With the regular season concluded and the Giltinan Shield gifted, the seeds are in and the eight is set.
It’s finals time!
As the routes home for each of the premiership contenders have been set, we’ve dusted off our crystal ball with the aim of directing you through the next month of football.
From the first round to the big one, here’s how we see October playing out.
3. Week Three
Preliminary Final 1 – Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Fresh off a week’s break, the Panthers will have no doubt dissected South’s finals surge to the nth degree.
Ivan Cleary’s charges will not only be rested and ready, they will also be desperate to end the season of a team they have been compared to by many.
With the Bunnies qualifying for the Prelim the hard way, expect many weary bodies in cardinal and myrtle hoops.
Coach Wayne Bennett will be desperate for a quick start that will come off the back of hit ups from forwards Nicholls, Burgess and Knight as well as creativity from his halves.
Due to a fuller fuel gauge, Penrith need only see out this opening onslaught and counter when given the opportunity.
Expect the game to open up with the Panther’s youth primed and ready for victory.
Repeat sets and completed sets will be the key here. Assume Penrith will be the cleaner of the two and the victor of the pair.
Preliminary Final 2 – Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
Stating that these two teams dislike each is like claiming it’s a tad wet in a typhoon.
Despite the Roosters road to the prelim having to come via the detour of an elimination semi, know that Robinson’s men wouldn’t have it any other way.
Know too that they would happily take a third premiership on the bounce by any means, but they would love it to come following the elimination of their Melbourne based nemesis.
Added motivation will be applied in both camps. It wouldn’t be too far outside the realms of possibility to suggest Cameron Smith may mention this is his last lap on the merry go round.
Should Smith add this fuel to his teammate’s internal bonfires, there’s no telling what destruction awaits the Tri-Colours.
In spite of this hypothetical scenario, we’re tipping the appeal of a three peat will have the Bondi boys advancing and the Bellamy-Smith era concluding south of the border.