The first week of the 2020 NRL Finals was a bizarre affair in which the four underdogs took an early lead before all the results went the other way. With each team seeking redemption and a spot against either the Storm or Panthers, what will this weekend bring? Hatch’s James Thompson previews NRL Finals Week 2 and NRLW Round 2.
All games are available to watch live and free on Channel 9. All times are in AEDT.
The Week One Wrap
The first four games kept us on our toes, as upsets brewed but failed to come to fruition, and the expected winners were forced to take the unexpected route to victory.
The blockbuster 1v4 showdown was everything but a Golden Point contest as the Panthers overcame the Roosters 29-28, and the Storm put on another clinical display to dismantle the Eels. The Sharks and Knights seemed promising but succumbed once their respective opponents the Raiders and Rabbitohs found their groove.
The NRLW started with the Roosters upsetting the Dragons off the back of a stellar performance from their rugby sevens convert, before sole premiers the Broncos dominated against a Warriors side in tough times.
Cronulla and Newcastle now wave goodbye to the Premiership race, as modern rivals face off for the remaining two spots in the preliminary finals.
Roosters v Raiders – Oct 9, 7:50pm (Sydney Cricket Ground)
The third Grand Final rematch of the year is here, and this one’s the tiebreaker as the Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders duke it out for a final four position.
The Roosters showed off a much better form against Penrith compared to the week before and will bring Jake Friend and SBW back into their ranks. A welcome boost to their attack, but the defence is where they need to improve, especially on their edges.
The Canberra defence was caught napping in their first half last week, and they will pay this time if they don’t stay on their toes all game. Set completion also needs improving, and Jack Wighton will hope to make an impact again, just in less controversial fashion.
Both games between the two in the regular season were won by the respective visitors. Will Canberra keep that trend going at the SCG?
Thomo predicts: I see an upset against the premiers, and finally revenge for the way the Raiders were cruelled in last year’s Grand Final. Canberra by 12.
Eels v Rabbitohs – Oct 10, 7:50pm (Bankwest Stadium)
We go to the other end of Sydney for the second elimination, as the Parramatta Eels play South Sydney Rabbitohs for a spot against Penrith.
Parra showed they still had some of the form that served them well at the start of the competition. Their goal now is to maintain an electric performance for the full eighty minutes, without Maika Sivo and potential without Blake Ferguson.
Souths have hit a roll with 106 points in two games, standing up to the challenge in the wake of off-field horror. The combination of Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker was essential to their 26-point triumph over Newcastle, and the Rabbitohs will be calling on that pair to set up another victory.
The spine battle in this one will be intense. The Eels’ pairing of Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown have to match the skills that South Sydney’s Walker and Reynolds have displayed.
Thomo predicts: Souths have too much momentum. Rabbitohs will win by 18.
NRLW – Round 2 (Bankwest Stadium)
The NRLW heads to western Sydney this Saturday, with both games to lead up to the men’s Eels-Rabbitohs clash at Bankwest Stadium.
The New Zealand Warriors are the first to try to save their finals hopes, playing the Sydney Roosters. The Warriors still have a long way to go to turn their new-look squad into a team after their defeat against the Broncos, while the Roosters can in part thank Charlotte Caslick for her impressive debut in their surprise win over the Dragons. The Roosters have yet to record a win against the Warriors.
Afterward, the St George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos battle it out. The Dragons had little control of the play last week and injuries could come back to bite as they aim to keep their season alive, while the Broncos have little concern heading into the second game of their title defense campaign. Brisbane beat the Dragons in last year’s big dance, but lost the women’s Nines title to them in Perth earlier this year.
Thomo predicts: This round will lock in our Grand Finalists. Roosters by 10 and Broncos by 20.