Luke Keary shapes as a big inclusion for the Roosters.
Luke Keary shapes as a big inclusion for the Roosters. Brett Costello

Durko's Dissections: NRL finals previews


Qualifying final, SCG, tomorrow, 7.50pm

History: Played 221, Rabbitohs 115, Roosters 101, drawn 5. Last met: Rabbitohs 16-10, round 25, 2019. At this ground: Rabbitohs 22, Roosters 17, drawn 2. Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.30, Rabbitohs $3.40

The only stat favouring the defending premiers tomorrow night is their price - $1.30. After their second-half trampling at the hands of the Rabbitohs last week, the Roosters have now lost both games in 2019 to their arch rivals who boast an overall winning record since 1908 and a similar stat at the SCG. But with some significant players returning - in particular five-eighth Luke Keary - and the unexpected judiciary clearance of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves plus the absence of Bunnies' skipper and enforcer Sam Burgess, the pendulum has swung sharply back in favour of the premiers. As is always the case, big games are won up front and without the muscle and leadership of Burgess, the Rabbithos look vulnerable. And while Keary is a key man for the Roosters, if the likes of Latrell Mitchell, James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk are at their attacking best the Roosters will be crowing loudly come full-time. TIP - Roosters

Cameron Munster is expected back for the Storm.
Cameron Munster is expected back for the Storm. SCOTT BARBOUR


Qualifying final, AAMI Park, Saturday 5.40pm

History: Played 43, Storm 31, Raiders 12. Last met: Raiders 22-18, round 22, 2019. At this ground: Storm 5, Raiders 4. Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.40 Raiders $2.90

Both teams will be boosted by the return of key personnel who were rested last weekend, but no returning player is more crucial to this result than Storm playmaker Cameron Munster. Although they comfortably accounted for the Cowboys last weekend, the minor premiers appeared disorganised at times and their brilliant five-eighth will certainly solve that issue. The Raiders, although surprisingly beaten in round 25, will certainly be up for this challenge with memories of their winning comeback from 18-nil down in Melbourne a month ago - as well as a strong overall record at AAMI Park - delivering a huge confidence boost. Bringing together the two best defensive sides in the competition won't necessarily make this a low-scoring contest, but it will be close. And with the canniest dummy-halves in the game calling the shots, it will be exciting. Always keen for a break this time of the year to rest some niggling injuries, the proficient Storm won't let the chance slip. TIP - Storm

Paul Gallen will be looking to extend his playing career.
Paul Gallen will be looking to extend his playing career. Brett Costello


Elimination final, Lottoland, Saturday 7.50pm

History: Played 92, Sea Eagles 65, Sharks 24, drawn 2. Last met: Sea Eagles 24-14, round 10, 2019. At this ground: Sea Eagles 33, Sharks 5, drawn 1. Ladbrokes odds: Sea Eagles $2.55 Sharks $1.50

The Sea Eagles have had one win already - they get to play this knockout at their Brookvale home where they have lost just five of 39 previous clashes against the Sharks. But even the fact the Sharks have won a meagre 24 of 92 overall since 1967 means little when the list of unavailable Sea Eagles - Tom Trbojevic, Marty Taupau, Curtis Sironen, Joel Thompson and Taniela Paseka - is taken into account. Des Hasler has done an outstanding job dragging his club back into the finals but not even his genius, and the guile of Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic, can rescue the Sea Eagle from their current disaster. With skipper Paul Gallen looking for the miracle NRL swansong, the always-gritty Sharks will never have a better opportunity to record their first win on the Sydney's northern beaches since 2008. TIP - Sharks

Mitchell Moses could be the difference for Parramatta.
Mitchell Moses could be the difference for Parramatta. JOEL CARRETT


Elimination final, Bankwest Stadium, Sunday 4.05pm

History: Played 56, Broncos 33, Eels 22, drawn 1. Last met: Broncos 17-16, round 24, 2019. At this ground: Eels 1, Broncos 0. Ladbrokes odds: Eels $1.53, Broncos $2.45

Darius Boyd has said it all - no-one gives the Broncos a chance in this, and for very good reason. They were bordering on pathetic last weekend with a finals berth on the line, and even their ever-positive coach accused them of not having a crack. On that performance the Eels, who have made a remarkable turnaround in 12 months, will win easily. While the talent appears evenly matched between the two sides, the Eels go in with a clear edge in the playmaking stakes with halfback Mitchell Moses having a competition-high 24 try assists in 2019. Conversely - as former skipper Gorden Tallis recently quipped - the Broncos are a Ferrari without a driver. Brisbane's young forwards can do only so much without direction and leadership and the best Broncos fans can hope for is to not be embarrassed by the final score. For Eels supporters though, the immediate future looks promising. TIP - Eels

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