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The preliminaries are over and the seconds are out of the ring!


Yes, the National Rugby League’s end of year Finals series kicks off this weekend with four mouth-watering Semifinals, after another stop-start season, thanks to COVID-19.


The NRL’s theme for the 2021 season has been “Defy Impossible” and it has lived right up to its name!


In mid-July, with both Sydney and Melbourne back in lockdown, the National Rugby League took the very bold step of moving all 16 teams and their loved ones to COVID-free Queensland for the remainder of this year’s competition.


Many experts predicted that this would prove to be a logistical nightmare but as things have turned out, there have been very few hiccups.


The controversial move, which chief executive Andrew Abdo claimed would cost the game an estimated $12 million-$15 million per month, meant that the season proper could be completed on time, so that the NRL was able to tick all the boxes in terms of its commitments to its broadcasting partners.


And now we all get to sit back to enjoy the fruits of a very entertaining season.


As previously mentioned, there are four outstanding Semifinals this weekend, highlighted by the clash between minor premierships Melbourne Storm and Manly on Friday evening and Saturday night’s latter game when Penrith will lock horns with South Sydney.


At Yes I Can Renovations, we love our rugby league and on the eve of this year’s Semis, we thought it would be timely to provide our end of season report card on the Top Eight clubs, listed in order of how they finished on the Premiership ladder:


  1.  MELBOURNE: The reigning premiers have had another spectacular year, losing just three matches on the way to claiming the minor premiership. With a star-studded backline led by Cameron Munster and Ryan Papenhuyzen (who has returned to peak form just at the right time after missing most of the year due to injury), the Storm are worthy $2.40 favourites to become back to back premiers. REPORT CARD: A+
  1. PENRITH: The Panthers are looking to go one better in 2021 after going down to the Storm in last year’s Grand Final. Over the past six months, halfback Nathan Cleary has claimed the mantle of the NRL’s top player, taking his game to another level this season. Like Melbourne, Penrith have only lost three games all year and the $2.80 second favourites are our choice for title honours. REPORT CARD: A+
  1.  SOUTH SYDNEY: The Rabbitohs have had another fine year, losing just the four matches, with dynamic fullback Latrell Mitchell leading the way. However, Mitchell’s recently sustained year-ending suspension is a huge body blow to the red and greens as they endeavour to send off departing supercoach Wayne Bennett on a winning note. REPORT CARD: A
  1.  MANLY WARRINGAH: Manly’s charge into the top four after losing their first four matches of 2021 has been quite remarkable! Fullback Tom Trbojevic, despite missing the first few rounds of the season with injury, has been in irresistible form since his return and when he is on the paddock, the Sea Eagles are capable of more than matching it with any side. REPORT CARD: A
  1.  SYDNEY ROOSTERS: The 2018 and 2019 premiers have had a nightmare season in terms of injury, with high profile players Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Brett Morris all retiring during the year and star pivot Luke Keary barely playing a match. However, the Roosters have remained as competitive as ever, led by inspirational club and NSW captain James Tedesco and veteran Kiwi international prop Jared Waerea Hargreaves. REPORT CARD: A-
  1.  PARRAMATTA: Regular Semifinalists over recent years, the Eels suffered an inexplicable form slump during July and August before regaining their best to upset premiership favourites Melbourne in Round 24. Indeed, it’s significant to note that the blue and golds inflicted two of the Storm’s only three losses during 2021, a huge feather in the Eels’ cap. REPORT CARD: B+
  1.  NEWCASTLE: With their biggest name players Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce sidelined for much of the year due to injury, it’s fair to say that the Knights under-achieved for much of 2021. But with Pearce and Ponga back on the field over recent weeks, Newcastle managed to do enough the make the top eight - although last weekend’s lacklustre defeat 35-22 at the hands of the Brisbane Broncos suggests that the Knights are just making up the numbers from here on in. REPORT CARD B.
  1.  GOLD COAST: After recruiting particularly well prior to the 2021 season, much was expected from the Titans this year. However, their form has been very inconsistent and only a last round whitewashing of the New Zealand Warriors saw the Gold Coast claim the eighth and remaining Semifinal slot. The Titans rely way too much on their high -priced recruit David Fifita to match the more star studded and evenly balanced teams. REPORT CARD B-

Our predictions: We are supremely confident that this will be Penrith’s year and are tipping Nathan Cleary to lead the Panthers to their first premiership title since 2003, when they upset hot favourites the Sydney Roosters. We can only see three legitimate chances: Penrith, Melbourne and Manly and doubt that Souths can make the Grand Final without Latrell Mitchell.

  • Don’t forget that for the best radio coverage of the NRL Semifinals, you just cannot go past Radio 2GB’s record-breaking The Continuous Call Team, headed by Mark Levy and with expert comments and great entertainment from the likes of Darryl ‘The Big Maarn’ Brohman, Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell and chief caller David ‘Thirsty’ Morrow.


  • Yes I Can Renovations is New South Wales fastest growing and most innovative building company – specialising in bathroom and kitchen renovations in Sydney – and we have been a major sponsor of 2GB since October 2020, where our advertisements feature regularly on The Ray Hadley Morning Show, in particular.


  • Of course, Ray Hadley’s name is also synonymous with The Continuous Call Team, which he founded way back in 1987. While his other broadcasting commitments with 2GB have seen Ray scale back his role with The Continuous Call Team, he remains one of Australia’s all-time elite sporting commentators and will be back behind the microphone for the Grand Final. 


Caption: Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen makes a break during the 2020 Grand Final (photo credit nrl.com)


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