Logistics ruled out finals double-header
The NRL considered a double-header in Sydney for the opening weekend of finals matches but it was ruled out after a scheduling jigsaw that couldn't be completed until fulltime in Sunday's Brisbane-Manly match after the closest top 8 battle in the game's history.
With just two points separating first and eighth-place, the make-up of next weekend's finals clashes had to be decided by percentages (attack divided by defence) as fifth-placed Penrith and the sixth-placed Broncos not only both finished on 32 points but had an identical differential.
As a result, the Panthers will host the eighth-placed Warriors at ANZ Stadium, while Brisbane meet St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium after finishing with a nine-points better differential than the Dragons following their 48-16 defeat of the Sea Eagles.
Penrith's 22-16 upset defeat of Melbourne on Friday night not only enabled Sydney Roosters to claim the minor premiership but threw the NRL's finals scheduling into chaos as they had hoped to avoid pitting the Storm-Rabbitohs clash against Friday night's AFL elimination final at the MCG.
Short turnarounds meant that Cronulla couldn't play the Roosters on Friday night, while the Broncos were in the same situation as the Sharks – confining their home final to Sunday as Suncorp Stadium will host a rugby union Test on Saturday night.
The possibility of a double-header on Saturday was considered and it would have enabled both the Roosters and Warriors teams in the Holden NRL Women's Premiership to play at the same venue as their men's teams.
However, Penrith GM of football Phil Gould told NRL officials that his club wanted to play at either Panthers Stadium or ANZ Stadium, while it was felt unfair to ask the Roosters - as minor premiers - to play away from home.
A major concern was the lack of dressing rooms and warm up areas for six teams at Allianz Stadium, as last time the venue hosted a double-header two teams used the change rooms at the adjoining SCG but that would be unavailable due to the AFL preliminary final between Sydney Swans and GWS Giants.
As a result, the Panthers will host the Warriors at ANZ Stadium at 5.30pm, with the Roosters-Sharks match to be played at Allianz Stadium from 7.30pm. The Roosters-Warriors women's match will be played at ANZ Stadium at 3.30pm.
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