NRL finals preview – fixtures, schedule, and predictions

After 28 long weeks, the NRL has reached its penultimate weekend. Eight teams were  whittled down to six in week one of the NRL playoffs, with a further two going home last weekend. This weekend, another two go home, leaving just two teams to fight it out in the Grand Final on October 1st. Read on for our full NRL finals preview, including:

  • NRL finals schedule
  • NRL finals fixtures
  • NRL finals predictions

What is the NRL finals schedule?

The NRL finals began on Friday the 8th of September, and run through until the Grand Final on Sunday the 1st of October. Here’s a look at how the NRL finals schedule will unfold:

  • Week one (8-10 September) – two qualifying finals, and two elimination finals
  • Week two (15-16 September) – two semi-finals
  • Week three (22-23 September) – two preliminary finals
  • Week four (1 October) – Grand Final

With a total of nine postseason matches to being played, there’s plenty of fantastic NRL action for fans and punters alike. Read on for an exact breakdown of how these NRL finals fixtures are determined, and how we say they’ll pan out over the coming month. 

How are the NRL finals fixtures structured?

The NRL finals uses a fascinating approach to determine an overall winner, with those qualifying higher in the NRL ladder gaining an advantage. Here’s how each of the NRL finals fixtures is decided:

  • Qualifying final one – first vs fourth
  • Qualifying final two – second vs third
  • Elimination final one – fifth vs eighth
  • Elimination final two – sixth vs seventh
  • Semi-final one – loser of qualifying final one vs winner of elimination final one
  • Semi-final two – loser of qualifying final two vs winner of elimination final two
  • Preliminary final one – winner of qualifying final one vs winner of semi-final two
  • Preliminary final two – winner of qualifying final two vs winner of semi-final one
  • Grand Final – winner of qualifying final one vs winner of qualifying final two

With teams placed in the top four getting two shots at victory in the postseason, while those in the bottom half of the eight facing sudden death all the way through, the NRL finals are perfectly poised to deliver a worthy victor.

NRL finals preview
Photo by Icon Sport

NRL finals predictions for week three

Here at Pundit Feed, we love our rugby league predictions. Here’s how we say the NRL finals fixtures this weekend will unfold.

Penrith Panther vs Melbourne Storm

Few are giving the Melbourne Storm a chance of winning this match, considering their lousy performance against the Brisbane Broncos a fortnight ago, and the indomitable form of the Penrith Panthers. However, it’s worth noting that the Storm are regulars at this end of the season, and are unlikely to go down without a fight.

Getting annihilated in a qualifying final is one thing, losing a knockout match is another–just ask the Warriors. We say that while Penrith will have too much class for Melbourne, it will be no blowout. Back the Panthers to edge this one 1-12.

Brisbane Broncos vs New Zealand Warriors 

In the weekend’s other preliminary final, the New Zealand Warriors head to Brisbane in an attempt to dethrone the Broncos. With Brisbane being pacer-setters all season, and New Zealand struggling to defeat good sides away from home (see: week one of the NRL finals), it’s hard to see the Kiwis keeping their fairytale season alive here.

However, they’re a quality outfit with Shaun Johnson in charge, and will undoubtedly empty the tank at Suncorp in pursuit of their first Grand Final appearance in 12 years. The Warriors having their noses ahead at half time is not at all unrealistic, and would bring a healthy 7.00 (6/1) return if it were to be the case.

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About the author

Bren Gray

Bren is our resident Kiwi, and has been playing or watching sports down under in New Zealand for the better part of three decades. With 12+ years experience as a professional writer, Bren loves to dive deep into all things sport to bring the best betting analysis and breaking news here at Pundit Feed.