HOW THE NRL PRELIMINARY FINALS STACK UP
Friday, September 27
Preliminary final: 4-Canberra v 3-South Sydney at GIO Stadium, 7.50pm
Played: 56, Raiders won 32, Rabbitohs won 24
2019 matches: Rd 10, Souths won 16-12 in Canberra
The Raiders will be hosting a preliminary final for the first time and looking to make the grand final for the first time since winning the competition a quarter of a century ago. Ricky Stuart's Green Machine are favoured to go one better than their 2016 prelim final appearance after shocking minor premiers Melbourne in week one of the finals. But Souths did beat the Raiders in the nation's capital in the teams' only meeting this year. The Rabbitohs will be equally hungry after falling to the Roosters in last year's grand final qualifier. A loss would end the career of Souths' longest-serving player, retiring 2014 premiership-winning captain John Sutton.
Saturday, September 28
Preliminary final: 2-Sydney Roosters v 1-Melbourne at Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.50pm
Played: 38, Storm won 21, Roosters won 17
2019 matches: Rd 6: Roosters won 21-20 in Melbourne; Rd 15, Storm won 14-12 in Adelaide
The blockbuster sequel to last year's title decider pits the two most dominant forces of the century against each other. Boasting 15 grand final appearances between them since 2000, only one can make the big dance in 2019 after the Storm's loss to Canberra two weeks ago blew the finals series wide open.The Roosters will be without suspended enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves but are confident co-captains Boyd Cordner (quad) and Jake Friend (arm) will both be fit. Coach Trent Robinson must decide whether to retain rookie Sam Verrills as his starting hooker ahead of Friend, who hasn't played since breaking his arm two months ago. Both head-to-head matches this season were thrillers, with Latrell Mitchell slotting a golden-point winner for the Roosters in round six before a late Cameron Smith penalty goal earned the Storm a two-point victory in round 15.
Australian Associated Press