenhuyzen, Hughes and Grant.

Possession - 49%
Completion Rate - 64% (23/36)
Line Breaks - 6
Tackle Breaks - 54
Missed Tackles - 28
Ineffective Tackles - 13
Errors - 15

Manly looked a little flat in the first half last week against the Cowboys. Two tries in 2 minutes just before the break saw them back in the groove and they quickly skipped ahead 18-6 heading to the sheds. Their second half was OK but they left it late to put the Cowboys away. Manly were only 6 points in front with 11 minutes to go but then scored 4 tries in that final 11 minutes to run out comfortable 46-18 winners. A couple of their tries were insane (great) to witness and Turbo was simply spectacular. He scored 3 tries, had a couple of try assists, 19 tackle breaks, 6 line breaks and ran for 302 metres. I read somewhere that Reuben Garrick became the first player in the NRL to score 300 points in the regular season. What an effort.

Possession - 55%
Completion Rate - 77% (33/43)
Line Breaks - 11
Tackle Breaks - 55
Missed Tackles - 24
Ineffective Tackles - 8
Errors - 12

Verdict: This should be a ripper and I’ve got a feeling that Manly will give this a fair old shake. But I’m still on the Storm here.

(2) Panthers vs. (3) Rabbitohs 70-30 @ Townsville
Bookies Favourite = Panthers $1.25

Another impressive effort from the Panthers last week. Went about their job in a professional and clinical manner and did what good teams do. Great contributions from Cleary, To'o, Koroisau and Burton.

Possession - 51%
Completion Rate - 85% (35/41)
Line Breaks - 8
Tackle Breaks - 52
Missed Tackles - 22
Ineffective Tackles - 18
Errors - 9
Penalties Conceded - 5

I’m finding it hard to get a read on Souths’ effort last week against the Dragons. How can I assess their performance with so many regulars missing? Yeah, the Rabbitohs did well to lead 14-0 at the break and yeah, the “Baby Bunnies” did well to hold out the fast finishing Dragons (3 tries in 10 minutes) and sneak home 20-16 but still. All that form and effort basically counts for nothing when the regulars come back this weekend. Not sure resting all those players (8?) was a wise move to be honest. Having said that though, maybe they wanted their “big guns” to be nice and fresh this week, especially considering they’re up against the Panthers. Six of one, half a dozen of the other I suppose.

Possession - 51%
Completion Rate - 91% (39/43)
Tackle Breaks - 22
Missed Tackles - 24
Ineffective Tackles - 9
Errors - 7
Penalties Conceded - 3
Ruck Infringements - 5

Verdict: I just feel the Panthers were better served having their “finals hit-out” with a full side last week. Panthers for me.

(5) Roosters vs. (8) Titans 70-30 @ Townsville
Bookies Favourite = Roosters $1.25

The Roosters had a pretty even tussle with the Raiders last week up until the 25 minute mark. After then they slowly started to find some rhythm and another try followed by a penalty goal on half-time saw them head into the sheds leading 20-12. The Roosters came out in the second half with a renewed intensity and desire that the Raiders weren’t able to counteract and after scoring 4 tries to 1, the Roosters ran out very comfortable 40-16 winners to finish off the 2021 regular season on a high. Drew Hutchison put in a great performance (possibly the best I’ve seen him play). He ran for 124 metres, had 3 try assists, 3 tackle breaks and made 13 tackles. Adam Keighran had a great game too, scoring a hat-trick, the last of which was gutsy. In the absence of JWH, Siosiua Taukeiaho stepped up and led well from the front and ran 224 metres and made 36 tackles. Happy 150th TKO 😍. As usual, Tedesco put on a good captain’s knock (ran for a game high 260 metres) and I must say I was impressed with the 34 minute “cameo” from Tukupa Hau Tapuha as well (137 metres run, 67 post contact metres and 18 tackles). Fingers crossed he’ll turn into a good one. Really pleased with how the under-manned Roosters fought back early on last week and then went on with it. Glad we have some troops back this week.

Possession - 56%
Completion Rate - 72% (31/43)
Line Breaks - 7
Tackle Breaks – 41
Missed Tackles – 27
Ineffective Tackles – 20
Errors – 11
Penalties Conceded – 3

The Titans had it somewhat easy last week against the Warriors I reckon. They were leading 16-0 at the break and simply smashed the Warriors in the second half to run out (very) big winners 44-0. The Titans’ job was made all that much easier due to the Warriors’ poor discipline and handling errors. I know this has nothing to do with the Titans but I think the Warriors had other things on their minds (playing with just 10 men at one stage is testament to that) and couldn’t wait for the season to be over and go home. Anyway, the Titans needed to win by 11 (or was it 12?) to get into the top 8 and they won by 44. Job done. In doing so they apparently recorded their biggest winning margin ever. Nice little bonus there. Jayden Campbell continues to impress me with his performances and looks like he’s a natural fit for first grade. He ran for 255 metres, scored 2 tries, made 6 tackle-breaks and had a try assist. If he reproduces that sort of effort this week then he’ll cause the Roosters some headaches. "You only ever prepare to win a game of footy, you don't talk about the 11 or 12 points you've got to win by, so for the players to handle that the way they did and to have our best win ever is even better" coach Justin Holbrook said.

Possession - 61%
Completion Rate - 77% (37/48)
Line Breaks - 9
Tackle Breaks - 33
Forced Drop Outs - 5
Missed Tackles - 15
Ineffective Tackles - 10
Errors - 13
Penalties Conceded - 5

Verdict: Roosters. Begurk! 🐔 Begurk! 🐔

(6) Eels vs. (7) Knights 65-35 @ Rockhampton
Bookies Favourite = Eels $1.42

Even though the Eels were missing a plethora of regular first graders, they acquitted themselves superbly in the first half last week against the Panthers. They did a great job holding the Panthers and at half-time they went into the sheds only trailing 12-6. They could’ve possibly done better had they taken advantage of the repeat sets they earned. I think their attacking execution let them down. Unfortunately the Panthers’ class told in the second half and the under-strength Eels were brushed aside to the tune of 40-6. At least the guys that got rested (Gutherson, Moses, Papali'i, Nathan Brown, Blake, Niukore and Dylan Brown) will be (or should be) nice and fresh and primed to take on their opponents this week. "The class was always going to get us," coach Arthur said. "But I've never walked into dressing sheds where we've had 40 points put on us and said I was proud, and I meant every word. We were tough, our effort was great, we tried out backsides off to out-compete them."

Possession - 49%
Completion Rate - 76% (29/38)
Line Breaks - 1
Tackle Breaks - 22
Missed Tackles - 52
Ineffective Tackles - 14
Errors - 11
Penalties Conceded - 4

Not really a great “tune-up” for the Knights last week it must be said. After heading into the sheds 18-4 down, they managed to score 18 points in the second half (but the Broncos scored 17 of their own) and ended up losing 35-22. After trailing 34-10 the Knights mounted a comeback of sorts when Jack Johns scored in the 63rd minute and Chris Randall scored in the 66th minute but it was too little, too late. Resting Tyson Frizell, Jacob Saifiti, Jayden Brailey and Mitchell Barnett obviously didn’t help but I suppose it mattered little seeing as they were always going to finish in 7th place. That may have been why Ponga and Pearce were taken off in the second half (to keep them safe for this week).

Possession - 53%
Completion Rate - 64% (25/39)
Line Breaks - 4
Tackle Breaks - 34
Forced Drop Outs - 4
Missed Tackles - 23
Ineffective Tackles - 15
Errors - 15
Penalties Conceded - 5

Verdict: After last week’s effort and their “missing” players coming back, I’ll have to tip the Eels obviously.

Let’s finish off with another “Song of the Week”…

This one here is just to prove that my tastes are indeed diverse. From the 70s so maybe some have heard it before and maybe some haven’t. Has lyrics so feel free to sing along. Spoilers: It’s a love song of sorts…

OK kids, good luck with your tipping and may your team win by 40 points! Until next week. Cheers 🐔 🐔 🐔

Jay R Tamana from - PNG,NCD,Hanuabada's picture

Great tip though.
Here's my tip;

*Manly- With Turbo on there side, it's a possible victory for manly.
*Titans- its a do or die game for by looking back on the race for the 8..They had impressive win over the Warriors. So I think they will do it too in the finals....!
*Rabbitohs- They lost two times to Panthers during the season games....So I think they will come back this time with a win.
*Eels- They have rested their play-makers in the last round. So I'm sure they're very ready for any challenge.

Cheers and happy tipping,

Marker.blacks's picture

Hy thinker I'm from PNG .port mersby . I do my tipping here . But I really confusing about the marzins .act...1-12 & 13+ * manly * Roosters * panthers * Eels ...Thanks ....

The Thinker's picture

@Newbie from Perth

Thanks for your previews every week, and thanks for letting me know about the scoring. I have updated the results now.

Just more proof that anyone, even the thinker, can make a miztake.

All the best

The Thinker

Dragons-fanboy's picture

Hi everyone. I hope you are all well! My tips for this week in Finals Week 1 are:

Storm by 6
Roosters by 12
Panthers by 16
Eels by 10

Awesome! Good luck with those whose team is playing in the finals this week and with everyone's tips for this week in these final few weeks of tipping. Cheers and bring on the finals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dragons-fanboy's picture

Hi Thinker just to also let you know, you miscalculated my rd 25 results i actually got 3 not 4 as you can see, I am no fiber! Hahahahaha


Dragons-fanboy's picture

And also Michael N got 4 not 5

newbie from perth's picture

@ Marker.blacks

I know you didn’t ask me but more than happy to explain “margins” for you. When they talk about Margins 1-12 and Margins 13+ they are talking about the “winning margin” in points. People usually bet with the sports betting bookies on how much they think a team will win by. These are the winning “margins” they show you.

For example, if I was to bet on the Roosters and Titans game this weekend and I thought the Roosters would win by 20 points say, then I would bet on the 13+ margin as 20 points is more than 13 points. If I thought it would be a close game and the Roosters would only win by 6 points say, then I would bet on the 1-12 margin as 6 points is in between 1 point and 12 points.

In the Roosters and Titans game for example, they are offering $3.10 for the Roosters to win between 1-12 but are only offering $2.00 for the Roosters to win by 13 points or more. The betting market thinks the Roosters will win by 13 points or more so are offering less money if you bet 13+. I hope this all makes sense my friend. Cheers.

The Thinker's picture


I've had a shocker in that round. I was updating the scores at the airport...that'll teach me.

Thank you for your honesty. I have updated now.

All the best

The Thinker

Dragons-fanboy's picture

The Thinker,

That's alright mate! Understandable it's my pleasure glad to be a helping hand! That's good


Dragons-fanboy's picture

Thank you Thinker 🙂

MGM's picture

Storm v Eagles
approx 11th minute ... slimy dog Munster throws a reverse elbow towards Olokoatu's head and Olokoatu reacts .
No-one looks at the vision! and Munster gets the penalty.
If Olokoatu doesn't pull his head back Munster would've made contact!
Just can't stand that sneaky dog.

Mahenza's picture

Hi Thinker,
Missed the pick deadline...please enter the next games for me...
Thank you Sir...Your a Top Bloke!!!

MGM's picture

I don't normally check my score but with all those bonus points you gave out for the last round I thought I'd have a look.
Sure enough - you gave me seven but I had the Knights not the Broncos and the Tigers (and we know what happened there!).
That means I haven't beaten you by 1 point after all (the only thing I had to brag about this season!) and we can enjoy a Finals shoot-out!
I'm ahead after last night but you'll probably get that back when the Roosters play the Titans.
Good luck to all !

The Thinker's picture


Thanks for letting me know.

I managed to stuff a whole bunch of the scores up in round 25...I must have been delirious.

Mary S has kindly helped me out and I have now amended all the scores.

Apologies for the errors. No more marking at the airport :-)

All the best

The Thinker

The Thinker's picture

Look at me...still under-estimating Wayne Bennett after all these years.

Incredible win tonight.

MGM's picture

Four top notch exciting games this weekend !! SO GOOD.

The Thinker's picture

I agree MGM

A great weekend of football...and three games that went down to the wire.


Steel Panther's picture

Agree....was good to see close games for a change. Only tipster on here who would have had a tough weekend was poor Big Pete but he would have been cheered up by two-goal Ronaldo!!

The Thinker's picture

Just wondering....did anyone else notice Jerome Luai deliberately trip a Souths defender (I think it was Su'a) on the weekend? It seemed pretty blatant and it seems to have been missed by everyone.

I think he's lucky to dodge a suspension.

Steel Panther's picture

Can't recall it Thinker. How many minutes gone? The only thing I remember is him knocking on with less than a minute on the clock....what a shame 😉

The Thinker's picture

Here you go Steel - if you have an NRL account you can watch the replay. It's at the 56 min 50 second mark, but the replays just after that show it more clearly (including the one from the corner post). 

I can't link to the exact moment but you can drag the game along to the 56 minute mark....unless you want to watch the whole thing

FYI its the 56+ minute mark on the game clock...the time on the replay is about 1 hour 8 minutes (when the Bunnies force To'o into touch)


BigPeteBx's picture

Evening Steely - you guessed it good Bro.
For a team who made the top 4, my lads played poorly.
Have to hand it to Storm though, they kept the playmakers in check and hardly allowed them room to move. My heart was in the right place when Jason Saab scored his double and two excellent tries at that.
Never give up and he ran like a gazelle and got them. I'd say they were both for his grandmother, who their family lost last week.

Eagles will turn it around and come back stronger. Look out Chooks - there are hungry eagles lurking about.

Ronaldo has got it mate, as much as Juve were against the way he departed, or the fans were. That second goal was a gem - a low rifled shot, straight between the keepers legs. Something keepers are first taught as youngsters - keep your legs closed arrhummm, or along those lines mate.

Keep well Bro
Big Pete

Steel Panther's picture

Thanks Thinker..sorry but I don't have an NRL account so looks like I'll miss out. Haven't seen any talk about this at all. Plenty about Penrith's blocking tactics though. The funny thing is I saw a tweet in your below feed from Andrew Voss showing the Bunnies doing exactly the same thing!! Made me chuckle....

NRL tipping is easier if you follow the NRL news