Finals countdown: Three rounds to go

With three rounds to go a seven-team race is on for the last two spots in the NRLs top eight. Photo: Photosport


The top four the Sydney Roosters (38), South Sydney (36), Melbourne (33) and Manly (31) are safe and Canterbury-Bankstown (28) and Cronulla (28) would need to lose each of their last three games to be in any sort of danger.


Its a fascinating scenario thereafter, though, with seven teams all within three points of each other ostensibly battling it out for the last two spots.


The permutations are almost limitless with all seven clubs having so much to play for.


Newcastle leads the bunch on 25 points followed by Gold Coast and Canberra on 24, the Vodafone Warriors next two opponents. None of those three sides has been in convincing touch lately, least of all the Raiders who have dropped their last three games and yesterday lost their coach David Furner in the most dramatic circumstances.


Alone on 23 are the Brisbane Broncos who have put together a run of three wins and a draw in their last four starts. Theyre followed by three teams on 22 in North Queensland, Penrith and the Vodafone Warriors. The Cowboys are there by dint of three straight wins, the Panthers win over the Vodafone Warriors was their first in five starts while the Vodafone Warriors have followed wins over Wests Tigers and Melbourne with three losses.


This weekend it will all change again for those seven desperate clubs:

The Knights with a win, a draw and two losses in the last four rounds are away to the in-form Cowboys;

The Titans are at home to the Vodafone Warriors;

Under-siege Canberra hosts the Sea Eagles;

And the Broncos are away to the Panthers;


Heres how the final three rounds play out for each club (current points and points for and against differentials in brackets):


1 ROOSTERS (38, +321)

Sharks (a), Titans (h), Rabbitohs (a)


2 RABBITOHS (36, +194)

Bulldogs (h ANZ Stadium), Tigers (a Allianz), Roosters (h)


3 STORM (33, +175)

Eels (h), Sea Eagles (a), Titans (h)


4 SEA EAGLES (31, +200)

Raiders (a), Storm (h), Panthers (h)


5 BULLDOGS (28, +59)

Rabbitohs (a ANZ Stadium), Panthers (h), Broncos (a)


6 SHARKS (28, -9)

Roosters (h), Cowboys (h), Raiders (a)


7 KNIGHTS (25, +70)

Cowboys (a), Broncos (a), Eels (h)


8 TITANS (24, -23)

Vodafone Warriors (h), Roosters (a), Storm (a)


9 RAIDERS (24, -122)

Sea Eagles (h), Vodafone Warriors (a), Sharks (h)


10 BRONCOS (23, -24)

Panthers (a), Knights (h), Bulldogs (h)


11 COWBOYS (22, +15)

Knights (h), Sharks (a), Tigers (h)


12 PANTHERS (22, -45)

Broncos (h), Bulldogs (a), Sea Eagles (a)


13 VODAFONE WARRIORS (22, -86)

Titans (a), Raiders (h), Dragons (a)


14 DRAGONS (16, -140)

Tigers (h), Eels (a ANZ Stadium), Vodafone Warriors (h)


15 TIGERS (16, -275)

Dragons (a), Rabbitohs (h Allianz), Cowboys (a)


16 EELS (12, -310)

Storm (a), Dragons (h ANZ Stadium), Knights (a)