Mitchell Moses could be the match-winner for the Eels against the Storm. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Mitchell Moses could be the match-winner for the Eels against the Storm. AAP Image/Dean Lewins DEAN LEWINS

Durko's Dissections: NRL finals week 2 previews

League insider Tony Durkin previews the week 2 clashes.



Rabbitohs V Sea Eagles

Friday, ANZ Stadium, 7.40pm

History: Played 143, Sea Eagles 77, Rabbitohs 66

Last met: Rabbitohs 21-20, round 17, 2019

At this ground: Rabbitohs 5, Sea Eagles 4

Ladbrokes odds: Rabbitohs $1.48, Sea Eagles $2.60

Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs during the NRL First Qualifying Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the SCG in Sydney, Friday, September 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Adam Reynolds will be key for the Rabbitohs. JOEL CARRETT

Des Hasler, one of the cagiest coaching minds in the business, will again leave his 2019 premiership fate in the hands of his understrength line-up in this knockout, which is likely to be played in a soulless stadium before a small crowd. But while the atmosphere might be lacking and some big names sidelined, the battle shapes as a ripper. Just two field goals have separated these sides in the two games this year, with a win apiece. And when the Rabbitohs scraped in 21-20 in round 17, Manly's Tommy Turbo was missing that afternoon too. The Sea Eagles were superb last week, and with Marty Taupau back from suspension to link with the imposing Addin Fonua-Blake, the leadership and muscle of returning Rabbitohs skipper Sam Burgess will be needed more than ever. Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has been superb all season and an out-of-sorts Adam Reynolds (pictured) must step up to match him, while livewire dummy halves Api Koroisau and Damien Cook promise an enthralling battle. The burning question is whether the injury-hit Sea Eagles can rise in successive weeks. If yes, this could be another 2019 epic between the long-time sparring partners.


TIP - Rabbitohs



Storm V Eels

Saturday, AAMI Park, 7.40pm

History: Played 35, Storm 22, Eels 13

Last met: Storm 64-10, round 9, 2019

At this ground: Storm 5, Eels 2

Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.40, Eels $2.90

Maika Sivo of the Eels during the Second NRL Elimination Final between the Parramatta Eels and the Brisbane Broncos at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, September 15, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Maika Sivo has been a star for the Eels. JOEL CARRETT

Back in round nine when these combatants met at Suncorp Stadium, the Storm was sitting fourth and the Eels fifth - a closeness not reflected in the 64-10 thrashing the Eels received that night. Since then the Storm has been beaten just three times, finished minor premier by six points and was beaten only in the dying minutes of last week's qualifying final. Conversely, with some lopsided form since, the Eels still finished fifth despite losing two of their final three premiership rounds. But after watching them totally destroy the Broncos four days ago, they will no doubt go to Melbourne on Saturday chock full of confidence and ready to continue the fairytale ride from last season's wooden spoon. The Storm however, ultra-professional and $1.38 favourites in this, will present a defensive challenge that questions whether the Eels actually are the real deal. Key individual clashes loom all over the field with the head-on dual between Fiji flyers Maika Sivo (pictured) and Suliasi Vunivalu a potential game changer. The Storm, who never crumble in big games, have won six of past eight clashes against the Eels, but in none of those matches were the underdogs as electric as in their current form.

TIP - Storm