While the mighty Panthers and Cowboys take a well-earned rest, there are still two NRL Finals games to navigate through this weekend.
All four teams in action will know that only two can go through to the Preliminary Final to meet either Penrith or North Queensland for the chance to make the 2022 NRL Grand Final.
The other two can start planning their Mad Monday celebrations.
So once again, here are my fearless predictions for this week.
Game 1: Elimination Semi-Final – Parramatta Eels v Canberra Raiders. Friday, September 16 – CommBank Stadium, Parramatta. Kick-off: 7.50pm.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart would have been incredibly proud of how his Green Machine never gave up and played their hearts out against tremendous opposition last Saturday. If they play with as much spirit and flair against the Eels, they will be in with a shot of upsetting Parramatta at their home ground. In saying that, Parramatta were fierce for the first 50 minutes of their match against the Panthers, until their completion rate went down the toilet and their halfback went down with 20 to go. I saw enough from the Eels however to confidently predict that they can bounce back and defeat a tough Raiders outfit by the narrowest of margins. My tip: Eels by 2.
Game 2: Elimination Semi-Final – Cronulla Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs. Saturday, September 17 – Allianz Stadium, Sydney. Kick-off: 8.00pm.
That was an extremely gutsy and impressive performance last weekend by the Bunnies against their arch rivals, while the Sharks used up plenty of juice in their clash against the Cowboys. It’s difficult to see Cronulla being able to lift themselves for this do-or-die contest, against a battle-hardened South Sydney team, many of whom, played in last year’s Grand Final. This is where I think the game will be won and lost, big-game experience, the Rabbitohs have it, the Sharks don’t. The Bunnies’ defence also looked far more impressive while Cronulla leaked 32 points. My tip: Rabbitohs by 12.
Good luck to both sides this weekend and also the best of luck to the Panthers Jersey Flegg team who will face the Sydney Roosters in the Preliminary Final and to our NSW Cup side who have the weekend off.
They will instead watch and see, who their opponents will be, in the Grand Final of the NSW Knock-On Effect Cup next weekend at CommBank Stadium.
It will either be the Newtown Jets or the Canterbury Bulldogs.
My money is on the Jets.
Peter Lang is an experienced sports writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades.