Mon, Sep 5, 11:43am by Jake Equid
The first week of the NRL finals will get underway with an all-Queensland derby on Friday night and finish with an all-Sydney derby on Sunday afternoon.
The Broncos and the Titans kick off things at Suncorp on Friday night.
On Saturday, the Raiders, after smashing the Tigers in the last game of the season, host Cronulla at 5.30pm before the minor premiers Melbourne host the defending champion Cowboys, who beat the Storm in last year’s finals.
The all-Sydney sixth v seventh match will round out the weekend, with the Bulldogs taking on Penrith. After the Panthers beat Manly in the final home and away game of the year, it was confirmed that the game would be at Allianz Stadium. If they’d come up short, the Bulldogs would have taken the home game to ANZ – less than 24 hours after the Sydney Swans v GWS Giants use that venue for their clash in the AFL finals. Here’s a look at the early odds for the first week of the finals:
First Elimination Final –Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans
Suncorp Stadium – 8:00pm Friday 9 September
The Broncos will open the NRL finals series with a sudden death elimination final against their M1 neighbours, the Gold Coast Titans after their 24-14 win over the Roosters was not enough to gain the double chance.
The Titans’ finals hopes hung in the balance following their 32-16 loss to the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday night, but were confirmed when the Raiders thrashed the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.
First Qualifying Final –Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks
GIO Stadium – 5:30pm Saturday 10 September
Camberra stormed into the finals on the back of a 52-10 thrashing of the Tigers, finishing second on the ladder, their best regular season result since 1995 when they also finished second.
After winning fifteen consecutive games between rounds four and 20, the Sharks have won just one of their last six matches, seeing them drop outside the top two at the worst possible time.
The green army have not been this excited about a finals campaign since the days of Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart. The club has a genuine chance of breaking a 22-year title drought for the Green Machine.
First Qualifying Final – Melbourne Storm v North Queensland Cowboys
AAMI Stadium – 7:55pm, Saturday 10 September
After winning the JJ Giltinan Shield for the minor premiership the Storm now face last year’s preliminary final conqueror, the Cowboys. Melbourne will start as favourites having put on one of their best displays of the season in the 26-6 win over fellow top four side Cronulla on Saturday. The Cowboys also looked solid against fellow Queensland club Gold Coast winning convincingly 32-16.
Storm’s defence has been sensational all year and once again on the weekend when they held Cronulla to just one try. Melbourne won both matches this year but Jonathan Thurston didn’t play the last time they met. The Cowboys skipper will be ready and firing for this one. This game is sure to shape the finals series with Storm at $3.40 and the Cowboys at $4 for the Premiership.
Second Elimination Final – Penrith Panthers v Canterbury Bulldogs
Allianz Stadium – 4:00pm Sunday September 11
Sydney has to wait until the final game of the weekend to get their finals fix with a sudden death contest between the Panthers and the Bulldogs. The game was to be played at Pepper Stadium in Penrith but it was ruled that it was not up to finals standard.
The Dogs lost to South Sydney on Friday night which opened the door for Penrith to leapfrog them on the ladder. The Panthers did just that by steam-rolling Manly in the final home and away game of the year.
NRL Week One Finals odds:
Stay tuned to australiangambling.com.au over the coming days for betting previews including best bets and video previews and as we continue to preview the NRL finals.
Odds sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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