We’re down to four teams following a rather uneventful Week 2 of the NRL Finals as the Eels and Rabbitohs cruised through to the Preliminary Finals.

Eels Slip Past Raiders

The Parramatta Eels did exactly what they needed to do on Friday night. As an inconsistent team throughout the year, they put it all together across the full 80 minutes to thrash the Canberra Raiders 40-4 at CommBank Stadium.

It all started in the yardage game:

Campbell-Gillard – 190m
Paulo – 164m
Lane – 221m
Papali’i – 232m
Matterson – 158m

With the platform set and dominance through the middle, Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown linked up to pile up the points. Brown, in particular, played out one of the best games of his NRL career. He finished up with 321 running metres but it was his work at pivot that proved so valuable.

Ricky Stuart’s side did well to get this far. They were spoon contenders earlier in the year but recovered well enough to make the most of a Broncos capitulation to sneak into the Top 8. Their win over the Storm in Week 1 is one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. However, an in-form Eels side ended up being a hurdle too tall to clear. The Raiders couldn’t get going in the middle of the field and instead searched down the edges where the Eels defended with relative ease.

The Eels have always been capable of this level of play. They displayed it at times throughout the season but struggled to do it every week. The concerns have been around their ability to do it through September and into October. Now, they’re just one game away from the NRL Grand Final. Forced to travel to Townsville to earn their place, the Eels have opened their Preliminary Final against the North Queensland Cowboys as $2.17 and +2.5 underdogs.

Rabbitohs Roll Through Sharks

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have peaked at the right time. Poor to start the NRL season, they deserve their place in yet another Preliminary Final following a convincing 38-12 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

Latrell Mitchell is in superb form. His numbers don’t do anywhere near enough to show his impact. Finishing with only 25 touches and 66 running metres, you’d think he played a poor game. Think again, SuperCoach analysists. Mitchell was one of South Sydney’s most valuable contributors and they wouldn’t be here without him. His destructive carries in good ball and silky hands are the brief but brilliant involvements that have him regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the game.

Cody Walker and Lachlan Ilias chimed in well throughout this one, too. Walker looked dangerous every time he touched the ball down the left edge. Meanwhile, Ilias backed up a strong kicking game in Week 1 with a well-rounded performance in Week 2. The concerns around his ability to slot in for Adam Reynolds are starting to die down.

For the Sharks, they struggled to stamp their authority on this one.

As in the match 24 hours earlier, the superior side dominated the centre-third and didn’t allow the other into the game. Nicho Hynes can only do so much behind a beaten pack and couldn’t manufacture enough points to keep within touching distance of the Bunnies in this one.

It’s another prelim for the Rabbitohs – their fifth in a row. Even better for footy fans, it’s a rematch of the 2021 NRL Grand Final as they take on the premiership-favourite Panthers. Unsurprisingly, the Rabbitohs are fairly significant outsiders for this time of the year at $3.10 and +8.5.

It’s going to be a week of ‘racing the clock’ headlines in Redfern. Alex Johnston, Jai Arrow and Siliva Havili all failed to finish the game on Saturday night. Johnston is the NRL’s top try scorer, Arrow is a key line-runner in that feat on the left edge, and Havili is tasked with filling the void left by a suspended Tom Burgess on the bench. All are “expected” to play, but whether they do or not may not be confirmed until an hour before kickoff.

NRL Grand Final Winner Odds

As expected, the Panthers are heavy $1.80 favourites to win two more games and lift the Provan-Summons Trophy in a fortnight. While they played out a disrupted finish to the NRL regular season, they’re healthy and well-rested heading into this week.

There isn’t a clear favourite among the ‘not-Panthers’ premiership contenders. The Rabbitohs are playing like the second-best team in the competition right now but need to get through the Panthers if they’re to get to the big dance. While the Cowboys are playing at home and have an excellent record in Townsville in September, the Eels are playing brilliant football at the moment. The Week 2 monkey is off their back and an appearance in the Grand Final is within touching distance. Parramatta’s $6 appeals given their performance on Saturday night.

Premiership Winner

Penrith Panthers$1.80
South Sydney Rabbitohs$5.50
North Queensland Cowboys$5.50
Parramatta Eels$6