Details of NRL preliminary finals
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
First preliminary final
South Sydney v Manly at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm
Manly sent a reminder of how dangerous they can be in their 42-6 shellacking of the Sydney Roosters, as Tom Trbojevic again ran rampant. But a different challenge awaits on Friday night. South Sydney's effort to shut down Penrith's attack a week ago showed they are now closer to the complete game than ever before, making them favourites to reach the decider. They also have attacking weapons in Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds. However, it's unlikely the Rabbitohs will want to get caught in a high-scoring shootout. Souths easily knocked over Manly in the wet back in round two, but the Sea Eagles are significantly improved since then. The teams have not met in the finals since the opening week of 2014, when the Rabbitohs blew Manly out early before wrapping up the game 40-24.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Second preliminary final
Melbourne v Penrith at Suncorp Stadium, 4pm
The match up most had pencilled in for a second straight grand final comes a week early after Penrith were forced to do it the hard way against Parramatta. And it will still only get tougher for the Panthers. While Melbourne were off resting their bodies on the Sunshine Coast, Penrith were forced to fight through the lowest scoring and arguably most intense game of the season. Viliame Kikau's knee could linger as a point of concern alongside Brian To'o's ankle, while Mitch Kenny is likely to need a miracle to overcome a "pretty serious" ankle injury. Penrith beat Melbourne in a thriller in the opening month of the season, while their second game was a write-off with Penrith seriously depleted. But the reality is the Storm are a far better side than they were in March, while Penrith need to return to that form.
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