Finals Series puzzle complete

Minor premiers St George Illawarra Dragons and the second-placed Penrith Panthers sounded an ominous warning to their rivals in the past 24 hours after delivering crushing blows to their opponents leading into week one of the 2010 Telstra Premiership Finals Series to be played at the Gold Coast and Sydney this week.

The Penrith Panthers beat the lowly Cronulla Sharks 50-12 on Saturday night to snatch second place from the Tigers; while the Dragons, despite missing four players including captain Ben Hornby and five-eighth Jamie Soward, blew the Rabbitohs off the park at WIN Jubilee Oval in the first half tonight (Sunday) before registering an emphatic 38-24 victory.

South Sydney had everything to play for and could have clinched a finals berth if they beat the Dragons by five points. The Rabbitohs' collapse saw 2008 premiers Manly Sea Eagles sneak into the top eight (as follows) for this week's Qualifying Finals in what promises to be an exciting Finals Series. The top eight are as follows:

1. St George Illawarra Dragons
2. Penrith Panthers
3. Wests Tigers
4. Gold Coast Titans
5. New Zealand Warriors
6. Sydney Roosters
7. Canberra Raiders
8. Manly Sea Eagles.

While South Sydney got knocked out of the eight in the Telstra premiership, their young guns won the Toyota Cup minor premiership.

The Week One Qualifying Finals kick off at the Gold Coast on Friday night (September 10) with the Titans against the Warriors; followed by two games in Sydney on Saturday night - Tigers/ Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium and Panthers/ Raiders at Penrith; and the Dragons/ Sea Eagles at Kogarah on Sunday.

The sell-out crowd for the Dragons game tonight highlighted the importance of pre-purchasing your tickets for the Finals Series. The Dragons' crowd of 18,274 took the total regular season attendance for the 2010 Telstra Premiership to the highest in history with a total of 3,151,039, smashing the previous record of 3,081,874 set last year. It is just the fourth time in history that regular season attendances have surpassed three million.

Ticketed Club Members of Telstra Premiership Finals teams will have priority access to tickets for Week One Qualifying Finals tomorrow (Monday, September 6), ahead of their release to the general public from 9am on Tuesday (September 7). You can still register now on MyNRL for Monday night's ticket pre-sale.

It is important to note that on-sale dates, the number of tickets you can buy and access to your regular season seat will vary from ground to ground in Week One Home Qualifying Finals.

All fans should consult either their club or NRL.com for specific match details. In all cases, Ticketed Club Members of competing NRL clubs must produce their pass to collect tickets ordered on the phone or at agencies.

While there are reserved away supporter areas at each ground, the size of these will vary according to ground capacity and available seating.


TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP FINALS SERIES - WEEK ONE
GAME 1:
GOLD COAST TITANS (4) v (5) NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
At Skilled Park, Gold Coast
Friday, September 10, 7.45pm

The Gold Coast Titans secured fourth spot and a home semi-final against the New Zealand Warriors on Friday night (Sept 10) after a courageous 21-18 win at home over the Wests Tigers last Friday night.

The Warriors secured the Club Championship and fifth place in the Telstra Premiership following their 26-12 win over the Eels at Parramatta yesterday.

GAME 2: WESTS TIGERS (3) v (6) SYDNEY ROOSTERS
At the Sydney Football Stadium
Saturday, September 11, 6.30pm

The Tigers' 21-18 loss to the Gold Coast Titans saw them drop a spot to third overall and they will play the sixth-placed Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.

The Roosters beat the North Queensland Cowboys 18-8 in an unconvincing display in Townsville last night. The performance cost the club fifth place on the ladder - a 15-point win was required to leapfrog the Warriors, who earlier beat Parramatta.

GAME 3: PENRITH PANTHERS (2) v (7) CANBERRA RAIDERS
at CUA Stadium, Penrith
Saturday, September 11, 8.30pm

The Panthers secured second spot and their first finals berth in six years against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday (Sept 11) after a crushing 50-12 victory over the Sharks at Penrith last night.

The Raiders locked up seventh place with an 18-16 victory over the Broncos in Brisbane on Friday night.

GAME 4: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (1) v (8) MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
at WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
Sunday, September 12, 4pm

The Dragons dismissed the South Sydney Rabbitohs 38-24, despite being without four key players and the Rabbitohs depserate to win (by five points) to grab a finals berth.

Their loss opened the door for 2008 premiers Manly to sneak into the eight depite their loss to the Bulldogs a few hours earlier.