The St. George Illawarra Dragons again find themselves getting little in the way of respect, despite hammering the Brisbane Broncos in the first finals round.
The Dragons do face stiffer competition in the upcoming game with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, with one bookie installing the Rabbitohs as 12.5-point favourites, which is just this side of prohibitive, but if memory serves, that was the same margin handed to the Broncos and everyone knows what happened.
St. George lost some backers at the end of the fixture when they lost three of their last four games heading into Round 24. The season is long and arduous and some of the Dragons were feeling like they could not continue on without hurting the club.
They had better be well rested when they take the ground at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium in the second semi-final. If they somehow survive, they face another stern test when they find the Sydney Roosters on the other side of the ball.
The Roosters will be rested and eager to go on 22 September.
The other semi-final features the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. The winner will have to travel to AAMI Park in Melbourne, as the Storm secured home finals by finishing second on the ladder of the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition.
The Grand Final awaits on 30 September, so if Melbourne can beat either the Sharks or the Panthers, it will be their turn to travel to ANZ Stadium for the Sunday evening game.
The Panthers versus Sharks game is almost too close to call. The bookies, well, Ladbrokes at any rate, has installed the Panthers as 3.5-point favourites, so that looks to be the one to watch for the objective observers.
So long as there is not undue controversy, or a ruling that disrupts the outcome, Penrith versus Cronulla looks to be a cracking final.