The Adjudicator gives his early look at the first week of the NRL finals Â Â By The Adjudicator Â Â foxsports.com.au Â Â September 08, 2009 http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,26037954-5018866,00.html Smell that? It's not the stench of the fire escape at a Roosters hotel. It's the smell of finals footy. September has arrived, and while half the competition are downing their 20th rum-and-coke of the day, the top eight are about to get serious. After picking the difficult Friday night contests like a dirty nose, things went a little pear-shaped for The Adjudicator in round 26. In saying that, five from eight in a frantic final round of the season isnÃ¢Â€Â™t too bad. I picked the Roosters by 16 and things were looking up when the Chooks led 16-0 after 34 minutes. But, much like Brett Seymour on a big night out, the Bondi boys collapsed in a heap a little early and the Cowboys ran through them. The Sharkies also cost me by not playing the full 80 minutes, but playing for 79 minutes and 56 seconds is a pretty good effort. And if anyone predicted that Manly would beat the Titans by 34 points, a date with Mrs Adjudicator and a box of cask wine is all yours. But enough of this regular season nonsense because the 'real' footy has arrived. The Adjudicator has to deal only with four games this week, which is just as well as I've been diagnosed with a severe case of finals fever. Here's the early verdict for week one. Melbourne Storm v Manly, Friday 7.45pm (EST), Etihad Stadium, Melbourne The Adjudicator says: "Man, do these two have a history. The Storm broke Manly hearts in 2007, only for the Eagles to return the favour a year later. In between those two grand finals, they have had many titanic struggles, including a heart stopper at Olympic Park in round 24. The Adjudicator put his neck on the line and tipped the unfancied Sea Eagles on that occasion and, if I were to follow the old mantra of "if it aint broke, donÃ¢Â€Â™t fix it", IÃ¢Â€Â™d tip them again. But I wonÃ¢Â€Â™t. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s not that Manly are broke, but thereÃ¢Â€Â™s one factor that tips this one in the StormÃ¢Â€Â™s favour. Can you guess what it is? It starts with G and ends in reg Inglis. Melbourne will come out on top in the contest of "our disgraced star is better than yours" and win by two." Agree/disagree with The Adjudicator? Tell him, in 100 words or fewer, why your team will win this match. Email The Adjudicator, including your full name and where you're from. LATEST COMMENTS FROM FANS Storm fan Crocodile Dundi says: "Dear Mr Adjudicator, Storm's attack on the title has run it's course. With a faltering forward pack (with numbers made up by boys in a man's game), I doubt GI can change the inevitable loss. I'm proud of the Storm, but will cut my losses and head to Big Apple before the Friday kick-off. One things sure, after Friday, Manly won't even be limping. There will be 2 dead warrior clans in the middle - MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). BTW, if Manly is losing, the officials will make sure the result is "NSW centric"!! This time they will make sure the matter is settled way before the judiciary (unlike 2008). See you in 2010. Manly by 1 point! " Manly fan Geoff of TERRIGAL and Narraweena: "My last post was so 'controversial' that it did not get published. But A remember, Silvertails are now everywhere and so are Bogans. Mrs A and I did share a secret tryst after the 34 point drubbing. (I said Manly by 10, but she understood). I think Storm may be a little stale. Manly looks fresh with players in their best positions - although Farrah and Robertson CAN play at FB if Brett's leg gets hurt. Some better kicking from The Ox last week. Mattai held up. Foran's OK in 5/8 - we are gelling well. With Crocker no longer at Melbourne it'll be the boys from The Time and Tide and The Brookvale and Dee Why Hotels over the latte sippers of Lygon Street. Manly by 10." Storm fan Daniel Russell of Piggabeen says: "Well... I'm getting quite popular, Judy - how about next year we make it the Adjudicator + Daniel Russell's verdict? Speaking of great teams, Melbourne have been at the top of the pops for the last three years, and I can't see them bowing out of this year's race without a fight. Cooper cronk to wipe the floor with Manly - Melbourne by at least 20." (Adjudicator says: Pigga, this week you are a Storm fan and a Storm fan only. Where is the passion for a single team?) Sea Eagles fan Geoff of Noosa says: "Well Mr. A I told you that Manly would show up the false pretenders Titans last week and the rest is history. Now let me tell you Mr. A Manly will again put away the winging Storm. My concern hear is the home crowd they all whinge as loud as there teams coach at every close call during a game goes against them, However Manly will have the teamwork and the class to put Melb. Away. It will be a close one though, it will be the best S/F on the lot, however Manly will win it again. And I canÃ¢Â€Â™t wait to hear the winging from bellyache. Go Manly" Sea Eagles fan Phil says: "Adjudicator - Assuming that both the Dragons and Bulldogs knock off the Eels and Knights (and the Broncos beat the Titans) in Week 1 it would appear to me that the Storm and Sea Eagles clash is really a winner takes all on their way through to the Grand Final. You would have to fancy Melbourne or Manly to beat the Titans in week 2, and then face a lack-lustre Bulldogs in the preliminary final. History tells us that the Dragons are chokers although they have the Wayne Bennett factor. That being said it would not surprise, based on the favourable draw, that we could have the monotomy of a third Grand Final Replay between what has arguably been the best two sides over the last three years. Friday night will bring one irresistibly close to that position. I hope youÃ¢Â€Â™ve gone the wrong way Adjudicator. Eagles by 7." Robbie D of the Gold Coast says: "Mr A, Mr A, itÃ¢Â€Â™s 2009, not Woodstock about to smoke your 10th joint. Greg Inglis is a brilliant player, but he carved up the Warriors for goodness sake. The try Inglis scored was great, but the players he pushed away are about as handy as a one-legged man at an a*** kicking party. Manly on the other hand flogged a team that we all know YOU thought were specials for the GF. The Titans had the long journey back up my way after they were welcomed to the intensity of finals football. The Storm though, will be much happier knowing that they wonÃ¢Â€Â™t have any more travelling to do as Brisbane and Newcastle will both win saying ta-ta to the once powerful Storm. This wonÃ¢Â€Â™t be close, Manly forwards to roll over the Storm third string forward pack and win by 16." Ernie of Anna Bay says: "Home ground will see the Storm win by 13+. The Storm's key play makers are all hitting top form will send the Manly boy's a big wake up call." Storm fan JD of Canberra says: "Oh Mr A how you make me like you one week and then despise you the next. All season this has happened. Fortunately, I am a fan this week and you could not have hit the nail any better. With one simple whack of the hammer, you have stated the reason for a Storm victory dance Friday night. Time to shine Mr Inglis. As for Stewart, the influence he has on the Eagles is mouse quiet compared to GI. Go you good things!!!"