Finals Week 1 Teams: Several stars racing the clock to be fit for playoffs, Kris crossed out with lengthy spear tackle ban
Team list, judiciary, injury and Late Mail information for round one of the 2023 NRL finals.
On the weekend I went to Netstrata Jubilee Oval to watch the Parramatta Eels women get their first win over the season, defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 16-12.
The crowd may have been small, but plenty of us erupted when the siren went and the Eels women celebrated on the field.
To get into that game it cost me $30 for two tickets, plus a $7.50 Ticketek booking fee.
There’s no doubt that that price is affordable, but what about fans who want to get out to as much NRLW as possible?
The Eels are one of the clubs that offer fans the opportunity to buy a separate NRLW membership. But at this stage, just like most of the clubs, this membership almost acts as a donation to the women’s team. I am happy to make that donation.
The membership does get me into Eels home games, but they have only had two this season.
Given the NRL focus on having double headers across the state, would it be possible for the NRL to create an NRLW pass, where purchasers of that pass could attend as many NRLW games as they wanted? I understand there are some matches where the women’s games are played as double-headers with the men’s games, so potentially to make it simple, exclude those games from the pass.
We should be doing whatever we can to encourage attendance at these NRLW games, particularly if the crowd at Kogarah last weekend is anything to go by.
But now, onto your Round 7 NRLW preview.
This is one of the matches of the round and will have significant implications for the top four. The Raiders were humbled last week by the Broncos, 40-8 and how they bounce back this week should tell us plenty about the resilience of the team.
The Knights will be looking for their fourth win in a row; incredibly in their last three games the Knights have scored 22 points, so scoring that many against the Raiders should be enough to get them across the line. Knights by 6
The Brisbane Broncos still sit outside the top four but continue to improve each week. A good strategy also seems to be to get the ball to Mele Hufunga.
A win here would be important for the Broncos who could jump four points clear of the Sharks. Incredibly Ali Brigginshaw has been named to play, despite suffering a broken nose last week.
For the Sharks, they have lost one of their best players in Annessa Biddle, who has been suspended, with Cassie Staples coming into the squad. There’s also a great halves battle to look forward to, with both spines having a newer player in the number six jersey; Gayle Broughton for the Broncos and Emma Tonegato for the Sharks. Broncos by 4
Given just how congested the NRLW ladder is right now, I’m confident that the loser of this game will not qualify for finals football.
Both teams had disappointing losses last weekend, but the Cowboys in particular will look to aim up in front of their home crowd (the Cowboys have not won a game at home this year and in fact have had 40 points put on them on both occasions).
The Dragons were very unlucky not to get the win against the Titans last week, but I think they will bounce back this week; Teagan Berry is in exceptional form and almost did enough on her own to win the game last week. The Dragons have lost their last three games, but only by four or less. This is the week that they return to the winners circle. Dragons by 6
The Titans have been the masters of winning close games this year and will no doubt be very happy to have Lauren Brown in their team.
After a strong start to the season, the Tigers have struggled in recent weeks and will be missing Sarah Togatuki for this game and potentially Kezie Apps and Rikeya Horne who are being monitored due to failed head injury assessments last week.
I’m looking forward to the fullback battle between Evania Pelite and Botille Vette-Welsh and Karina Brown will have her hands full marking up against Tigers speedster Jakiya Whitfeld. My view is that the Titans do have an advantage in the forward pack, particularly when Stephanie Hancock comes off the bench. Titans by 8
The Eels will be high on confidence after their first win of the season last weekend, but face a huge challenge against the Sydney Roosters.
The Roosters steamrolled the Tigers last weekend 48-10 and have been strong defensively this season too, not conceding more than two tries in any game so far. In 2022, the Eels did spring an upset and beat the Roosters 24-10 to qualify for the Grand Final.
Could we see another miracle? I’m not sure, but I think this game will be closer than fans expect. Roosters by 10