NRL Finals - Week 1 Preview
NRL FINALS WEEK-ONE SCHEDULE (all times AEST):
Friday, September 13:
First qualifying final: 2-Sydney Roosters v 3-South Sydney, SCG, 1950:
Two arch-rivals meet in a final for the second year running. The Rabbitohs have had the better of the Roosters twice this year - including as recently as last Thursday night in a brutal encounter. But the tri-colours have big-game experience, and beat the Bunnies in last year's preliminary final. Both sides have concerns in the middle, with Sam Burgess suspended for the Rabbitohs and the Roosters no certainty to have Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (suspension), Sio Suia Taukeiaho (ribs) and Jake Friend (arm).
Saturday, September 14:
Second qualifying final: 1-Melbourne v 4-Canberra, AAMI Park, 1740:
Set to be an absolute bellringer with the two teams renowned for producing good matches. Canberra shocked the Storm in Melbourne just last month when they came from 18-0 down to win by four points, but doing it in the finals will be a tougher ask. The Storm will have an easier lead in, with Canberra's preparations at risk of being distracted by Hudson Young's judiciary hearing. The two teams last met in September in a preliminary final in 2016, when Melbourne won a close one.
First elimination final: 6-Manly v 7-Cronulla, Lottoland, 1950*:
Cronulla will enter the finals on a high while Manly have dramas on and off the field. The Sea Eagles have lost seven players to injuries in the past week, with Curtis Sironen and Taniela Paseka this week joining Tom Trbojevic and Joel Thompson on the sidelines. But they have a good record over the Sharks, having beaten them in 10 of their past 11 matches. Cronulla are on a roll, believing they have turned a corner after winning their way into the finals over the Wests Tigers. Matt Moylan remains a chance of returning from a hamstring injury.
Sunday, September 15:
Second elimination final: 5-Parramatta v 8-Brisbane, Bankwest Stadium, 1605:
Parramatta's stellar 2019 turnaround will face its biggest test as they aim to win a finals match for the first time in a decade. Buoyed on by their fantastic form at Bankwest Stadium, the Eels will be favourites for Sunday's do-or-die clash with Brisbane. The Broncos know they must improve on their effort against Canterbury, when they were convincingly beaten by a side already out of finals contention.
(* Manly's hosting of Lottoland final is subject to a ground safety review, with Bankwest Stadium the alternative venue).
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