Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
19 hours ago
Where to start? Rivalry Round comes a week late this Friday when two of the biggest current rivalries are played out in Sydney and also Melbourne.
At Sydney's ANZ Stadium, the Bulldogs will be ringing in the changes. Caretaker coach Jim Dymock has shaken-up the Canterbury side for the weekend, dropping Josh Morris and Gary Warburton to NSW Cup, and brought in centre Tim Lafai, hooker Joel Romelo and bench utility Josh Reynolds as cover for injured five-eighth Kris Keating. Dene Halatau will move to lock with David Stagg slotting into a bench position, while Ben Roberts earns the number six jersey in Keating's absence. Parramatta on the other hand retain the nucleus of their side, including star fullback Jarryd Hayne in the five-eighth role for another week.
In the other big derby at Melbourne's AAMI Park, the Storm will retain Justin O'Neill on the wing as they are unchanged to face the Broncos. Kurt Baptiste is out for the visitors while Scott Anderson has been cleared to play.
Saturday night sees a Thurston-less North Queensland travel to Robina's Skilled Park to face the Titans. The home side will debut mid-season signing Beau Henry in the five-eighth role, while Brenton Lawrence also returns on the bench as the backline and backrow re-shuffle to accommodate the loss of injured representative lock Ashley Harrison (elbow). Michael Morgan drops out of the Cowboys lineup in favour of former Rooster Ben Jones at halfback, while Matt Scott is also expected to lace-up for the side, although he will be subject to a fitness test.
South of the border, the Wests Tigers final Leichhardt Oval clash of the year comes against finals rivals from 2010, the Sydney Roosters. The Tigers welcome back winger Lote Tuqiri, with Beau Ryan staying on the opposite wing despite sustaining a facial injury against the Cowboys last Saturday night. Mark Flanagan earns a recall on the bench. The Roosters meanwhile will be boosted by the return of Blues fullback Anthony Minichiello and Kiwi forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Captain Braith Anasta has been named in the second row, with Frank-Paul Nuuasuala at lock.
The Shire hosts the other 7:30pm Super Saturday clash, with Cronulla up against fellow fringe-eight combatants Newcastle. For the Sharks, Jayson Bukuya and Matthew Wright have been omitted at the expense of John Williams and Kade Snowden, who was a late inclusion in last night's derby loss to the Dragons at Kogarah. The Knights welcome back captain Kurt Gidley who will slot into fullback, following injury to regular fullback Wes Naiqama. Junior Sa'u has been named in the centres despite suffering a neck injury in the side's 32-10 loss to Manly on Sunday.
ANZ Stadium gets its second taste of action for the weekend when South Sydney host the Warriors on Sunday afternoon. The Rabbitohs will take the same 18-man squad into battle from Saturday's thrilling Golden Point win over the Roosters into this game, five-eighth John Sutton marking his 150th game this weekend. The Warriors lineup is largely unchanged.
Sunday's key match sees Penrith host Manly at the foot of the mountains. Penrith are as named from last weekend despite key injuries to Nigel Plum and Luke Lewis against Parramatta, while Manly welcome back Will Hopoate following the omission of "Wolfman" David Williams on the wing.
Monday night footy is in Canberra, where the Dragons will be hoping their Capital hoodoo has worn off. Kyle Stanley has moved to hooker for the injured Dean Young this weekend, with Beau Scott expected to return after last night's late scratching. The Canberra Raiders will lineup as they took the field in Sunday's 26-0 loss to Melbourne, Jarrod Croker still a week away from returning from a neck injury.
For all the teams in one convenient spot with match officials, fixture information and broadcast details, view NRL Teams - hot off the wire! Round 20.