Off the Wall

Even though the McIntyre system will come under renewed pressure in the offseason, the NRL will be happy with the way the finals have panned out so far.

The AFL grand final has gone the way everyone thought it would - with the top two teams throughout the season to meet next season. Predictable - and a shade boring.

But the twists and turns on the NRL finals at the half way mark are neither predictable nor boring.

The minor premiers are gone, the third placed team are gone...and any one of the four remaining teams can make out a case to be serious grand final contenders.

We now know that it won't be a Sydney only grand final mix, or an out of town mix. It will be a Sydney team against either Melbourne or Brisbane.

But that is not the most important factor.

The fact that any one of the four teams left must be rated a good chance, and not just an outside chance, or a rough chance. It has not always been that way at this stage of the finals.

Now it will be argued that finals are open contests. True. But as open as we have now?

The absolute blockbuster between the stand out teams of the 1980's - the Bulldogs and the Eels will surely attract 50,000 - equalling the near capacity house at the Broncos v Dragons game last night.

I find it bewildering that the Broncos v Storm match is being played a couple of hours from the end of the AFL grand final. What coverage will it get in the Melbourne media?

But if it was to be played on Sunday afternoon - or even night - it would at least get something of a run.

And Broncos fans - or anyone else - wanting to travel to Melbourne will struggle to get a flight down, or accommodation? But a Sunday game would be different.

Sadly, Channel Nine will have none of that. So an opportunity will be missed.

It's impossible not to have some sympathy for the Dragons. Being forced to play in Brisbane in round two surely devalues the minor premiership status, not to mention top two or top four status.

The AFL system guarantees the top sides a home game in the second round of the finals. Ours does not do so. Even if the whole McIntyre system is not dismantled the status of the top teams in rounds one and two of the finals needs serious review.

But the question remains - would the Dragons have beaten the Broncos at the SFS?

But that is a debate for the offseason. In the meantime we can celebrate the fact we have two more weekends of superb rugby league ahead of us!

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