Four teams remain in the 2021 NRL season after the second week of the Finals.
Manly made short work of the Roosters to book a date with the Bunnies on Friday night while the Storm will take on the Panthers in a clash many expected to be the Grand Final.
We’ve found our five big talking points from the NRL Semi Finals and have them for you right here!
1 – Defence Dominates
For a season featuring plenty of high scoring contests, this weekend served as a reminder that in the crunch time of September, you need to be able to play defence.
Both of the winners in the NRL Semi Finals conceded six points each and while the games unfolded very differently, the message remained the same.
When you hold an opponent to a single try, your odds of winning are very, very good.
Penrith averaged 11.92 points allowed per game and kept plenty of opponents in the single digits.
Defensively, Manly was very hit and miss, occasionally unable to stop a nose bleed and resembling a brick wall as well.
It might be a bit much to ask the Panthers and Manly to keep the two top scoring teams in the NRL this season to under 10 points.
But if they can…
2 – Daly’s Day
There were plenty of heroes for Manly in their big win, but you have to enjoy the performance of Daly Cherry-Evans in that game.
He’s been much maligned throughout his career but this was a phenomenal performance and he even capped it off with a try.
He will need to be at his absolute best to avoid a repeat of Souths’ 26-12 win from Round 2 when the Sea Eagles (minus Tommy Turbo) were outscored five tries to two.
3 – Fine Margins Decide Finals
Especially when they are as close as the Panthers-Eels game was on Saturday night.
It was a proper defensive struggle that had everyone on the edge of their seats, and probably took a few years off the lives of the fans of the respective clubs.
In games like that one, it comes down to players executing in one or two key moments.
There was not a whole lot of room to fit this grubber in but Cleary found the perfect weight.
Not to put too fine of a point on it but he will probably need to pull off a few of those plays and then some against the Storm.
4 – Parramatta Needs A Reset
Not a big one by any means, but it is a side that does need a little bit of a change up if they are to keep their title window alive.
The big pieces are mostly there but the guys like Moses, Gutherson and Blake are all in that prime window between 25 and 30 years old.
After another Semi Final exit, it’s going to be put up or shut up time for them in 2022.
5 – The Storm Don’t Need Any More Help
But they will get it anyway with the news that Josh Addo-Carr and Brandon Smith have been cleared to play in the Prelim.
The Foxx was in a bit of a tryscoring drought before his injury, crossing in just one of his last five games.
But would you really back against him in a finals game in Queensland?