Not much news regarding Parra so just a general story about the upcoming finals .
RABBITS IN A FINALS HOLE
Phil Rothfield runs a rule over your team’s chances to make the finals and it isn’t pretty for last year’s grand finalists
THE NRL has been broken into a three-division competition – the serious contenders, the possible finalists and five also-rans battling to avoid the wooden spoon.
An analysis of the draw for the rest of the season indicates 26 points will be the cut-off point to make the playoffs and that the top eight might not be decided until old rivals the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney meet in a blockbuster opening of the new Allianz Stadium in round 25.
With 10 rounds remaining before the finals:
• The top six teams are all but certain to make the top eight;
• Five teams, including heavyweights the Rabbitohs and the Roosters, are vying for only two remaining finals berths; and
• The bottom five – the Knights, Bulldogs, Wests Tigers, Warriors and Titans — can already be classified as also-rans after 15 rounds.
We have ranked the run home for each club on the combined competition points of each of their remaining opponents in the run to September.
Of all 16 clubs, the Rabbitohs have by far the toughest draw.
Division 1: Panthers, Storm, Cowboys, Sharks, Broncos, Eels.
The Panthers, four points clear of Melbourne Storm, are paying $1.03 to win the minor premiership. They have a bye up their sleeves and games against bottomfour clubs the Wests Tigers and Warriors.
The Storm and Cowboys will fight it out for second place. The Cowboys have a bye and the easier draw with three games against “division 3” teams the Wests Tigers, Warriors and Bulldogs.
The Eels, Sharks and Broncos will fight for the remaining spot in the top four.
Parramatta has been horribly inconsistent but looks most likely to finish fourth and get a second chance in the finals.
Division 2: Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Raiders.
The Rabbitohs might be getting Latrell Mitchell back but they have the hardest run home.
The teams they play have a combined 174 competition points. They don’t have a bye and have to play the Panthers, Storm and Cowboys plus the Eels twice.
They can scrape into eighth spot on 26 points with five wins from their last 10 games.
It helps having the Knights (away), the Bulldogs (away) and the Warriors (home).
Who would have thought the Roosters would be in “division 2” at the beginning of the season? The bookies rated them alongside the Panthers and Storm as the premiership favourites.
At least they have a bye in hand but still have to play the top three – the Panthers, Storm and Cowboys – before the end of the season. It looks like they will have to win six of their last nine.
Their final game of the season, at the opening of the new Allianz Stadium, against the Rabbitohs could determine the final place in the top eight.
Division 3: Knights, Bulldogs, Wests Tigers, Warriors, Titans.
The battle to avoid the wooden spoon is as intense as it gets.
The TAB has the Warriors and Wests Tigers as $3 joint favourites.
The Titans are $5, the Knights $6 and the Bulldogs are drifting at $7 on the back of their mini revival.
I have always been a fan of promotion and relegation.
The fact we have five teams just making up the numbers for the remainder of the year is not good for the competition.
Imagine the boost in crowds and TV ratings if they were all fighting to avoid relegation.
You look at the extraordinary interest in the bottom sides every year in European soccer.
While it is still mathematically possible, the 12thplaced Knights would have to win eight from 10 or the Bulldogs eight from nine (they have a bye) to scrape in.
The Knights just aren’t playing well enough and the Dogs would have to consistently produce their form from the past fortnight, which is highly unlikely.
Still, Titans coach Justin Holbrook said there was still much to be achieved this year.
“You certainly don’t give up,” he said. “You’ve got to stay optimistic.
“Like in 2020, we’ve got to finish the season really well.
“You saw it against the Sharks, we’re still competing and trying to win games.
“We can’t just capitulate and we won’t.” — with Jen Dawson and 3 others.