Anthony Milford of the Brisbane Broncos.
Anthony Milford of the Brisbane Broncos. DAN PELED

Who has the aces in the bid for glory?

WITH the NRL finals here, WAYNE HEMING identifies the likely game-breakers and X-factor players for each of the eight surviving clubs.


Tonight, elimination final at Suncorp Stadium

SPORTSBET ODDS: Brisbane $1.28, Gold Coast $3.85.

BRISBANE: Game-breakers: Matt Gillett, James Roberts. X-factor: Anthony Milford (pictured).

GOLD COAST: Game-breakers: Ash Taylor, Ryan James. X-factor: Jarryd Hayne.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Played 34, Brisbane 27, Gold Coast 7. At venue: Played 14, Brisbane 13, Gold Coast 1. Finals: Played 1, Brisbane 1, Gold Coast 0.

FINALS PLAYED: Brisbane 53 (28 wins), Gold Coast 4 (1 win).

SUMMARY: Brisbane has got its try-line defence back in order and with wins in its past five starts goes into the clash with momentum.

TIP: Broncos.

Jarrod Croker of the Raiders.
Jarrod Croker of the Raiders. PAUL MILLER


Tomorrow, qualifying final at GIO Stadium

SPORTSBET ODDS: Canberra $1.67, Cronulla $2.25.

CANBERRA: Game-breakers: Josh Hodgson, Joey Leilua. X-factor: Jarrod Croker (pictured).

CRONULLA: Game-breakers: Andrew Fifita, James Maloney. X-factor: Ben Barba.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Played 66, Cronulla 35, Canberra 31. At venue: Played 25, Canberra 14, Cronulla 11. Finals: Played 5, Cronulla 3, Canberra 2.

FINALS PLAYED: Canberra 43 (20 wins), Cronulla 40 (15 wins)

SUMMARY: How do you stop the Green Machine, which has rolled powerfully to wins in its past 10 games?

TIP: Raiders.

Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys.
Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys. PAUL MILLER


Tomorrow, qualifying final at AAMI Park

SPORTSBET ODDS: Melbourne $1.77, North Queensland $2.10.

MELBOURNE: Game-breakers: Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk. X-factor: Jessie Bromwich.

NORTH QUEENSLAND: James Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston (pictured). X-factor: Jake Granville.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Played 32, Melbourne 22, North Queensland 10. At venue: Played 4, Melbourne 2, North Queensland 2. Finals: Played 2, North Queensland 2, Melbourne 0.

FINALS PLAYED: Melbourne 37 (22 wins), North Queensland 20 (11 wins).

SUMMARY: This is the clash between the defending premiers and the minor premiers and to some, a possible preview of next month's grand final. The Storm strangle teams with their wrestle defence and discipline while but their rivals can score from anywhere on the field.

TIP: Cowboys.

Bryce Cartwright from the Panthers.
Bryce Cartwright from the Panthers. BRENDAN ESPOSITO


Sunday, elimination final at Allianz Stadium

SPORTSBET ODDS: Penrith $1.50, Canterbury $2.57.

PENRITH: Game-breakers: Matt Moylan (pictured), Bryce Cartwright. X-factor: James Fisher-Harris.

CANTERBURY: Game-breakers: Josh Reynolds, James Graham. X-factor: Moses Mbye.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Played 89, Canterbury 51, Penrith 35, drawn 3. At venue: Played 1, Canterbury 1, Penrith 0. Finals: Played 3, Canterbury 2, Penrith 1.

FINALS PLAYED: Penrith 21 (10 wins), Canterbury 92 (51 wins).

SUMMARY: Canterbury has wobbled into the finals while Penrith has found some eye-catching form on the back of captain Matt Moylan.

TIP: Panthers.

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