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The Final Countdown - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 09:11:00 GMT
And then
there was eight. After 25 rounds of injuries, upsets, last minute tries and
plenty of controversy, the contenders
for the title have been decided.







There
are four games to make assessments on this weekend. Only six teams while
survive while two will be forced to kick-off Mad Monday not drinking in a Sydney pub.
In my
view the four winners will be the Broncos, Sharks, Manly and Melbourne and my
reasoning is simple yet plausible.




roosters V Brisbane Broncos

Friday 12 September 2008, 7:35pm

Sydney Football Stadium

Referee: Tony Archer

Touch Judges: David Abood & Steve Chiddy

Video Referee: Bill Harrigan



Brisbane are a team with loads of experience,
a good coach in Wayne Bennett, good depth in terms of strike power and
professionalism. The key quartet are Michael Ennis, Darren Lockyer, Justin
Hodges and Karmichael Hunt. I’m prepared to say they cannot win the comp but
this week they’ll be too slick for the Roosters. The Roosters were flying chooks for most of
the year but then hit a flat spot in the latter stages and have not really
bounced back to their best form. It’s been a terrific effort by Brad Fittler to
get the team to the finals but I think the Roosters have over achieved in 08. Don’t
worry, Freddy. There’s always next year.



ROOSTERS: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Brent Grose
3. Setaimata Sa 4. Sia Soliola 5. Sam Perrett 6. Braith Anasta 7. Mitchell
Pearce 8. Mark O'Meley 9. Riley Brown 10. Lopini Paea 11. Nate Myles 12.
Anthony Tupou 13. Craig Fitzgibbon Interchange: 14. Mickey Paea 15. David
Shillington 16. Anthony Cherrington 17. James Aubusson; Reserves: 18. Mitchell
Aubusson Coach: Brad Fittler.



BRONCOS: 1. Karmichael Hunt 2. Darius Boyd 3.
Joel Moon 4. Justin Hodges 5. Denan Kemp 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Peter Wallace
8. Ben Hannant 9. Michael Ennis 10. Joel Clinton 11. Corey Parker 12. Sam
Thaiday 13. Tonie Carroll Interchange: 14. David Stagg 15. Ashton Sims 16. Greg
Eastwood 17. Nick Kenny Coach: Wayne
Bennett



Cronulla Sharks V Canberra Raiders

Saturday 13 September 2008, 6:30pm

Toyota Stadium

Referee: Jared Maxwell

Touch Judges: Russell Turner & Jeff Younis

Video Referee: Steve Clark



It’s been nothing short of a super effort for the ACT
foot soldiers to make the finals and Neil Henry along with Ricky Stuart are the
joint-coaches of the year award winners. At their best, the Raiders possess terrific strikepower,
speed and flair, are well coached and I love the way they play footy. Their big
four in this game are Terry Campese, Alan Tongue, Joel Monaghan and Colin Best.
I am proud to say I selected the
Sharks in my top eight this year. Ricky Stuart has prepared his team well. They play as a team, work hard, are tough, committed and the attack and
variation to their game has improved a lot in the past six weeks. If they were
to win their first Grand Final in the game’s centenary season, the Shire would have a riot on it’s hands. The
Sharks key four men are: Brett Kimmorley, Brett Seymour, Paul Gallen and Brett
Kearney. A tight one but the Sharks to prevail. This is the only game of the
round where I could envisage the possibility of golden-point extra time. That’s
how conservative this game will be.

SHARKS: 1. Brett Kearney 2. Misi Taulapapa 3.
Ben Pomeroy 4. David Simmons 5. Luke Covell 6. Brett Seymour 7. Brett Kimmorley
8. Ben Ross 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Adam Peek 11. Luke Douglas 12. Fraser Anderson
13. Paul Gallen Interchange: 14. Danny Nutley 15. Bryan Norrie 16. Kade Snowden
17. Terrence Seu Seu; Reserves: 18. Grant Millington 19. Blake Green Coach: Ricky Stuart



RAIDERS: 1. David Milne 2. Adrian Purtell 3. Colin Best 4. Joel Monaghan
5. Brett Kelly 6. Terry Campese 7. Glen Buttriss 8. Scott Logan 9. Ryan Hinchcliffe
10. Dane Tilse 11. Trevor Thurling 12. Joe Picker 13. Alan Tongue (c) Interchange:
14. Josh Miller 15. Marshall Chalk 16. Neville Costigan 17. Nigel Plum Coach: Neil Henry



Manly Sea Eagles V St George Illawarra
Dragons

Saturday 13 September 2008, 8:30pm

Brookvale Oval

Referee: Shayne Hayne

Touch Judges: Steve Carrall & Matt Cechhin

Video Referee: Paul Simpkins



The Dragons need to fire on Saturday or it's
all over. They have the team to play enduring footy for a month to win in, but
the Sea Eagles provide the red and white with there biggest hurdle. Manly are trying
to go one better after losing the grand final to Melbourne last year. The game
was close at halftime but the Storm blew them away in the second half. At this
stage I still see them as being on track to go all the way this season and get
the job done.



SEA EAGLES: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Michael Robertson
3. Steve Bell 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Jamie Lyon 7. Matt Orford (c)
8. Brent Kite 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Glenn Hall
13. Glenn Stewart Interchange: 14. Heath L'Estrange 15. Mark Bryant 16. Jason
King 17. Steve Menzies; Reserves: 18. Adam Cuthbertson Coach: Des Hasler



DRAGONS: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Wendell Sailor 3. Mark Gasnier (c) 4.
Matt Cooper 5. Josh Morris 6. Ben Rogers 7. Ben Hornby 8. Dan Hunt 9. Stuart
Webb 10. Jason Ryles 11. Lagi Setu 12. Ben Creagh 13. Dean Young Interchange:
14. Matt Prior 15. Kirk Reynoldson 16. Beau Scott 17. Ben Ellis; Reserves: 18.
Jarrod Saffy 19. Jamie Soward 20. Simon Woolford 21. Rangi Chase Coach: Nathan Brown



Melbourne Storm V New Zealand Warriors

Sunday 14 September 2008 3:00pm

Olympic Park

Referee: Jason Robinson

Touch Judges: Paul Holland & Bernard Sutton

Video Referee: Phil Cooley



You can’t say Melbourne
didn’t deserve to be minor premiers. They are the team to beat, shooting for a
third grand final after having won three minor premierships on the trot and
trying to become the first team since 1997-98 (Broncos) to win back–to-back
titles. The Victorian outfit brings strength, speed, power, pace and a fine
coach in Craig Bellamy. Most importantly they hold history on their side with
team number 8 having never beaten team number 1 in the opening week of the NRL
finals series. Ivan Cleary has
taken the Warriors to the finals twice in a row now. They started slowly and
played pretty well in the second half of the year. They don't mind playing
Melbourne via their aggressive and physical style. A win for the storm but it won't be as easy or pretty as it looks on paper.



STORM: 1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Matt
Geyer 4. Israel Folau 5. Anthony Quinn 6. Greg Inglis 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jeff
Lima 9. Cam Smith (c) 10. Brett White 11. Michael Crocker 12. Ryan Hoffman 13.
Dallas Johnson Interchange: 14. Jeremy Smith 15. Adam Blair 16. Sika Manu 17.
Antonio Kaufusi Coach: Craig Bellamy



WARRIORS: 1. Lance Hohaia 2. Aidan Kirk 3. Brent Tate 4. Jerome Ropati
5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Michael Witt 7. Nathan Fien 8. Ruben Wiki 9. Ian Henderson
10. Steve Price (c) 11. Simon Mannering 12. Ben Matulino 13. Micheal Luck Interchange:
14. Grant Rovelli 15. Evarn Tuimavave 16. Sam Rapira 17. Logan Swann; Reserves:
18. Epalahame Lauaki Coach: Ivan Cleary



Enjoy the finals and I’ll see you
all again next week to preview the second round of what should be a very
entertaining finals series in which we will all see some passionate slicing and dicing of the hopes and dreams of the
pretenders care of the contenders. - Read More, Here