Both NRL finals matches on the weekend were decided by single point – in each case a drop goal late in a deadlocked game. The games were incredibly gripping, and in each case featured a number of twists on the way to the eventual result.
The first match of the NRL finals, between the Sharks and Panthers on Friday night, saw Cronulla take an early lead due to their forward dominance and some brilliant play from Matt Moylan. However, in the second half Penrith came back.
With the scores locked at 20 all, Sharks halfback Chad Townsend sent over a penalty goal in the 73rd minute for what would ultimately be the winning score. Panthers half Nathan Cleary had his own last minute goal attempt to tie the scores, but his attempt missed the uprights. The Sharks will have trouble this week against Melbourne, however, as they look to have picked up injuries to inspirational captain Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis to go with Wade Graham being out for the season.
The second match was a gripping affair between the St George Illawarra Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs. St George looked to have continued their form from last week, but 3 stunning drop goals from Adam Reynolds (who scored all 13 of Souths’ points) sunk them at the end.
The St George pack performed admirably in keeping the Burgess brothers (who managed to all keep their pants on this week) under control, but Reynolds stole the show and the game after yet another meltdown at a crucial moment from Ben Hunt. Hunt inexplicably decided to run the ball on the last play rather than kicking in the 78th minute, resulting in a turnover on halfway with scores level rather than the Rabbitohs trying to run the ball from their own half.
The Bunnies forward pack looked dead on their feet during the game after a brutal encounter against the Storm the week before. Their outside backs got them through on the weekend, but they will need to recover well to beat the Roosters – especially with the ongoing distraction of the Sam Burgess sexting scandal.