Your NRL team’s run to the finals

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    The Storm take on the Sea Eagles, in a game that's sure to be tense - they always are! (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Ian Knight)

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    There are just two rounds remaining in the NRL season and there is no doubt that the final fortnight will not disappoint as teams start to display their finals credentials with the play-offs just around the corner.

    The Sydney Roosters’ (1st, 17-5, 38 points, +311) surprise loss to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (5th, 13-9, 28 points, +1) has opened up the race for the minor premiership, with the South Sydney Rabbitohs (second, 17-5, 38 points, +202) back in business following an alarming form slump which saw them lose three of four matches with Greg Inglis out injured.

    Both teams are favoured to win their ties this weekend, which will make the Round 26 showdown between the two oldest clubs in Australian rugby league very interesting and intriguing.

    The Roosters are the ones with the superior percentage; the only way they could lose the minor premiership without losing its match against the Titans is if the Rabbitohs thrash them in the final round (that is assuming the Rabbitohs beat the Wests Tigers this Friday night).

    There is another key pivotal match this weekend and that is between the Melbourne Storm (3rd, 15-1-6, 35 points, +235) and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (4th, 14-1-7, 33 points, 33 points), two of the NRL’s modern-day rivals.

    On three occasions since 2007, these two clubs have, in tandem, dominated the top of the ladder, while also sharing in five of the last six grand final victories, including one each in 2007 (Melbourne) and 2008 (Manly). Please note the wording here.

    Their showdown this weekend may as well decide who finishes third at the end of the season. This could potentially mean a first round finals showdown against the red-hot Roosters, seen by many as the favourites for the premiership, despite their terrible slip-up against the Sharks on the weekend.

    Both teams continued to show why they have been the two most consistent teams over the last decade, as evidenced by crushing victories over the Eels and Raiders respectively.

    In particular, the Storm’s victory sent a warning to their higher-ranked rivals that they are here to defend a hard-fought premiership which they won back just two years after the salary cap scandal threatened to bring the club down.

    Following the penultimate round showdown, both teams are at home to the Titans (9th, 10-12, 24 points, -25) and Panthers (10th, 10-12, 24 points, -29), respectively; by this time, both teams could still be in contention for the finals, pending their results this weekend.

    The season for Shane Flanagan’s men have been clouded by ASADA all season but the club has performed strongly on the field and so deserve their place in September this year.

    Their performance against the Roosters on Monday night was nothing short of five-star football rarely seen from the Sharks. Ironically, this came just five weeks after their worst effort of the year, when they were wiped out by this very same team back in Round 19.

    The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (6th, 12-10, 28 points, +51) endured a tough start to the season but they are looking the goods as they get set to gear up for a second consecutive finals series (the first time they have done so since 2006-7), but an improbable tilt at the premiership.

    Des Hasler’s men face the Panthers this weekend, after which is followed by a trip to Brisbane to face the Broncos (13th, 9-1-12, 23 points, -40) next Thursday night.

    The equation is simple for the Bulldogs: win this weekend and they are guaranteed to play finals this year.

    The Newcastle Knights (7th, 10-1-11, 25 points, +50) must win at least one of its two remaining matches, just to be sure, against the Broncos and Eels, or risk falling to as low as 13th by the end of the season.

    Their match against the Broncos this Friday night comes just 28 days after the two teams fought out a desperate draw in Newcastle, in what was then a crucial match for both clubs and their finals hopes.

    Exactly what were the Cowboys’ (8th, 10-12, 24 points, +35) board thinking when they decided that Neil Henry should not continue on as coach next year?

    In the four matches that followed the announcement that he would not be required next year, the Cowboys went undefeated; this includes impressive victories over the Rabbitohs, Panthers, Titans and Knights, and hauled themselves into the top eight for the first time since Round 8.

    Perhaps the Cowboys’ board should consider reversing their decision to sack Henry, if the club eventually fares well in September.

    The Titans have it tough if they want to participate in next month’s play-offs, as they have the toughest draw of the teams still in finals contention.

    The club is away to the ladder-leading Roosters this weekend, after which is followed by a trip down to Bleak City to face the defending premiers, the Storm, in their own backyard.

    The Panthers also have it equally tough, following its’ match against the Bulldogs this Saturday, they are on the road again as they take on the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, a venue which does not bring any good memories for the team.

    It was back in 2005 when the Panthers let slip what was supposedly a match winning lead at 26-6 with 50 minutes gone to lose by 36-26.

    Two teams still in with a shot are the New Zealand Warriors (11th, 10-12, 24 points, -84) and the Canberra Raiders (12th, 10-12, 24 points, -136).

    Mathematically, these two teams could still make the finals, but one team must be excluded from these calculations as not only do the two teams face each other this weekend, both have a very poor percentage.

    Going by their inconsistent form all year, it’s unlikely either team will make the play-offs.

    The final team that is in contention for the finals, but a very long shot away, are the Brisbane Broncos, all the way down in 13th.

    The Broncos must beat the Knights, against whom they had a draw with back in Round 21, and the Bulldogs in the final round, to remain in the race, otherwise the once-dominant club will have their name missing from the play-offs for only the second time in the last two decades.

    Making their last two assignments slightly easier is the fact that both matches are at home, and that the Broncos have not lost to a side coached by Wayne Bennett since 2010.

    The Wests Tigers, St. George Illawarra Dragons and Parramatta Eels all cannot make the finals, with the latter team having all but claimed the 2013 wooden spoon.

    This will make for an intriguing final fortnight of the 2013 NRL season. Which team will win the minor premiership? Who will win the pivotal third-place play-off between the Sea Eagles and the Storm this weekend? Which teams will still remain in the finals race after this weekend?

    All this is bound to be answered this weekend.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • August 28th 2013 @ 7:35am
      Pest said | August 28th 2013 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Storm didn’t win anything in 07 ,a quick look at the NRL records will confirm this ,any club in the 8 can win it on there day , will be an awesome finals series but not for the bongos ,,,,, he he he

      • August 28th 2013 @ 10:55am
        Marldon said | August 28th 2013 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        If you read the article, mastermind clearly says that the storm won the GF in 07 which they did. It was the premierships that were stripped not an attempt to re-write history. There are far too many fans out there still far to eager to jump on any recognition of the storm’s achievement over that period. The storm paid the price for their actions and it is high time that people like you got over it.

        Even murderers are allowed to get on with life after serving their sentence but the storm who only broke an NRL internal rule continue to be pilloried. Get over it !

        • August 28th 2013 @ 12:00pm
          maximillian said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          well said Marldon

        • August 28th 2013 @ 1:36pm
          Pest said | August 28th 2013 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

          Dude they cheated big time what part of that don’t you understand, fans that breathe there club will never forgive them, they dogged the NRL fans sponsors and showed there arrogance with there defiance , can’t wait for them to crumble

        • August 28th 2013 @ 3:40pm
          Tom said | August 28th 2013 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          Look the only reason that Pest said what he said is because mastermind got it wrong. He ignored the fact that storm did what they did and claimed they won in 07. We have gotten over it but you can’t going around saying it never happened. Like the murderer metaphor you used, yes they can get on with their lives after they have served but they can’t go around saying they didn’t take someone’s life. So if you want us to forget about then people like mastermind need to stop acting as though the murderer did nothing wrong. As soon as he and people alike, stop claiming Melbourne won anything during those cheating years is the day we all move past it. Pest is 100% correct

    • Roar Guru

      August 28th 2013 @ 7:52am
      no show said | August 28th 2013 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      The Rabbits won’t have to thrash the Roosters in the last round, just beating them by one point will be enough.

      If both win this weekend they will be on equal points going into the last round and if Souths beat the Roosters in the final round they will be two points ahead of the Roosters and the superior percentage will be irrelevant. It will only come down to percentages if their game is a tie or they each win one and lose one of the the final two games.

      • August 28th 2013 @ 12:02pm
        Bunny Lord said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        Exactly. If we beat the Roosters in round 26, having beaten the Tigers and they having beaten the Titans in the previous round, we will receive the MP regardless of for-and-against

        • August 28th 2013 @ 12:16pm
          maximillian said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          It does make the clash more interesting that’s for sure. The minor premiership normally doesn’t count for a lot but with the new finals format it takes on extra significance as the winner will potentially avoid the form team in Melbourne for the 1st week of the finals & get an easier game against 4th placed Manly.

          • August 28th 2013 @ 12:17pm
            Renegade said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            Yes, it’s a massive game for a number of different reasons.

          • August 28th 2013 @ 12:40pm
            mushi said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

            But conversely if the finals go according to seed they will have to play the 3rd seed in the knock out game whilst the lower placed team plays the 4th seed

            • August 28th 2013 @ 2:27pm
              maximillian said | August 28th 2013 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              that’s true but I’m sure most top 4 sides would prefer to have an easier week 1, a bye & then a home semi in week 3 as this would be a much easier run to the gf IMO. I’m just glad this round 26 blockbuster has massive ramifications for the playoffs/minor premiership as it adds to the drama.

        • August 28th 2013 @ 3:42pm
          Tom said | August 28th 2013 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

          I wouldn’t right the tigers off just. I mean just two weeks ago we only got beaten 56-14 by your prime competition xD

    • August 28th 2013 @ 9:31am
      Spiritfree said | August 28th 2013 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Actually, it isn’t that hard to see the Warriors in the finals. All they have to do is beat the Raiders at home and then the lowly Dragons in the final round. And for either the Knights or the Cowboys to lose this weekend. As both of those teams have difficult matches, it’s a good possibility, and far far more than a mere mathematical one.

      • August 28th 2013 @ 1:26pm
        Clark said | August 28th 2013 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

        Regardless of how rubbish the Dragons may be at the moment, we still have to shake off the fact that we have never beaten the Dragons at WIN. But if the Warriors do make it, the rest of the teams will be hoping to avoid them I reckon, can beat anyone on their day.

    • August 28th 2013 @ 10:49am
      Marldon said | August 28th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

      An interesting new chapter could about to be written the rich story of Rugby League in this country. We have had the Superleague wars, we have had the kicking out and readmission of souths, we have had salary cap scandals and the storm stripped of premierships and points.

      But now we could have a club that finally makes a finals appearance, wins a premiership after decades of being at the rump of the competition only to have it stripped weeks later. Don’t laugh, but this really could happen. I know that Smith has taken an “innocent until proven guilty” approach to Cronulla and ASADA but secretly they must be praying that Cronulla doesn’t make the big one let alone win it.

      Personally, I don’t think the sharks can get there. In a finals scenario the roosters, rabbits and storm will have far too big a say. Last week’s match against the roosters counts for nothing. The roosters were caught napping in the first half and were probably guilty of complacency but that won’t happen in a final. Besides, when the roosters did wake up in the second half, it was a totally different story.

      So as unlikely as this nightmare scenario might seem, it will certainly add spice to the finals series and add a bit of anxiety in the corridors of NRL Headquarters. We will just have to wait and see.

      • August 28th 2013 @ 12:16pm
        Renegade said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Appreciate what you’ve put forward here Marldon however its a hypothetical depending on the outcome of the investigation.

        I actually believe they can beat two of the sides you mentioned as they already have this year….. not sure they can beat the Storm though.

        • August 28th 2013 @ 12:41pm
          mushi said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          But winning three on the trot against top 4 teams? tough ask

          • August 28th 2013 @ 12:49pm
            Renegade said | August 28th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

            Yes that too mushi.

            I think finishing outside the top 4 is going to be their biggest hurdle… 4 straight high intensity knock out games is as you say, a tough ask..

    • Roar Guru

      August 28th 2013 @ 11:40pm
      Charlie Drayton said | August 28th 2013 @ 11:40pm | ! Report

      Up Manly!

    • August 29th 2013 @ 8:21pm
      john badseed said | August 29th 2013 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

      save for injury, suspension and shane hayne manly can beat them all

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