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The most successful grand final coach of all time has kicked off the NRL’s Rivalry Rounds, declaring the 2012 premiers are about to make their move while history shows a bolter will soon emerge to challenge the leading teams.

The Telstra Premiership enters two weeks of Rivalry Round matches with just four points separating the top six teams on the NRL ladder, and only four points separating the teams positioned eighth to fourteenth.

The stakes couldn’t be higher and, with the NRL today launching its Rivalry Rounds television commercial, NRL clubs are calling on members and fans to come out in force and help spark their team’s run to the finals against some of their fiercest rivals.

Legendary coach Wayne Bennett, a seven-time premiership winner with the Broncos and Dragons, says it is over the next few rounds that the contenders for this year’s title will begin to emerge.

“I wouldn’t start giving anybody Premiership material tags right now, the competition is really just starting again after the Origin and it will be another two or three weeks before the contenders start to show themselves,” Bennett said at ANZ Stadium, following the Knights’ clash with the Rabbitohs.

“My experience has been the next two or three weeks will start to sort it out, when all the teams have their star players back and their star players start to feel a bit better about themselves (after the demands of Origin).”

Over the next two weeks the Telstra Premiership will feature a host of classic rivalries, from the Knights and Sea Eagles, to the Dragons and Sharks, Roosters v Rabbtiohs, Titans and Broncos, Cowboys and Wests Tigers, Rabbitohs and Dragons and Sea Eagles v Bulldogs, as well as season-defining encounters such as the Raiders against the Titans.

It all begins on Friday night with the blockbuster between the Broncos and last year’s grand finalists the Warriors in Brisbane, and the showdown between the high-flying Bulldogs and arch rivals the Eels at ANZ Stadium, with their famed 1980s rivalry to be celebrated with an 80 minutes of madness ticket sale tomorrow from 1pm-2.20pm through Ticketek.

The Rivalry Rounds mark the official start of the Telstra Premiership ‘Glory Bound Rounds’ and the countdown to the Telstra Premiership Finals.

It’s a countdown that NRL Stats have revealed will bring more than just bragging rights for fans. Since 1998:  

•    On only three occasions have both the teams ranked first and second after Round 18 made the Grand Final;  

•    On all but three occasions a team within the top four at the end of Round 18 has won on Grand Final day;

•    A ‘bolter’ has traditionally emerged in the weeks following Round 18, including the Eels in 2009 and Wests Tigers in 2005.

“Now is the time for every member and fan to book their seat in the stands, show their club colours and help their team win through to the Telstra Premiership Finals,” NRL Interim Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, said today.

Rivalry Round 19
Friday, 13 July:
Bulldogs v Eels, 7.35pm ANZ Stadium | Buy Tickets
Broncos v Warriors, 7.35pm Suncorp Stadium | Buy Tickets

Saturday, 14 July:
Knights v Sea Eagles, 5.30pm Hunter Stadium | Buy Tickets
Storm v Cowboys, 5.30pm AAMI Park | Buy Tickets
Wests Tigers v Panthers, 7.30pm Campbelltown Stadium | Buy Tickets

Sunday, 15 July:
Raiders v Titans, 2pm Canberra Stadium | Buy Tickets
Dragons v Sharks, 3pm WIN Stadium | Buy Tickets

Monday, 16 July:
Roosters v Rabbitohs, 7pm Allianz Stadium | Buy Tickets


Rivalry Round 20
Friday, 20 July:
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs, 7.35pm Brookvale Oval | Buy Tickets
Titans v Broncos, 7.35pm Skilled Park. | Buy Tickets

Saturday, 21 July:
Warriors v Knights, 7.30pm Mt Smart Stadium (5.30pm NSW/QLD/Vic) | Buy Tickets
Rabbitohs v Dragons, 7.30pm ANZ Stadium | Buy Tickets
Eels v Storm, 7.30pm Parramatta Stadium | Buy Tickets

Sunday, 22 July:
Sharks v Raiders, 2pm Toyota Stadium | Buy Tickets
Panthers v Roosters, 3pm Centrebet Stadium | Buy Tickets

Monday, 23 July:
Cowboys v Wests Tigers, 7pm Dairy Farmers Stadium | Buy Tickets

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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