SG Ball Finals Previews – Week One
Parramatta Eels v Cronulla Sharks (Elimination Final)
(Pepper Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 11.30am)
There are no second chances for the loser of this elimination final between the Parramatta Eels and Cronulla Sharks at Pepper Stadium this Saturday.
The fifth-placed Eels will start as favourites but the Sharks are eyeing the upset victory following their notable 20-8 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs last weekend.
Cronulla won their last three matches to scrape into eighth place thanks in large part to the performances of winger Chris Tupou and five eight Kyle Flanagan.
The Eels are firm favourites after they claimed a 38-8 triumph over the West Coast Pirates in their last match.
That won’t matter to the Sharks because as the old adage goes, anything’s possible in the Finals.
Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles (Qualifying Final)
(Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 1.00pm)
The Manly Sea Eagles go head to head with the Minor Premiers, the Canberra Raiders.
Although the Raiders finished the regular season on top of the SG Ball ladder, coach Dean Souter acknowledges that the Finals take on a different dimension.
“The boys are very enthusiastic to start the next stage of the season,” Souter said. “They’ve worked hard for the opportunity and they’re excited to take it.”
Canberra will be motivated to convert their opportunity against Manly and progress straight to the Week Three Preliminary Final.
Second rower William Samuel has been in impressive form for the Raiders who scored a huge 56-6 victory over St. George last weekend.
You can’t ever count out the Sea Eagles who strive as underdogs and will be eager to upset the competition favourites.
Newcastle Knights v South Sydney Rabbitohs (Elimination Final)
(New Era Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 2:30pm)
It’s do or die as the Newcastle Knights take on the Rabbitohs in an explosive elimination final this Saturday at New Era Stadium.
South Sydney were set for a top-four finish but stumbled in the final round in losing 20-8 to the Sharks.
A hat trick of tries to Brodie Jones helped Newcastle clinch their place in the Finals in a high-scoring affair with the Central Coast Centurions by 46-34.
The Rabbitohs will have their hands full with Knights fullback Ngangarra Barker who has been one of this season’s standout performers.
Siosifa Talakai is also in top form captaining the Rabbitohs this season and will be motivated to make his mark in the Finals.
Don’t miss this match that promises to be an absolute cracker!
Balmain Tigers v Penrith Panthers (Qualifying Final)
(New Era Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 4.00pm)
The second-placed Balmain Tigers take on the Penrith Panthers to advance to the Week Three Preliminary Final.
“The boys are excited,” Balmain Tigers coach Matthew Head said. “(We’ve) played nine games and put ourselves in the position to play Finals.”
Balmain Tigers were on track to finish as Minor Premiers before they suffered their sole loss of the season in the final round against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
“(We) go up against Penrith who are one of the best teams in the comp and we’re particularly excited for the challenge,” Head said.
“In a few of their games, I’ve noticed a few of the score lines and they’re a very strong team.
“I think they’re the best team.”
The match poses as a tough challenge for the Panthers but they are riding a wave of confidence after a heavy 48-8 victory against the Western Suburbs Magpies last weekend.
One key for the Panthers is to somehow find a way to contain fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen who is the competition’s leading try scorer.
Strap yourselves in for an explosive contest between two of the competition’s heavyweights.