Bulldogs NRL finals hopes hang on miracle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs NRL finals hopes hang on miracle

Nick Perry 23/08/2011 04:10:55 PM Comments (0)

Canterbury fullback Ben Barba believes the Bulldogs will need a "miracle" if they're to send off long-serving skipper Andrew Ryan with a NRL finals appearance.

Any hope of the Bulldogs making the top eight was effectively quashed on Sunday when they were defeated 27-16 by Manly at Brookvale Oval.

The Bulldogs, sitting 10th on the ladder, have the difficult task of beating top-eight hopefuls Newcastle at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

But with a significantly poorer points differential, the Bulldogs are fighting an uphill battle to win a finals berth, even if they finish the regular season with two straight victories.

Barba said despite the odds, his team would be hoping to farewell Ryan and a host of other players from the club on a winning note, firstly against the Knights and then Canberra a week later.

Joining Ryan in leaving the club at the end of the year are star centre Jamal Idris (Gold Coast), forward Chris Armit (Penrith), five-eighth Ben Roberts (Parramatta) and retiring forward Michael Hodgson.

"There's a little bit of hope," Barba said after a training session on Tuesday.

"We need a bit of a miracle (to make the finals) but, with these last two games, we have to win. If we don't, I guess that's us."

He said the Bulldogs put up a strong fight against second-ranked Manly, dominating the first half of the match without reward, but gave the game away in the second half.

"We had them there," Barba said.

"Manly's obviously a good side. If you drop off for 10 minutes or you walk for a second, they capitalise, and they did in that second half.

"The effort was definitely there."

Hardworking forward David Stagg said he had been looking at the NRL ladder but admitted he found it "difficult" to see how the Bulldogs could snatch a finals spot.

"We've just got to put in a good performance and, hopefully, rack up a few tries and maybe the differential might change a little come next week," he said.

For the second year, the Knights and the Bulldogs will be playing for the beyondblue Cup, a match held to raise awareness about depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol problems in the community.

Stagg said injured halfback Trent Hodkinson, who was cleared of a leg fracture following the Manly clash, remained uncertain for this weekend's crucial match.

"All the guys certainly want him out there. He certainly played well on the weekend - fingers crossed he'll be alright," he said.

"But if not, obviously we've got a few young guys who have certainly been putting their hands up over the last month so they'll get the job done if that's the case."

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