The Sin Bin - Marvin France's take on the NRL
The cold hard reality of sudden death football will come home to roost for two of the four teams in action this weekend as the NRL looks to separate the men from the boys in round two of the finals.
Manly and South Sydney, having used up their lifelines, need to get their heads around the fact their seasons, that produced so much and promised even more, will come to nothing if they have another off day. For their dark-horse rivals, North Queensland and Canberra, who passed their elimination play-offs with flying colours, it’s simply more of the same.
Who will stave off ‘Mad Monday’ for at least one more week? The Sin Bin has the final say...
SOUTH SYDNEY v CANBERRA
Case for the Rabbitohs - Souths had a shocker in Melbourne last week but they best thing they can do now is forget about it. Put it down to finals jitters and move on. With X-factor players such as Greg Inglis, Dave Taylor and Sam Burgess, the Bunnies can more than match it with the explosive Raiders, but it’s their ball control and defence that will win them this game. Canberra play an up-tempo style and can score from anywhere, but they are not a patient side. If the Bunnies can contain them for long periods mistakes will come, and as Souths discovered against the Storm, you can’t win without the ball.
Case for the Raiders - Languishing in 13th spot six weeks ago, the Raiders are now one of the form teams of the NRL, with several potent backs, headed by fullback Josh Dugan, playing off the back of a monster pack. Momentum is crucial in play-offs and the Green Machine have it in spades having won six straight. They’ll be out of their comfort zone with the game in Sydney, however, that could work in their favour with the success-starved Souths fans, and owner Russell Crowe, expecting plenty. And judging by last week, the Bunnies don’t do pressure well.
SIN BIN SAYS... - With their tails up and the ability pile on points in bunches, the Raiders by 8.
MANLY v NORTH QUEENSLAND
Case for the Sea Eagles - Considering the damage inflicted by the Bulldogs, Manly haven’t pulled up too badly with hobbled skipper Jamie Lyon expected to play and only centre Steve Matai out suspended. Their fans will be hoping they’ve also recovered from last week’s disastrous second-half where they went from favourites to also-rans in the space of the half-time break. If there’s a team they won’t mind playing, though, it’s North Queensland, who they average more points against (26) than any other opponent and have only ever lost twice to in Sydney.
Case for the Cowboys - North Queensland are also riding a wave of momentum but they have the added bonus of having quite possibly the best roster in the NRL. From Matt Bowen at No.1 to maestro Johnathan Thurston at stand-off and Kangaroos props Matt Scott and James Tamou, you’re probably wondering why the Cowboys finished fifth not first? The reason for that is travel. As in they can’t. Whenever the Cowboys venture into Sydney they seem to leave their guns in Townsville as their 29 per cent winning rate shows. Thurston, and current form, says that won’t be an issue but the jury’s still out...
SIN BIN SAYS...The Cowboys are locked and loaded and set to fire but the Sea Eagles won’t flinch. Manly by four.