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The Final Countdown - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 19 Sep 2008 14:14:00 GMT
The GRL Phantom tipped three winners from the four semis last week and did state the Storm were vulnerable and the Warriors would make the game close.
I almost tipped them outright and in all footy fairness they were probably the only team contesting for eighth spot in the last few rounds of the regular season that could have achieved such a remarkable result in the opening week of the finals.
By Sunday night two more teams will be celebrating Mad Monday with watered down cordial. The question is which one’s.
The winner of tonight's Warriors and Roosters game meets Manly on Saturday week at the Sydney Football Stadium. Is that really a reward for 80 minutes of hard work or the reflection of some secret desire to be punished? A good question.
The winner of tomorrow night's Brisbane and Storm game tackles the Sharks next Friday night at the Sydney Football Stadium.
For the record the Warriors and the Broncos are my winners this weekend to advance another week and the Roosters and Storm to bow out of the competition.
New Zealand Warriors V roosters
Friday 19th September, Mt Smart Stadium
6.30pm AEST (8.30pm NZ Time)
Referee: Tony Archer
TV Coverage: Why bother. It’s delayed.

I like the Warriors even though they played a super human game to defeat the Storm last Sunday and they have a five-day back up to contend with.
Their defence has improved in the past eight weeks, their attack has been sufficiently fluent and they promote second phase play in the halves well alongside an athletic and mobile pack.
Playing at home is a big advantage at finals time.
The parochial crowd on home soil and the discipline instilled by coach Ivan Cleary in the past three years is starting to pay dividends for the Warriors.
They have a good balance of Kiwis and Polynesian players with the right amount of Australian flavour in their squad.
To me the Roosters have done as well as they can reaching the finals and are a team still improving. I think it will take the finals series this year to bring out the best in them in 09 and beyond.
Coach Brad Fittler has turned the team into a highly efficient and good footy team in less than 16 months.
They remind me of where Manly were two years ago, a good team, who work hard, are well coached but who are on the improve.
Verdict:
The Warriors in front of the big home crowd to have a little too much class late in the game. Warriors by six points.
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 Coach: Ivan Cleary

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. James Aubusson 10. Lopini Paea 11. Nate Myles 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Craig Fitzgibbon Interchange: 14. Mickey Paea 15. David Shillington 16. Anthony Cherrington 17. Mitchell Aubusson Coach: Brad Fittler.

Brisbane Broncos V Melbourne Storm
Saturday 20th September, Suncorp Stadium
7.30pm AEST
Referee: Shayne Hayne
TV Coverage: Live Channel 9 [it’s a miracle]

Two of the game's heavyweights go head to like. It sort of reminds me of an eighties wrestling match between King Kong Bundy and Andre The Giant.
Many questions have been posed before the game and they will be answered after the match.
The questions to raise are:
Could this be coach Wayne Bennett's last game with the Broncos?
Will the off-field events affect the team performance?
Can Melbourne overcome the trauma of the unexpected loss against the Warriors?
Can coach Craig Bellamy keep his team and himself relaxed for this sudden death game.
Are the Storm's opponents the Broncos the most difficult team for them to beat?
I suspect the Storm peaked this year when they scraped over Manly six weeks ago 16-10 at Brookvale Oval.
Since that time they have thrashed second-tier standard teams such as Souths, but struggled against the physical teams such as the Warriors and Newcastle.
The team to me plays stressed in tight games. Notice if you watch tapes in the narrow losses to the Warriors (twice) and Newcastle?
They have hit the panic button when they get behind and make errors and seem pre-occupied with the referee.
I like Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, the ground they play their best and most fluent and intense sort of footy.
The wide, open expanses allow the Broncos to run their multiple angle and decoy plays.
Peter Wallace and Darren Lockyer love to roam across field and either pick up runners on the outside or turn the ball inside on angles for back rowers in Toni Carroll, fullback Karmichael Hunt or right centre Justin Hodges.
Melbourne rely too much on Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
Greg Inglis is getting tagged in defence running sideways in recent weeks and apart from broken field running or backing up in general play, he is not making the tackle or line breaks he was a year ago.
Israel Folau and Matt Geyer, who defend on the right and left hand side in the centres respectively, are sliding and back-pedalling and not ''holding their ground'' or advancing in a straight line to make their tackles.
The Knights and Warriors have exploited this in recent weeks.
Verdict:
Brisbane by 10.
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
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 - Read More, Here