SG Ball Preview - Finals Week One

Parramatta Eels (1) Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (4)
Erskineville Oval, Saturday, April 19
Kick-off: 11.30am
Referee: Mark Bohan

Summary:
The Parramatta Eels will look to make it nine wins in succession here when they take on a Bunnies side that is capable of mixing it with anyone on their day. After a round one loss to the Panthers, Parramatta has rattled off eight straight wins on their run to the Minor Premiership. The Eels have shown they can win well but also win the close games which will count in their favour during the finals series. After winning their opening four fixtures, the Rabbitohs have mixed their form somewhat over the last five weeks, but a 46-20 win over a capable Magpies side last weekend sees them head into this clash with plenty of confidence. Liam Coleman will look to steer the ship for the Bunnies and Parramatta will need to contain him to increase their chances of a victory. The Eels will look to steam roll their way through the Souths pack and Alex Twal and Tyrell Fuimaono will no doubt be the leaders in this department.

Prediction: Parramatta has been deserved Minor Premiers and should just scape home here against a stubborn Rabbitohs outfit. Eels by 4.

 

Balmain Tigers (5) Vs Melbourne Storm (8)
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, April 19
Kick-off: 1.30pm
Referee: Darian Furner
Broadcast:
NSWRL Match Centre coverage available via NSWRL.com.au

Summary:
Melbourne scraped into the finals at the expense of Illawarra so beware those with nothing to lose. The Tigers return to Leichhardt Oval and their spiritual home has been good to them this year, in fact, they are undefeated there in season 2014. These teams have already faced off during the year, with the Tigers running out 36-24 winners at Mascot Oval. The Tigers will be lead around by a famous name in Bayley Sironen, while the Storm will rely on the class of their big men like Brendan Frei and Charlie Galo. The Tigers have plenty of experience after winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. Will it be beneficial or will expectations lean too hard?

Prediction: The Storm to race out to an early lead but get run down in the last 10 minutes. Tigers by 8.

 

Canberra Raiders (6) Vs Newcastle Knights (7)
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Saturday, April 19
Kick-off: 2.30pm 
Referee: Kieren Irons

Summary:
A very even contest awaits here as the Raiders and Knights duke it out for finals survival. Having lost their opening two games of 2014, the Knights have done remarkably well to bounce back and force their way into the finals. The Knights confidence should be high following very good wins against fellow top eight sides in the Panthers and Storm in recent weeks. The Raiders have also mixed their form in 2014 but have really clicked into gear over the last month. The Raiders have scored an amazing 202 points in their last four outings and the Knights defence will need to be on high alert come Saturday. A couple of ‘Sons of Guns’ will go around here with Ryan Glanville (son of Marc Glanville) lining up for Newcastle and Zac Woolford (son of Simon Woolford) going around for the Raiders.

Prediction: An absolute toss of the coin job with both sides’ realistic chances of progressing. Perhaps Newcastle in a thriller. Knights by 2.

 

Penrith Panthers (2) Vs Sydney Roosters (3)
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, April 19
Kick-off: 3.15pm
Referee: Patrick Mackey
Broadcast:
NSWRL Match Centre coverage available via NSWRL.com.au

Summary: The Panthers head into the first week of the finals following a strong showing against the Sharks, while the Roosters started nervously against the Sea Eagles before eventually running out 14-point winners. Both sides ooze class across the park. Young Penrith front-rower Oliver Clark has been earmarked as a future club captain and the Roosters have a familiar name in their backline in Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, brother of Roger. 2013 NSW Under 16s representative Latrell Mitchell will start at five-eighth with Joseph Manu being selected at fullback by coach Anthony Barnes. With four bumper games at Leichhardt on Saturday, this match will be the Pièce de résistance.

Prediction: The Panthers claimed a four-point win over the Roosters in Round 5 this year but we are tipping a much closer one here. Panthers by one in extra time.
 

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Click here to view the team lists for week one of the SG Ball finals