Jenna Brooks takes a look at the latest big issues Down Under as the NRL reaches the second week of the play-offs…
Finals Week Two
The opening week of finals footy is over, but not without a bang.
Minor premiers Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm will get a week break after they advanced to the preliminary finals.
Sydney Roosters vs Canberra Raiders
October 9, 2020, 9:45am
In a thrilling encounter, the Panthers beat the reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters 29-28 to send Trent Robinson’s side into a must-win match and 2019 Grand Final rematch with Canberra Raiders on Friday.
That comes after the Raiders ended Cronulla Sharks’ year with a 32-20 victory, while Melbourne beat Parramatta Eels 36-24 to set-up a semi-final with the winner between the Raiders and the Roosters on Friday, October 16.
The road also came to an end for Newcastle Knights who lost to South Sydney Rabbitohs 46-20. The Bunnies take on the Eels for the right to take on the Panthers a week later.
Penrith could be without star forward Viliame Kikau after he was charged for a Grade One dangerous throw on Roosters’ prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Kikau has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge, which could rule him out of the Grand Final qualifier later this month.
“I’m not sure what to make of the tackle, I obviously don’t think there was too much in it,” said teammate Dylan Edwards. “Hopefully, fingers crossed, it is a good result for him and us.”
Melbourne are confident they will have star playmaker Cameron Munster available for their preliminary final next weekend. Munster injured his knee in their victory over Parramatta.
The Eels are sweating on the availability of veteran Blake Ferguson for their semi-final with the Rabbitohs, but they have confirmed Maika Sivo will be side-lined for the remainder of the campaign after he suffered an MCL injury.
Better news for South Sydney, who are optimistic that Damien Cook will play in this weekend’s elimination final, despite Cook injuring his knee in their win over the Knights.
After being without Sonny Bill Williams in their defeat to Penrith, the Roosters saw the dual-code international return to training on Monday after he recovered from a neck complaint.
It is still unclear if he will play when Trent Robinson’s side take on Canberra on Friday, however.
Ponga Origin doubt
Kalyn Ponga has been advised to undergo shoulder surgery and could miss next month’s State of Origin.
The Queenslander suffered a labral tear in his shoulder. Despite landing awkwardly during Newcastle’s defeat to the Rabbitohs, it is an injury which is believed to have affected the star full-back during the closing stages of the season.
The Maroons thought they would be without David Fifita for the series, but the star forward is racing the clock to recover from an ankle injury suffered in Brisbane’s defeat to Parramatta last month.
They will be without Michael Morgan and Kyle Feldt, with Valentine Holmes watching the opener from the side-lines due to a ban.
As anticipated Wayne Bennett has been appointed the head coach of Queensland.
October 10, 2020, 6:00am
October 10, 2020, 9:45am
The most experienced coach in NRL history replaces Kevin Walters, who was named head coach of Brisbane. Walters will remain involved, helping Bennett with the planning side of things.
The NRL is investigating an incident where a Melbourne trainer allegedly asked the referee to stop play during the Storm’s 12-point win over the Eels to attend to Suliasi Vunivalu, who seemed to be struggling with cramp.
Trailing by two converted tries, the Eels had four minutes remaining and were seen to have the momentum when play was stopped.
The incident was addressed by NRL head of football Graham Annesley in his post-weekend briefing, with the governing body considering issuing the club with a breach notice, as it is against the rules to stop play for tactical reasons.
Source: Read Full Article