NRL clubs scrambling for finals berths - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL clubs scrambling for finals berths

By Steve Jancetic 20/07/2006 07:18:21 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers, Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters put their top eight hopes on the line this weekend as the scramble for finals berths intensifies in the NRL.

While the last rites are expected to be read for the Sydney Roosters on Saturday against the Bulldogs, defending champions Tigers and Parramatta will clash in a western Sydney shootout at Telstra Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Eels face a nightmare run home with five of their seven clashes against teams in the top seven, so they will be desperate to topple the Tigers.

While Melbourne (32 points) looks assured of the minor premiership with the Bulldogs, Brisbane and St George Illawarra (all 26 points) filling the remaining top four berths, the battle for five to eight is anyone's guess.

Nine teams remain in the hunt with only four points separating fifth-placed Manly (22 points) from a resurgent Eels (18 points) in 12th.

The Roosters (13th, 16 points) remain in the hunt but would need to win all of their remaining seven matches to be assured of a finals berth, starting with Saturday night's meeting with new premiership favourites the Bulldogs.

While 28 points has widely been regarded as the mark required to make the top eight, even that may not be enough to guarantee a run in the finals given the amount of teams bunched so close together.

The Sea Eagles enter their contest against Penrith (9th, 20 points) on Sunday knowing a win could give them some breathing space while a loss would bring them back to the field ahead of clashes against the Eels and Newcastle (8th, 20 points).

"We're very conscious of (how close it is) as I'm sure a lot of sides are, but we know we're in control of our own destiny," Manly coach Des Hasler said.

"We know what we have to do.

"We understand from Penrith's point of view this is probably their season if they're going to make the final eight."

Knights coach Michael Hagan said he hadn't looked too far ahead to contemplate the difficulty of his side's run-in to the finals.

Instead, all he is focusing on is a win against South Sydney on Saturday night.

"I don't really take a lot of notice of whether it's a hard or an easy run home," Hagan said.

"Basically all teams are very capable whether they're in or outside the eight. An example is us against Melbourne last week, we were good enough to beat them had we executed a little bit better."

But despite his desire not to assess the merits of their remaining combatants, the Knights enjoy one of the friendlier runs home with only three of their remaining matches against teams in the top eight, and with the bye to come.

North Queensland (7th, 20 points), whose season has been in freefall with only two wins from its last 11 matches, has only three games against teams in the top eight but desperately needs a win against the Broncos this weekend to regain some much needed confidence.

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