NRL Finals Week Two Preview

Week one of the finals season was sensational, it was one of the best opening weekends of a finals series I can remember. I enjoyed every single game and in week two of the finals, I think we are in for more of the game.

Can the Bunnies rebound after a terrible performance? Will the Raiders continue their surge? Are the Cowboys a true contender? Most importantly, can the defending Premiers the Manly Sea Eagles pick themselves up of the canvas and continue their title defense?

These are my tips for week two of the 2012 NRL Finals series:

South Sydney Rabbotohs vs Canberra Raiders
The Rabbitohs were really poor against the Melbourne Storm last week and the improvement they need on that performance just to compete with the Canberra Raiders is huge. Being back on home turn in Sydney will help the Bunnies but they are coming up against a team that is not only in form, but riding a wave of support that has exploded out of no where in Canberra.

The Rabbitohs really need to rebuild their finals campaign from scratch. I think we will see Issac Luke start the match this time around and while everyone was rightfully critical of Dave Taylors performance last week, I think the club has to persist with him. Most importantly, Greg Inglis needs to get way more involved and right from the early stages of the contest.

Watching the Raiders beat the Sharks on the weekend in front of a full house at Canberra Stadium, it had a bit of a special feel about it. This was a supporter base coming out and voting with their feet. They were showing the club they will get all the support they want, all the team needs to do is put in. The big thing out of all of that was that the Raiders fed off that buzz, they lifted for their fans, and you get a sense that this team is going to march into Sydney with no fear and will be ready to steamroll the Rabbitohs.

The one big worry I have about the Raiders is their lack of goal kicking. With Croker out, the Raiders are going to need to score their tries under the posts if they want the full 6 points on offer going by last weeks efforts!

This is a reall hard game to tip but I’m going with the form. I think Canberra will bring a hell of a lot of fans to ANZ Stadium in Sydney, I think they will feed off the buzz in Canberra before coming up here and I think they can cause massive problems for the South Sydney defense that is way too passive. My Tip: Canberra Raiders by 14

Manly Sea Eagles vs North Queensland Cowboys
Manly were steamrolling their way through their opposition over the last month or so, so to be beaten up by the Bulldogs the way they were, I think that will have knocked their confidense about.

They are dealing with a few injuries to key players and the suspension of Steve Matai who I personally believe was lucky to only get two weeks for his high shot on the Bulldogs Sam Perrett.

Manly are a really tough side and they have basically spent all season playing without injured players here and there. This situation would see some club mentally dicintergrate and beat themselves before they had taken the field, but that won’t happen to the Sea Eagles. They will be right up for this game, but they need their halves in Cherry-Evans and Foran to play a lot better than they did last week.

I think Jamie Lyon and Jason King will play. As Geoff Toovey said this week, its sudden death, you take risks at this point of the season.

The Cowboys win against the Broncos was impressive and the thing I wanted to see out of them, their forward dominating, really will have put other teams on notice.

As I said last week, the title hopes of the Cowboys rely as much on Matthew Scott and James Tamou as they do on Jonathan Thurston and Matthew Bowen.

The Cowboys form when traveling down to Sydney isn’t great but I have a feeling they will be alright for this game. They have a fair bit of experience now traveling down for finals games and they will hopefully have changed their preperation so that they get the most out of themselves on Friday night.

This game really should be another war. The Manly pack will have this game really taken to the and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cowboys pack have been fed raw meat all week and shown game tape of the way the Bulldogs pack traded blows with the Sea Eagles pack last weekend.

This is another tough game to pick, and I really rate Manly. Even in losing last week, they showed they are such a good team. However, I think there is a little something in this Cowboys team that a battered Sea Eagles side might just find to hard to match. Lets hope for a big crowd at this game! My Tip: North Queensland Cowboys by 4


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