NRL fig­ures it’ll be OK

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

THE NRL in­sists it is not con­cerned that Par­ra­matta’s fi­nals elim­i­na­tion could hurt crowd fig­ures in next week­end’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nals.

The league scored a rare win over the AFL on Satur­day night, af­ter NRL crowds out­did their AFL coun­ter­parts by more than 9000 peo­ple across the semi- fi­nals week­end.

It was in stark con­trast to last week’s fi­nals where the AFL’s fig­ure was three times that of the NRL’s.

The NRL rise was head­lined by the 41,287 fans who at­tended Par­ra­matta’s loss to North Queens­land on Satur­day night at ANZ Sta­dium, the high­est Syd­ney crowd for an in­ter­state team out­side of grand fi­nals in more than a decade.

That fig­ure dwarfed the pal­try turnout just down the road at Spot­less Sta­dium as just 14,865 fans came to watch Greater West­ern Syd­ney flog the West Coast Ea­gles for the AFL’s low­est fi­nals crowd since World War I.

How­ever, Par­ra­matta’s loss to the Cow­boys could have cost the league a shot at two sell­outs next week­end.

The last time the Eels made a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal, more than 74,000 at­tended and Al­lianz Sta­dium’s 45,000 seats would likely have been full if they qual­i­fied to play the Syd­ney Roost­ers next week.

Mel­bourne’s home fi­nal against Bris­bane is also likely to sell out, af­ter the Storm were suc­cess­ful in pack­ing the house for pre­lim­i­nary past two years.

But the NRL’s head of foot­ball, Brian Canavan, said the league was not con­cerned by a po­ten­tial drop fol­low­ing the Eels’ elim­i­na­tion.

“You look at the Cow­boys, they mightn’t bring phys­i­cal peo­ple ( from Townsville) but fi­nals for the they cer­tainly play at­trac­tive footy and they’re a damn good foot­ball team as we all wit­nessed tonight,” Canavan said.

“I think our public, who are very ed­u­cated in rugby league, will want to watch them play against the Roost­ers. And the Roost­ers are on the way up.”

Canavan was un­sure what was be­hind the 1.9 per cent drop in crowds this sea­son.

“The per­plex­ing thing is that ev­ery­body within our sport and be­yond is say­ing that footy is fan­tas­tic,” Canavan said.

“Last week­end 17 points sep­a­rated the eight teams that played ... there is noth­ing wrong with the footy.”

SUP­PORT: A Cow­boys fan at the NRL semi- fi­nal against Par­ra­matta in Syd­ney on Satur­day night.

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