Just two rounds of the regular season remaining in the Harold Matthews Cup and we still have thirteen teams who can realistically make the final eight and take part in the finals.
All four of the sides that currently sit on six competition points know that two wins from their last two matches should be enough to see them finish inside the all-important top eight.
The four sides that currently sit on six points are Wests (13th), Illawarra (12th), Bulldogs (11th) and Western Sydney (10th). Even Manly who currently sit on eight points are outside the top eight in ninth place and more than likely will require two wins to qualify for the finals.
So with this in mind, let’s have a closer look at how these sides may fare this weekend.
Possibly the biggest clash of the round, certainly in relation to what we just touched on above anyways, will be the fixture between the Illawarra Steelers and Western Suburbs Magpies down at WIN Stadium. The winner will most likely be just one win away from a spot in the finals while the other side will only be going around for pride in the final round. The Steelers will head into this one with winning form after they grinded out a narrow win against SWSAS last weekend while the Magpies were no match for the ladder leading Panthers.
Another do or die battle so to speak will be the clash between the Western Sydney Academy of Sport and the Sydney Roosters out at St Marys Stadium. The WSAS currently sitting on six points would almost certainly need to win both of their remaining matches against the Roosters and Eels who sit in sixth and fifth place on the ladder presently. This seems a tough task but the boys from the west have come on in leaps and bounds in 2014 and we wouldn’t put it past them.
The other sides who most definitely need wins this round are the Bulldogs and Manly. Supporters of both of these clubs will have some reason for optimism though as they both have very winnable round eight match ups with the Bears and Storm respectively. We are certainly not saying that either of these teams can’t be a fly in the Bulldogs and Sea Eagles finals ointment, but the draw certainly has appeared to have smiled on them. In fact, the Bulldogs, despite sitting in 11th, finish the season with games against the 18th placed Bears and 16th placed Centurions, so they certainly appear to control their own destiny at this point.
Other games in round eight will see the Balmain Tigers look to lock down a top four spot when they host the Centurions at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night.
On Saturday it will be first versus second out at St Marys Stadium when the Panthers host the Knights in a possible finals preview. A win for the Panthers would almost certainly see them claim the Minor Premiership with a round to play.
Parramatta and Cronulla square off at New Era Stadium with the Sharks looking to cling on to that all important eighth spot for at least another week while down in the ACT, the Raiders could almost lock up their finals spot with a win over the SWSAS.
And last but not least the Dragons host the Bunnies at Kogarah in what looms as a must win match for the Rabbitohs.
Once again the NSWRL twitter account @NSWRL will be providing halftime and fulltime match scores and you can follow the account by clicking here.