JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Four sight - Phil Gould's finals predictions

Set of Six

Unproven: The Rabbitohs have learnt some hard lessons.

Unproven: The Rabbitohs have learnt some hard lessons. Photo: Scott Barbour

1. Souths set for revenge

South Sydney v Melbourne

These two teams have met twice so far this year. The Storm won both matches; 17-10 in Sydney and 26-8 on August 9 in Melbourne. It's the second match that interests me most. The score suggests a comfortable victory for the Storm, but the winning margin is misleading. Souths were understrength on the night and I left the stadium believing the Rabbitohs would be quite capable of reversing the result if they were to meet again in September. Since that time, the Storm have been anything but impressive; but we know they have the big-match coach and players to snap into action now the finals have arrived. Souths have since performed creditably, but stumbled at the final hurdle against the Roosters last weekend. They are also unproven at this end of the season. I'm going to stick by the gut feeling I got in August when the two teams last did battle. I think Souths will learn from that match. I also think last week's finals dress rehearsal against the Roosters could be great preparation for this challenge. The Storm boys have wobbled a bit over the past month.
Tip:
South Sydney by seven.

Key ingredient: Todd Carney is the key to a Sharks victory against the Cowboys.

Key ingredient: Todd Carney is the key to a Sharks victory against the Cowboys. Photo: Brendan Esposito

2. Carney key to victory

Cronulla v North Queensland

The Cowboys have won both matches against the Sharks this year. In Townsville it was 24-4 and then 31-18 in round 25 at Cronulla. However, the most recent result can be discounted because Sharks' playmaker Todd Carney was missing. He is the key to this Cronulla team. Without his creativity, I doubt the Sharks can trouble teams in the top four. If Carney is fit and well, they can challenge for the title. Carney has missed the past two games, so provided he takes his place this week, he comes into the match a little underdone. The Cowboys have made a long run to qualify for the top eight after looking a forlorn hope halfway through the year. They do have Johnathan Thurston though, and at the start of the season their player roster was considered top-four material. The test will be whether they are satisfied with their top-eight finish, or if they are determined to make a deeper run into September. I think the Cowboys may have run their race. The Sharks had the luxury of resting a few players last weekend. They might grind out a narrow win.
Tip: Cronulla by four.

Fierce rivals: The Manly and Sydney Roosters clash should be a close contest.

Fierce rivals: The Manly and Sydney Roosters clash should be a close contest. Photo: Getty Images

3. Chooks rule, but only just

Sydney Roosters v Manly

I love the rivalry between these two wonderful clubs. They always produce great matches. The Roosters have won both games between the two this year, 16-4 at Brookvale Oval and 18-12 at home. There wasn't much in either of these games and I expect a close one again on Saturday night. The Roosters bounced back after a couple of poor weeks to win that big clash against South Sydney last Friday night. It was a timely return to form. In particular, I was impressed with their defence that had been the backbone of their tremendous form this season. Manly produced a season-best effort to blow Melbourne off the park a fortnight ago. That performance is burned into my brain. Gee, they were good. The Sea Eagles have the best back line in the NRL and when they are hot, they are hot. I'm going to stick with the minor premiers, but I will not be in the least bit surprised if Manly get the result.
Tip: Sydney Roosters by two.

Faceoff: James Graham and the Bulldogs have had the Knights measure so far this season.

Faceoff: James Graham and the Bulldogs have had the Knights measure so far this season. Photo: Getty Images

4. Bulldogs to turn tables

Canterbury v Newcastle

Again we have a situation where these two teams have met twice this season and one team has dominated the results. The Knights thrashed the Bulldogs 44-8 in May. I don't know what happened there. They met again in Mackay in July and the Knights prevailed 18-12. I just don't know what to make of the Bulldogs at the moment. Every time they threaten to return to the form that took them to a grand final last season, they seem to stumble. Despite the return of Ben Barba last week they lacked potency against the Broncos. The Knights boast a brilliant back line and a creative set of halves to set them alight. There's no doubt they have points in them. Both teams will be prepared by experienced finals coaches. I have a slight leaning to the Bulldogs. I think they have a slight edge in the forwards and they will be playing at home. That might be just enough to tip the result in their favour.
Tip: Canterbury by seven.

5. Premiership table seems about right

With a number of inequities in the NRL draw, and the impact of State Of Origin, the competition table after 24 rounds is not always a reflection of how the home-and-away season went. But this year it is hard to argue with how the teams finished. The top four all had positive differentials (the difference between points scored and points conceded) above 200, whilst the best of the remaining finalists was just over 100. All teams in the eight had a positive differential whilst all teams that missed the eight did not. The bottom four all had negative differentials above 150 whilst the remaining teams that missed the finals had negative differentials under 60. Sydney Roosters, as minor premiers, had a positive differential of 93 points greater than their nearest rival, whilst the wooden spoon Parramatta, had a negative differential 113 points inferior to its nearest rival. So the finishing order seems about right.

6. A little decorum, please

We had a tremendous crowd that provided a great atmosphere for the minor premiership showdown between the Rabbitohs and  Roosters at ANZ Stadium on Friday night. However, the actions of a minority of home fans that produced that highly offensive banner took some gloss off what was a marvellous night for the game. That type of banner, plus the orchestrated profanity whenever the away team was awarded a penalty, did not sit well with the vast majority of the crowd, including, I'm sure, a majority of Souths fans. The intense rivalry between the teams, and the passion of the supporters who attend these matches, is what creates the atmosphere that prevailed throughout the clash. Friendly banter between fans and good-natured ribbing of the opposition team is part and parcel of any competition but we, as a game, should not condone what occurred last Friday night, and let's hope Souths ensure that this is the last we see and hear of it. I applaud South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson distancing the club from the antics. Let's hope the fans get the message.

18 comments so far

  • Gus, I'm not sure if its a good thing, or a bad thing, that you've tipped the Bunnies to beat Melbourne. All I can say is that I sure do you you're right!!

    Commenter
    BunnyBoy
    Location
    Prague
    Date and time
    September 11, 2013, 1:07AM
    • Storm by 4, Cowboys 10 , Knights by 12 , Sea Eagles by 2. The table isnt right, the knights should of finished 5th.

      Commenter
      Knight Vision
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 1:38AM
      • knights should "have" finished 5th. and no they should not have - they didnt play well enough at the start of the season. but i think they may well do the dogs.

        Commenter
        supersquirrel
        Date and time
        September 12, 2013, 9:59AM
    • You'd be crazy brave {or just plain stupid} to write any of these teams off, but I just can't see Melbourne stumbling at the last barrier. That said, come September, you clock off for two minutes and that's the season done. Would appear I'm neither brave nor stupid, so I'll pencil in Storm and box the field. Somehow even that feels like a long shot this year.

      Commenter
      mutt
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 6:06AM
      • I think everyone is over reacting to that Souths sign. It was an aweful sign, but really says more about the idiot Souths supporters than anything else. I hope they bring the sign again to the next Roosters game (if the chooks play them again). It hepls to fire up the boys and makes the Chooks even harder to beat. Forever in our shadow is quite laughable. Isn't it the other way around? Souths are forever in the Roosters shadow I would have thought.

        Commenter
        Pedro
        Location
        Randwick
        Date and time
        September 11, 2013, 10:30AM
        • Genuine question, in what sense are Souths forever in the Roosters shadow?

          Commenter
          Confused
          Date and time
          September 11, 2013, 12:15PM
        • Confused? How about the last 40 odd years? Where have you been?

          Commenter
          Pedro
          Location
          Randwick
          Date and time
          September 11, 2013, 2:44PM
        • Time is relative.

          Commenter
          Sammy78
          Date and time
          September 11, 2013, 5:47PM
        • Um Pedro...Rooster and souths are foundation Clubs....Both have been around the same time..except two yrs south were removed from the comp....So given that the roosters had an extra 2 yrs on souths..whats the premiership count..Hmm souths 20 roosters 12...yes rooster will be and always will be in the shadow of the great red n green..

          Commenter
          carlo
          Date and time
          September 11, 2013, 10:58PM
        • If roosters were kicked from the comp, how many people would have marched for them? 2, maybe 3 people haha oh sorry, maybe a few woman aswell because of sbw. go the bunnies, roosters won't win another game this year.

          Commenter
          Tommydagunn
          Date and time
          September 12, 2013, 5:19AM

      More comments

      Make a comment

      You are logged in as [Logout]

      All information entered below may be published.

      Error: Please enter your screen name.

      Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Please enter your comment.

      Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

      Post to

      You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

      Thank you

      Your comment has been submitted for approval.

      Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

      Related Coverage

      NRL Season 2015

      Round 1
      Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
      BRI 6vs SOU 36 Report Stats
      Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
      PAR 42vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
      Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
      NEW 24vs NZW 14 Report Stats
      GCT 18vs WST 19 Report Stats
      NQL 4vs SYD 28 Report Stats
      Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
      PEN 24vs CBY 18 Report Stats
      CRO 20vs CBR 24 Report Stats
      Mon, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
      STG 4vs MEL 12 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 2
      Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
      CBY 32vs PAR 12 Report Stats
      CRO 2vs BRI 10 Report Stats
      Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
      PEN 40vs GCT 0 Report Stats
      MAN 24vs MEL 22 Stats
      NQL 14vs NEW 16 Report Stats
      Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
      SOU 34vs SYD 26 Stats
      CBR 6vs NZW 18 Report Stats
      Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
      WST 22vs STG 4 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 3
      Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
      MAN 12vs CBY 16 Report Stats
      BRI 44vs NQL 22 Report Stats
      Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
      NZW 29vs PAR 16 Report Stats
      CBR 20vs STG 22 Report Stats
      MEL 36vs CRO 18 Report Stats
      Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
      SOU 20vs WST 6 Report Stats
      GCT 18vs NEW 20 Report Stats
      Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
      SYD 20vs PEN 12 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 4
      Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
      PAR 29vs SOU 16 Report Stats
      WST 24vs CBY 25 Report Stats
      Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
      NEW 26vs PEN 14 Report Stats
      CRO 22vs GCT 24 Report Stats
      STG 12vs MAN 4 Report Stats
      Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
      NZW 16vs BRI 24 Report Stats
      SYD 34vs CBR 6 Report Stats
      Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
      NQL 18vs MEL 17 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 5
      Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
      CBY 17vs SOU 18 Report Stats
      GCT 16vs BRI 26 Report Stats
      Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
      MAN 16vs CBR 29 Report Stats
      NEW 0vs STG 13 Report Stats
      Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
      SYD 12vs CRO 20 Report Stats
      Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
      PAR 6vs WST 22 Report Stats
      MEL 30vs NZW 14 Report Stats
      PEN 10vs NQL 30 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 6
      Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
      BRI 22vs SYD 18 Report Stats
      CRO 22vs NEW 6 Report Stats
      Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
      PAR 16vs GCT 38 Report Stats
      NZW 32vs WST 22 Report Stats
      PEN 22vs MAN 12 Report Stats
      Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
      CBR 10vs MEL 14 Report Stats
      STG 31vs CBY 6 Report Stats
      Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
      SOU 12vs NQL 30 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 7
      Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
      CBY 28vs MAN 16 Report Stats
      STG 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
      Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
      GCT 32vs PEN 6 Report Stats
      NQL 28vs NZW 24 Report Stats
      MEL 17vs SYD 16 Report Stats
      Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
      WST 22vs CBR 30 Report Stats
      NEW 22vs PAR 28 Report Stats
      Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
      CRO 18vs SOU 10 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 8
      Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
      CBY 14vs WST 38 Stats
      Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
      NZW 28vs GCT 32 Report Stats
      NEW 24vs NQL 26 Report Stats
      SYD 12vs STG 14 Report Stats
      MEL 10vs MAN 12 Stats
      BRI 28vs PAR 16 Stats
      Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
      PEN 26vs CRO 18 Stats
      SOU 22vs CBR 30 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 9
      Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
      BRI 8vs PEN 5 Report Stats
      SYD 36vs WST 4 Stats
      Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
      CBR 56vs GCT 16 Stats
      CRO 16vs NZW 20 Stats
      NQL 23vs CBY 16 Stats
      Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
      MAN 30vs NEW 10 Stats
      PAR 10vs MEL 28 Stats
      Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
      SOU 16vs STG 10 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 10
      Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
      CBY 10vs SYD 24 Stats
      NQL 31vs BRI 20 Stats
      Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
      PAR 13vs NZW 17 Report Stats
      GCT 22vs CRO 23 Report Stats
      MEL 16vs SOU 12 Stats
      Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
      STG 32vs CBR 18 Report Stats
      NEW 22vs WST 12 Stats
      Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
      MAN 10vs PEN 11 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 11
      Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
      SOU 14vs PAR 12 Report Stats
      Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
      WST 0vs NQL 8 Stats
      Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
      CBR 34vs CBY 41 Stats
      Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
      NEW 18vs BRI 31 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 12
      Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
      PEN 20vs PAR 26 Stats
      Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
      GCT 16vs SOU 22 Report Stats
      CBR 12vs BRI 24 Stats
      NQL 18vs MAN 14 Report Stats
      Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
      NZW 24vs NEW 20 Stats
      STG 42vs CRO 6 Stats
      Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
      SYD 24vs MEL 2 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 13
      Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
      BRI 44vs MAN 10 Report Stats
      WST 20vs GCT 27 Report Stats
      Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
      NEW 22vs CBR 44 Stats
      SOU 36vs NZW 4 Stats
      PEN 0vs MEL 20 Report Stats
      Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
      CRO 10vs SYD 4 Stats
      Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
      CBY 29vs STG 16 Stats
      PAR 30vs NQL 36 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 14
      Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
      WST 34vs SOU 6 Report Stats
      Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
      NZW 21vs SYD 25 Report Stats
      Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
      GCT 28vs CBY 14 Stats
      Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
      MEL 22vs PAR 26 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 15
      Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
      MAN 30vs WST 20 Report Stats
      Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
      CBR 20vs NQL 21 Report Stats
      GCT 14vs NZW 36 Report Stats
      CBY 24vs PEN 12 Report Stats
      Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
      NEW 28vs CRO 30 Report Stats
      MEL 12vs BRI 14 Report Stats
      Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
      STG 14vs SYD 19 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 16
      Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
      BRI 44vs NEW 22 Stats
      SOU 20vs MAN 8 Report Stats
      Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
      NZW 30vs CBR 8 Stats
      NQL 18vs CRO 24 Report Stats
      PAR 16vs STG 12 Report Stats
      Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
      SYD 20vs GCT 10 Stats
      WST 12vs PEN 35 Stats
      Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
      CBY 20vs MEL 4 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 17
      Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
      PEN 20vs SOU 6 Report Stats
      Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
      STG 12vs NQL 18 Report Stats
      Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
      MAN 28vs CRO 16 Report Stats
      Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
      WST 16vs PAR 28 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 18
      Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
      CBR 36vs NEW 22 Stats
      Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
      PEN 4vs SYD 24 Stats
      CBY 8vs BRI 16 Stats
      Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
      NZW 28vs MEL 14 Report Stats
      CRO 28vs STG 8 Report Stats
      Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
      GCT 6vs MAN 38 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 19
      Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
      PAR 4vs CBY 28 Report Stats
      MEL 52vs PEN 10 Report Stats
      Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
      CBR 20vs CRO 21 Report Stats
      NEW 30vs GCT 2 Report Stats
      STG 8vs SOU 24 Report Stats
      Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
      SYD 24vs NZW 0 Report Stats
      BRI 42vs WST 16 Stats
      Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
      MAN 12vs NQL 30 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 20
      Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
      BRI 34vs GCT 0 Report Stats
      WST 8vs SYD 33 Stats
      Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
      NZW 12vs MAN 32 Stats
      MEL 22vs STG 4 Stats
      SOU 52vs NEW 6 Stats
      Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
      PEN 24vs CBR 34 Report Stats
      CBY 16vs CRO 18 Report Stats
      Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
      NQL 46vs PAR 4 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 21
      Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
      SYD 38vs CBY 28 Report Stats
      WST 34vs MEL 16 Report Stats
      Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
      NZW 14vs CRO 18 Stats
      NQL 32vs CBR 24 Stats
      MAN 44vs BRI 14 Stats
      Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
      STG 46vs NEW 24 Stats
      SOU 20vs PEN 16 Report Stats
      Mon, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
      GCT 24vs PAR 14 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 22
      Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
      BRI vs CBY 19:45SUN
      MAN vs SOU 19:45BO
      Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
      NZW vs STG 15:00Westpac Stadium
      CRO vs NQL 17:30Remondis Stadium
      PAR vs PEN 19:30TIO
      Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
      MEL vs GCT 14:00AAMI
      NEW vs SYD 16:00HS
      Mon, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
      CBR vs WST 19:00GIO Stadium
      View All Fixtures
      Round 23
      Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
      NQL vs SOU 19:451300 Smiles Stadium
      Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
      BRI vs STG 19:45SUN
      Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
      WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
      PEN vs NZW 17:30Pepper Stadium
      SYD vs PAR 19:30AS
      Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
      CBR vs MAN 14:00GIO Stadium
      CBY vs GCT 16:00Central Coast Stadium
      Mon, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
      CRO vs MEL 19:00Remondis Stadium
      View All Fixtures
      Round 24
      Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
      STG vs PEN 19:45WIN
      Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
      SOU vs CBY 19:45ANZ
      Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
      CRO vs WST 15:00Remondis Stadium
      NZW vs NQL 17:30MSS
      SYD vs BRI 19:30AS
      Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
      GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus Super Stadium
      MAN vs PAR 16:00BO
      Mon, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
      MEL vs NEW 19:00AAMI
      View All Fixtures
      Round 25
      Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
      SOU vs BRI 19:45AS
      Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
      MAN vs SYD 19:45BO
      Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
      PAR vs CRO 15:00Pirtek Stadium
      NEW vs CBY 17:30HS
      MEL vs NQL 19:30AAMI
      Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
      WST vs NZW 14:00CSS
      GCT vs STG 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
      Mon, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
      CBR vs PEN 19:30GIO Stadium
      View All Fixtures
      Round 26
      Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
      BRI vs MEL 19:45SUN
      Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
      SYD vs SOU 19:45AS
      Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
      PEN vs NEW 15:00Pepper Stadium
      STG vs WST 17:30ANZ
      NQL vs GCT 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
      Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
      PAR vs CBR 14:00Pirtek Stadium
      CRO vs MAN 16:00Remondis Stadium
      CBY vs NZW 18:30ANZ
      View All Fixtures
      NRL Ladder 2015
      Overall standings
      Team P W L D Pts
      Brisbane Broncos 19 15 4 0 34
      North Queensland Cowboys 19 15 4 0 34
      Sydney Roosters 19 13 6 0 30
      South Sydney Rabbitohs 19 12 7 0 28
      Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 19 11 8 0 26
      Melbourne Storm 19 10 9 0 24
      St George-Illawarra Dragons 19 9 10 0 22
      Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 19 9 10 0 22
      View all
       

      Follow Us on Facebook

      Featured advertisers