Get ready for an historic grand final - I'm backing the Rabbitohs to upset the Raiders and the Roosters to get past the Storm to set up a grand final showdown between the game's oldest rivals.
Raiders v Rabbitohs
I know Canberra are favourites for this one and deservedly so after an impressive opening finals win against the Storm and the Bunnies' unconvincing win over Manly last week.
But there are a few key areas where the Rabbitohs hold an edge. If they can match it with Canberra in the physicality department and play the game to their strengths and at their preferred tempo they can win this one.
They had some defensive frailties on their edges last week that will have to be sorted out but one thing I noticed with Sam Burgess back last week is their line speed and intensity in defence was a lot better.
Their attack has spluttered a bit this year and the firepower out wide isn't as consistent as it was last year but when the Bunnies get it together in attack they can score tries better than anyone.
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They will need to really step it up another level from that last game to get over the top of a Canberra team that's had a week off and is brimming with confidence after beating the Storm in week one.
The only way to get over Canberra is to match them physically. Souths don't want to try and go through their middle too much because that will play into Canberra's hands.
Match: Raiders v Rabbitohs
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
I like the Rabbitohs best this year when they're not trying to go through the middle but that's even more true against Canberra due to the physicality of their pack.
Canberra are the real deal. But they do have a few very young and inexperienced guys, more so than the Bunnies. They may have played this game a dozen times already in their heads and you can ambush a team like that if you have the right plan.
Canberra don't tend to beat teams by putting on all these impressive plays, they just keep going at you and through you and challenge you in the physicality department and wait for you to fall off a tackle.
Souths will need to combat what the Raiders do well then beat them in the game plan side of things and throw a bit more footy at them.
The Raiders are one win away from their first grand final since 1994 so they will have a lot of people on the bandwagon down there but that brings its own pressure. It could turn into a vulnerability if you catch them by surprise early.
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Roosters v Storm
The thing that surprised me about the Storm last week was how fast they started that game, which has been a criticism of them this year.
Given how brutal that Canberra game was a week earlier, they must really have their recovery down pat. They dictated proceedings and they were clinical. That would have given them a big confidence boost coming into the Roosters game.
Match: Roosters v Storm
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
A lot of that win over the Eels was almost like a training run so that will negate a lot of what happened against the Raiders a week earlier and allow the Storm to be fresher than what we may have expected.
The absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for the Roosters levels the playing field somewhat but I still give the Roosters the edge.
Yes, Jared is a big loss, especially against the likes of Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Big Nelson has just been running rampant in recent weeks but the Roosters forwards know what they're doing.
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They know what Melbourne will throw at them. The Storm played the perfect game against Parramatta last week and it's unlikely their game plan will change too much.
The Roosters have their own game plan pretty much down pat by now and have some serious strike power in the backline with players that can be constructive or make something out of nothing individually.
Neither the Roosters nor the Storm would look out of place in the grand final so this week will be an interesting one for fans – effectively a grand final before the grand final.
This game is a flip of the coin but I'll tip the Roosters after a week off to prepare.
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