Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders @ Suncorp Stadium
|Ryan Papenhuyzen||1||Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad|
|Suliasi Vunivalu||2||Semi Valemei|
|Brenko Lee||3||Jarrod Croker|
|Justin Olam||4||Jordan Rapana|
|Josh Addo-Carr||5||Nick Cotric|
|Cameron Munster||6||Jack Wighton|
|Jahrome Hughes||7||George Williams|
|Jesse Bromwich||8||Josh Papalii|
|Cameron Smith||9||Tom Starling|
|Christian Welch||10||Iosia Soliola|
|Felise Kaufusi||11||John Bateman|
|Kenneath Bromwich||12||Elliott Whitehead|
|Nelson Asofa-Solomona||13||Joseph Tapine|
|Brandon Smith||14||Siliva Havili|
|Tino Fa’asuamaleaui||15||Dunamis Lui|
|Tom Eisenhuth||16||Hudson Young|
|Nicho Hynes||17||Corey Harawira-Naera|
History: Played 46, Storm 32, Raiders 14
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2020: Storm 20 def. Raiders 14
Final Thoughts: The Canberra Raiders are into another Preliminary Final. Few thought it was possible when Josh Hodgson went down earlier in the year. Many pegged last week as the end to Canberra’s fairy tale run. However, their 22-18 win over the Sydney Roosters has booked a date with the Melbourne Storm in the NRL Grand Final qualifier and it’s shaping up as a beauty.
Cameron Munster has been named after having a week off to rest and rehab his dodgy knee. Dale Finucane has also been named in the reserves and is a good chance at being called into the side. This is going to be close to a full-strength Melbourne outfit – few have looked better than the Storm when they’re 100% this year.
This unconventional Raiders attack goes up against the second-best defence in the NRL this week. The Storm concedes just 14.3 points per game in 2020. While the Raiders score more tries through the middle than any other team in the competition, no team has allowed fewer through the centre-third than the Storm. This is an exciting matchup, and like last week, can go either way. However, Melbourne don’t only have the weapons in attack to pile up points; they’re well-placed to handle the Raiders hardest punches. Still, expect a close one between two teams that don’t have a problem playing out the full 80 minutes.
Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ ANZ Stadium
|Dylan Edwards||1||Corey Allan|
|Josh Mansour||2||Alex Johnston|
|Brent Naden||3||Campbell Graham|
|Stephen Crichton||4||Dane Gagai|
|Brian To’o||5||Jaxson Paulo|
|Jarome Luai||6||Cody Walker|
|Nathan Cleary||7||Adam Reynolds|
|James Tamou||8||Tevita Tatola|
|Apisai Koroisau||9||Damien Cook|
|James Fisher-Harris||10||Thomas Burgess|
|Kurt Capewell||11||Jaydn Su’a|
|Liam Martin||12||Bayley Sironen|
|Isaah Yeo||13||Cameron Murray|
|Tyrone May||14||Mark Nicholls|
|Spencer Leniu||15||Liam Knight|
|Moses Leota||16||Jed Cartwright|
|Zane Tetevano||17||Keaon Koloamatangi|
History: Played 32, Panthers 17, Rabbitohs 15
Last Meeting: Round 7, 2020: Panthers 20 def. Rabbitohs 12
Final Thoughts: The Penrith Panthers have looked unbeatable for months now, but they’re preparing to face a South Sydney Rabbitohs side that has completed one of the best three-week periods in recent memory. After thrashing the Roosters 60-8 and Knights 46-20 in back-to-back weeks, the Rabbitohs came back through 24 unanswered points to beat the Eels 38-24 in Week 2 of the NRL Finals.
The Souths attack is incredible at the moment. Cody Walker looks like the best player in the competition and Adam Reynolds is in career-best attacking form. Their unheralded pack is finally receiving the sort of credit it has deserved for much of the season. However, the Panthers don’t go too bad with the ball in hand either. Unlike Souths, they’ve been doing it all year to average 27 points per game. Nathan Cleary is the favourite for the Dally M Medal and Jarome Luai has set the left edge on fire with his 22 try assists in 2020. Add Penrith’s NRL-best defence and they’re an elite team on both sides of the ball.
Souths can’t be ruled out of this one – their $2.78 along with the Game Saver Token deserves consideration given how quickly they can pile up points. But Penrith is the more well-rounded and consistent team that has leapt every hurdle put in front of them so far this season. They should leap one more into the NRL Grand Final.