The first week of NRL finals did not disappoint, with smashing and upsets in equal measure.
Sydney Roosters put on an absolute clinic in smashing their old rivals South Sydney 30-6 on Friday night.
The Chooks played an almost-perfect first half of footy, running out to a commanding 26-0 lead at half-time.
Luke Keary ran rings around his old club, with Joseph Manu and Latrell Mitchell dominating on the edges.
The Bunnies had no answers whatsoever, with coach Wayne Bennett admitting afterwards he was to blame for switching fullback Adam Doueihi to an unfamiliar position on the wing.
The defending premiers were completely flawless as they squeezed the life out of their neighbours.
They are now just one more win away from returning to the grand final.
Are the Raiders Melbourne’s bogey team?
For the second time this season Canberra have fought back to stun Melbourne Storm, recording probably the biggest shock of the weekend.
Melbourne has been the best team all year, but it mattered little to the Raiders as they stole a win in the 78th minute, thanks to a try from John Bateman.
Ricky Stuart’s men are tough, gritty and just won’t go away.
They started the game on fire and edged 6-2 ahead at the break.
Storm staged its comeback and got ahead 10-6.
But a number of mistakes and penalties handed the initiative to Canberra and the Raiders did not disappoint, with BJ Leilua’s flick pass setting up Bateman’s try.
Melbourne tried to grab a last-minute try and was left incensed when the touch judge incorrectly ruled that Suli Vunivalu had gone into touch, preventing them from a final attack.
It was ultimately a great night for Green Machine and sends Storm back to the pack, for now.
Pyro problem throws a ‘rock’ at Leilua
Canberra’s victory over Melbourne had a touch of the bizarre before kick-off when centre Leilua suffered an eye injury from pyrotechnics as he ran onto the field.
Leilua was unable to start the match and had some plastic removed from his eye before coming on in the 20th minute.
He eventually came on and made a telling contribution to the Raiders winning the game.
“It felt like a rock in my eye, because your eye is so delicate,” Leilua told NRL.com after the match.
“I was thinking there had to be something in there.
The staff kept saying ‘there’s nothing in there’ but then finally they saw it right up the top of the eye – a little piece of ash.
“He checked to make sure my eyeball wasn’t scratched. It still took a couple of attempts to get it out, but then I was good to go.”
Sea Eagles give Cronulla a lesson in desperation
Injury depleted and down on form, Manly was expected to be up against it when it tackled Cronulla in their semi-final.
But the Sea Eagles forgot to read the script and pulled off one of the club’s best backs-against-the-wall results.
Despite being without the likes of Tom Trbojevic, Martin Taupau, Curtis Sironen and Joel Thompson, Manly romped to a 28-16 win to eliminate the Sharks.
Daly Cherry-Evans was superb and Addin Fonua-Blake provided the power in the middle as they rocked Cronulla.
The Sea Eagles will play Souths next weekend, with the winner facing off against the Roosters.
The way Des Hasler has got his team firing against all the odds, you just can’t write off Manly.
Moses is the mount ain top
Brisbane has been battered, bruised and bashed after a powerful Parramatta side put it to the sword 58-0 in what was a history-making massacre.
The Eels watched the Roosters and Sea Eagles do a number on their opponents and seemed then to say ‘We can do better than that’.
It was half Mitchell Moses who did most of the damage, inspiring his team to a tremendous victory. In a towering performance he scored tries and set them up in a scintillating solo display.
But he wasn’t the only one in blue and gold putting on a show, with Michael Jennings brilliant, Shaun Lane damaging, Dylan Brown dynamic, Maika Sivo strong and Blake Ferguson fantastic flying down the wing.
The Broncos were utterly dominated in a dreadful night for the Queensland outfit.
Parramatta will take on Storm next, full of confidence the Eels can knock off Melbourne.
Mary escapes the axe
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has been spared a sacking after a review by Phil Gould.
The former Panthers boss was brought in to look at the Dragons’ operations after they went through their worst-ever season.
St George Illawarra finished second from bottom and won only eight of 24 matches.
McGregor is under pressure to get the axe, but Gould has surprisingly recommended the coach keeps his job.
But ‘Gus’ has not ruled out joining the Dragons on a permanent basis.