Saturday Night NRL returns to NINE as Finals Series looms

Bulldogs and Wests Tigers play Saturday night
image - NRL

Nine’s NRL coverage expands to four live games a week when Saturday Night Footy returns this weekend and continues up until the finals.

Round 21 kicks off tonight on Thursday Night Footy when arch-rivals – the Broncos and the Cowboys – face off in Townsville in a battle for Queensland supremacy after both had disappointing losses last week.

It’s panic stations for Brisbane, who are still a chance of making the finals. Their cause is boosted by the returning Tevita Pangai Jr, facing a thunderous clash with Jason Taumalolo, and the strong form of a rejuvenated Anthony Milford since he took the fullback’s jersey in a positional swap with captain Darius Boyd.

For the Cowboys, Scott Drinkwater has been lauded as their dangerous new fullback while speedster Gideon Gela-Mosby returns to the wing with his freakish try-scoring ability.

In Friday Night Footy the Panthers are out to snap a two-game skid and return to the winner’s circle against a hungry Sharks team in a rich vein of form. Viliame Kikau is back from two weeks on the sidelines but they lose James Maloney to a one-game suspension.

With Matt Moylan out injured, the Sharks switch the versatile Josh Dugan to fullback. Both teams are hovering right around eighth spot on the ladder, and a win will be crucial.

The return of Saturday Night Footy features a Sydney contest between the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium. The Tigers are expecting a lot of support as they chase an elusive top eight spot with an unchanged side to the one that romped over the Cowboys last week. Veterans Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah have reinvigorated them in recent weeks and need to be dominant again.

The Bulldogs are often a tougher challenge than their ranking suggests, and this one could become an arm wrestle. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak continues to be a great pick-up for them, and Will Hopoate has been in a purple patch of form all year.

In the fourth game, Sunday Footy presents one of the matches of the season when the Rabbitohs and Storm collide in a top four clash. For the Bunnies, a loss could mean dropping out of the top four, but they are boosted by Sam Burgess’s clearance to play. Hooker Damien Cook will relish the chance to line up against one of the greatest players of all time in Cameron Smith.

Melbourne sounded an ominous warning to every team after dismantling the Broncos in Brisbane last week, and they lead the competition in kick return metres by a wide margin. Adam Reynolds has had a magic boot lately, and his kicking game must be spot on for Souths to contain the ladder leaders.

 

BROADCAST TIMES

Tonight – August 8
Cowboys vs Broncos

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 9GEM

Friday – August 9
Panthers vs Sharks

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 9GEM

Saturday – August 10
Bulldogs vs Wests Tigers

Sydney                        7.00pm LIVE on Nine
Brisbane                      7.00pm LIVE on Nine
Melbourne                   7.00pm LIVE on 9GEM
Adelaide                      6.30pm LIVE on 9GEM
Perth                           5.00pm LIVE on 9GEM

Sunday – August 11
Rabbitohs vs Storm

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