NRL finals begin to take shape - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL finals begin to take shape

By Steve Jancetic 05/09/2010 06:02:11 AM Comments (0)

Week one of the NRL finals series is halfway to being finalised with Sunday's clash between Manly and Canterbury to play a pivotal role in determining the remaining match-ups.

The fourth-placed Gold Coast will host the Warriors at Skilled Park on Friday night after the Auckland-based side secured fifth spot on the ladder with a 26-12 win over Parramatta on Saturday night.

That left the Sydney Roosters needing to beat North Queensland by more than 15 to leapfrog the Warriors, something they were unable to achieve as they were forced to settle for sixth after beating the Cowboys 18-8 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

The Roosters will now play Wests Tigers at the Sydney Football Stadium in the early game on Saturday night, the local derby sure to attract a large crowd at a venue they both share.

Penrith locked up second spot on the ladder with a 50-12 hammering of Cronulla at CUA Stadium in Saturday night's other contest, Frank Pritchard scoring a hattrick for the rampant Panthers.

They return to the NRL finals for the first time in six years, ending the longest current finals drought of any side in the competition.

"It's been too long, it's been a long time in between drinks but it's pretty exciting," stand-in skipper Trent Waterhouse said.

"I'm just proud of the boys for their effort this year, it's been great to get second spot and I think it's thoroughly deserved but it starts again now.

"We've got a new comp starting now and I can't wait."

Penrith will now play either Manly or Canberra in Saturday night's other qualifying final.

Manly can lock up the trip to CUA Stadium with a win over the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval on Sunday.

Should they lose then the Raiders will face the Panthers, while it would also open the door for South Sydney to jump into the top eight when they play the last game of the regular season against minor premiers St George Illawarra on Sunday night.

For Souths to sneak into eighth spot, Manly must lose to the Bulldogs and the Bunnies must beat the Dragons and overcome a ten-point gap in points differential with the Sea Eagles in the process.

That scenario would leave the Rabbitohs facing a rematch with the Dragons in the first week of the finals.

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