The race to premiership glory hits fever pitch this weekend when Nine’s LIVE and FREE NRL coverage presents two enthralling sudden-death semi-finals: Broncos versus Panthers and Eels versus Cowboys.
On Friday night at 7.30pm*, the best commentary team in the game, led by “the voice of rugby league,” Ray “Rabs” Warren, will offer insight and access like no other when the Broncos host the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Wide World of Sports’ rugby league expert, Darren Lockyer, believes the Broncos are ready to bounce back: “Wayne Bennett was critical of their patchy performance last week, but without their usual starting lineup they lost to the Roosters in a close one. An injury cloud remains around Darius Boyd but I think he will be fit to play.
“The Broncos have to roll their sleeves up and attack the Panthers with their defence. In the past the Panthers have troubled the Broncos defensive wall with a lot of offloads which they’ll need to be wary of.”
Lockyer’s player to watch: “Matt Gillett. Playing on the right side of their attack with James Roberts and Jordan Kahu, this man will cause a lot of headaches for the Panthers with his size and skill.”
Sideline reporter Brad Fittler said the Panthers need to be hostile. “The mountain men stood tall last week and used aggression to overpower their opponents, which they haven’t done a lot this season. From there it was much easier for them to implement their off-the-cuff attacking style.
“Outside backs Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak are crucial in the yardage battle and will need to have big performances before rookie playmaking sensation Nathan Cleary can punish the Broncos.”
Fittler’s player to watch: “Reagan Campbell-Gillard. There are many skilful players in this Panthers side but this man does the dirty work, with brave charges that inspire his team every week. The Broncos forwards are no easybeats, so he’ll be ready for a tough battle.”
On Saturday night from 7.00pm* at ANZ Stadium, the Eels host the tough and gritty Cowboys when they ride into town once again after many tipped their season would disappear into the sunset.
Casting his expert eye over the Eels vs Cowboys clash is premiership-winning coach, Nine’s Phil Gould.
“I’m really enjoying the high-energy style of football the Eels are playing, but their challenge will be maintaining it against a Cowboys team that will keep coming for the full 80 minutes, no matter the scoreline.
“The Eels boast strike power across the park, smart halves in Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman, and forwards that play with a lot of intensity. They should win, but that doesn’t always mean they will in finals footy.”
Gould’s player to watch: “Semi Radradra. Every time Semi touches the ball I get excited because I know he can score from anywhere on the park. He loves ANZ Stadium, with 23 tries from 26 games there.”
Rugby league Immortal and Nine commentator Wally Lewis also weighed in on the Cowboys’ chances. “They keep proving everyone wrong including me. With the odds seemingly against them, they have risen to the challenge and showed just how gritty they are without their stars.
“The Eels are favourites, but don’t forget their loss to the Knights just a few weeks ago, so a win isn’t out of the question for the Cowboys. Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo will be the danger men once again.”
Lewis’s player to watch: “Jason Taumalolo. He is a one-man wrecking ball and his opposition know it. He has it all and his team need him to lead from the front more than ever against a fierce Eels forward pack.”
Friday, September 15
Broncos vs Panthers
Sydney 7.30pm LIVE on Nine
Brisbane 7.30pm LIVE on Nine
Melbourne 7.30pm LIVE on 9GEM
Adelaide 7.00pm LIVE on 9GEM
Perth 5.30pm LIVE on 9GEM
Saturday, September 16
Eels vs Cowboys
Sydney 7.00pm LIVE on Nine
Brisbane 7.00pm LIVE on Nine
Melbourne 7.00pm LIVE on 9GEM
Adelaide 6.30pm LIVE on 9GEM
Perth 5.00pm LIVE on 9GEM
RUGBY LEAGUE ACTION THIS WEEK ON NINE
• SIX TACKLES WITH GUS – Nine’s James Bracey discusses the biggest rugby league issues of the week with NRL legend and expert commentator Phil Gould on Six Tackles with Gus. This week: Refereeing debate; The bunker; Crowd numbers; Finals week 2 preview
Download here: Finals Week 2 – Six Tackles with Gus
• THE NRL FOOTY SHOW – Tonight, September 14, at 8.30pm. Fatty, Erin, Darryl and Beau lead the 5th Annual Big Change for Little Champions Telethon.
Injured Eels star Clint Gutherson joins the panel with Allana Ferguson and telethon guests, including Sticks and Wombat plus Clint and Hannah from The Block, Australian Ninja Warrior host Ben Fordham, Sharks captain Paul Gallen, netball stars Kim Green and Paige Hadley, NRL host James Bracey and Bulldogs legends Steve Mortimer and Hazem El Masri.
• SPORTS SUNDAY – Sunday, September 17, at 10.00am. Frank and open debate on all the big issues in sport. Host Emma Freedman is joined by Paul Gallen, Richard Freedman, Cath Cox and Peter FitzSimons.
• SUNDAY NRL FOOTY SHOW – Sunday, September 17, at 11.00am. Hosted by James Bracey alongside Andrew Johns, Wally Lewis, Brad Fittler and Allana Ferguson.
*Check local guides for details. Times will differ.
Publicist – Wide World of Sports
T: 02 9965 2727 M: 0413 378 052
Thursday, September 14, 2017