You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
The Broncos celebrate after downing the Roosters in Finals Week 1.

Andrew Voss on this week's finals matches, a time to farewell some club heroes, how to rate the Dragons and Rabbitohs seasons and more.

Who are the favourites now to take the title?

I'm not about to dismiss the Roosters based on one loss, but obviously Brisbane and Melbourne are in the box seat after the opening weekend of the playoffs.

Home ground is some advantage in the grand final qualifiers but certainly not the be-all and end-all based on the records of the Broncos and the Storm this year.

Brisbane are now 10 and three for the season at Suncorp, while the Storm are eight and four at AAMI Park.

I still believe the Roosters will get past arch rivals the Bulldogs this Friday night, and then set up a classic third battle for 2015 against the Broncos.

If that's the case, they will return to the ground that they lost in golden point way back in Round 6.

On the other side of the draw, I can barely split the Cowboys and the Sharks. Again Townsville has not quite proven a fortress for North Queensland with an 8-4 return this year for the home team.

And the Sharks are one of the four teams to register a win there as they did in dramatic circumstances in Round 16.

However, looking ahead, Melbourne did record home wins over both Cronulla and North Queensland during the year.

I'll go Cronulla in an upset on Saturday night.

Every one's under pressure in the finals, right?

You bet. Players, coaches, on ground officials, video referees.

It's the nature of the beast, and even more so this weekend as it's sudden death from now on.

I can't believe any fair minded fan could be critical of referee Jared Maxwell in last Saturday night's thriller between the Bulldogs and the Dragons.

Maxwell made a call to rule Shaun Lane offside with the game on the line. Good on him. How did it look to you at normal speed the first time you watched it?

A rebound off an opponent does not negate a player being illegally offside, however a deliberate touch does. It was a scramble for possession. Maxwell had to rule one way or the other without the benefit of a slow motion replay.

Where I do have concerns is the overlooking of offside in golden point, and I'll say it until I am blue in the face that the Sharks' Wade Graham lost the ball for his first-half try against South Sydney.

I thought the same of Semi Radradra's effort with his club record-breaking try the previous weekend for Parramatta. Maybe the NBL season has started early!

I just hope such a call doesn't decide our biggest game of the year in just over two weeks time.

How did the Dragons' season rate?

They were overachievers. Their fans should be happy.

I'll be honest, I had the Dragons finishing in the bottom four, so to come within a point of reaching week two of the finals is a success in my opinion.

But having reached the top of the ladder at the halfway mark of the year, I guess more was expected.

At times in that first half of the year their defence was magnificent. Maintain that on a more consistent basis, and finals football again in 2016 is not beyond them.

And what do we conclude on Souths for 2015?

That the adage "it's harder to defend a premiership than win one" has never rung truer.

The start to South Sydney's season was brilliant. Their attitude to pre-season events like the World Club Challenge and Auckland Nines was first class.

For a club that never saw the playoffs for almost 20 straight years not so long ago, a top-eight exit in the first week of the finals is no disgrace.

They struggled to find consistency for much of the season, and for the last month they just hit the wall.

Conceding 137 points in four straight losses to finish 2015 was disappointing in the extreme.

However, in my book I still see a playing roster that should be in the finals again next year with just a few question marks. Issac Luke will be a massive loss. They didn't overcome the departure of Sam Burgess. The task will be for Cameron McInnes to step up in all likelihood and become a leader.

Good judges think he has the talent.

Don't forget to say your farewells

The images of Issac Luke last weekend after Souths' loss to Cronulla really hit home for me.

Luke was almost inconsolable as it hit home he wouldn't be getting a chance to play for the club again.

Here was a tough man dropping his guard and revealing his passion for the club, that perhaps across the board with so many players we as fans just take for granted.

Playing footy isn't just a job and a pay cheque for the players.

Further to that point, on Tuesday night I hosted the Warriors season awards in Auckland.

A 10-year player and one-club man, Sam Rapira, gave a fantastic speech on stage as he said goodbye to the only club he has ever known.

Another tough footy player putting it out there, speaking from the heart.

Others will play their final matches in the NRL over the next few weeks. For some such as Justin Hodges it will be the end of a career.

Wish them all well.

Who wins Schoolboy rugby league's biggest day?

Can I sit on the fence on this one?

It's a touch of State of Origin to the GIO Schoolboy Cup final this year with Patrician Brothers Blacktown tackling Kirwan State High School from Townsville.

It will be a battle of power versus some dazzling attack.

Blacktown has often finished second best in deciders as they did last year, while Kirwan is gunning for its first national title.

And you can watch a replay of the game this Saturday on Fox Sports.

Enjoy another great weekend of footy.

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners