Two Sydney teams go head to head in the NRL Semi-Finals this weekend as Minor Premiers Sydney Roosters host 2014 Grand Finalists Canterbury Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium. The winning side will progress to a Preliminary Final in Brisbane against the Broncos, while the losers will be left dreaming of what might have been.
A loss to Melbourne Storm last Friday saw the Roosters defeated for the first time in thirteen games, and relinquish the advantage of a week off ahead of the Preliminary Finals. It has left them facing this tricky elimination showdown against a Bulldogs outfit hurting from losses in two Grand Finals in the past three seasons. Despite being named to play earlier in the week Mitchell Pearce has now been ruled out of the Roosters side, so Jackson Hastings will continue to deputise.
The Bulldogs snatched a Gold Point overtime win against the Dragons to survive the first round of Elimination Finals, but will surely have to put in a much improved display to knock off the team that has now won three back to back Minor Premierships. Frank Pritchard was found not guilty at the judiciary this week of a dangerous contact charge, and the key forward is free to play in what will be an unchanged Bulldogs lineup.
The Roosters won both of the regular season matches in 2015, and overall have won five of the last six encounters between the two sides. They go into the game as favourites, although this will not concern a Bulldogs outfit who like nothing better than fighting their way out of a corner. It is also worth noting that sides coached by Bulldogs mentor Des Hasler have a 100% success rate of reaching Grand Finals when having won in the first week of a finals series.
Friday 18th September, Allianz Stadium Moore Park 19:55
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