Crunch time as final hopes are on the line as Round 20 of the NRL kicks off

NRL
Source: Nine Network

NRL ON NINE: ROUND 20

CRUNCH TIME AS FINALS HOPES ARE ON THE LINE

Crunch time for NRL season 2019 has arrived, with only five rounds until the top eight are decided for the finals.

Round 20 begins tonight with Macca’s Thursday Night Footy and two teams still in contention for September. Wests Tigers host the North Queensland Cowboys at their spiritual home, Leichhardt Oval. A nailbiter earlier in the season saw the Tigers pip the Queenslanders in extra time and another one could be on the cards.

Versatile Tiger Ryan Matterson has the unenviable task of defending against the rampaging Jason Taumalolo, while Cowboys fans will be rejoicing over the return of inspirational captain Michael Morgan. In halfback Jake Clifford the Cowboys have unearthed a star in the making, taking over from the great Johnathan Thurston, and he will be tested against in-form Tigers tactician Luke Brooks.

VB Friday Night Footy heads to Suncorp Stadium for a blockbuster, in which the ninth-placed Broncos must topple the competition leaders, Melbourne Storm, to break into the top eight. After falling to the Sea Eagles last weekend in a bizarre golden point period, Storm coach Craig Bellamy and captain Cameron Smith will not accept losing two in a row. The return of Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu and a more consistent display from five-eighth Cameron Munster will go a long way to righting the southerners’ ship.

The improving Broncos face a tall task, but they are up to it. Young giant Payne Haas will be locked in a tantalising battle with Storm enforcer Jesse Bromwich, and while Brisbane will rue the loss of suspended Tevita Pangai Jr, they welcome back stars Matt Gillett and Thomas Flegler.

Chemist Warehouse Sunday Footy is a battle of Sydney: the occasionally electric Eels versus the desperate and determined Dragons. While the Eels go in as favourites, their away record this season has been lacking, and that could make this one a close contest.

As the Eels sweat on the return of star Blake Ferguson, they still have plenty of weapons at their disposal, with Clint Gutherson bobbing up all over the field and the return of premiership-winning centre Michael Jennings.

Hooker Cameron McInnes has been the Dragons’ best for several rounds, and they need him and NSW Origin forwards Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell to smash the Eels pack and shut down playmaker Mitchell Moses, who currently has the most try assists in the competition.

 

BROADCAST TIMES

 

Tonight – August 1

 Tigers vs Cowboys

Sydney                      7.30pm LIVE on Nine

Brisbane                    7.30pm LIVE on Nine

Melbourne               7.30pm LIVE on 9GEM

Adelaide                   7.00pm LIVE on 9GO!

Perth                         5.30pm LIVE on 9GO!

 

Friday – August 2

Broncos vs Storm

 Sydney                      7.30pm LIVE on Nine

Brisbane                    7.30pm LIVE on Nine

Melbourne                7.30pm LIVE on 9GEM

Adelaide                    7.00pm LIVE on 9GEM

Perth                          5.30pm LIVE on 9GO!

 

Sunday – August 4

Dragons vs Eels

Sydney                      3.00pm LIVE on Nine

Brisbane                    3.00pm LIVE on Nine

Melbourne                3.00pm LIVE on 9GEM

Adelaide                    2.30pm LIVE on 9GEM

Perth                          1.00pm LIVE on 9GEM

 

FOUR DAYS OF FOOTY LIVE ON NINE

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1:

 

 MACCA’S THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTY – Tigers vs Cowboys, LIVE from Leichhardt Oval at 7.30pm AEST on Nine.

Host and commentators: James Bracey, Paul Vautin, Andrew Johns, Billy Slater, Ruan Sims, Johnathan Thurston, Brad Fittler, Danika Mason, Mat Thompson.

 

MACCA’S GOLDEN POINT – LIVE from Leichhardt Oval following Tigers vs Cowboys. It explores the big stories to come from the game and has exclusive behind-the-scenes access to players and coaches on the field and in the sheds.

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2:

VB FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTY – Broncos vs Storm, LIVE from Suncorp Stadium at 7.30pm AEST on Nine.

Host and commentators: Erin Molan, Phil Gould, Peter Sterling, Billy Slater, Sam Thaiday, Brad Fittler, Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis, Mat Thompson.

 

FRIDAY NIGHT KNOCK OFF – LIVE from Suncorp Stadium following Broncos vs Storm. It explores the big stories to come from the game and has exclusive behind-the-scenes access to players and coaches on the field and in the sheds.

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 4:

SPORTS SUNDAY – Sunday at 10.00am AEST, LIVE on Nine. This week: host James Bracey is joined by former Australian netball captain Liz Ellis, the Cronulla Sharks’ Paul Gallen, chief rugby reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald, Georgina Robinson, and more.

 

SUNDAY NRL FOOTY SHOW – LIVE from 11.00am AEST on Nine. Host Erin Molan will cover all the Round 20 action so far, with Peter Sterling, Brad Fittler and Billy Slater.

 

SUNDAY FOOTY – Canterbury Cup NSW: North Sydney Bears vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, LIVE from North Sydney Oval at 1.00pm AEST on Nine for NSW viewers ONLY.

Hosts and commentators: Peter Psaltis, Jamie Soward, Danika Mason.

 

SUNDAY FOOTY – Burleigh Bears vs Redcliffe Dolphins, LIVE from Pizzey Park at 1.00pm AEST on Nine for QLD viewers ONLY.

Hosts and commentators: Mark Braybrook, Scott Sattler, Adam Jackson.

 

CHEMIST WAREHOUSE SUNDAY KICK OFF – LIVE from Netstrata Jubilee Stadium at 3.00pm AEST on Nine ahead of Chemist Warehouse Sunday Footy. A preview of the upcoming action from the best minds in the game.

 

CHEMIST WAREHOUSE SUNDAY FOOTY – Dragons vs Eels, LIVE from Netstrata Jubilee Stadium at 4.00pm AEST on Nine.

Host and commentators: James Bracey, Ray Warren, Peter Sterling, Andrew Johns, Allana Ferguson, Brad Fittler, Darren Lockyer.

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 5:

 100% FOOTY – 9.40pm AEST on Nine. 100% Footy is the home of the strongest opinions in rugby league from the people who count. Phil Gould returns with Paul Gallen, alongside Ruan Sims, journalist Neil Breen and host James Bracey.

 

PODCAST – SIX TACKLES WITH GUS

 

James Bracey discusses the biggest issues of the week with rugby league legend and expert commentator Phil Gould on Six Tackles with Gus.

This week:

Will more technology in the NRL help or hinder the referees?

Predicting who will be in the grand final, and where it should be played