Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of Melbourne Storm v Manly Sea Eagles in the first NRL qualifying final. Kick-off at Sunshine Coast Stadium is 7.50pm.
This is going to be ace, isn’t it? How could it not be? The near-unbeatable Melbourne Storm with their match winning pedigree and roster of game-breakers, against the flying Sea Eagles who have soared home since the bye, catalysed by the magnificent Tom Trbojevic, the most dangerous rugby league footballer in the world.
They’re two sides with plenty of recent history, and no shortage of animosity. Both clubs are serial winners, as are the coaches, a pair of the finest in the modern game. Everywhere you look there’s something to whet the appetite.
Despite Manly’s incredible recent form, Melbourne will still head into the first final as favourites. They lost only three matches all year, boast a near fully-fit squad, and have options to cope with whatever the match situation might throw at them. They also won this match-up barely a month ago, their fourth head-to-head victory in a row. Remember, this is the season they were supposed to fall apart after Cameron Smith retired!
But nobody would dare rule out the Sea Eagles with the momentum they’re bringing to the Sunshine Coast. They are the first side since the Dragons in 2005 to finish in the top four despite losing their opening five games.
Bring it on.