Just like that the regular season is over. The Titans had the last laugh, their 44-0 demolition of the Warriors boosting them into the eight, leaving the Sharks and their fans to wonder “What if?” Meanwhile the Storm wrapped up the JJ Giltinan shield after a season dominating everyone except the Parramatta Eels.
So to Week 1 of the NRL 2021 Finals. 8 teams enter, two teams leave, and another two win themselves a week off. But who does what? We sat down in the Sportress lounge to see if we could pick who’s going to clean up in the first round, with input from some previous Sportress contributors.
QUALIFYING FINAL 1
Despite Manly’s resurgent run into the playoffs most pundits would rightly have the minor premiers Melbourne as a lock to earn themselves a week off.
Dan: Storm, duh.
Rob: What he said.
Mr Green: I don’t want to sound biased so I’ll go Storm.
Mr Blue: Left-field pick – Storm!
Mr Pink: I guess someone’s gotta be in the Storm’s corner…
Storm 5| Manly 0
QUALIFYING FINAL 2
If Melbourne have been the ultimate benchmark then Penrith have been damn near close. The Bunnies meanwhile have oscillated between thrashing teams and occasionally getting thrashed themselves, and with Latrell gone they may not be able to withstand the Panthers Hi-energy attack.
Dan: Panthers, but not without a fight from Souths
Rob: Penrith will be too quick, but maybe Souths can hang on until Week 3.
Mr Green: Bunnies baby!
Mr Blue: I’d also like to express my fondness for the Rabbitohs.
Mr Pink: The Bunnies because f#&k Gus!
Panthers 2| Bunnies 3
ELIMINATION FINAL 1
Despite having been through the injury/medical retirement wringer in 2021 the Roosters have managed to hang tough, turning resilience into a near art-form. The Titans meanwhile just scraped in, but hey, there’s 8 teams that didn’t.
Dan: Roosters, they can handle anything the ladder lurkers have served up this year.
Rob: Chooks (I think I’m going to be sick)
Mr Green: Titans! The best Qld side in the comp outside of Victoria.
Mr Blue: There’s a film called “Remember the Titans”, but there’s no “Remember the Roosters”.
Mr Pink: The boys from Cbus will feast on KFC.
Roosters 2| Titans 3
ELIMINATION FINAL 2
Parramatta were at one point destined for great things before the wheels fell off – they’ve managed to get going on stops and starts since the “bad bit”. Newcastle have been on a journey of discovery, mainly discovering that they are the definition of a mid-ladder side.
Dan: Eels, despite my better judgement.
Rob: Parra should at least make it to Week 2 – just pray it’s Doctor Jekyll and not Mr Hyde who shows up.
Mr Green: We are the Knights who say “Ni!”
Mr Blue: And we demand… a shrubbery! (And a second bite in Week 2)
Mr Pink: The Knights can still go higher, but the Eels peaked in round 24.
Eels 2| Knights 3
Well there you have it. We look forward to at least fifty percent of these picks being horribly wrong and amusing in hindsight.
May the best V’landysball-manipulating teams win!