NRL 2022, Andrew Johns previews Finals Week 1: Rugby league’s Bermuda Triangle

Parramatta are humming at the right time of the year, though.

Dylan Brown, Shaun Lane and Maika Sivo have been big threats — but I can’t see them combating the cohesion of Penrith’s Isaah Yeo, who links so well with the halves.

Joey’s tip: Penrith by 2.
First try-scorer: Viliame Kikau
Man of the match: Nathan Cleary
The Dangerman: The Kikausaurus.

Storm v Raiders

Wet weather is also predicted for this match, which helps the Storm with their wrestle and the way they suffocate the opposition.

But the Raiders’ pack, in particular Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine with Hudson Young on the left side, is very formidable.

Their big threat is five-eighth Jack Wighton coming back on the left and combining with Young: powerful, strong, skilful, quick and mad, all written in capital letters and crayon.

Raiders stars Hudson Young and Jack Wighton.Credit:Getty

For Melbourne, the big question mark is whether halfback Jahrome Hughes plays.

Considering the players they’ve had out for most of the year — Ryan Papenhuyzen, Reimis Smith and Christian Welch — Melbourne have overachieved.

The Storm are coming off two very physical matches against the Roosters and the Eels and that will be enough for the Raiders to get home.

Joey’s tip: Raiders by 4.
First try-scorer: Justin Olam.
Man of the match: Joe Tapine.
The dangerman: Justin Olam’s right shoulder.

Sharks v Cowboys

A dry, windy night is expected on Saturday so there should be plenty of ball movement. Both these teams love to attack so I’m expecting this to be the game of the weekend.

The Sharks are coming off a soft month with big wins over the Tigers, Manly, Bulldogs and Knights.

They’ve been in third gear for all those wins and coach Craig Fitzgibbon has them fresh and firing when it matters most.

Cronulla have a tough, well-balanced team that’s honest and hardworking, pretty much like their coach when he was a player.

Nicho Hynes and the Sharks have been in cruise control lately.

Nicho Hynes and the Sharks have been in cruise control lately.Credit:Getty

The one thing you can always guarantee against the Sharks is that they won’t beat themselves.

A massive plus is the match being at PointsBet Stadium. That’s a 12-point advantage because, for away teams, it’s like playing in the Bermuda Triangle. Weird stuff happens there, and then later at Northies.

North Queensland have been one of the stories of the year. Coach Todd Payten has done a great job after some experts tipped them for the wooden spoon.

Look at their team. They’re full of young stars on the rise: Jeremiah Nanai, Murray Taulagi, Tom Gilbert, Tom Dearden and Scott Drinkwater.

Their best player all year has been hooker Reece Robson, who has flown under the radar but should push for rep honours next year.

The Cowboys’ best threat is Nanai on the left. He’s a freakish player.

Joey’s tip: Sharks by 8
First try-scorer: Kyle Feldt.
Man of the match: Matt Moylan.
The dangerman: The Bermuda Triangle.

Roosters v Rabbitohs

This will be a shandy behind Sharks-Cowboys as the game of the weekend.

Sunny day, fast track, plenty of ball movement and also plenty of hate.

The fans hate each other, the boards hate each other, the chairmen apparently get on well except on game day.

The Roosters’ forward pack has been incredible the past two weeks against Melbourne and Souths. Led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, they have been powerful, strong and intimidating.

Lodge is an amazing story. I think he’ll go away with the Kangaroos and his resurgence demonstrates the leadership within the group and the quality of the organisation.

Lock Victor Radley is a huge inclusion for the Roosters but the loss of centre Joseph Manu to injury costs them six to eight points.

Joseph Manu is a big loss for the Roosters.

Joseph Manu is a big loss for the Roosters.Credit:Getty

Fullback James Tedesco has had his best year. The big improvement has been the way he’s combined with Radley and the halves, Luke Keary and Sam Walker.

Early in the season, their combinations were clunky but they’ve worked it out, mostly because Tedesco has pulled back his involvement.

Souths need Cameron Murray and Damien Cook to play. Murray has the go-forward which Cook then plays off with his speed.


Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell are the threats but much depends on rookie halfback Lachlan Ilias. He needs to bring Walker into play, then Walker needs to bring Mitchell into play. It’s about having the right feel to give them the ball in the right place at the right time.

If Murray doesn’t play, Souths can’t win. If he does play, it’s a toss of a coin.

Joey’s tip: Roosters by 2.
First try-scorer: Sam Verrills.
Man of the match: James Tedesco.
Then Dangermen: Teddy and Latrell.

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