NRL Semi Finals Preview

16 teams. 1 premiership title. Only 4 teams remain. We are closer to finding out who will be the NRL Telstra Premiers for 2013 as we are now in the semi final round of footy. We are guaranteed new premiers as the reigning Melbourne Storm were upset by the Newcastle Knights last weekend. Who will go onto one of the most anticipated grand finals of recent years?

Semi-final time baby!

Semi-final time baby!

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Two of the top form teams collide at ANZ Stadium tonight in what is sure to be an all-out nail biter between the Bunnies and the Eagles. The Bunnies have not tasted grand final glory since 1971 (I wasn’t even born then!) while the Eagles have been finals mainstays year after year, last tasting grand final flory only two years ago defeating the Warriors.

The Bunnies have had a week off after securing their semi final presence by beating the Storm in the qualifier. This time off not only serves the whole team some good but especially fullback Greg Inglis who is overcoming an injury. Their game against the Storm was challenged by many rugby league fans alike and it is debatable that they have been playing at 100%. In my sweet and humble opinion, the Bunnies have been playing good footy – not bad, but not excellent either. If they want to break their premiership drought, they’re going to have to find that passion and hunger that is evident in other teams (Newcastle Knights) to beat the ever impressive Sea Eagles.

One of the things that I admire about the Sea Eagles are their loyal followers, and it’s hard not to argue that fact seeing as they have impressed year after year. While the player to watch for the Eagles has often been Brett Stewart, I would argue that the one to watch in the Eagles side is Kieran Foran – the (proud Kiwi) man has been a force to be reckoned with in recent weeks and has been in top form in the latter portion of the year. He has been a bloody outstanding five-eighth so John Sutton will have his work cut out for him.

SolSat’s Prediction: South Sydney Rabbitohs

This is a tentative tip, not because I am unsure of the Bunnies ability to win but because the Eagles are that damn good that I wouldn’t be surprised to see if I was wrong. I am basing 90% of my choice on the fact that since the beginning of the year, I have said that the Bunnies will make the grand final so I am sticking to that prediction. If I am wrong, however… there is no shame in losing a tip against the Eagles. Here’s to a good game of footy at my second most favourite stadium in the world.

Sydney City Roosters vs. Newcastle Knights

It is the premiership favourites versus the veteran underdogs as the Chookies collide with the Knights. The minor premiers for 2013 (the Roosters) last captured grand final glory in 2002 led by league great Brad Fittler. Coincidentally, the previous year’s Premiership was won by the Newcastle Knights who were led at the time by Fittler’s main ‘rival’, Andrew “Joey” Johns.

The Roosters have been favoured to win the grand final this year with the acquisition of solid footy players like Sonny Bill Williams and James Maloney – with the former, I would just like to point out that if I saw that man running at me, I would gladly relinquish the ball and put my head between my legs. Their side have incredible talent that could have this one easily if they knew how to execute their talents effectively, and not choke. Not that that’s a reference to anyone…

The Knights were written off earlier in the year with a decent start to the year, nothing outstanding, nothing bad. With the added pressure of making the top 8 later in the year, the Knights were slapped awake and went on a steamroller, their most impressive victory coming last week against the Storm. With this being Buderus’ last year in the NRL (for the second time), the Knights are keen to make Danny’s last year a golden one.

SolSat’s Prediction: Sydney City Roosters

I’m tipping with my head on this one because my heart is solely behind the Knights. I’m hoping for Buderus to go out with a win in the semi final and maybe even a grand final win but if not, that’s okay – there is no embarrassment about losing to the Chookies who have been hovering around the top rung of the ladder all year.

I haven’t been this excited about footy finals in ages, and one semi is being played right now. Peace out, SolSaters!

– by The Black Widow

Tipping for Dummies: Finals Week 1

It’s that time of the year again! No, I’m not referring to some special holiday, but moreso to the finals of the NRL! Apologies for the lack of TFD last week, I forgot the week started on Thursday and after watching the Broncos win their last game for 2013 and send off Princey in high spirits, I realised “Shoot! I didn’t put in my tips!” Whoops. Anywho… welcome to Tipping for Dummies!

Everybody's favourite "Tipping for Dummies!"

Everybody’s favourite “Tipping for Dummies!”

I just love the feeling knowing we are getting step by step closer to finding out the Premiers of 2013! Let’s get this thing started!

Friday 13th September, 2013
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Melbourne Storm
This one, in my sweet and humble opinion, is going to be a helluva game between these two top teams. Both the Bunnies and the Storm have carved through their competition throughout the entire year and it all comes down to this. One notable mention for the Storm’s side is that Widdop has been named on the interchange and, seeing as I have a soft spot for Widdop, this is excellent news! Here’s to hoping he goes well tonight.

SolSat’s Prediction: South Sydney Rabbitohs

This is definitely a very, very difficult one to predict. My decision to tip the Storm is based purely on the Bunnies lackluster performance last week and Inglis’ seeming mismatch against his former team. Ever since joining the Bunnies, Inglis has not beaten the Storm in a game and with those statistics in mind, I’m backing the Storm to take this one on. I also want Ryles to go out in a blaze of glory because he so surely deserves it.

Saturday 14th September, 2013
Cronulla Sharks vs. North Queensland Cowboys
Team no.5 takes on team no.8 at Allianz Stadium as the Sharkies collide with the Cowboys. Both of these teams have had a decent year, nothing more, nothing less. The Sharks have an influx of returns for their finals match with Gallen, Carney, Graham, Bukuya and Tupou returning while the Cowboys regain (my favourite Cowboy) Matt Scott back in his rightful no.8 jersey.

SolSat’s Prediction: North Queensland Cowboys

While the Sharks have been great and the reinforcements back into their squad will help, the Cowboys have proven to be dangerous opponents in recent weeks, chalking up impressive win after impressive win. They have hit top form at the end of the season and that is why I’m predicting a Cowboys win in this one. Go Scotty!

South Sydney Roosters vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Taking place 3 hours after at Allianz Stadium is the Chookies vs. the Eagles. Just like the Bunnies/Storm game, this one is going to be a very hard one to tip seeing as both teams have proven why they deserve to be in the top 4. According to the NRL website, the Roosters still have yet to name a no.8 with Waerea-Hargreaves still under scrutiny from last week’s shenanigans. With rumours that Georgey Rose could be heading to the Storm, this may be his last game as an Eagle if they were to lose.

SolSat’s Prediction: South Sydney Roosters

I’m going with the Roosters on this one based purely on the fact that they are currently on the top of the ladder. In their previous two encounters in the year, the Chookies have also beaten the Eagles so with that in mind, here’s to a Roosters victory on Saturday night.

Sunday 15th September, 2013
Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Newcastle Knights
Wrapping up the first week of finals in the NRL is the Doggies taking on the Knights at ANZ Stadium. Both teams have been great all season with a couple of mismatches here and there but nevertheless they have earned their spot in the top 8. Barba has been named on the bench for the Bulldogs and on the Knights side, this may be the last game for Buderus if they Knights were to lose after having a great home send off last week against the Eels.

SolSat’s Prediction: Newcastle Knights

I know it’s not wise to do so, especially in an actual money-betting environment, but I’m tipping with my heart on this one and choosing the Knights to take the victory. I have a soft spot for Buderus and think he is an absolute NRL legend and I am therefore hoping that the Knights will defeat the Bulldogs just to keep Buderus’ dreams alive – and me happy.

As always, I am keen as mustard for this weekend and will be glued to the TV to watch all of this week’s NRL action unfurl. Here’s to some solid footy!

– by The Black Widow

Tipping for Dummies: Round 25

Not gonna lie, I intend on making this one short and snappy so I can get my weekend started. Got a big one ahead so let’s get it kickin’… welcome to Tipping for Dummies Round 25!

Everybody's favourite "Tipping for Dummies!"

Everybody’s favourite “Tipping for Dummies!”

SolSat Prediction Count from Round 24: 4 out of 8 (50%)

Ouch. That stings.

Friday 30th August, 2013
Brisbane Broncos vs. Newcastle Knights
The Broncos are coming off a very disappointing loss against Penrith last week with our finals dreams being slimmer than ever. We are going up against cousin Fraser’s Newcastle Knights who will have to get the job down without Snowden in a very controversial suspension, putting him out for 8 weeks although they do have Mason to add to the forward pack.

SolSat’s Prediction: Brisbane Broncos

I’m picking this one based purely on heart, and my heart will forever be with the Broncos. My dreams of being in the finals are diminishing and this is our fight or die moment. The last time these two teams clashed, it ended up in a draw after stellar performances from both sides, so let’s hope that they both perform exceedingly well again, albeit with a Broncos victory.

West Tigers vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
This is a big one for both the Tigers and the Bunnies; making his return is Tigers captain Robbie Farah whom the Tigers have badly missed. On the Bunnies side, it is the first time in nearly 100 years that four brothers have played together on the same side as Sam, Luke, Tom and George will all be playing for the Bunnies. I have a soft spot for the Burgess boys so this’ll be great.

SolSat’s Prediction: South Sydney Rabbitohs

This one’s a no brainer, really. The Bunnies have got this one in the bag unless there’s some sort of natural disaster (touch wood) that harms the Bunnies squad. I’m quite excited to see the four Burgess boys playing together. My personal favourite is Luke by the way, just in case someone holds a gun to your head and says “I’ll shoot unless you tell me who Noah’s favourite Burgess boy is”.

Saturday 31st August, 2013
New Zealand Warriors vs. Canberra Raiders
The Raiders have made all the headlines this week and not for the good reason as a personal favourite in Sandor Earl has been handed an infraction notice from ASADA (AKA the Game Ruiners) for illegal use of peptides, and Ferguson has also decided to take a runner. Will this affect the Raiders form as they take on the Warriors in New Zealand?

SolSat’s Prediction: New Zealand Warriors

I’m basing this pick solely on the media revolving around the Raiders – with all this drama going on, I don’t think they would’ve had time to solely focus on their game against the Warriors who are pretty great themselves. Therefore, I am predicting a pretty decisive victory on the Warriors’ behalf.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Penrith Panthers
The Doggies take on the Panthers for their second game in a row at the wonderful ANZ Stadium after their loss against the Bunnies in Round 24 last week. On the contrary, the Panthers are coming off a very decisive win against my Broncos so Kingston’s side will be looking to turn this into a streak against the Doggies.

SolSat’s Prediction: Canterbury Bulldogs

I’ve made this decision based simply on “who do I think is better between the two”. Obviously, my answer came up as the Bulldogs, who have been lurking around the top rungs of the ladder all season.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs. Melbourne Storm
In what may very well be a warm-up to a possible 2013 grand final, the Eagles will be playing in their home ground against the ever unstoppable Melbourne Storm. Right now I just have to make a shout out to Jason Ryles who has kept me entertained endlessly with his Ryles Files videos on Storm TV – if you haven’t checked them out yet, please do so. The man is as funny as he is large.

SolSat’s Prediction: Melbourne Storm

The Eagles are missing some of their big players from their usual starting line up so I’m backing the Storm on this one. Words are not needed to describe how in form the Storm are (that rhymed!) so this one is sure to be the game to watch this round. I will also be keeping my eye out for new SolSat favourite Jason Ryles (check out Ryles Files, these are subliminal messages).

Sunday 1st September, 2013
Cronulla Sharks vs. North Queensland Cowboys
Kicking off ye olde Fathers Day this Sunday are the Sharkies who take on the Cowboys, the latter of which have been steamrolling through competition as they have hit impeccable form. I feel sorry for the blokes who have to play on Sunday who would rather be at home with their children. Sadface.

SolSat’s Prediction: North Queensland Cowboys

I am tentatively backing the non-favourites in this game as I predict a close win for the Cowboys. As mentioned before, the Cowboys are on a winning streak and are on a mission to remain in the top 8 for the finals and I believe they can do that with a victory over the Sharkies.

Sydney City Roosters vs. Gold Coast Titans
Top team Sydney City Roosters will be looking to change their luck after a very surprising defeat at the hands of the Sharks last week as they take on the Gold Coast Titans. Now would be an appropriate time to commend Titans’ Aidan Sezer for his tremendous kicking game recently.

SolSat’s Prediction: Sydney City Roosters

Even with Sezer’s solid form, I don’t see the Titans beating the Chookies here unfortunately, as I’m sure the Titans are all wonderful men. Yes, sometimes I base my tips on my personal feelings because I am pathetic like that. But on a serious note, the Chookies have been impressive all season so I’m expecting them to take out the victory here.

Monday 2nd September, 2013
Parramatta Eels vs. St. George Illawarra Dragons
Two of the bottom teams are set to wrap up Round 25 as the Eels collide with the Dragons at Parramatta Stadium which, I need to point out, needs to fix their terrible parking pronto.

SolSat’s Prediction: St. George Illawarra Dragons

This one boiled down to the two of lesser evils as both teams have had shockers. The statistics would favour the Eels who have won all their four games at Parra Stadium but when it comes to who’s better of the two, I’m backing the Dragons. I feel for them. They need a win.

You can tell I’m passionate about my footy because I just prattled on for over 1100 words in less than ten minutes – just about footy tips. Anywho, I’m about to don my Broncos jersey with pride and HOPEFULLY they can take the win tonight against the Knights. Widow out!

– by The Black Widow

Tipping for Dummies: Round 24

This one’s going to be short seeing as I’m sick and dying in bed right now. This stupid illness is even keeping me away from the Panthers-Broncos game tonight, one that I was looking forward to attending for months. Sadface. Welcome to Tipping for Dummies, Round 24!

 

Everybody's favourite "Tipping for Dummies!"

Everybody’s favourite “Tipping for Dummies!”

 

SolSat’s Prediction Count from Round 23: 6 out of 8 (75%)

Again. Again.

Friday 23rd August, 2013
Penrith Panthers vs. Brisbane Broncos
I’m still fuming that I can’t attend this game. Anyway, the Broncos have not been defeated since those vital changes were made while the Panthers momentum has gone downhill. No major changes on either side besides Tim Grant starting for Jeremy Latimore in the front row. Can the Panthers break the Broncos positive streak?

SolSat’s Prediction: Brisbane Broncos

No. No they can’t. The Broncos are chomping at the bits to get into the finals and that hunger is shown in their recent form with notable mention going out to Hoffman who is in his element at fullback – where he should’ve been in the beginning. I will be sure to cheer my boys on from the comfort of my bed.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Canterbury Bulldogs
This will be an interesting one, seeing as both teams have the same home ground so the crowd support should be pretty even. Ben Lowe starts as lock for the suspended Jeff Lima on the Bunnies side and Tony Williams has been named to start in the second row on the Doggies side.

SolSat’s Prediction: South Sydney Rabbitohs

With the reinvigoration of getting Inglis and Sutton back, the Bunnies are back in top shape and will make good work of the Doggies. I don’t think the Doggies are too sure of themselves with the frequent changes to their side in recent weeks. Either way, this will be a bloody good one.

Saturday 24th August, 2013
St. George Illawarra Dragons vs. West Tigers
These two teams have had their finals dreams dashed a while ago but a win’s a win and both teams would definitely be gunning for the victory here. I’m still not over Matt Cooper retiring from footy… I just don’t wanna talk about it.

SolSat’s Prediction: St. George Illawarra Dragons

I think this is the first time I’ve predicted a Dragons win. Either way, in terms of better form, I’m going with the Dragons on this one. While both teams haven’t been great this season, the choice of the lesser evil of the two, the Dragons should win this one in a close bout. Especially considering Benji’s half-arsed performances as of late.

Gold Coast Titans vs. New Zealand Warriors

Meanwhile, in Queensland, the Gold Coast Titans take on the Warriors. On the Titans side, Albert Kelly returns from injury and slots back into his no.7 jersey, putting Sezer to five-eigth and Harrison back on lock. On the Warriors side, Ropati returns to the wing, Elijah Taylor moves to the second row and Todd Lowrie starts at lock. Both teams are hoping that these changes will prove vital to a victory.

SolSat’s Prediction: Gold Coast Titans

The Warriors who had incredible momentum in the middle of the season seemed to have died down recently, with less than stellar performances. The Titans on the other hand have been in excellent form recently and I see them taking the win here in a close match.

North Queensland Cowboys vs. Newcastle Knights
Another Queensland team that have their sights set on the finals and seem to be doing a pretty good job at getting there are the Cowboys who take on the Knights. The Cowboys are coming off a 12 point lead victory over the Titans while the Knights are coming off a loss against the Storm.

SolSat’s Prediction: North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys have been on a steamroller recently while the Knights have had a pretty tame season. As I said before, the Cowboys are as hungry as their rivals for a finals spot and that alone will lead them to victory over the Knights.

Sunday 25th August, 2013
Canberra Raiders vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
The Raiders have made a lot of changes to their side; Paul Vaughan and Shaun Berrigan will start pushing Joel Edwards and Glen Buttriss back to the bench. In saying that, Manly has made none. Both teams were on the losing end of the scales last week. Which team will change that momentum with a victory?

SolSat’s Prediction: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

One of the top contenders for the premiership would have to be the Eagles and that alone is the reason why I am predicting a Manly win. With exceptional players like Foran and Cherry-Evans on their side, I see them decisively taking the victory against the Raiders.

Melbourne Storm vs. Parramatta Eels
The team favoured to win the premiership takes on the team favoured to win the wooden spoon. The Storm haven’t made any changes to their side while the Eels haven’t named Hayne on their side.

SolSat’s Prediction: Melbourne Storm

Too easy to call. I see the Storm pulling out an easy victory here despite their tendency to be mismatched against the lower teams. Nothing more to say to that.

Monday 26th August, 2013
Cronulla Sharks vs. Sydney City Roosters
Both teams are coming off victories last week as the Sharks defeated the Dragons and the Roosters absolutely smashed the Tigers with a 42 point lead victory. On the Sharks side, Wade Graham returns in the second row and Andrew Fifita starts. On the Chookies side, Mitchell Aubusson moves to the centre and Aidan Guerra starts on the second row. Both Sharkies and Chookies are hoping to continue their uphill stride to the finals with a victory here.

SolSat’s Prediction: Sydney City Roosters

It may be too early to say but I see the Chookies making the grand final. Their form has been untouchable all season while the Sharkies have been up and down and that is why I see a Rooster’s victory to close up Round 24.

As always, here’s to a good round of footy and especially to a Broncos win tonight against the Panthers. I’m still burning that I won’t be able to go!

– by The Black Widow