Please note: This story contains reference to someone who has died.
The NRL Qualifiers played over the weekend eliminated two teams, secured another two in the Preliminary finals, and now four teams are left to battle it out in the semi-finals.
Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs have secured a week of rest after winning their matches over the weekend with the Rabbits delivering the biggest upset of the year after defeating Penrith favourites 16-10.
After Latrell Mitchell was ruled out for six weeks, 22-year old La Perouse Panthers junior Blake Taaffe was called up to take his place.
In his second match at replacement-fullback, Taaffe received the thumbs up from legendary coach Wayne Bennett after playing his sixth career game.
“I think he did a tremendous job,” Bennett said post-match.
“I think we handled [the pressure with] him well but more importantly he handled himself well.
“We wouldn’t have put him out there if we didn’t believe in him. Not in a game like this.”
Taaffe also has the green and red Souths’ colours running through his veins, revealing his family ties.
“Souths runs deep in our bloodlines,” Taaffe said.
“My grandfather, Kevin Longbottom, was full-back for Souths and a goal kicker as well.”
Melbourne defeated Manly 40-12 leaving the Sea Eagles fighting for their spot against Roosters on Friday night in Mackay, Queensland.
The Roosters eliminated the Titans after a tight battle on super Saturday, defeating the Gold Coast team 25-24.
Penrith will face the Eels the following night at the same venue after Parramatta just broke through with the win over Newcastle last Sunday.
— NRL (@NRL) September 12, 2021
Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic in NSW the Grand Final will be held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for the first time ever.
Townsville has announced that they are on standby to host the NRL grand final after new cases of Covid-19 were found in south-east Queensland.
Five cases of community transmission were detected in the state on Saturday with the Queensland government flagging a lockdown if necessary.
The Grand Final is set to take place on Sunday October 3rd.
By Teisha Cloos