Broncos and Panthers Breeze Into Prelims; Knights and Roosters Win in Epics

It was a dramatic opening weekend of the NRL Finals: Brisbane and Melbourne booked home preliminary finals, the Sydney Roosters knocked out Cronulla-Sutherland, and Newcastle and Canberra played out an extra time classic.

Related: What You Need to Know About the NRL Semi-Finals Schedule

BRISBANE 26, MELBOURNE 0

It was a historic night for the Broncos at Lang Park (in front of over 50,000 fans): their first home final since 2018, their first finals win since 2017, and their first win against Melbourne in 14 games.

Kotoni Staggs, Reece Walsh, Jordan Riki, and Selwyn Cobbo scored for Brisbane, while Adam Reynolds kicked five goals.

A horror night got worse for Melbourne when Ryan Papenhuyzen went down with a lower leg/ankle fracture. While the outlook is better than first feared, he still faces another long recovery after undergoing surgery.

Getting a dejected Melbourne up for next weekend’s sudden death semi against the Sydney Roosters will be coach Craig Bellamy’s biggest test in a while. The Storm haven’t won a final since 2021, with three straight losses. And it was only the third time Melbourne’s been held scoreless in a finals game (losing 40-0 to Manly in the 2008 Grand Final and 30-0 to Canterbury in the 2003 Elimination Final).

Brisbane have a home preliminary final in two weeks and will be favourites to make their first grand final since 2015.

Recap

Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023

Suncorp Stadium23 Chippendall St, Milton QLD 4064, Australia
September 8, 202319:50
(Week1Finals)
26 - 0
Final Score
TeamTriesGoalsFG2pt FGPoints
Broncos450026
Storm00000
Game Statistics

Broncos

Player Jersey T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Reece Walsh1100080117201115100300
Jesse Arthars200008062230006000100
Kotoni Staggs31000801124010015500000
Herbie Farnworth40000801638300018000000
Selwyn Cobbo5100080109281004200200
Ezra Mam6000080681500018400000
Adam Reynolds7050080251102016200200
Thomas Flegler8000047963000119100100
Billy Walters900004942500017600100
Payne Haas100000541807700226100000
Kurt Capewell11000073823610023200100
Jordan Riki12100070501810030100000
Patrick Carrigan130000601938500225400100
Tyson Smoothy140000320000019110000
Brendan Piakura1500001929140005300000
Kobe Hetherington160000391405400013100000
Keenan Palasia170000441535900018200000
Corey Oates1800000000000000000
Total 4500104716215985362773610120 

Storm

Player Jersey T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Nick Meaney1000080135440011300200
Will Warbrick2000080100320013100200
Marion Seve30000741134400114400000
Young Tonumaipea4000065531800112600000
Xavier Coates5000070129450023200100
Cameron Munster6000080651700120400100
Jahrome Hughes7000080491800016300000
Tui Kamikamica8000038984900023100100
Harry Grant9000080449000371000200
Christian Welch10000041672400123200000
Trent Loiero11000072451300029500100
Eliesa Katoa12000068772700127400100
Josh King13000068802700040600000
Tom Eisenhuth15000036471600229100000
Nelson Asofa-Solomona160000451044400222400100
Ryan Papenhuyzen1700003783160018300000
Tariq Sims19000027782710017000000
Bronson Garlick1400000000000000000
Total 00001041136747010143245900120 

Venue

Suncorp Stadium

23 Chippendall St, Milton QLD 4064, Australia

Details

Date Time League Season Match Day Full Time
September 8, 2023 19:50 Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023 Week1Finals 80'
Embed from Getty Images

PENRITH 32, NZ WARRIORS 6

Penrith are into the preliminary final after a big win at BlueBet Stadium.

Shaun Johnson was a big omission for the Warriors, and Penrith showed no mercy.

Brian To’o scored the first try after just four minutes, with Liam Martin and Sunia Turuva giving the Panthers a 20-0 half-time lead.

While Wayde Egan scored to threaten a comeback, Turuva’s second try secured Penrith’s win.

Nathan Cleary scored 16 of Penrith’s 32 points, with a try and six goals.

The Warriors now have a long-awaited home semi-final next weekend against Newcastle.

Recap

Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023

BlueBet StadiumRansley St, Penrith NSW 2750, Australia
September 9, 202316:05
(Week1Finals)
32 - 6
Final Score
TeamTriesGoalsFG2pt FGPoints
Panthers560032
Warriors11006
Game Statistics

Panthers

Player T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Dylan Edwards000080223331007000000
Sunia Turuva200080149302002000200
Stephen Crichton0000801334702311100000
Luke Garner0000801283310116100000
Brian To’o100080174632003000100
Jack Cogger0000801081300023300000
Nathan Cleary1600801941121321200100
Moses Leota000044872101031300000
Mitchell Kenny0000538400030300000
James Fisher-Harris0000481355000128400000
Scott Sorensen00006141800022500100
Liam Martin1000801153810142300100
Isaah Yeo0000801965500043000200
Tyrone Peachey0000274100018100000
Lindsay Smith000038692200031000000
Spencer Leniu000030813300119000000
Zac Hosking000019241100012000000
Jaeman Salmon00000000000000000
Total5600104018694739410359260080 

Warriors

Player T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad000080175360007200100
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak000080150320114100200
Rocco Berry000080812400123200300
Adam Pompey010080842800116400000
Marcelo Montoya000080126280003600200
Dylan Walker000076491500119800100
Te Maire Martin00008030500025200000
Addin Fonua-Blake0000591335400233200000
Wayde Egan100071841400152400100
Mitchell Barnett000039691700227400000
Jackson Ford000080461800039800200
Marata Niukore000055361600032200000
Tohu Harris0000801131700056400000
Jazz Tevaga000033611900121400200
Bayley Sironen000034371100024100000
Joshua Curran000025441000015100000
Freddy Lussick00009000004000000
Taine Tuaupiki00000000000000000
Total11001041131834401104005500140 

Venue

BlueBet Stadium

Ransley St, Penrith NSW 2750, Australia

Details

Date Time League Season Match Day Full Time
September 9, 2023 16:05 Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023 Week1Finals 80'
Embed from Getty Images

SYDNEY ROOSTERS 13, CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND 12

The Sydney Roosters pulled off one of the greatest finals wins at Shark Park.

A Sam Walker field goal in the 72nd minute broke a 12-12 deadlock. While Cronulla-Sutherland had a couple of shots to level the game again, the Roosters held on to extend their winning streak to six games and move onto a semi-final against Melbourne. It was also a sad farewell for the retiring Wade Graham.

The Sharks led 6-0 at half-time (with a Sione Katoa try) before Joseph Manu scored early in the second half.

The Sharks capitalised on James Tedesco’s sin binning, with Ronaldo Mulitalo giving the Sharks a 10-6 lead after 52 minutes. A Nicho Hynes penalty goal nine minutes later pushed the Sharks lead to 12-6.

Siua Wong levelled the scores again with 10 minutes left.

There will be plenty of questions about the Sharks’ inability to win in September: they’ve now lost their last six finals.

Recap

Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023

PointsBet Stadium455 Captain Cook Dr, Woolooware NSW 2230, Australia
September 9, 202319:50
(Week1Finals)
12 - 13
Final Score
TeamTriesGoalsFG2pt FGPoints
Sharks220012
Roosters221213
Game Statistics

Sharks

Player T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Connor Tracey000080182390003200000
Sione Katoa10008074181002200100
Jesse Ramien0000801243500021300200
Siosifa Talakai000080145390018600100
Ronaldo Mulitalo1000801472330010200200
Braydon Trindall000080151400010700000
Nicho Hynes0200801311302026300000
Toby Rudolf0000621424600032300100
Blayke Brailey00008018500042600100
Royce Hunt0000341045400120200100
Briton Nikora000080942400144400100
Wade Graham000080832000034700100
Cameron McInnes0000601073500241200000
Jack Williams000043753600132300100
Thomas Hazelton00001434120007100000
Oregon Kaufusi000022441600011200100
Jesse Colquhoun000011261300010200000
Kayal Iro00000000000000000
Total2200104616814324263535700130 

Roosters

Player T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
James Tedesco000070202451003100410
Junior Pauga000080173321006200100
Billy Smith0100801122500017400000
Joseph Manu1000521163110110200200
Joseph Suaalii000041100351001000100
Luke Keary00008039200019300200
Sam Walker01108044401015500000
Lindsay Collins000060702900037300000
Brandon Smith000066882000236300000
Egan Butcher000044802400020100000
Siua Wong1000711223200331400000
Nat Butcher000080541500051100200
Victor Radley0000801344500142600000
Fletcher Baker000022411300014100000
Sandon Smith00002620700014000000
Terrell May000054924100130000000
Angus Crichton000050662400115000000
Corey Allan00000000000000000
Total2210103615534244193613600121 

Venue

PointsBet Stadium

455 Captain Cook Dr, Woolooware NSW 2230, Australia

Details

Date Time League Season Match Day Full Time
September 9, 2023 19:50 Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023 Week1Finals 80'
Embed from Getty Images

NEWCASTLE 30, CANBERRA 28 (Extra Time)

Newcastle has won an epic elimination final at McDonald Jones Stadium.

In a game of many twists and turns, it was 28-28 with a minute left in the second extra time period. A penalty on Kalyn Ponga put the Knights up by two to seal the game, with Ponga kicking the penalty goal.

While nobody expected them to win in front of a parochial Newcastle crowd, Canberra raced to a 16-6 half-time lead (two tries to James Schiller).

An alleged biting incident involving Jack Wighton on Tyson Gamble threatened to turn the game: Wighton was placed on report and Ponga, Dominic Young (two tries), and Dane Gagai scored four tries in 15 minutes to give Newcastle a 28-16 lead. Though Wighton may face a delayed start to his time at South Sydney depending on the judiciary verdict.

But Canberra refused to go away, with tries to Matt Frawley and Tom Starling levelling the scores at 28-28.

Newcastle play the NZ Warriors in the Auckland semi-final next weekend, while Canberra begins their rebuilding period without Wighton, Frawley, and Jarrod Croker.

Recap

Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023

McDonald Jones Stadium294 Turton Rd, New Lambton NSW 2305, Australia
September 10, 202316:05
(Week1Finals)
30 - 28
Final Score
TeamTriesGoalsFG2pt FGPoints
Knights550030
Raiders540028
Game Statistics

Knights

Player T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Kalyn Ponga150090125111106200200
Dominic Young200090224301103100100
Dane Gagai1000901784300019500300
Bradman Best000090822901023100200
Greg Marzhew100090222341015100300
Tyson Gamble000090101201024500100
Jackson Hastings00004116100010300000
Jacob Saifiti000049842700035400000
Phoenix Crossland00009059000160600000
Leo Thompson000043662800032300000
Tyson Frizell0000821043500128000100
Lachlan Fitzgibbon000076451800232400100
Adam Elliott0000761282500048800000
Kurt Mann00005038411121200000
Daniel Saifiti0000491023500028100000
Jack Hetherington000030712400031200000
Mathew Croker000044822300033100100
Dylan Lucas00000000000000000
Total5500117017273694564384900150 

Raiders

Player T G FG 2FG Minutes Played Run Metres Post Contact Metres Line Breaks Try Assists Offloads Tackles Missed Tackles 40/20 20/40 Errors Sin Bin Sent Off
Jordan Rapana000090280450013300200
James Schiller200090120321002200200
Jack Wighton0000901645001112100200
Matthew Timoko000090163510004100100
Nick Cotric000090132331003200100
Matt Frawley10009057510017300000
Jamal Fogarty04009085700016100100
Ata Mariota0000561937600033100000
Zac Woolford00003835800025100000
Joseph Tapine0000621786600136300000
Hudson Young0000901002701234200000
Elliott Whitehead0000901133801346100000
Hohepa Puru000031030003100000
Tom Starling100063722210044300000
Emre Guler0000781324500043400000
Pasami Saulo0000271023300014100000
Trey Mooney100034842510129100000
Albert Hopoate00000000000000000
Total540011712020566539364310090 

Venue

McDonald Jones Stadium

294 Turton Rd, New Lambton NSW 2305, Australia

Details

Date Time League Season Match Day Full Time
September 10, 2023 16:05 Telstra National Rugby League Premiership 2023 Week1Finals 90'
Embed from Getty Images

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