NRL top 8 race hots up after upsets - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL top 8 race hots up after upsets

By Steve Jancetic 10/07/2005 08:22:31 PM Comments (0)

A weekend of upsets and tight finishes has done little to clear the logjam for the NRL top eight, while another battle heated up at the bottom of the table.

North Queensland, Manly and Cronulla all turned in disappointing performances with an opening in third spot on the line, while bottom clubs Newcastle, South Sydney and Penrith registered all-too-rare wins.

Brisbane (1st, 30 points) and Parramatta (2nd, 26) have broken away at the top of the table to just about confirm their semi-final berths, but now only two points separate the sides sitting third through tenth.

And in an ominous sign for the sides in the top eight, representative forwards Willie Mason and Reni Maitua made long-awaited comebacks from injury in the Bulldogs' 26-24 win over the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland.

Five-eighth Braith Anasta starred with three tries for the Dogs, continuing his brilliant form from the State of Origin series.

"He just took up where he left off the other Wednesday night ... that's a super effort playing 160 minutes of football in five days at that level," Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes said.

"(Mason's) trained really hard, he deserves to do well because the rehab's been long and frustrating but he's done an excellent job keeping himself focused and motivated."

The Bulldogs (11th, 19) are now lurking just one point out of the eight, and with injured stars Willie Tonga and Sonny Bill Williams also due back on the field soon, the reigning premiers appear to be building some momentum heading into the finals.

Melbourne (3rd, 22), was the big mover following its 20-0 win over Canberra (10th, 20) on Saturday night, and the club received a further boost with NSW winger Matt King's dislocated finger injury not as bad as first thought.

It was feared King would need surgery after doctors initially struggled to get the finger back in place, but he is now considered a chance of playing in next weekend's blockbuster against the Broncos.

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