This Friday night footy fans around the country will be keenly tuning in for the first of two 2011 NRL Week 3 Finals, the Brisbane Broncos travelling down to Sydney for a supercharged clash against the Manly Sea Eagles, the winner of which will play in the highly-spruiked NRL Grand Final on Sunday week.
Everything these teams have been working on and playing for comes down to this Sydney Football Stadium showdown, a spot in the October 1 Grand Final up for grabs.
Match Odds: Manly $1.40 v $3 Brisbane at Luxbet
Manly have the home crowd advantage and are fresh off a week’s break after earning a green pass straight through to this after their big 42 – 8 annihilation of the Cowboys back in the opening finals.
Brisbane, however, are not only away from the sell-out crowds at Lang Park that they have been blessed to have played in front of for their past four, but are also without their inspirational skipper.
Darren Lockyer made the announcement yesterday that his final every NRL game, the champion retiring at the end of the season, may actually already be behind him after a horrific cheek injury he sustained in last Saturday night’s nail-biting 13 – 12 golden point win over the St George Illawrra Dragons would rule him out of playing this week.
For obvious reasons then, the Sea Eagles are the short-priced $1.30 favourites at Luxbet to win on Friday night.
Brisbane have blown out in the NRL odds to a quote of $3 since the news Locky won’t be there to guide they boys through what is sure to be a gripping game between two of League’s best.
The Broncos do get captain in waiting and this week’s stand in skipper Sam Thaiday back after he served a two-week suspension, however, and Matt Gillett has been called in to replace Locky in the now iconic No. 6 Brisbane jersey.
Match Stat: Manly haven’t lost a Grand Final Qualifier since 1975!
While Manly are the deserved favourites based on the above, Brisbane go in with no pressure now.
No one expects them to win and perhaps this will work in their favour, as they are the kind of team with the depth of talent that you don’t want to face with a complacent attitude.
The Sea Eagles are not full strength either, Glenn Stuart not being there likely to have more of an impact on their halves ability to shine than many think.
Statistics usually don’t lie and the statistics say Brisbane will lose this.
Their win rate with Locky on side is an impressive 66.8 per cent, without him in the line-up this drops to a dismal 28.6 percent.
There is also one that Manly fans will savour, the Sea Eagles not having lost a grand final qualifier since 1975.
That said, football isn’t played on paper it’s played on the field when guts and determination go further than any historical data will take a team and the Broncos really do want this more after Locky said he would right to play in the Grand Final should his team get there without his help.
Match Tip: First Tryscorer Daly-Cherry Evans at a juicy $17 through Luxbet!
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NRL Finals Week 3 – Game 1 Details
- Fixture: Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos
- Date: Friday September 23, 2011
- Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
- Time: 7:45pm (local)
- Odds: Manly $1.40 – Brisbane $3 – Bet now at Luxbet
Finals Week 3 Team Lists Game 1
Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, Will Hopoate, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Joe Galuvao, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Shane Rodney. Interchange (from): Tim Robinson, Jamie Buhrer, Vic Mauro, George Rose, Terence Seuseu
Broncos: Gerard Beale, Dale Copley, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Jharal Yow Yew, TBC, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Ben Hannant, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange (from): Matt Gillett, Ben Hunt, Scott Anderson, Ben Te’o, David Hala