Rugby League fans in Mackay are treated to a treat of finals games, with both fixtures coming from the BB Print Stadium. It’s win or go home for all involved, so let’s see if we can draw a profit this weekend.
A replay of the 2013 Grand Final will see the Manly Sea Eagles take on the Sydney Roosters in Mackay on Friday night. The fears of Sea Eagles fans everywhere came too fruition last week, when the Melbourne Storm effectively shut down Tom Trbojevic, rendering the side almost useless. The Storm used a ‘swarming’ style of defence to effectively rid Trbojevic of time and space and whilst the Roosters will have seen this tactic, employing it effectively is what makes a premiership team. While the Sea Eagles’ fourth placing ensures this second bite of the cherry, I feel they will be able to progress through to face the Rabbitohs next week. After holding a position in the top four for a lot of the regular season, the Roosters all but limped into the final eight as a result of a number of injuries, and despite being lucky to survive against the Titans last week, they still possess a number of big game players capable of carrying them through the game. The battle of the fullbacks is worth the price of admission for the Mackay faithful and although I envisage a Sea Eagles win, the Roosters won’t make it comfortable.
The second semi finals will see the third edition of the battle of the West in 2021 as the Paramatta Eels take on the Panthers, who will be desperate for statement performance after a somewhat shock loss to South Sydney last week. While obviously not impossible, it has made their hopeful path to the Premiership, knowing they will have to play two grand finals essentially, with the winner here taking on the Storm prior to the Grand Final itself. I think that the Panthers will win this game and give the Storm a serious run for their money in next the preliminary final next weekend, with the winner of that game I feel, should go on to win the competition. The Eels big game problems have continued to plague them and despite only a single point separating these teams when both full strength earlier in the year, I believe the Panthers are putting a marker down on Saturday.
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