By Stephen Gallagher
Brisbane Broncos V Gold Coast Titans – Suncorp Stadium – 22.00
A do or die battle lights up the first match of the finals.
With Suncorp Stadium the battle ground, these two will not disappoint.
The Broncos come in with all the momentum, having scored some big wins leading up – where as the Titans have scraped in just.
Experience is the difference here, the Broncos are clinical at business end of the season – but with the roster the Titans are sporting they may cause an upset.
If the Broncos can contain anything the Titans can throw at them, then they will get the crucial win.
Titans have to win the first ten minutes to stand a chance.
TIP: Broncos 1-12
Canberra deservedly finished second at the end of the regular season, and the Sharks lost their way with four weeks to go and fell from first to third.
I feel like this is going to be the game that will let us find out who will be in the Grand Final.
The Green Machine are seemingly unstoppable at the moment, Ricky Stuart has brought the best out of his troops in a season where they are breaking all sorts of records.
The Sharks have to put the last month behind them and focus on the glory that awaits them. Without a title in their 50-odd year history, the desperation creeps in.
They have a side that is full of talent, and this match is the biggest of the season for them.
The Raiders took their number not long ago, so the Sharks have to battle up front and try stop the talented backs from getting some early ball.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
Melbourne Storm V North Queensland Cowboys – AAMI Park – 22.00NZT
The Minor Premiers take their first step to a grand finals berth against the reigning champions.
The Storm have grown another leg over the last eight weeks, as any strong sides do.
The Cowboys have a title to defend, wanting to be the first team since the 1992/1993 Broncos to go back to back.
They have a strong task ahead, but it’s not all over if they don’t get the result here.
Melbourne will be ready to face the mammoth task of the Cowboys, and the Cowboys will have to perform better than they have all year to get next week off.
TIP: Storm 1-12
Penrith Panthers V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – Allianz Stadium – 18.15NZT
Penrith have had a fantastic lead up to this match. The Bulldogs have not.
The young Panthers have defied a lot of critics to get to this point. Despite the mid-season sackings and transfers – this squad has made the NRL take note.
The Bulldogs usually find their feet when it comes to the Finals, but I have little faith that this side can produce a result which will see their season carry on.
The strength of Penrith lies in their inexperienced halves, and they have dominated their peers with plenty more experience this season.
The Bulldogs have to start strong. They’ve fallen away from games in the first 15 minutes and if they don’t start right frustrations may boil over.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
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