SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Peter Wallace of the Panthers, Paul Gallen of the Sharks, Sam Thaiday of the Broncos, Cameron Smith of the Storm, Jake Friend of the Roosters, Tim Mannah of the Eels, Daly Cherry-Evans of the Sea Eagles and Gavin Cooper of the Cowboys pose during the 2017 NRL Finals Series Launch at ANZ Stadium on September 4, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The most exciting time of the year is upon us. After 26 entertaining rounds, we have a top eight that has the potential to deliver one of the most exciting finals series in recent memory.

A runaway favourite, two traditional rivals, two late bloomers, an injury-riddled side, one of the most inconsistent sides in the comp and the reigning Premiers looking to defend their crown.


Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos 

Allianz Stadium, Friday Night

The age-old New South Wales versus Queensland rivalry resumes with a home preliminary final up for grabs when these two sides clash on Friday night. At separate times of the season, both have staked their claim to sit second in premiership favouritism and while it's the Roosters who currently hold that mantle, the Broncos aren't far behind.

Since Andrew McCullough's injury, Wayne Bennett has made a number of successful changes to his line up which have paid dividends. Benji Marshall returns this week in the halves with Darius Boyd out with a hamstring injury while Jai Arrow comes in for the injured Tevita Pangai Jnr.

The Roosters have included Aidan Guerra and Dylan Napa to their side and while Daniel Tupou, named in the extended squad, is a strong chance to play as the Roosters look to gain a 2-1 advantage over their Queensland rivals in 2017.

The Broncos claimed a comfortable victory in round six before the Roosters squared the ledger with an 18-16 win in round 13. A 71st minute try gave the Roosters victory in that game, one of 12 tries that Sydney has scored in the final 10 minutes of a game this season. In saying that, they've conceded 13 in the same time frame, something that could ensure we see some late drama this weekend.

Both sides will look to their right edge to produce four-pointers as they've scored over 70 tries between them on that side of the park in 2017, however, the Broncos' left side defence has conceded twice as more as their opposite side (33-16), something that Trent Robinson's men will try to exploit.

The Roosters have slipped up in recent home qualifying finals and with them installed as $1.61 favourites it's hard to see them doing that again this season. Despite this, the Broncos have no issues playing on the road and are coming into September in marginally better form.

This game is undoubtedly the hardest of the round to pick but we'll back the Broncos offence to have a little too much power to grab the win in an upset.

Broncos by 2.


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