Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
12 hours ago
In my world, Friday nights in autumn and winter are sacred times. Times where I sit on my couch, ignore the outside world and delve deep into the heart of Rugby League entertainment. I've sat through delayed telecasts since I was a young boy without a hint of a complaint. Because up until 2007, that was all us league lovers were fed on a Friday night.
But since then we get two games on a Friday, and would you believe that one of those games is telecast live? Unbelievable. For a while there I feared that the world had gone topsy turvy. Until the first Friday night game finished and the second one kicked off. Nearly two hours late. Ah yes. Delayed broadcasting bliss was still in existence on a Friday night.
So I've become a bit spoilt with my one live game on free-to-air television per week. Now I don't have to wait for test matches and the state of origin series to train my blitzkrieg sprints to the toilet and back so I don't miss a single second of coverage. Now I get to perfect that art every week.
But now a Friday night looms without a live game being aired. What dares interrupt our Friday night fix of live league?
Don't worry guys and gals, it's nothing important: just a wedding between a prince and his girlfriend. But Channel Nine thinks it's important enough to cover instead of footy. So instead of getting to watch the Brisbane Broncos try to lace together seven wins on the trot against the dangerous Canterbury Bulldogs, or view the desperate arm wrestle between struggling teams the Cronulla Sharks and the South Sydney Rabbitohs as they happen, we get to see live coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton say "I do".
My point of contention isn't about the lack of importance that the royal wedding has in any other regular footy fan's life or mine; my issue is with Channel Nine.
Shame on them for treating one of the most popular sports on the Eastern seaboard like a disposable commodity; and more importantly, shame on them for treating followers of Rugby League like we just don't matter.
Because let's face it: Friday night is throwing up two contrasting games that are of equal importance to the teams that are competing in them. Last week the Broncos completely outmuscled the attacking brilliance of the Wests Tigers, and now they need to do the same against one of the most electric Bulldogs players to pull on a jersey in years: Ben Barba. Two weeks ago against the Parramatta Eels Barba singlehandedly swung the momentum back his team's way with three fantastic tries.
The Broncos and Bulldogs have a lot of recent history against one another: the 1998 Grand Final where the Broncos toweled the Doggies 38-12; the 2006 Preliminary final where the Broncos clawed back from a 14 point deficit to storm into the decider 37-20