Manly facing uncomfortable home NRL final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly facing uncomfortable home NRL final

David Beniuk 22/08/2011 07:00:34 PM Comments (0)

Manly will face an uncomfortable trip across Sydney Harbour for a home NRL final against premiers St George Illawarra if results follow form over the last two rounds.

The Sea Eagles will finish second if they fall to ladder leaders Melbourne at Brookvale Oval on Friday night and beat third-placed Brisbane the following week.

There might be few certainties in the NRL, but if the Dragons fall to the Warriors in Wollongong on Sunday but beat Penrith the following week, they are likely to stay seventh.

That would set up a qualifying final between Manly and the Dragons on the Saturday night of week one of the play-offs at either the Sydney Football Stadium or ANZ Stadium.

Wayne Bennett's men pounded the Sea Eagles 24-6 at WIN Stadium in round 16, one of few highlights in a horror run of two wins from their past 11 games.

The NRL's Sydney clubs were told in December a home city, rather than home ground, rule would apply for qualifying finals.

But Manly, whose fans are not known for their travel, could run into the massive Dragons army at one of the two big stadiums.

Sea Eagles chief executive David Perry said on the weekend the club would seek to avoid playing the Wests Tigers (SFS) or South Sydney (ANZ) at their home ground if drawn to play them in week one of the finals.

The NRL's director of football operations Nathan McGuirk said no decisions would be made on venues until the top eight and their ladder positions were locked in.

"It's all up in the air right now as we can see from a few different results," he told AAP.

"Games can change very quickly and positions can change very quickly on the ladder.

"All nine Sydney clubs at the start of this season were in the same boat for home finals.

"They all understood the rules."

McGuirk said the NRL would be open to supporting clubs to bus supporters to venues.

Should results go on form, the Warriors will finish fourth and host a final in Auckland on September 9, just as the Rugby World Cup kicks off across town.

New Zealand media reported on Monday that the city will struggle to host both events.

"We've made timetable changes and put on extra buses and extra trains," Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas said.

"The question is whether there's any capacity left to serve what might be another 20,000 people going to Mt Smart."

That crowd would be boosted if, as form suggests, the Warriors' opponents are Kiwi captain Benji Marshall's Wests Tigers.

McGuirk said policing and public transport were the two biggest issues facing the Warriors, but flights and accommodation were booked for a visiting side.

"We're trying to do everything possible so that, if the Warriors qualify for a home final in week one, that we can logistically hold a home final with the cooperation of local council," he said.

McGuirk said moving the final to Australia had not yet been considered.

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