Two mouthwatering blockbusters this week on Nine will decide the teams to meet in the NRL Grand Final on Sunday, October 6.
Nine will be the only place to watch both Preliminary Finals and the Grand Final LIVE, FREE and in HD.
On Friday Night Finals Footy, the Canberra Raiders play the South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium in front of a sellout, hostile home crowd. The Raiders have momentum on their side and a lot to play for, having last appeared in an NRL Grand Final 25 years ago in 1994, when they defeated the Bulldogs.
Both teams are virtually unchanged from their previous game, although the Bunnies have lost damaging centre James Roberts through injury.
Having conceded 56 points in their past two games, Souths must tighten up their defence against a side who pride themselves on theirs. The three Burgess brothers, Sam, George and Tom, will have to defend Souths’ wall in what is being dubbed “The Battle of Britain”, when they line up against their English compatriots Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman.
Souths have already braved the mad Canberra fans this season, beating the Green Machine, and they will be quietly confident of doing it again.
On Saturday Night Finals Footy, the Grand Final match-up many expected comes one week early as the two sides who made the decider last year meet again. The Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm have clashed twice this year in games that were match-of-the-year candidates, with a single point or two splitting the difference, indicating another grandstand finish is on the cards.
The Roosters have been in ominous form for several weeks but they will be without enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves against a monster Melbourne pack that includes Nelson Asofa-Solamona, Jesse Bromwich and the tough Dale Finucane.
Roosters co-captain Jake Friend is trying to make a miracle return from injury and will be given until match day to prove his fitness. Whether Friend or young replacement hooker Sam Verrills runs out, they will be marking Cameron Smith, arguably the best player in the world, who burns for revenge after the Storm’s loss to the Roosters in the 2018 Grand Final.
Should the Storm prevail, it will be the final game for champion halfback Cooper Cronk, at the hands of the team where he made his name.
Round three of the NRL finals also sees the final regular round of the NRLW season, continuing on Saturday night when the Broncos face the Warriors, and on Sunday as the Dragons face the Roosters, with Grand Final spots still up for grabs.
As happened in the inaugural season of NRLW last year, all four teams are still eligible to qualify for the Grand Final, making every game crucial.