NRL FINALS WEEK THREE
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 25
1st preliminary final.
Brisbane Broncos v Sydney Roosters, Suncorp Stadium, 7.55pm (AEST)
2015 results: Broncos 22 bt Roosters 18 in round six at Suncorp Stadium; Roosters 12 bt Broncos 10 in round 24 at Allianz Stadium.
In many ways this is the grand final a week early between the sides that finished the regular season first and second, and a full house is expected at Suncorp Stadium. Only two points have separated these two teams in regulation time over their two clashes this season so this match is certain to be tight. Mitchell Pearce is a certain starter in his return from a hamstring injury and the fast paced game that is sure to eventuate could suit the visitors. However the week off Brisbane have enjoyed could be of greater benefit. No side has been crowned minor premiers without having a week’s rest during the playoffs since Brisbane last managed it in their controversial grand final win over Melbourne in 2006. The winner of this match moves onto the grand final, the loser bows out for the year.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 26
2nd preliminary final
Melbourne Storm v North Queensland Cowboys, AAMI Park, 7.55 (AEST)
2015 results: Cowboys 18 bt Storm 17 in round four at 1300 Smiles Stadium; Storm 14 bt Cowboys 6 in round 25 at AAMI Park.
These sides last met only three weeks ago and Storm prevailed but the Cowboys were without both Michael Morgan and James Tamou and the visitors were controversially disallowed a try at a crucial period in the match. North Queensland will want a fast-paced fixture and it will be interesting to see if Storm are allowed to get away with their wrestling techniques to the same extent they were in their win over the Roosters last week. The Cowboys 9-3 regular season away record was the best in the NRL this year, so travelling to Melbourne will hold no fears for them. Storm were 8-4 at home during the regular season. Ultimately this match will come down to whoever can have the most influence on the contest, Storm skipper Cameron Smith or his Cowboys’ counterpart and Queensland teammate Johnathan Thurston. The winner of this match moves onto the grand final, the loser bows out for the year.