THE KEY NRL SEMI-FINALS MATCH-UPS
FRIDAY, SEPT 18
Sydney Roosters v Canterbury, Allianz Stadium 7.55pm (AEST)
The winner will progress to play Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium in the first preliminary final next Friday night, the loser is done for the year.
2015 results: Roosters 24 bt Bulldogs 10, round 10, ANZ Stadium; Roosters 38 bt Bulldogs 28, round 21, Allianz Stadium
MITCHELL PEARCE v JOSH REYNOLDS
Pearce is set to return from a hamstring injury in a huge boost to the Roosters after their below-par effort last week and his kicking game will be critical. Reynolds meanwhile, is still finding his feet as the Bulldogs’ chief playmaker in the absence of Trent Hodkinson.
BLAKE FERGUSON v JOSH MORRIS
Ferguson had a shocker in defence last week, allowing two tries on the Roosters right edge. This won’t have gone unnoticed to Morris who was key to the Bulldogs’ epic come-from-behind win over the Dragons.
KANE EVANS v SAM KASIANO
“Ohhhhh Samuel …” Who could forget Evans’ massive hit on Kasiano last time these sides met, and Ray Warren’s classic commentary to match. There won’t be an exact repeat of the Evans shoulder charge that caused such drama, but these two are sure to go looking for one another when they are launched off the bench and into the fray.
TRENT ROBINSON v DES HASLER
Robinson was outcoached by Craig Bellamy in the Roosters’ upset loss to Melbourne last week as the Storm successfully employed their borderline “wrestling” tactics. Hasler is a finals specialist but Robinson can lift too as he showed in the Roosters’ 2013 title triumph.
SATURDAY, SEPT 19
North Queensland v Cronulla-Sutherland, 1300 Smiles Stadium 7.55pm (AEST)
The winner will progress to play Melbourne in the second preliminary final next Saturday at AAMI Park, the loser is gone for the year.
2015 results: Sharks 24 bt Cowboys 18, round 16, 1300 Smiles Stadium; Sharks 30 bt Cowboys 18, round 22, Remondis Stadium
JOHNATHAN THURSTON v JACK BIRD
Jack Bird is about the most unconventional modern day playmaker you could get but he gets the job done for the Sharks. And the boom rookie has made no secret of his desire to knock Thurston off his perch in Townsville. Easier said than done though.
JASON TAUMALOLO v PAUL GALLEN
Whoever controls the middle, controls the game and these two monsters are key to that for their respective sides. Especially when they can gain big yards followed by a quick play-the-ball.
JAKE GRANVILLE v MICHAEL ENNIS
The young buck up against the wily old master. Ennis’ ball playing at the line is crucial to Sharks’ attack. Granville can ignite the Cowboys’ offensive thrusts with his lightning quick darts out of dummy half.