We now enter the second week of the NRL Finals and this time we have the semi-finals as the losers from last week’s qualifying finals take on the winners of the elimination finals. The winners of this weekend’s fixtures move on to the week three and the preliminary finals.
Friday 9th October
Sydney Roosters vs Canberra Raiders (9.50am)
The first semi-final sees a 2019 Grand Final rematch as Canberra look to avenge a heartbreaking loss to the Roosters in last year’s showcase event. That should be more than enough motivation for Ricky Stuart’s men to come out with plenty of fire and determination here.
The Raiders started off a bit shaky against Cronulla last week but in the end the quality shone through with Jack Wighton and George Williams proving to be a class above the rest as they led their side to victory.
The Roosters meanwhile come into this one fresh off an absolute thriller against Penrith. In the end there was not enough time on the clock to amount a comeback for Trent Robinson’s side as an early blitz from the Panthers meant the Tricolours were always chasing the game. However, we see it so often where the Chooks bounce back after a defeat and with all the star talent in their mix it is always hard to bet against them.
All in all, this has the potential to be an absolute cracker with the winner moving onto next week’s preliminary finals.
Key match up
There are so many individual battles here to watch out for but this game could be headlined by the match up between both teams stand offs as Sydney’s Luke Keary and Canberra’s Jack Wighton go head to head in an all-star clash. It can be argued that not only are they two of the best at their position but also two of the best in the game today with their attacking mindset and creativity second to none.
Team news: The Roosters are handed a tidy boost as Jake Friend (head knock) and Sonny Bill Williams (neck) have both initially been included in the matchday squad to return from injury.
No fresh injury worries for Canberra as they name the same side that clinched victory over Cronulla last week.
Saturday 10th October
Parramatta Eels vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (9.50am)
A Roosters vs Raiders grudge match is not the only potential thriller this weekend as the second semi-finals certainly yields plenty of those vibes as Parramatta take on South Sydney. The Rabbitohs have been on a tear as of late, tallying a total of 106 points against Sydney in the last round of the regular season and Newcastle in one of last week’s elimination finals.
The absence of Latrell Mitchell fielded plenty of questions towards the Bunnies ability to progress throughout the Finals but the likes of Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook have all stepped up and an extra gear and look to be in the form of their career.
The Eels pushed the Storm for a good portion of the game in their qualifying final last week but injury problems to Maika Sivo and then Blake Ferguson seemed to take away some of that attacking edge. However, as mentioned on some many occasions, if Brad Arthur’s side can rediscover some of that early season form then we may be in for another spectacle right here.
Key match up
Plenty of interesting player battles to look forward to here but one that could be interesting to watch is the battle of the number nines as Parramatta’s Reed Mahoney goes up against South Sydney’s Damien Cook. Both players have cemented themselves as two of the best hookers in the competition with Mahoney proving to be a tough and calculated threat as a runner and tackler while Cook continues to be electric as ever with his speed out of the dummy half position hard to contain.
Team news: Unfortunately for the Eels, powerhouse winger Maika Sivo sits out (leg) with George Jennings named to take his place on the wing. There could be a boost for Parramatta as Blake Ferguson has been selected on the other flank but faces a race against time to recover from a leg injury sustained in last week’s defeat to Melbourne.
The Rabbitohs have no injury worries themselves as Wayne Bennett names an unchanged side.