Souths chase NRL finals fairytale - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Souths chase NRL finals fairytale

By Todd Balym and Tom Wald 11/07/2008 06:25:16 PM Comments (0)

They've had two remarkable fightbacks in as many weeks, but South Sydney are hoping their biggest fairytale is yet to come with a berth in the NRL finals.

The 14th-placed Rabbitohs are planning an audacious assault on the NRL top eight just four weeks after staring down the barrel of their fourth wooden spoon in six seasons.

While finishing last still remains the more likely option - with odds of $9 for the wooden spoon and $13 to make the finals - the Rabbitohs are hoping scriptwriters have a thrilling finale in store for the league's most talked about side.

"Seriously we have not thought about it (finals), we are just concentrating on getting some more wins and whatever happens, happens," said in-form lock John Sutton.

"But I am pretty sure if we improve our defence and keep our attack going then anything can happen."

Souths sit just five points off eighth-placed Penrith and, assuming the top six NRL sides don't fall over in the next two months, the battle for the last two places in the finals is down to eight teams.

Injury-ravaged Gold Coast (7th, 20pts) are expected to fall considerably with a tough run to the finals while Penrith (8th, 19pts), Parramatta (9th, 18pts), Wests Tigers (10th, 18pts), Newcastle (11th, 16pts), Canberra (12th, 16pts) and Warriors (13th, 16pts) have all failed to find consistency in 2008.

The Rabbitohs have won four games straight and could possibly double that winning streak in the next month with games against fellow finals contenders Eels, Tigers, Knights and Warriors.

But a loss in any of those games, starting on Saturday at ANZ Stadium against Parramatta, would be disastrous as they face each of the top four sides in the last five weeks.

Eels winger Jarryd Hayne says his side won't underestimate the resurgent Bunnies on Saturday as their season is also on the line.

"It's really do or die in the next couple of weeks, it's really going to set us up if we can make the finals," said Hayne.

"Whatever it is (we're missing) we need to really bring it out."

While the battle for the bottom half of the final eight is intense, so to is the fight for the minor premiership and the top four.

Equal ladder leaders Manly and Cronulla square off on Saturday at Toyota Stadium in the first of several key clashes in the closing months.

Some of the key battles coming up include: Sydney Roosters v Manly (Round 20), Manly v Melbourne (Rd 22), Melbourne v Roosters (Rd 23) and Sharks v Roosters (Rd 24).

While the current top four are expected to maintain their spots St George Illawarra (5th, 22pts) and Brisbane (6th, 21pts) could mount a challenge.

The Broncos have their best players set to return from injury and an easy run home, while the Dragons are the hottest side in the NRL and chase a club record eighth straight win at WIN Stadium on Sunday against Canberra.

Despite their midseason surge halfback Ben Hornby is wary not to starting thinking finals football yet.

"We are not concentrating on how many wins we have got to get or anything like that," said Hornby.

"We are just concentrating on Canberra this week and trying to beat them.

"I think at the moment if we get too far ahead of ourselves we will go straight back down the ladder."

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