This weekend we move into week two of the coveted NRL 2014 Telstra Premiership Finals with two knockout semis on the cards to determine who plays the week one winners in the Grand Final qualifiers.
The premiership dreams of two teams came to an end last week with the Brisbane Broncos unable to make up for a slow start on Saturday night up at 1300 Smiles Stadium going down 32 – 20 to the Cowboys, and the Canterbury Bulldogs scoring an upset 28 – 4 victory to knock out the Melbourne Storm.
NRL Week 1 – Qualifying Finals Results
Manly Sea Eagles 24 v 40 South Sydney Rabbithos
Friday September 12, 2014 (7:55pm) @ Allianz Stadium
Manly were below par yet again with the Bunnies racing away to enjoy a week off this weekend before playing either the Roosters or the Cowboys based on the results of tonight’s semi.
Sydney Roosters 18 v 19 Penrith Panthers
Saturday September 13, 2014 (5:50pm) @ Allianz Stadium
Jamie Soward put in possibly the best 10 minutes of footy he’s ever played when scoring a game equaling try before also kicking the field goal to secure this narrow win for Penrith forcing the defending Premiers into a do-or-die against the Cowboys tonight in Sydney.
North Queensland Cowboys 32 v 20 Brisbane Broncos
Saturday September 13, 2014 (7:55pm) @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
It was good night nurse early for the older brothers here with Brisbane letting the Cowboys run in a number of unanswered tries to trail by a big margin before clawing their way back into the game late in the second half in a too-little-too-late loss giving the Cowboys a chance to progress when taking on the Roosters in the opening semi-final.
Melbourne Storm 4 v 28 Canterbury Bulldogs
Sunday September 14, 2014 (4:10pm) @ AAMI Park
In an uncharacteristically poor performance the Storm never featured in this closing week one finals showdown and let the Bulldogs progress to take on Manly in an all-too-easy win.
That brings us then to this weekend’s two blockbusters at Allianz Stadium.
2014 NRL Semi-Finals Draw
Sydney Roosters ($1.45) v North Queensland Cowboys ($2.85)
Friday September 19, 2014 (7:55pm) @ Allianz Stadium
Tip: Roosters by 4 points @ Ladbrokes.com.au
The defending premiers get the home ground advantage here and start the short priced favourites to defeat their Queensland guests.
Sydney’s confidence was shattered after the last minute loss in week one of the finals however while the Cowboys will still be on a high after a victory over Brisbane.
North Queensland then are looking to keep the momentum going with an upset win over a team that has some injury and judiciary worries that could swing in the visitors’ favour.
The Cowboys though have also loss the suspended Tariq Sims with Glenn Hall coming in to replace, whine winger Kyle Feldt (ankle) is also in doubt.
The statistics go right down the middle here it will come down to which star players shine brightest on the night, and which teams’ signature plays pay-off.
Johnathan Thurston and co. are capable of some nicely executed set plays but the Chooks’ defense can be hard to break when they back themselves.
These two last met back in Round 10 and the Cowboys, in the same fashion as they blew the Broncos away last week, ran all over Sydney leading 30 – 6 by half-time and then 42 – 10 at fulltime.
They haven’t played each other in Sydney however since Round 9 in 2010 on a Monday night in front of a dismal crown (6,478) so the pressure is on to put on a show.
Shame really this clash isn’t the Grand Final but with the Roosters having lost back-to-back games in just three times in the past two years, the favourites should salute here.
Manly Sea Eagles ($2.35) v Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.62)
Saturday September 20, 2014 (7:45pm) @ Allianz Stadium
Tip: Bulldogs by 6 points @ Ladbrokes.com.au
Manly will run out as the underdogs against the Dogs here in a game that pits last year’s beaten Grand Finalists against the 2012 Premiers, the winner of which will take on Penrith next week.
Canterbury were struggling to find form mid-season but suddenly they’re right back in the picture starting favourites against a team previously trained by their current coach Des Hasler.
Manly couldn’t get off the ground last week and were smashed 40 – 0 last week before firing off four late tries to give them some credibility on the score board after the 80 minutes.
That will have bruised their ego, and the onslaught also has taken its toll on their line-up for this knockout semi.
Jayden Hodges (neck) and Anthony Watmough (dangers throw suspension) are out but skipper Jamie Lyon (same tackle on GI, same charge but no ban) escaped to play.
The Bulldogs lost in Round 26 to the Gold Coast in a shocker but atoned last week and are looking to repeat their finals performance here with a pretty strong roster that still includes all the key men you need for a big match like this.
The game is going to come down to the power in the forward pack then, the Sea Eagles boasting a super attacking line-up but the inability to capitalise on it by staying away from their rivals’ line.
There was only one try and six points in it when they played each other in a finals match last time back in 2012, when the Bulldogs just edged out the Sea Eagles 16 – 10.
On paper then Canterbury are the team to beat and they’ve got the momentum going now but it’s hard to write Manly off completely.
That said the loss last week and injury concerns have the Dogs as the ones to beat.
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