Pressure Packed Prelims

Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week
Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive preview of the NRL Preliminary Finals.

Rabbithos v Roosters

ANZ Stadium
Friday September 26 @ 7.55pm (AEST)


It’s incredible that two teams who share so much history – so much hate – have not met in a finals match since 1938. But I’m tipping this game will be worth the wait! These teams have had some ding-dong battles over the past few years, and this one promises to be the same. The coaches and players will tell you this match-up doesn’t mean any more than any other game, that they won’t listen to the hype surrounding the old Souths-Easts rivalry . . . what a load of bollocks! It is impossible to avoid. But the key to this one will be who settles into the rhythm of the game quicker. Once the emotion is taken out of the early exchanges, who can knuckle down and get on with the job of winning their way through to the GF. The Roosters’ late defensive lapses would be a big concern for coach Trent Robinson. In round 26, they invited the Rabbitohs back into their showdown for the minor premiership – and only narrowly escaped. In the first week of the finals they were run down by Penrith, and then last week against courageous Cowboys… well, what about that! Giving up a 30-nil lead… amazing. The way the Roosters are throwing away big leads proves they are still a long way off the side that took the title last year. Both teams are pretty much at full strength, with Dylan Napa returning for the Chooks and Ben Te’o back for the Rabbits. The Roosters have a slight edge over the Bunnies in recent clashes, having won three of their past five. The Roosters are not at their best – but I think they are better-prepared to handle what will be a grand final-like occasion.

My tip: Roosters 1-12



Panthers  v Bulldogs

ANZ Stadium
Saturday September 27 @ 7.55pm (AEST)


Ivan Cleary and his men would have taken great delight watching the 84-minute epic between the Dogs and Sea Eagles last Saturday. The longer the game was up in the air – and the more energy that was sapped out of the players – the more they would have liked it. Penrith are rested and refreshed, while the Dogs are coming off a physically and emotionally draining clash. That definitely plays in Penrith’s favour. The Bulldogs’ advantage lies in their forwards. In James Graham and Aiden Tolman, they have arguably the best front-row combination in the NRL this year. Then they have pesky Mick Ennis scheming and sledging away, future rep back-rower Josh Jackson firing on the edges and Kiwi star Greg Eastwood playing some handy footy as well. But the Panthers have the edge in creativity in the spine. The Bulldogs might have the two NSW halves – Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds – but fullback Sam Perrett and hooker Ennis don’t offer them too much playmaking support. On the other hand, Penrith have the jack-in-the-box out of dummy-half, James Segeyaro, an in-form Jamie Soward and the sublimely-skilled Matt Moylan at the back. That is where I think Penrith will win it. The spine is, obviously, so crucial to the modern game – if the underrated Panthers pack can hold the Dogs’ rampaging middle men, their one, six, seven and nine will do the rest.

My tip: Panthers 1-12




Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week


Mitchell Dale, Editor Rugby League Week

@LeagueWeek


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