NRL Semi-Final Recap

The NRL’s final four is now set after last weekend’s semi-final action, setting up a couple of enthralling preliminary final matchups in the coming days. Unfortunately neither semi-final lived up to the high expectations which surrounded them, with both games ending in blowout results, but nonetheless let’s take a look at how both games unfolded.

Friday Night: Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders

The Eels went into this one as favourites with the betting sites, and deservedly so given their top four finish and home ground advantage, but the Raiders entered it in some sparkling form and were given a legitimate chance by many in the lead-up to the game. It didn’t take long, however, for the home side to stamp their authority, and remind everyone why they finished the regular season inside the top four. Will Penisini opened the scoring with a try in just the sixth minute, and within 20 minutes they’d scored three more to open up a 22-0 lead on the helpless Raiders. Canberra was able to at last stem the flow with a Xavier Savage try of their own in the 28th minute before neither team was able to score again prior to half-time, giving the visitors a difficult but not impossible 18-point deficit to overcome in the second half. Any prospects of them doing so were quickly snuffed out when the teams returned to the field, though, with Mitchell Moses breaking through just five minutes into the half and then converting his own try to give the Eels a virtually unassailable 28-4 lead. With the sting well and truly out of the game, neither team was able to score for the next 25 minutes, before a Marata Niukore double in the last ten minutes secured a dominant 40-4 win for Parramatta. They’ll now head into a preliminary final against the Cowboys, while the Raiders will be left to rue a disappointing end to a promising season.

Next Match for Parramatta: Cowboys ($1.70) vs Eels ($2.15)

The Eels will have a chance to earn themselves a spot in the Grand Final next Friday night when they head to Townsville for what they will see as a very winnable game against the Cowboys.

Next Match for Canberra: N/A

The Raiders season is now over, ending in ignominious fashion after a hugely impressive end to the regular season and a memorable elimination final win against the Storm a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday Night: Cronulla Sharks vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

The second semi-final was always going to be an intriguing one, with seemingly any result possible; be it a tight finish or a comfortable win to either sides. The odds available on NRL betting sites suggested as much, with little separating the two teams; the Rabbitohs entering the game as slight favourites courtesy of their electric form. And within two minutes, it was clear that last year’s Grand Finalists fully intended to continue on their merry way, with Mark Nicholls breaking through for the first try of the game before Latrell Mitchell converted to give the visitors a 6-0 lead. That wasn’t a sign of things to come, however – at least not in the early stages of the game – with neither side able to score again for nearly the next half an hour. When someone did, it was the Rabbitohs extending their lead courtesy of Taane Milne, and when Cameron Murray made it three in a row on the stroke of half-time they’d opened up an imposing 18-0 lead. The Sharks finally got on the board to keep themselves in it just a minute into the second half, but the Bunnies responded almost immediately after to maintain their 18-point advantage. Ten minutes later, another try to the home side got the home involved and cut the margin to a manageable 12 points with 25 minutes to play, but unfortunately a comeback was again snuffed out nearly immediately by the Rabbitohs. When Taane Milne scored his second try and the Rabbitohs second in four minutes, it gave them a 36-12 lead and put the result well and truly beyond doubt. The result marks a disappointing end to a year of significant improvement for the Sharks, while the Rabbitohs will now have a chance to play in their second consecutive Grand Final when they take on the Panthers next weekend.

Next Match for Cronulla: N/A

It was a terrific year for the Sharks, jumping from outside the eight up to second, but their straight sets exit will put a dampener on their significant improvement.

Next Match for South Sydney: Panthers ($1.36) vs Rabbitohs ($3.20)

Last year, the Panthers snuck over the line for a famous Grand Final victory over the Rabbitohs. Just under 12 months later, the Bunnies get their chance for revenge in a huge preliminary final matchup.


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