Finals week three

South Sydney Rabbitohs (3rd) vs Manly Sea Eagles (4th) – Friday night – Suncorp Stadium

I love rugby league for what it delivers on the field, but this is one of those games where what happens off the field could be just as entertaining. Des Hasler and Wayne Bennett will spend the lead-up doing everything they can to give nothing away. I'm not sure who blinks first...perhaps neither. These sides have met earlier this season, in round 2 where the Bunnies prevailed 26-12. This time around both sides will have a different fullback, as Trbojevic wasn't available for Manly while Mitchell donned the number one jersey for Souths. Those two changes alone well and truly even out this contest. The lingering question mark hanging over the Sea Eagles is that they haven't beaten Souths, Melbourne or Penrith this season. Clearly that has to change and it has to change now. For the Rabbits, each game could be the last (in Souths colours) for Adam Reynolds and coach Wayne Bennett. Should the Bunnies claim the title, Bennett becomes the first NRL coach to win premierships with three different clubs. The Bunnies were judged in much the same way as the Sea Eagles - convincingly beating most teams, but falling short (and way short) whenever they faced the Storm or the Panthers. That all changed in week one of the finals. In that game they did a good job of limiting the impact of Brian To'o. They'll need to repeat that on the Manly fullback, and the Storm showed them it can be done in week one of the finals (and Bennett will have taken notes). You can't stop players like To'o and Turbo, but you can slow them down. If they slow down the Turbo they'll win, and I think they can. 

Verdict – Rabbitohs by 7

Result – Rabbitohs 36 defeated Sea Eagles 16

Melbourne Storm (1st) vs Penrith Panthers (2nd) – Saturday afternoon – Suncorp Stadium

Penrith are an outstanding young football team - you don't win 21 of 24 games during the season if you aren't. That said, this outstanding young football team are showing signs of wear and tear. They had a long season in 2020, they carried a representative burden in the Origin series like never before, and they've been away from home for a long time. This is no excuse of course, as their opponent has done exactly the same thing, the Storm just seem to thrive in these conditions where other teams wither on the vine. Penrith haven't fall off a cliff mind you - they've conceded just 22 points in two games of finals football. It's their attack that is struggling. They scored one try against the Eels and one try against the Rabbiths - both off Cleary kicks. Part of that is quality opponents of course, but the clinical finishing we were so used to all season is less clinical. Now they take on a rested Storm outfit whose defence has conceded 137 less points than the Rabbitohs this year and 176 points less than the Sea Eagles. These sides have already played twice this season - in round 3 the Panthers won 12-10 in Penrith in what was one probably the best game in the first half of the 2021 season, and in round 20 the Storm won 37-10 in Brisbane. Notably, the Panthers were without Clearly, To'o and Fisher-Harris in that round 20 game. They'll make a profound difference, but the Panthers are looking tired. They had some luck over the Eels, conceding just two penalties in the match and sneaking home in the lowest scoring game of the year. Can they contain the Storm with their defence and win this? The Storm are averaging 34 points a game this season. They scored 40 against the Sea Eagles two weeks ago. They're rested, and their best finisher returns for this game on the wing. I don't think the Panthers can hold them out.

Verdict – Storm by 10

Result – Panthers 10 defeated Storm 6

Wally Lewis - finals week three (in bold)

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

  • RABBITOHS vs Sea Eagles
  • STORM vs Panthers


The Thinker's picture

Greetings tipsters

For those who can't wait until the tipping form is up to date - feel free to add your tips for week three of the finals in the comments. I will make sure your tips are included.

Otherwise, our Little Helper will be around shortly to strap a few more cats to the website and get this sucker up and running.

All the best

The Thinker

Thinker's Little Helper's picture

Tipping form now available. I just like to keep everyone waiting.

tigerholic's picture

Thinker- How can I meet and buy TLH a beer. He/She does an awesome job.

Let's hope this weekends games are like last week, some very good footy.


The Thinker's picture


TLH does do a great job

He's like the versatile back rower every team needs....doesn't get a lot of fanfare but his team mates know how important he is.

As for a drink, his family and my family will be almost holidaying together on North Stradbroke Island for a week just before Christmas....and I'll buy him one for you :-)

All the best

The Thinker

newbie from perth's picture

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

OK, the penultimate round is upon us before the “big dance” and what a weekend it’s shaping up to be. Both games should be crackers.

Before I dive into it I just wanna send a shout out to my beloved 🐔 🐔 🐔. So proud of where they got to considering all the dramas this year. Given the retirements, injuries and suspensions they had, it’s a testament to their character and desire (in my biased opinion only🤪) that they made it this far. I’m very pleased and satisfied and can’t wait for next year.

OK, let’s do this thing…

Rabbitohs vs. Manly @ Suncorp
Match Rating @ 55-45
Bookies Odds @ Rabbitohs $1.77 vs. Manly $2.05

The Rabbitohs scored a 16-10 win over the Panthers 2 weeks ago and in the grand scheme of things it was an absolutely massive result. Playing the Storm in a preliminary is now off the table and instead they have a much easier task ahead of them (sorta) when they play Manly this weekend. They’ve had an extra week’s rest and are at full strength and will be primed for this. Repeat their defensive effort from a fortnight ago and they’ll win this. A few words from Wayne Bennett … "We're just getting better at what's important in big games. They understand now what beats them and what wins for them. They understand the importance of every play in the game and they did that really well."

Possession - 52%
Completion Rate - 84% (37/44)
Line Breaks - 4
Tackle Breaks - 28
Tackles Made - 322
Missed Tackles - 21
Ineffective Tackles - 13
Errors - 9
Penalties Conceded - 5

Considering where the Roosters were with players and energy, I’m still trying to get a handle on Manly’s 42-6 demolition job last week. That easy win may not be the best of preparations though. They will need to be right up on top of their game to trouble the Bunnies. The Sea Eagles have yet to beat a top 4 side this year and Souths will test them. Manly’s forward pack were dominant last week but you need to remember they were playing a Roosters side missing a lot of their “regulars”. Don’t get me wrong, Manly were pretty slick and polished last week and were deserving winners but this week they’re up against much tougher opponents. A few words from Des Hasler … "We just did the simple things tonight. I think we just held on to the ball. We completed well, built pressure and played with good physicality. Some good parts there we can take forward. We're going to need that against a good Souths side next week. They're a good side Souths, they've got lots of attack and I think their forwards have been very underrated so it'll be a tough go."

Possession - 54%
Completion Rate - 79% (31/39)
Line Breaks - 7
Tackle Breaks - 38
Missed Tackles - 23
Ineffective Tackles - 9
Errors - 9
Penalties Conceded - 8

Verdict: If I were to compare “apples with apples” I’d have to say that Manly beat an understrength and tired Roosters side whereas Souths beat a top quality side who finished equal top (separated by points differential) at the end of the regular season. Plus, the Rabbitohs have had an extra week off to get into the best shape they can. I think the Rabbitohs will earn their place in the “big dance”.

Storm vs. Panthers @ Suncorp
Match Rating @ 70-30
Bookies Odds @ Storm $1.35 vs. Panthers $3.25

Another impressive effort from the Storm 2 weeks ago against Manly. With their “rested” players back they slipped into “finals mode” and stepped up, went about their job in a professional and clinical manner and did what good teams do. Great contributions from Ryan Papenhuyzen, Christian Welch & Cameron Munster. A few words from Craig Bellamy … "They have done a terrific job in the circumstances. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and if we stay focused for the next three weeks we will see what happens."

Possession - 61%
Completion Rate - 90% (35/39)
Line Breaks - 5
Tackle Breaks - 36
Missed Tackles - 19
Ineffective Tackles - 8
Errors - 5
Penalties Conceded - 5

A less than impressive effort from the Panthers last week against the Eels. They weren’t playing with the same flair as we’re all accustomed to and it seemed to me that they were struggling for large portions of the game. They got away with a couple of things (Moses taken out with a blatant front on shepherd and with Luai grabbing onto Moses’ jersey holding him back which went unnoticed). Forgetting those two particular instances (and the helping hand from one of their trainers), they were good enough to hold the Eels out in a second half where neither side scored. Good contributions from Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo and James Fisher-Harris. A few words from Ivan Cleary … "It was a good old-fashioned semi-final tonight. I thought it was fitting we finished the game with a defensive stand. We have had to learn different ways to win and our defence certainly held up tonight. We are in a prelim and that is where we're at. Against the reigning premiers, where would you rather be?"

Possession - 49%
Completion Rate - 84% (38/45)
Tackle Breaks - 35
Tackles Made - 410
Missed Tackles - 36
Ineffective Tackles - 12
Errors - 9
Ruck Infringements - 4

Verdict: Not all that enthused with what I’ve seen from the Panthers of late. They seem to panic just a little when they’re put under serious pressure. It would take a huge effort for them to get back into the groove. The Storm seem to have flicked on the “finals switch” considering how they’ve rediscovered their signature structure and overall game-plan. I’ll be tipping the Storm to book a date with Souths next week.

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

Dunno, just thought I might put this one up for something a little different. Be warned, the video might be a little confronting (sad). Look after yourselves if you need to 🙏

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

Christine's picture

South's & Storm sounds good too me put me in for that please I am not on the tipping ladder anyway it doesn't really matter

mark ashford's picture

Watched the #9 footy show on Sunday and Erin Moylan suggested that due to the incredible effort by the QLD Govt the NRL season had been allowed to continue. She suggested it was a shame no QLD teams were in the finals considering what the QLD Govt had done. Fitler, Sterlo and Ruan Simms said they couldn't care less. Just shows how NSW centric our comp is. The team on the #9 bench wouldn't even be there without QLD a tiny bit of gratitude would be nice. Thank you Erin for asking the question.

Dragons-fanboy's picture

Hi everyone, my tips for this week are:

Manly by 4

Storm by 16

Awesome! Good luck with everyone's team if they are still in and with everyone's tips for this week. Cheers and enjoy the rest of your week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christine's picture

"a" did you see america's got talent 2019 look up a guy called kodi lee he is blind autistic have a look at his audition & other performances he won $1 million on the show so have a look at it "a"& mark he does a great job of sining bridge over troubled water you mught like too ...

Christine's picture

"a" i only suggested toyou to have a look at kodi lee's performance on america's got talent 2019 too show you what is possible & i hope he goes a lot further with it too he is good & he doesn't let his disabilities hold him back in any way & i wish him luck in his life ...

Christine's picture

"a" just remember it might not happen now it might not happen tomorrow but it can happen so never doubt yourself "a" ...

mark ashford's picture

Hi Christine,
Yeah I don't watch a lot of those programs but love to hear someone with a disability has done well. Bridge over troubled waters is maybe my all time favourite. Hope you are keeping well.

mark ashford's picture

Hi Newbie
Never have been a Nick Cave fan (sorry) but hey as you have always said it's a matter of taste. While I would love to see Manly win tonight I think the Rabbits will have been well prepared by Wayne and may just scrape home.
I know you have divorced yourself from the AFL but just for fun I'll tip Bulldogs for the flag. Keep well in WA.

Mary S's picture

Hi Boss,
Just in case this was missed, as this appeared in Wk 2 comments, I have copied & pasted the following:

Submitted by a on Thu 23/9/21 - 6:17pm AEST

I’m tipping


Cheers to all,

MGM's picture

Sea Eagles
Can't see my tips so here they are in case

MGM's picture

I put them into the tipping page link but maybe I needed to refresh the page first and the link was not there a few of minutes ago !
Still no kick-off yet ... tipping with the heart not the head tonight.

NuL1F3's picture

Late again.. Storm please good Sir.

Steel Panther's picture


When you put your tips in, refresh the page & then go back & check to make sure they are there.

Christine's picture

I don't watch those programes either ,I just wanted to show "a" what someone with autism that is blind can & did achieve & from previous posts I knew you would like bridge over troubled water , apart from that yes I am doing the best I can & I hope you & your family is too Mark ...

MGM's picture

Thanks Steely,
that's what I did but because it was last minute I think the websites cut-off time didn't accept them ..... I'm just lucky that the Eagles bus getting stuck in traffic meant that I Didn't miss the bus ! (see what I did there?)

Steel Panther's picture

From what I saw last night, Manly never got off the bus. Very disappointing end to what was a good season. Their inability to complete sets killed them. Morgan Harper especially, was badly exposed in the finals games. Know Big Pete will be disappointed to see his team bow out with such a poor display.

Steel Panther's picture

I hope he doesn't mind this post but I'd like to wish Mark Ashford a belated happy 70th birthday for last Tuesday. A top bloke who I have had the pleasure of meeting both here and in OZ.

Hope you had a great day my friend!!

The Thinker's picture


I'll put tips through 

All the best

The Thinker

BigPeteBx's picture

Morning Steely - not so good for the morning after. As much as the week off really helped Souths – our bus being late, didn’t help for pre-match preparation, even if the start time was delayed.
Also the fact we crossed the try line twice, only to be disallowed. The Bunker put an end to that!
I was impressed with a couple of ours and the fact Moses Suli, put in his usual block busting runs, when he plays (not injured).
He seems to do more when given the chance.
Bearing in mind, that it appears St George are getting him next season.

For us Cherry-Evans and Harper stuffed plays and chances.
I like (as you know) our Jason Saab as a runner. He has a lovely style/posture for an athlete – only sprints when he needs to.
I’d have liked to have seen him get a try to equal Phil Blake’s record, even though Tom T broke it.
Cody Walker (Souths) was everywhere and in lots of things and created play. But, I guess we played ourselves dry after last week’s big win.

Truly disappointed with last night and the final margin.
Oh well, not easy to swallow, but we wait for next year.

BigPeteBx's picture

Yes Steely - a great bloke to post with, when he reads my posts...hahaha.

But also to you Mark - belated birthday wishes and yes, we know you had a good one.

Cheers and keep well
Big Pete in Bx

BigPeteBx's picture

Morning MGM - sorry my lads couldn't do it this time.
Ran themselves dry last week!
I do appreciate that several here at Thinker site, tipped Manly and I like them, thought it could really happen. Souths enjoyed that week off.

@Baggy @Drags FanBoy @Voyeur @'a' - it was nice to see some had the feeling it could happen. But, like I did, when coaching several codes of sport - You have to make it happen!

Some tried - some stuffed up!

Keep well and so nice conversing with you during 2021 NRL season. I'll be about speaking of other codes during the break (off-season).

Cheers - I wish I was able to.
Big Pete in a sunny Bx

Baggy_Gee's picture

Pete, I am a believer, but between the last 2 games have broken me for the rest of the season, I'm only going to watch this afternoon to watch the weak sauce Panthers get absolutely pumped. Here's to next season with a proper man at the head of the game.

Steel Panther's picture

There's always next season Big Pete. After Manly's start this year they rebounded well and played some great footy. Three blokes in the team that scored over 20 tries apiece is some achievement.

Time now to focus on the Red Devils.

newbie from perth's picture

🔊 Mr Ashford: “I know you have divorced yourself from the AFL but just for fun I'll tip Bulldogs for the flag.”

Yeah, me and the AFL are truly done and dusted but I’ll be watching today’s GF regardless. I’m using the occasion to reconnect with friends and family I haven’t seen in quite a while. Like you, I’ll be going for the Bulldogs but only because they’re red, white and blue. Same colours as the 🐔. How surprising eh? 😂

Gotta go off now and prep for the afternoon/night ahead. Getting around to a mate’s place (where we’ll be watching the AFL) in roughly an hour and a half so I can sit down for the Storm vs. Panthers game before we start watching that “other” so called football. The “real” footy starts at 2pm WA time so I need to get a wriggle on.

Commiserations to all our Manly family here. Feeling your loss but honestly, they were never a match for the Bunnies. They just didn’t seem to be switched on for the task at hand. But a stellar effort nevertheless considering their horrible start to the season. Well done fellas.

Yeah, belated birthday wishes from me too Mr Ashford 😉.

Cheers y’all 🐔 🐔 🐔.

MGM's picture

Thanks Thinker.
Going against the general consensus here is usually a bad idea just like it was last night.
Today however ..... !

MGM's picture

$25K well spent Penrith !

Mary S's picture

Hope the Bunnies can eat the Panthers next week!!!
Credit where credit is due - Panthers were the more determined team today I think.


MGM's picture

@Mary S
To me it doesn't matter HOW well they play , they've cheated their way to the finish line .

Steel Panther's picture

I'm waiting for Coach to

Mary S's picture

Please Steel, don't wish that on us!!


The Thinker's picture

In three games ... and four hours of football ... the Panthers have scored just Four tries....and they're into the grand final 



Esra Star's picture

The 10mtr rule! I would ask,what 10mtr rule? Penrith did a storm on the storm.

tigerholic's picture

Morning All
That was a very different storm effort, they made mistakes, didn't create any space, I think that the pressure of everyone thinking they were already into the GF played a part.

I am not a fan or even remotely fond of the storm but I have to admit they are a an amazing football club.


mark ashford's picture

Hi All
Thanks for the birthday wishes...much appreciated.
Big Pete, I do read your posts but with a new lady in my life I tend to get a bit distracted if you know what I mean. I was tossing up between Manly and the Rabbits and only Bennet's involvement swayed me. Interesting to see Rabbits win well without Latrelle.
Had a bad day yesterday. Was tipping Bulldogs only to see them flogged in the last quarte by the Demons and then Storm were kept almost scoreless by a determined Panthers. Good luck next weekend to Panther supporters (do we have any?).

BigPeteBx's picture

Not a prob Mark - totally understand and more so if the other is not a sports follower. I think you mentioned before that "the lady" followed AFL. My Maggies!
I was riding Demons last night, as I try to keep my distance with Bulldogs et al.

Ironic it seems that we had an AFL G/Final with two Melbourne (Vic) teams playing in W.A. and now we have an NRL G/Final between two Sydney (NSW) teams, being playing in Brisbane (QLD).
Omens or what!

My lads in NRL played shocking on Friday night, but at least they made the top 4. A bit different to last season.

Have a good week Comrade.
Keep safe and well.

Big Pete in Bx

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