NRL Finals Week 2 Preview

NRL Finals Week 2 Preview


Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders @ Sydney Cricket Ground – 7:50 pm AEST

Team List Notes

  • Roosters: In a big boost for the Roosters, Jake Friend returns to hooker this week; Freddy Lussick is no longer in the side. Meanwhile, Sonny Bill Williams has been named on the bench with Nat Butcher to the reserves.
  • Raiders: With no need to change anything, Ricky Stuart has named the same 17 this week.

Key Factor: Keary v Wighton

Things don’t get any easier for Luke Keary this week. He played well against Nathan Cleary in the Sydney Roosters 29-28 loss to the Penrith Panthers in Week 1, now he’s up against one of the best running five-eighths in the NRL in Jack Wighton.

Like last week, the two play contrasting styles. There isn’t the discrepancy in touches per game like there was with Cleary. Keary has touched the ball 43.44 times per game across the last 15 weeks while Wighton is only slightly behind at 41.66 per game. The difference between these two dynamic halves is the end result of a try-scoring action. For Keary, he’s more adept at sending players across the line. His 18 try assists in 2020 ranks 6th in the NRL and he comes into this one after handing out three tries to team mates last week.

Keary try assists last 15 games

Wighton (8 try assists), on the other hand, will arrive at the Sydney Cricket Ground in a rich vein of try-scoring form. Expect him to cross the line again if he goes over once. With four doubles in his last six games, Wighton is carving up the opposition defence with his running game and producing points with it.

Wighton tries scored last 15 games

While Keary has scored 10 tries himself this season, many have come through his support play. He’s quite often supporting on a line break he assisted on. Keary doesn’t produce the same individual efforts Wighton does, though. Nonetheless, the two five-eighths are the most important part to the attack of their respective teams. Whether it be Keary providing teammates with tries or Wighton scoring them himself, it’s likely that one of these two provides the match-winning performance.

Value Plays: Big-name Roosters

Value plays and eventual try-scorers last week, James Tedesco and Josh Morris, are back on the list for this one. Professional try-scorer Brett Morris also poses as a value option on Sydney’s right side while Angus Crichton’s value is appealing after he scored late against the Panthers in Week 1.


Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ GIO Stadium – 5:40 pm AEST

Team List Notes

  • Eels: Blake Ferguson has been named to start but Maika Sivo’s season appears to be over. George Jennings replaces Sivo on the wing for this one. Ray Stone takes Marata Niukore’s (suspended) spot on the bench. Should Ferguson not be fit, Brad Takairangi will be a chance at playing in the centres with Waqa Blake pushed to the wing.
  • Sharks: Wayne Bennett has named the same 17 for Sunday. Although Jaydn Su’A and Liam Knight did swap places an hour before kickoff last week.

Key Factor: Cody Walker

Either Cody Walker keeps doing what he has been doing and the South Sydney Rabbitohs win, or, the Parramatta Eels find a way to slow down the five-eighth in career-best form and cause an upset.

Walker caught fire the last time these two teams met in Round 16. He’s scored five tries, handed out 10 try assists and broken the line nine times since that match kicked off while averaging 118.3 running metres per game. He’s playing on both sides of the field in attack and no defence has been able to keep a lid on the 30-year-old.

To make matters worse for Parramatta, Walker’s strongest side of the field (left) will run up against their weakest defensively. The Storm had their way with the Eels right side defence on Saturday which has forced Waqa Blake into a video session with Michael Jennings during the week. Jennings is pleading for calm and patience – something we’ve not often seen out of the rambunctious Blake.

Per Stats Insider’s Try Scoring Analysis, the Rabbitohs have scored 51% of their tries this season down the left side of the field. Meanwhile, 51% of the 57 tries the Eels have conceded in 2020 have come through their right edge. If significant improvements aren’t made to Parramatta’s right edge defence, Walker and South Sydney’s left-side juggernaut will continue their onslaught which has translated into 106 points scored across the last two weeks.

Value Plays: Bunnies big fellas

Tevita Tatola is in try-scoring form after crossing for a double in Week 1 while it feels as though Thomas Burgess has dropped one over the line every other game this season. Both will be options close to the line with Tom Starling sure to be a target in the defence. While the Brown’s of Parramatta rate a mention from the model, it’s almost all Rabbitohs in the first try-scorer department.

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