With the 2019 NRL finals starting 13 September, and Last Word On Rugby are elated to preview the upcoming matches in what is sure to be ‘another classic’ end to the season.
The teams’ finals history
The top eight for the finals is: Melbourne Storm, Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Canberra Raiders, Paramatta Eels, Manly Sea Eagles, Cronulla Sharks, and Brisbane Broncos.
Melbourne Storm (42 points)
Minor premiers for the third time in four years, the Storm have a strong finals history. The AAMI Park side has won the Grand Final in 1999, 2012 and 2017 as well as finishing runners-up in 2006, 2008, 2016 and 2018.
Even though the club were stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships and 2006, 2007, and 2008 minor premierships after multiple-breaches of the salary cap, there has always been one constant at the Storm – Cameron Smith. A legend, a game manager, and essential to further success for the high-performing Premiers.
Sydney Roosters (36 points)
The reigning champions, Sydney Roosters are one of the most successful NRL teams with premierships also in 2002, and 2013. They also made the Grand Final in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2010. They finished 2018 as minor premiers, and they have shared the regular season title with the Storm since 2012.
South Sydney Rabbitohs (34 points)
The main rivals of the Roosters, South Sydney have only reached one grand final in the open era (1998-present). They memorably beat Canterbury Bulldogs 30-6 with England’s Sam Burgess playing the whole match and earning the Clive Churchill medal as man of the match despite fracturing his cheekbone and eye socket in the opening minute.
Canberra Raiders (32 points)
The Raiders are competing in only their second finals series since 2012 and they are yet to play in a grand final. They have a strong English core with Elliott Whitehead, captain Josh Hodgson, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton. Stand-off George Williams is also joining from Wigan Warriors for the 2020 season.
Paramatta Eels (30 points)
As with Canberra, the Eels are yet to win a Premiership in the open era but have finished as runners-up in 2001 and 2009. Finishing represents an impressive turnaround after claiming the wooden spoon in 2018.
It is a fitting way for them to crown their successful move into their new 30,00 seater Bankwest Stadium earlier this year, to host one of the primary knockout fixtures of the year.
Will it be the ‘year of the Eel?’
Manly Sea Eagles (30 points)
The Sea Eagles have twice won the premiership in 2008 and 2011, also making the Grand Final in 2007 and 2013. Last season, however, they finished second last and the NRL fined them $750,000 after breaching the salary cap for five years.
Cronulla Sharks (26 points)
The Sharks have won a single Premiership, when they defeated Melbourne Storm 14-12 in 2016. They qualified for the finals last season, finishing 4th, but saw coach Shane Flanagan de-registered by the NRL for breaching the conditions of his 2014 suspension. The NRL fined the Sharks $8000,000 as punishment.
Brisbane Broncos (25 points)
Winners of the inaugural NRL premiership in 1998, the Broncos have also triumphed in 2000 and 2006. They also reached the final in 2015. It is former Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold’s first full season in charge.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett held talks with the Rabbitohs for the 2019 season which led to his sacking. Therefore the coach swap between the Rabbitohs and the Broncos scheduled for 2020 happened immediately.
2019 NRL Finals facts
Since the formation of the NRL in 1998, only Matt Orford (Sea Eagles 2008), Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys 2015) and Cameron Smith (Storm 2017) have ever won the Dally M Medal and the premiership in the same season.
Only six minor premiers have gone on to triumph in the grand final but, it has happened in each of the last two years with the Roosters and the Storm.
Eight teams from outside the top four have made the grand final but no-one has ever claimed the premiership. The last team were the Cowboys in 2017 who had finished the regular season in 8th.
National Rugby League finals format
The current format for the finals, involving the top eight teams has been used since 2012.
From 1998 to 2011 the NRL used the McIntyre Final Eight System until the introduction of the Australian Rugby League Commission.
The top eight after 24 games of the regular season will contest the finals and will be split into the top four and bottom four.
The top four will play games between each other and the bottom four likewise.
If the scores are tied after 80 minutes two five-minute halves will be played. If it is still level after ten minutes then it will become golden point where any score for a team wins them the game.
Week 1 – Finals football begins (To be played Fri 13 – Sun 15 September)
Week 2: Semifinals (To be played Fri 20 and Sat 21)
Loser of first qualifying final v winner of first elimination final
Loser of second qualifying final v winner of second elimination final.
Week 3: Preliminary finals (To be played Fri 27 and Sat 28)
Friday – Winner of first qualifying final v winner of second semi-final
Saturday – Winner of second qualifying final v winner of first semi-final
This all leads to the single biggest day of the NRL season. Winner of first preliminary final v winner of second prelim final on Sunday, October 6.
Grand final Day 2019!
While that will be the zenith for rugby league fans, the 2019 NRL finals will also be the showcase for stars to stand tall.
And that begins from this weekend.
Week 1: Match timings and locations (All in UK times)
Roosters v Rabbitohs – Friday 13 September, Sydney Cricket Ground (10:50am)
Storm v Raiders – Saturday 14 September, AAMI Park, Melbourne (08:40am)
Sea Eagles v Sharks – Saturday 14 September, Lottoland Stadium, Manly (10:50am)
Eels v Broncos – Sunday 15 September, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney (07:50am)
“Main photo credit”
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