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NRL: A look at the two semi-finals

A place in the NRL preliminary finals is up for grabs this week when the Parramatta Eels take on the Canberra Raiders, while the Cronulla Sharks entertain the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

It has been a thrilling 2022 NRL campaign so far and the quality and intensity went up a notch in the opening week of finals.

Fingers crossed the second week will be just as good if not better as the four teams involved in the semi-finals look to keep their seasons alive by moving a step closer to the grand final.

Both semis are tough to call. All four sides are packed with quality and can beat anyone on their day, so it could come down to who gets the rub of the green on the day.

One thing is for certain everyone involved will be going all out to set up a preliminary final against either the Penrith Panthers or North Queensland Cowboys.

Following some bruising encounters it remains to be seen what players will take to the pitch, but we can still take an early look ahead to both games.

It is finals after all and excitement will continue to build throughout the week.

What: Parramatta Eels v Canberra Raiders
Where: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
When: 19:50 (AEST) Friday 16th September 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Eels 14/25, Raiders 29/20

Parramatta will need to picked themselves up following a disappointing defeat against the Penrith Panthers in last week’s qualifying final.

It was a big come down for Brad Arthur’s side following the highs of beating Melbourne Storm to secure a place in the top four the week before. And now they need to pick themselves up again.

They will of course be boosted by home advantage but a large expectant crowd will need to get behind them to ensure they get the job done.

The Eels have slipped up on home soil on a number of occasions this season and will have to be at their best to ensure the season continues.

One huge concern for the Eels is the well-being of star playmaker Mitchell Moses who suffered a concussion in the loss to the Panthers and they will be praying he comes through and is fit enough to play.

As for the Raiders they will be on a high following a thrilling win over Melbourne. Momentum and form is key at this stage of the season and the green machine have both.

Coach Ricky Stuart says they will continue to embrace the underdog tag and the fact not many outside of Canberra will back them to win could weigh in their favour. All the pressure is on the Eels.

Jack Wighton was a revelation in the win over Melbourne and Canberra will need him at his best again if they are to progress.

The Raiders have already identified one weakness in the Eels side after Waqa Blake struggled under the high-ball against the Panthers. He made four crucial errors and Raiders star Jamal Fogarty says both he and Wighton will be putting some floaters up to test him further.

What: Cronulla Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Where: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
When: 20:00 (AEST) Saturday 17th September 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Sharks 21/20, Rabbitohs 39/50

Cronulla are another side that need to pick themselves up following the golden-point loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.

The Sharks were just seconds away from a preliminary final before the Cowboys levelled matters in the dying seconds of the game. Then after 10 minutes of extra time the game went into golden-point with Valentine Holmes booting the winner for the home side.

The defeat will have floored the Sharks but there is no time to feel sorry for themselves and at least they get another crack against the Rabbitohs.

Home advantage will be key, a vociferous and passionate support almost got them home on Saturday and they will be needed again.

The Sharks can also breathe a huge sigh of relief after influential captain Dale Finucane escaped a suspension following a grade one crusher tackle on Cowboys star Luciano Leilua. If he accepts a $3000 fine he will be free to play.

Nicho Hynes will again be crucial for the Sharks. He has been a revelation since arriving from Melbourne Storm and could prove to be the match-winner here.

South Sydney’s chances of going through could hinge on how they pull up after the bruising encounter over the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

The sight of the Roosters and Rabbitohs bashing each other up will have been a joy to the Sharks, who will be hoping the game took it’s toll.

However Souths will take a great deal of confidence from the win and star fullback Latrell Mitchell looks to be a man on a mission following a match-winning performance.

But they have stars all over the pitch with Cody Walker, Cameron Murray and Damien Cook also looking at the top of their game.

This is another game that could go to the wire and do not rule out more golden-point drama.

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