Fri, Sep 22, 7:26am by Staff Writer
Only four teams remain in contention for the 2017 NRL Premiership. Reigning Premiers Cronulla bowed out last weekend so we won’t see back to back Champions. Melbourne Storm will host Brisbane Broncos on Friday night in the first Preliminary Final whilst Sydney Roosters take on North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday.
Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos, Friday, September 22, 7:55pm (AEST) at AAMI Park
The Storm are out to avenge their Grand Final defeat to Cronulla last season and have been in commanding form all year. They were made to work hard by Canberra to get to this stage but the Storm showed all their class to overcome the Raiders. That was a bruising encounter but they have had a week off to prepare for this test against the Broncos.
Melbourne will be farewelling star man Cooper Cronk in what will be his last match at AAMI Park in purple and look set to send him off in style. Melbourne are heavy favourites with William Hill priced at $1.29 for the win. The Storm have already beaten Brisbane twice this season including a 30-point thrashing at Suncorp. It’s unlikely to be such an easy stroll for the Storm this week though.
Brisbane survived their brutal Semi-Final clash with Penrith, to come away victors 13-6. The physicality of that game though may well have set them back for this week’s match. After losing their Qualifying Final, the Broncos have been forced to take the hard road to the Grand Final and it doesn’t get any more difficult than the Storm at AAMI Park.
Despite the big loss at Suncorp earlier in the season to the Storm, Brisbane will point to their loss by only two points the last time they were in Melbourne. The timely return of Darius Boyd at full back will also buoy the Broncos hopes of overturning a price of $3.65.
Bet of the Match – Melbourne to Win by 1-12 points at $2.90
Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys, Saturday, September 23, 7:40pm (AEST) at Allianz Stadium
In the other Preliminary Final the Roosters host the Cowboys, who’s dramatic surge to this stage of the Finals is one for the story books of rugby league. North Queensland have been plagued with injuries all year and only just made the top eight by virtue of St George-Illawarra losing on the last day of the season.
Wins over Cronulla and Parramatta in the Finals have highlighted the strength in depth and the amount of fight left in the Cowboys side. The surprise inclusion of injured co-captain Matt Scott on an extended bench may just be mind games but that would be a huge boost for the Cowboys. They come into this match as underdogs at $3.25.
The Roosters have had an incredible 2017 and will be aiming to cap it off with a Grand Final appearance at the least. They earnt a week off with a nail biting victory over the Broncos 24-22. Meaning they could sit back and watch the action last weekend. They are favourites with William Hill at $1.35 to beat the Cowboys.
Latrell Mitchell was the hero in the Rooster Qualifying Final win and he will need to be at his best again if they are to hold if the Cowboys late charge for glory.
Bet of the Match: Sydney to Win by 1-12 points at $2.80
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