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NRL Talking factors: Finals time in the NRL | Rugby League News


Jenna Brooks

NRL Expert @JennaBrooks

Catch every NRL final live on Sky Sports

Last Updated: 11/09/18 10:28am

Cameron Munster celebrates his match-winning drop-goal

Cameron Munster celebrates his match-winning drop-goal

Cameron Munster celebrates his match-winning drop-goal

Jenna Brooks has the latest as the NRL finals get underway with a number of England internationals in the spotlight.

Finals footy

Reigning Premiers Melbourne have earned a week off after a 77th-minute Cameron Munster field-goal handed the Storm a 29-28 win over South Sydney.

While Melbourne are just 80 minutes away from a third-straight grand final, the Rabbitohs have to back up and take on St George Illawarra on Saturday.

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The Dragons pulled off a brilliant 30-point win over Brisbane in their elimination final last Sunday to keep their premiership hopes alive.

Minor premiers, the Sydney Roosters, earned a 21-12 victory over Cronulla. The win ensures they get a home preliminary final next week.

As for the Sharks, they take on Penrith on Friday after the Panthers beat the Warriors 27-12 in their elimination final.

You can catch every NRL final live on Sky Sports Arena.

Dragons woes

St George Illawarra shocked the Rugby League world on Sunday. They beat Brisbane 48-18 in Queensland; their first victory at Suncorp Stadium since 2009.

Kurt Mann of the Dragons breaks through the Broncos defence Kurt Mann of the Dragons breaks through the Broncos defence

Kurt Mann of the Dragons breaks through the Broncos defence

However, the surprise win came at a cost. Captain, Gareth Widdop, left the pitch with a dislocated shoulder, the same injury that kept the England international sidelined for the past month.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor admitted the star five-eighth will not play any further part in their finals campaign.

“He’s in a lot of pain but he will do everything he can to help the team win next week, even though he won’t be on the footy field,” McGregor said.

Gareth Widdop looks set to have shoulder surgery as soon as possible Gareth Widdop looks set to have shoulder surgery as soon as possible

Gareth Widdop looks set to have shoulder surgery as soon as possible

St George Illawarra’s high-performance coach, Nathan Pickworth told the club website that he expected Widdop to undergo shoulder reconstruction.

“He will have follow-up scans and more than likely go into surgery as soon as possible,” Pickworth told the club’s website.

James Graham’s time on the pitch was also cut short after he left with concussion. However, the prop is expected to be given the all clear for Saturday’s semi-final against South Sydney.

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Forward Jack de Belin also failed to finish the game, after he aggravated an ankle injury. There were worrying scenes after the game when De Belin was seen wearing a moon boot with crutches, however, he is still hoping he will be fit to play in Sydney this weekend.

“I’d rate it above 50 (per cent) for sure,” De Belin said.

“I feel it was a lot better than what it was this time last week. It’s just one of those things. If it was early in the year I’d definitely be off for couple of weeks.”

Better Burgess

Sam Burgess believes he let his South Sydney side down in their one-point defeat to Melbourne in Friday’s qualifying final.

Sam Burgess admits he needs to be better with the ball Sam Burgess admits he needs to be better with the ball

Sam Burgess admits he needs to be better with the ball

“I’ve got to be better with the ball, 100 per cent,” Burgess said.

The star forward, who signed a new four-year deal last week, said he will make some changes ahead of their semi-final showdown with the Dragons.

“I’ve got to not lead with the ball from the kick-off. I’ll find a better way. I’m not making excuses – I’ve just got to tighten up on the ball.

“I said it instantly on the field ‘Sorry’. I dump things quick; move on quick. I’ve done that my whole life – you can’t dwell on things or it continues in your performance,” Burgess said.

Despite making a game-high four errors during the Bunnies nail-biting loss, Burgess lead his team in tackles, making 38, as well as running for the most metres with 176.

Dragons will be hoping James Graham will pass concussion protocols Dragons will be hoping James Graham will pass concussion protocols

Dragons will be hoping James Graham will pass concussion protocols

A lot of the talk ahead of Saturday’s final is Burgess versus James Graham. If the Dragons prop passes concussion protocols, the two Englishman are set to go head to head for the first time in a finals game since the 2014 Grand Final, where Graham fractured the former Bradford players eye socket and cheekbone. However, Burgess has played down the rivalry.

“I’m not going to get too much into it,” Burgess said.

“I’m not going in there with any personal battles that I want to get into. Sure we’re going to come across each other in the game at some point. But I’m just talking about doing my job.”

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