April 23, 2021

NRL Finals classics: Some of the best playoff encounters between this weekend’s sides

2 min read

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

One competition finishes and another one begins. Welcome to the NRL Finals for 2020. Only eight teams remain. This is the business end.

Where dreams are made and shattered in the blink of an eye – a click of the fingers.

It is the end for two clubs while two others will win through to preliminary final weekend.

Let’s take a look at some of the best finals encounters between this week’s combatants.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS VERSUS PENRITH PANTHERS

QUALIFYING FINAL, 2014

The defending premiers hosted the Panthers in the first week of the 2014 finals expecting to nudge passed the mountain men in Anthony Minichiello’s 300th. But Penrith had other ideas and outlasted the Roosters 19-18 in a cracker. Sydney would eventually be eliminated in week three by South Sydney.

CANBERRA RAIDERS VERSUS CRONULLA SHARKS

QUALIFYING FINAL, 2016

The infamous night Michael Ennis gave his own viking clap in front of thousands of furious Raiders supporters as the Sharks held on for a 16-14 win. Canberra led 12-6 at half-time but the Sharks surged and got themselves back into the contest. They’d go on to win their maiden premiership.

CRONULLA SHARKS VERSUS CANBERRA RAIDERS

SEMI FINAL, 1997

The winner of this match would host a preliminary final in the Super League competition. In front of 18,000 fans at Shark Park, Cronulla took a 16-6 lead into the break before the Raiders made a mighty comeback to fall just four short.

CRONULLA SHARKS VERSUS CANBERRA RAIDERS

PRELIMINARY FINAL, 1997

Two weeks later, the two teams met again at the same ground after the Raiders eliminated Penrith the previous week. The Sharks led again at half-time, 8-0 on this occasion, before the Raiders dragged it back. Cronulla would win 10-4.

Nathan Cleary wins the 2020 Arthur Beetson Medal by a record nine votes

MELBOURNE STORM VERSUS PARRAMATTA EELS

QUALIFYING FINAL, 2017

Not many gave Parramatta a shot against the runaway minor premiers down at AAMI Park in week one of the finals, 2017. But the Eels had other ideas and gave as good as they got but eventually went down 18-16.

Finals Week One preview: Raiders, Storm and Rabbitohs to win big while Panthers ready to outlast the Chooks

MELBOURNE STORM VERSUS PARRAMATTA EELS

GRAND FINAL, 2009

The Storm, prior to their salary cap scandal of 2010, were the undisputed heavyweights of rugby league. In the 2009 grand final, they came up against a side riding a wave of emotion behind young gun Jarryd Hayne, legend Nathan Hindmarsh and the monster Fui Fui Moi Moi.

PARRAMATTA EELS VERSUS MELBOURNE STORM

PRELIMINARY FINAL, 1999

This was Parramatta’s game to lose after they smashed Newcastle in the first week of the finals and the Storm were hammered by the Dragons. Melbourne survived the next week against Canterbury and faced the Eels at a packed Sydney Football Stadium in week three for a place in the grand final.

@woodward_curtis

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