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NRLW, what a weekend of finals football we had

Roosters Otesa Pule runs into the Titans wall. Matt King/Getty Images

The semi-finals in the NRL may have gone as scripted, but there were two exceptional games in the NRLW which went right down to the wire.

The Newcastle Knights led the entire 80 minutes, but the Brisbane Broncos did not give up. The game finished at 30-24 with five tries a piece, with goal kicking being the difference on the day. Jesse Southwell had 5/5 conversions and Ali Brigginshaw with 2/5.

As for the Gold Coast Titans, they beat the Sydney Roosters, who have fallen short in the semi-finals two years in a row. The Titans were composed and a huge defensive effort helped keep the Roosters to zero, for the first time since 2020.

The Roosters' injuries also went from bad to worse, with Corban Baxter leaving the field in the 26th minute, before returning in the second half and then leaving again in the 56th minute and Millie Boyle also reinjured her shoulder.

Here are your talking points.


Titans golden point wins hold them in good stead

The Roosters have had an exceptional season up until this point and were the best attacking team in the competition.

In seven out of their nine regular season games, the Roosters scored 30 points or more. In three of those regular season games, the Roosters scored 40 points or more.

With their points scoring ability, it makes it even more impressive that the Titans were able to keep them to zero.

Close games are not something the Roosters are used to and I wonder if this rattled them throughout the game. We saw players like Boyle make uncharacteristic errors and apart from a couple of line breaks from Tarryn Aitken the Roosters did not look like scoring at all.

But close games are the Titans bread and butter.

Three of their regular season games this year were decided by two points or less and the Titans won all three of those close games.

The Titans looked comfortable and confident in their game plan, took their time and took their opportunities when presented.

That was the difference today.


Players with exceptional performances

There were several players that proved to be game changers this weekend and I thought it was worth highlighting the efforts of a couple of them.

Evania Pelite broke seven tackles and ran for 262 metres.

Georgia Hale finished the season as the top tackler and made over 55 tackles in the Titans win over the Roosters.

In a losing team, Jayme Fressard never gave up and had at least two try-saving tackles.

Destine Mino-Sinapati was exceptional. She had nine tackle breaks, ran for 149 metres and scored the Titans final try, putting the game out of reach for the Roosters.

Tamika Upton was the best for the Knights, setting up two tries in the first half and then scoring one of her own in the second half. She also had three line breaks and ran for 202 metres.

Quick Hits

-- This is only the second time the Roosters have been held to zero. The first team to do it was the Broncos back in 2020.

-- Still on being held to zero, the Roosters are the first team to be held to zero in a finals match.

-- 12,689 fans turned out at McDonald Jones Stadium to cheer on the Knights, this is a record for a standalone NRLW game.

Onto the next

There's just 70 more minutes of rugby league to be played before we know who the 2023 Premiers will be.

I'm expecting the Knights to go into this game as heavy favourites; and rightfully so, they have been the best team all year.

However I wouldn't write off the Titans. At the start of this NRLW season, Karyn Murphy made her intention clear. She wanted her team to be the first Gold Coast team to deliver a Premiership to the Gold Coast. Her team have a self-professed 'junkyard dog' mentality about them and it shows in the tough, physical and competitive way in which they play.

Team lists have not been named yet but expect a big fullback battle between Evania Pelite and Tamika Upton. The forward packs are evenly matched too with the likes of Tayla Predebon, Yasmin Clydesdale and Caitlan Johnston up against Shannon Mato, Rilee Jorgensen and Steph 'Grandma' Hancock.

But the most exciting thing about this game is the teenagers who will feature for both teams. Jesse Southwell is an obvious example but other players to watch include Sinna Lofipo, Destiny Mino-Sinapati and Chantay Kiria-Ratu.