Mon, Sep 11, 11:06am by Head Editor
Both the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters got their Finals campaigns off to a winning start over the weekend, but it wasn’t easy, with Parramatta and Brisbane respectively, putting up a fierce fight.
Starting off at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Friday night, the Roosters held on to win their Qualifying Final over the Broncos 24-22.
In the early stages of the game, it looked as if the Tricolours would cruise to a home Preliminary Final, leading 14-0 after 20 minutes, but the visitors hit back, and hit the front when Corey Oats crossed in the 71st minute.
Latrell Mitchell sent the home crowd into raptures just four minutes later, a try that secured the hosts a week off, and saw their quote for their first Premiership since 2013, come into $4.
If the Roosters get to the final Sunday of the season, the team that most think will be standing across from them, is the Melbourne Storm, who were also made to work in their Qualifying Final over the weekend, eventually getting past the Eels, 18-16.
Melbourne trailed the bruising encounter 10-4 at half-time, but took just seven minutes to level the scores through a Kenny Bromwich try. Billy Slater then gave the hosts the lead with a four-pointer of his own, but the Eels weren’t done with yet.
Semi Radradra got the visitors to within two points with 14 minutes to play, but Melbourne hung on, which ensured them a week’s rest and perhaps more importantly, a home Preliminary Final.
The Storm moved in from $1.95 to $1.73, but the Eels didn’t lose any friends either, shortening from $12 to $8.50 despite the loss.
Parramatta’s next opponent will be North Queensland on Saturday night, after the Cowboys caused the biggest upset of the first weekend of the finals, ending the reigning Premier Cronulla’s season, in an extra-time thriller.
The come-from-behind win looked out of reach when J Bird crossed in the 56th minute, but a Jason Taumalolo – who ran for a 256 metres – try got the Cowboys back into the contest, before Michael Morgan slotted a field goal to sink the Premiers.
Despite the amazing win, the Queenslanders remain at the longest odds ($34) of the remaining six teams, to win the ultimate prize.
The Penrith Panthers secured their passage to the Semi-Finals, with a 22-10 win over Manly, in another upset.
The win is even more remarkable, when you consider that these sides met in the last week of the season, when the Sea Eagles ran out 28-12 winners.
Anthony Griffin’s men ran in three tries to two, in what was a spiteful contest. The win sees the men from the foot of the Blue Mountains move in from $31 to $26 to win their first competition since 2003.
The Broncos ($1.40) are waiting for them on Friday night in Brisbane, when the Panthers will yet again go in as underdogs, at $3.
Finals Week 2 Odds: (Sportsbet)
Brisbane Broncos $1.40 v Penrith Panthers $3 Line: 7.5
Parramatta Eels $1.38 v North Queensland Cowboys $3.06 Line: 7.5
Melbourne Storm $1.73
Sydney Roosters $4
Brisbane Broncos $11
Parramatta Eels $8.50
Penrith Panthers $26
Nth Queensland Cowboys $34
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