And then there were four. The NRL’s Telstra Premiership Finals Series has confirmed its final two combatants for this week’s Preliminary Final round, after the Sydney Roosters and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs scored thrilling, one point wins in their Semi Finals on Friday and Saturday nights respectively.
In another weekend of enthralling rugby league, both matches – played at Allianz Stadium – produced nail-biting finishes that ultimately saw the North Queensland Cowboys and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles bow out of the Finals.
On Friday night, it was the minor premiership winning Roosters and the fifth-placed Cowboys who put their seasons on the line. By the time that the half-time siren went, Roosters fans would have been forgiven for feeling a little smug after leading 30=0 early on. But they hadn’t banked on the Cowboys almost completing what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in the game’s history.
The Cowboys returned serve to incredibly level the scores up at 30 points apiece in the 57th minute. Both sides ripped into each other with hurricane fury as they looked to gain an advantage and keep their seasons alive. The deciding points came in the 76th minute, when James Maloney snapped a field-goal with just four minutes remaining, but not before some controversy.
With the clock winding down, the Cowboys furiously attacked the Roosters line before Johnathan Thurston raced through to score what to many seemed a legitimate try. But referee Gavin Badger spotted a knock-on in the final pass to the Test half, with the video referee agreeing with his sentiments – the Cowboys emotionally bundled out of the season in the dying moments.
For the Roosters, their victory set up an historic blockbuster clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium this Friday night, in what will be the first time that the two teams have met in the post-season since 1938.
Saturday night saw golden point come into the Finals equation when a courageous performance from halfback Trent Hodkinson helped to sink the second-placed Sea Eagles by a single point.
Hodkinson had earlier sustained what seemed to be a medial ligament injury with the State of Origin play-maker briefly leaving the field. But by the time full-time had been blown and with the scores locked up at 17 apiece in golden point, Hodkinson wanted the ball and got it.
The half calmly slotted the field-goal to end Manly’s season amid euphoric scenes at Allianz Stadium – the Dogs now set to meet the Penrith Panthers in the other Preliminary Final match.
Tickets for both Week 3 NRL Telstra Premiership Preliminary Final matches are on sale from 10am Monday 22 September for Club Members, and from 10am Tuesday 23 September for the General Public.
How to purchase tickets:
Ticket prices for Friday night’s game can be found below.
Member Pre-Sale Prices
Cat 1: Adult - $90, Concession - $80, Junior - $75, Family – N/A
Cat 2: Adult - $60, Concession - $55, Junior - $50, Family - $170
Cat 3: Adult - $40, Concession - $30, Junior - $20, Family - $90
Supporter Bays: Adult - $50, Concession - $40, Junior - $35, Family - $135
Hot Seat: Adult - $55, Concession - $45, Junior - $40, Family - $150
Telstra/Members Offer: Adult - $15, Family – $35
Cat 1: Adult - $100, Concession - $90, Junior - $85, Family - $285
Cat 2: Adult - $70, Concession - $65, Junior - $60, Family - $200
Cat 3: Adult - $45, Concession - $35, Junior - $25, Family - $95
Supporter Bays: Adult - $60, Concession - $50, Junior - $45, Family - $165
Hot Seat: Adult - $65, Concession - $55, Junior - $50, Family - $180
Telstra/Members Offer: Adult - $15, Family - $35
Walk Up Prices
Cat 1: Adult - $110, Concession - $100, Junior - $95, Family - $315
Cat 2: Adult - $80, Concession - $75, Junior - $70, Family - $230
Cat 3: Adult - $50, Concession - $40, Junior - $30, Family - $130
Supporter Bays: Adult - $70, Concession - $60, Junior - $55, Family - $195
Hot Seat: Adult - $75, Concession - $70, Junior - $65, Family - $215
Click here to view the seating map for Friday night’s game at ANZ Stadium.