The decider is set! An all-Sydney affair that will be the talk of the town all week. Before we get to that though, we look back at this past weekend and this season's last 20 thoughts.
1. Melbourne produced their worst 40-minute performance this season in the first half of a preliminary final. Very un-Melbourne-like. It goes to show this competition is all about getting it right at the right time.
2. Melbourne's overall performances dropped considerably when Nicho Hynes was taken out of the fullback position. I maintain he was the form player of the competition during his run in the number one jersey. I suppose Bellamy had to go back to Ryan Papenhuyzen, but outside of a ten out of ten performance against the Sharks, the move backfired.
3. I fully admit to writing the Bunnies off the second Latrell Mitchell was suspended. My thinking was that Souths needed to be at their very best to worry the top two. Blake Taaffe has been an absolute revelation in the one. Turns out I shouldn't have worried.
4. Sticking with Taaffe (I'm sure there's a pun there to be enjoyed) his short run in first grade to date shows exactly why Souths were so seen to keep him. If Reynolds had re-signed, I have it on good authority, that Taaffe would have been the starting seven next season for another Sydney team.
5. It's a shame that grand final week started with an off-field incident. That said, the way Walsh fronted the media, copped it and promised to fix his issue and do better pretty much puts it to rest. A stupid decision but it has been well-handled.
6. Unfortunately our great fear came true. The feeling about HIA assessments was that it would affect results in big games. The Storm lost Christian Welch and Brandon Smith on Saturday while a clearly, and admittedly, concussed Jarome Luai was allowed to return and guide his side to victory. Don't for a second think I'm suggesting this was the sole reason for the upset, or the process was in any way compromised... but it happened.
7. Latrell Mitchell's wife took a swipe at the NRL on Social Media earlier saying the "system" decided he wouldn't play. I wonder if Joseph Manu's partner swiped at Latrell for ensuring Manu didn't play finals footy?
8. Sorry Manly fans, be as angry as you want, but the stats back up the following statement: you're flat-track bullies. You belt poor teams but can't beat the elite sides. There's not a lot wrong with that but Manly fans were so angry all week after Ryan Girdler suggested they weren't capable of stepping up. They're not.
9. As good as Tom Trbojevic is, I'm still taking James Tedesco nine times out of ten in a big game. Turbo vs the Sharks or Tigers every day of the week but he doesn't have the runs on the board in big games at club level.
10. Cameron Munster, post Origin, was poor. I just kept expecting him to come good and considered him $1.01 to win man of the match this past weekend but he was barely sighted with the game on the line. Melbourne looked best when Nicho Hynes was playing in the halves.
Rugby League Outlaws preview the Grand Final, talk Reece Walsh and more
11. Fox Sports really went out of the way to talk down Souths forwards on the pre-game show on Friday. They must have heard and they absolutely dominated the supposed 'superior' Manly pack. Jai Arrow has been a massive inclusion.
12. How well have Brisbane signed for next season? Both Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell were absolutely magnificent this past weekend in the biggest games (to date) this season. Reynolds is the perfect signing for Brisbane.
13. Scott Sorenson. That's the thought! On a bench containing Tevita Pangai Jr and Viliame Kikau, after the game everyone was talking about Scott Sorenson. Rightly so too.
14. There can't be a person in the rugby league world who would begrudge Benji Marshall a grand final winner's medal this Sunday night.
15. I had a Souths fan message pre-game on Friday evening saying he was nervous due to the last time the Bunnies played a prelim they came out flat and tired early. There was no way Wayne Bennett was every going to make similar mistakes. The master reigns yet again. Loved the post-game jab at the Broncos too just quietly.
16. Despite their exit on Friday, Manly made it much further than anyone predicted. To go an entire season without a genuine number nine, especially considering the skill on show in the jersey for the other three sides who played this weekend, should be impossible. Huge props to Lachlan Croker!
17. Craig Bellamy's words in the post-game for his captain Dale Finucane make me very happy. As a Sharks fan, I cannot wait to see him in the black, white and blue. The respect shown by Bellamy, at the lowest point in the season, says everything about player and mentor. Pure class.
18. How incredible was the Queensland Cup coverage on Sunday afternoon? I've always said there's a market for the reserve grade competitions. I wish they'd show more games. Was a real treat.
20. How good is grand final week!? Let's enjoy it people. Best of luck to both sets of fans!