The NRL finals are here! We take a look at what will and won't happen this weekend.
Game One: Sydney Roosters (2nd) vs Brisbane Broncos (3rd) @Allianz Stadium, Friday 7:55pm
Stat Fact: The last time these two teams met was back in Round 13. That day it was a two-point (18-16) victory to Sydney.
Can we expect to see a similar margin this time around?
Big Talking Point: Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd will miss this encounter as a result of a hamstring injury. Boyd has had a poor hamstring ever since 2015 when he snapped his achilles. This is a massive blow to a Brisbane side still attempting to fully re-coup after their beating at the hands of Parramatta only two rounds ago. This season for Brisbane Boyd has scored three tries while assisting a further seven in a strong attacking outfit. His skills and leadership will be sorely missed out on the field. But no doubt Boyd would have been involved in some capacity this week in the lead-up to the game in the Broncos camp, being the class team mate and person that he is.
What Will Happen: Last round in Brisbane’s 20-10 victory over North Queensland both Matt Gillett (opened the scoring) and Adam Blair got on the scoreboard. This has been a consistent recent trend for Brisbane. Brisbane’s forwards as powerful as they are, have some of the skills that backs poses. Expect Brisbane’s forward pack to continue with this trend and score two or three between them in an attempt to lead Brisbane to the final game before the Big Dance. They should have a huge say on the outcome of this game both attacking and go-forward wise.
What Won’t Happen: A lack of penalties. Both of these sides are widely regarded among fans as some of the clubs that get the most penalties given to them in the League. Both sides seem to have a certain favouritism with the referees whenever they play. Expect a stop-start type of clash to occur.
Our Tip: (A repeat of the last margin, just switched around) Brisbane by two.
Game Two: Melbourne Storm (1st) vs Parramatta Eels (4th) @AAMI Park, Saturday 4:10pm
Stat Fact: 2011- Storm 38 vs Eels zero, 2013- Storm 64 vs Eels four and 2014- Storm 46 vs Eels 20.
Will Melbourne wipe the floor with them yet again or will Parramatta do something about their recent dominance over them?
Big Talking Point: Parramatta are into the finals for the first time since their magical run to the 2009 Grand Final. That team was led by then superstar player Jarryd Hayne as well as names that everyone will remember such as Nathan Hindmarsh and Fuifui Moimoi. Now this Blue & Gold team is led by some slightly different players such as Semi Radradra (20 tries) and both Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses (19 combined try assists as well as seven tries). Not only is this their first finals appearance since that magical year but it is their first Top Four berth since the 2005 season. Parramatta will have the same aim as that of the 2009 team, to go as far as possible. Who better to face them first up then the team that unfairly beat them for the 2009 NRL Premiership.
What Will Happen: Parramatta can either A keep the game close with their severely underrated defence or B Melbourne will pull another huge victory out of their team full of superstars and discards. Option A is the more likely one as despite Melbourne racking up some huge scores over Parramatta in the past, the Blue & Gold’s defence is both strong and resolute. This season Parramatta have kept North Queensland to six points, Melbourne to six, Canterbury to four and the Gold Coast to eight. Option A will see the likes of Tepai Moeroa and Nathan Brown continue to do what they have done all season in a great defensive side. Combined with option A occurring, it should also be a low-scoring affair.
What Won’t Happen: Semi Radradra scoring more than a singular try. He shouldn’t be able to crack more than one due to their notorious defence (one that Parramatta coach Brad Arthur fired shots at). If Semi can bag two or more, a shock win could be on the cards for the Blue & Gold. This however shouldn’t happen despite his try-scoring heroics this year.
Our Tip: Melbourne by a score of either eight-four or 12-four.