Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Week 3 Finals matches, including his Game Saver play earmarked for Saturday.

Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders @ Suncorp Stadium
Friday 16th October, 7:50pm

StormRaiders
Ryan Papenhuyzen1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Suliasi Vunivalu2Semi Valemei
Brenko Lee3Jarrod Croker
Justin Olam4Jordan Rapana
Josh Addo-Carr5Nick Cotric
Cameron Munster6Jack Wighton
Jahrome Hughes7George Williams
Jesse Bromwich8Josh Papalii
Cameron Smith9Tom Starling
Christian Welch10Iosia Soliola
Felise Kaufusi11John Bateman
Kenneath Bromwich12Elliott Whitehead
Nelson Asofa-Solomona13Joseph Tapine
Brandon Smith14Siliva Havili
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui15Dunamis Lui
Tom Eisenhuth16Hudson Young
Nicho Hynes17Corey 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.

Tip: Tri Bet – Either team by 8.5 or less @ $2.25

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ ANZ Stadium
Friday 17th October, 7:50pm

PanthersRabbitohs
Dylan Edwards1Corey Allan
Josh Mansour2Alex Johnston
Brent Naden3Campbell Graham
Stephen Crichton4Dane Gagai
Brian To’o5Jaxson Paulo
Jarome Luai6Cody Walker
Nathan Cleary7Adam Reynolds
James Tamou8Tevita Tatola
Apisai Koroisau9Damien Cook
James Fisher-Harris10Thomas Burgess
Kurt Capewell11Jaydn Su’a
Liam Martin12Bayley Sironen
Isaah Yeo13Cameron Murray
Tyrone May14Mark Nicholls
Spencer Leniu15Liam Knight
Moses Leota16Jed Cartwright
Zane Tetevano17Keaon 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.

Tip: Margin – Panthers 1-12 @ $2.88