NRL Previews - Preliminary Finals

Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos

Free bus rides or no free bus rides, big crowd or no big crowd, these two clubs will be ready for a monumental game of rugby league on Friday night at the SFS. Even though some fans can't help but feel robbed after learning of Darren Lockyer's omission from this match, we will still be treated to a beauty. In fact, the opening exchanges become all the more important as Manly will not want to be chasing any points against the now heavy underdogs from Brisbane.

The Broncos forwards will be superb, their exciting and speedy backline will give everything they have, but unfortunately for them and all who believe in fairy tales, the visitors will not have enough to get through. Kieran Foran elevates his reputation even further with a mighty performance as the Sea Eagles come out blazing from two weeks rest and reach another Grand Final. The Broncos will struggle to turn possession into points and when Manly get their chances, look for Jamie Lyon and Brett Stewart to do the damage. Eagles the first team into the big one.

My tip: Manly 20-12

Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors

First and foremost, credit where it is due; Magnificent effort by both clubs to reach the prelim final when not many would have picked them to do so and when other rosters looked more likely to come this far. Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk have done wonders for the Storm, again, to have them 80 minutes away from the GF. James Maloney has worked a similar brand of magic to lead the Warriors to such success and come Saturday night at AAMI Park, he will need to be every bit the magician to get past the home side.

The Storm's defence presents another huge challenge for Ivan Cleary and his men. It is a proverbial brick wall that has allowed an average of just over 12 points per game through the season and will be even more resolute at home after a week off. The visitors will not be given many opportunities as Melbourne turn every play-the-ball into peak hour at central station; crowded, slow and a little smelly. If the visitors can overcome this snail's pace style of footy and can score at least 3 tries - they win. They won't.  The grind wins again.

My tip: Melbourne 14-10