Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 25: Jostling for positions

And then there were nine. The final round of the NRL will be all about positioning for the finals. Three matches this weekend will be irrelevant but the other five promise quite a deal of interest. Here’s how I think it will resolve itself.

 

The Storm v Cowboys, Titans v Dragons and Panthers v Knights games will have no bearing on the finals make-up. Storm will be minor premiers and the other five can plan for Mad Monday. Just for the record, my tips for those games are Storm, Dragons and Panthers.

 

The Rabbitohs look safe in fourth spot. They can only lose the double chance if they go down to the Roosters and the Sea Eagles have a huge win over the Eels. The first is probable, the second highly unlikely. So it’s the imposing Roosters to beat the Rabbitohs but with no net effect on the ladder.

 

Similarly, the Sea Eagles v Eels match will see them finish fifth and sixth regardless of the result. A 23+ point win to the Eels would move them to fifth but I can’t see that happening. The Sea Eagles will be much the poorer for the absence of ‘Turbo’ Tom for the rest of the season, probably ending their title hopes altogether. With Des Hasler as their coach, however, expect plenty off fight from the northern beaches lads.

 

The Raiders should be far too strong for the Warriors in Canberra, allowing the locals to consolidate third spot. A loss would see them fourth at worst. ‘Sticky’ Stuart has the capital lads humming along nicely and I expect them to do some damage yet before they bow out deep into the month.

 

The Bulldogs host the Broncos and anything could happen here. The Doggies will want to finish off a good second half of the season to set themselves up for 2020 while the Broncos will want to make sure of their seventh spot.  How good is David Fifita (to coin an overused phrase)? The Brisbane boys have shown a bit of form of late and I expect them to take this one.

 

That leaves the Wests Tigers v Sharks match on Sunday to decide the final spot in the eight and end the playing career of either Robbie Farah or Paul Gallen (and possibly Benji Marshall?). Will Farah play given his injury concerns? Can ‘Madge’ Maguire possibly leave him out? I think Farah will play off the bench but only come on for a final hurrah if the Tigers look like losing. Anything less would be an injustice (and I’m not even a fan of Robbie).

 

So it’s Roosters, Sea Eagles, Storm, Raiders, Broncos, Dragons, Tigers and Panthers for me.

 

Let’s just hope that next week’s rugby league headlines are about finals matches and not about shenanigans from Mad Monday!

 

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

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