The race to 28 points is on.
With the State of Origin period
behind us, and the silverware back in Queensland's trophy cabinet, the
16 NRL teams have now set their minds back to the club competition.
Nine rounds remain and the make up of the top eight is still in the air.
all-Queensland grand final is looking more likely by the week with
Brisbane top of the table followed closely by North Queensland, while
the Sydney Roosters remain the premiership favourites with the bookies.
other 15 teams remain in precarious positions and will be aiming for 28
competition points, which has been the top eight cut off for the last
There is a logjam of five teams on 20 points - St
George Illawarra, Melbourne, South Sydney, Warriors and Canterbury -
occupying spots five to eight.
All five have performed well at one
time or another over the course of the season but have not been able to
put it together for extended periods.
"We've certainly given ourselves a good opportunity," Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said.
very congested and we can go up quickly or we can go down quickly. We
just have to keep focusing on performance but there's no doubt that our
expectations are that we are in the finals at the end of the year."
Just outside the eight are Cronulla and Penrith and no-one will be writing either side off.
Panthers are showing promising signs after getting senior players back
and Cronulla have claimed some big scalps (Roosters, Cowboys and
Rabbitohs) this year.
Behind them on 16 points are Gold Coast,
Parramatta, and Canberra, who play Newcastle on Friday night. They all
look like they have too much to do.
As do Manly who will fail to
play semi-final football for the first time in a decade unless they can
string together seven wins from nine games.
between the Gold Coast and Manly will have extra spice - being Daly
Cherry-Evans' first visit to Cbus Super Stadium since reneging on his
deal to join the Titans. It will also be key to both sides' quickly
fading finals hopes.
"With nine games to go we'd have to win six
really and there's quite a few teams in the same boat," Titans coach
Neil Henry said.
"This game (Manly on Monday night) is really
important to us and then we've got the Knights away ... Manly are
fighting now, they've got a little bit of momentum with a couple of wins
in the past few weeks, they'll be keen, got their full-strength