The Finals Equation

On Thursday a loss by the Cowboys left them in a vulnerable finals position. 

Wins by Manly and the Dragons would see the North Queensland side ousted from the finals race. 

The Panthers were seemingly safe with their superior for-and-against. 

Then things got interesting when the Manly side put the cleaners through the Panthers, to consolidate their place inside the top eight. 

The 28-12 Manly win, with the Sea Eagles up 28-0 at one point of the match, had the Panthers nervous, as a 38-point loss would have put them behind the Cowboys and depending on the Dragons result, potentially out of the top eight. 

The last piece of the puzzle will play out following the Dragons and Bulldogs match. 

The early game on Saturday saw the Roosters escape with a win over the Gold Coast, while Parramatta did it tough before getting the better of Souths, securing fourth position and a game against the Storm in Melbourne. 

The Roosters will finish second and host the third-placed Broncos in week one of the finals.

Further to the above, The Telegraph has reported that the Roosters are set to play the Broncos at Allianz Stadium on Friday night, kicking off at 7.55pm, then on Saturday at 4.10pm, it will be Storm v Eels at Melbourne’s AAMI Park. 

As for the Sharks, the result of their match against the Knights tomorrow, as well as the outcome of the Dragons game following at 4.00pm, will likely impact the day and venue of the Cronulla finals clash. 

But first things first and as Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said yesterday, his team has a job to do in Newcastle before looking ahead to their week one finals opponent. 

The table as it stands (following Panthers v Manly)
Sharks 32 points – plus 61 differential (with game to play)
Manly 32 points – plus 40
Panthers 30 points – plus 45
Cowboys 30 points – plus 24
Dragons 28 points – plus 89 (with game to play) 

The possible scenarios for the Sharks
A Sharks win - they finish 5th 
- play Panthers if the Dragons beat the Bulldogs
- play the Cowboys if the Dragons lose to the Bulldogs

A Sharks loss by 20-points or less - they finish 5th
- play Panthers if the Dragons beat the Bulldogs
- play the Cowboys if the Dragons lose to the Bulldogs

A Sharks loss by 20-points or more - they finish 6th
- they would then play the Dragons if Dragons beat Bulldogs
- If Dragons lose, Sharks would play the Panthers