Harold Matthews Finals Previews – Week One
Parramatta Eels v Western Suburbs Magpies (Qualifying Final)
(Pepper Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 1.00pm)
It’s the battle of the west as the Parramatta Eels go head-to-head against cross-town rivals, the Western Suburbs Magpies.
It’s a highly-anticipated showdown as Magpies coach Anthony Moore attests to.
“The boys are really excited,” Moore said. “A lot of them go to school together because they’re neighbours. Local rivalries are good.”
The Magpies will have to find a way to contain the Eels’ explosive backline featuring the likes of speedsters Haze Dunster and Tui Afualo.
“We’re expecting a tough match but we’re really looking forward for the challenge,” Moore said.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Penrith Panthers (Elimination Final)
(New Era Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 1:00pm)
It’s all on the line as the South Sydney Rabbitohs face the Penrith Panthers in an elimination final this Saturday at New Era Stadium.
Penrith prevailed 20-14 against the Rabbitohs the last time the two sides met in Round Three at Erskineville Oval.
That result won’t trouble Souths the slightest who know that you can throw form out the window in Finals football.
Look to hooker Josh Cook – who has been in superb form this season – to trouble the Panthers around the ruck.
Cronulla Sharks v Manly Sea Eagles (Elimination Final)
(Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 2.30pm)
While there seems to be a little extra feeling between historic rivals the Cronulla Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles, Sharks coach Glenn Brailey insists that his sole focus is on his team in this weekend’s elimination final at Campbelltown Stadium.
The fifth-placed Sharks are ready to go for the Finals according to Brailey.
“Finals football is totally different to regular-season football,” Brailey said. “It’s a tough competition.”
The eighth-placed Eels enter the match as underdogs but will be largely confident. In their single meeting this season, the Eels defeated the Sharks 22-10
Expect the unexpected when it comes to elimination finals, as Brailey will attest to.
“There’s more to play for in facing elimination,” Brailey said. “It makes it give you that extra step and that’s what’s required for elimination finals football.”
Balmain Tigers v Canterbury Bulldogs (Qualifying Final)
(New Era Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 5.30pm)
It didn’t take long for the undefeated Balmain Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs to meet again.
The competition favourites, Balmain Tigers, kept their perfect record intact after a nail-biting 16-13 victory over the Bulldogs last weekend.
Although they suffered a narrow loss Canterbury took much heart in pushing Balmain to the very brink.
Bulldogs winger Dorian Yarak is extremely dangerous in attack and will look to threaten at every opportunity.
Likewise is centre Scott Brooks who has been a try-scoring machine for the Balmain Tigers this season.
It’s set to be a terrific contest with the winner taking a giant leap towards premiership glory.