NRL season goes down to wire - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL season goes down to wire

David Beniuk 01/09/2011 06:25:01 PM Comments (0)

The minor premiership, home finals, eighth spot and even the wooden spoon will be up for grabs when the NRL's regular season twists and turns its way to a thrilling conclusion this weekend.

All eight games will have a bearing on at least one of those in a final round that is set to unfold as dramatically as the week which preceded it.

The fallout from last Friday night's mayhem at Brookvale Oval will finally be known less than 24 hours before it is all on again - for even higher stakes.

By the end of Friday night, Newcastle or South Sydney's season will be over.

One of them will be virtually assured of a top-eight spot and will be telling themselves they're not nervous as they wait to see whether resurgent Canterbury can put a cricket score on Canberra on Sunday.

The wild ride that is the NRL means few would be prepared to put their house on the Knights and Rabbitohs avoiding a draw, a result that would mean the Bulldogs make the eight with a win.

Premiers St George Illawarra will still be in the hunt for a top-four spot and a home final with a Friday night win over Penrith.

But the Dragons will need a major boilover on Saturday, Cronulla to end the Wests Tigers' seven-match winning streak, and the Warriors to beat North Queensland to stay there.

Wins to the Tigers and Cowboys would have them vying for fourth on for-and-against with Tim Sheens' side in the box seat.

Losses to the Dragons and Tigers and a Warriors win would have the Auckland side in with a chance of a home final.

"We're just trying to focus on our game and worry about getting the result we want and it doesn't matter where you finish, you've got to beat the good sides whether it's week one or two or three," Dragons captain Ben Hornby said.

No matter which way the results go, fourth spot will be sorted out by Saturday night, when the wooden spoon is also likely to be decided.

If Parramatta lose to Gold Coast at Skilled Park, the spoon will be the Eels' for the first time since 1972.

If Stephen Kearney's men win, the Titans will be hoping any Canterbury cricket score has a hint of Sachin Tendulkar on the subcontinent about it.

A massive - and that probably means record-breaking - win by the Bulldogs could leave the Raiders with the spoon.

The focus on Sunday will quickly shift to the later games, with suspensions making it tough for Manly to rack up a big win over Brisbane in Darren Lockyer's farewell and overhaul Melbourne for the minor premiership.

If it happens and the Storm, also without three banned stars, crash away to the in-form Sydney Roosters, the No.1 spot could be the Sea Eagles'.

With the Roosters-Storm clash replacing the Monday night fixture at 7pm on Sunday, fans could be left awaiting the final table until 9:00 that night.

"We've got 17 players, we put them on the plane Saturday, and those 17 players go out there Sunday night," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

"We try and play our best every week. Sometimes it doesn't happen, but that's what we're trying to do against the Roosters."

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