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Run home to NRL finals

SCENARIOS FACING SIDES IN CONTENTION FOR THE NRL FINALS
Run home to NRL finals
by AAP

SCENARIOS FACING SIDES IN CONTENTION FOR THE NRL FINALS:

SOUTH SYDNEY (1st, 40pts, +216) - Last round v Roosters (h)

Need to beat bitter rivals Sydney Roosters to claim their first minor premiership since 1989. Fullback Greg Inglis is unlikely to rest his ailing knee given he played against the Tigers. Lowest they can finish is second.

Sydney Roosters (2nd, 38pts, +303) Last round v Rabbitohs (a)

Despite the loss to Gold Coast, the scenario is still the same for the Roosters - beat Souths and claim the minor premiership. More important than the minor premiership however could be the confidence of a win, with the Roosters now having lost two on the trot.

MANLY (3rd, 35pts, +234) - Last round v Panthers (h)

Will finish third if they beat Penrith, provided Storm don't win as well and make up a 19-point gap in points differential. Anthony Watmough and Brett Stewart are no certainties to play but they'll end the season no lower than fourth regardless of the result.

MELBOURNE (4rd, 35pts, +215) - Last round v Titans (h)

Same scenario as Manly - can't go anywhere but third or fourth, which means coach Craig Bellamy may take the opportunity to rest a few of his big names.

CANTERBURY (5th, 30pts, +71) - Last round v Broncos (a)

Will finish either fifth or sixth, which doesn't mean a whole lot because their opponent won't be determined until Sunday anyway, three days after they take on Brisbane. Another team which could rest weary bodies.

CRONULLA (6th, 30pts, -12) - Last round v Raiders (a)

Same situation as Canterbury, but as the last game of the round will know exactly what a win or loss will do to their standing, which may effect just who coach Shane Flanagan puts out there. Would be quite happy to give skipper Paul Gallen the week off if he gets banned for a crusher tackle.

NEWCASTLE (7th, 27pts, +58) - Last round v Eels (h)

Wins by the Titans and Cowboys mean the Knights still aren't safe. A win over last placed Parramatta will secure seventh spot. A loss could be catastrophic. They would drop to eighth if one of the Cowboys, Titans or Warriors win in the final round. They will drop out of the eight altogether if two of those sides win.

NORTH QUEENSLAND (8th, 26pts, +48) - Last round v Tigers (h).

Amazingly for a team written off just a month ago, the Cowboys just need to beat the lowly Tigers at home on Saturday night to make the finals. A loss and wins to either the Titans or the Warriors will see them miss out. Luckily for the Cowboys, they will know before running out against the Tigers exactly what they have to do - with the Titans and Warriors playing earlier in the day.

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GOLD COAST (9th, 26pts, -17) - Last round v Storm (a)

As if beating the Roosters to keep their finals hopes alive wasn't enough, the Titans now need to back it up again away from home against premiers Melbourne. They also need the Cowboys or Knights to lose.

WARRIORS (10th, 26pts, -50) - Last round v Dragons (a)

Top eight hopefuls after demolishing Canberra on Saturday, their prospects suddenly dimmed after upset wins by Gold Coast and North Queensland. A win over the Dragons in Wollongong - where they haven't won in a long time - may look relatively easy, but then they will still sweat on two of the Cowboys, Titans and Knights losing their games.


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