|=|Are the Canberra Raiders poised for Playoff Miracle?
If you had asked me six weeks ago if the Canberra Raiders were going to make the Finals - I'd have responded with the following remark: "Yeah... sometime in the next decade."
Given it is 2010 - the start of a new decade, the next decade in question would begin in 2020... and when Canberra comes off playing some of the most pathetic football ever seen during losses to the Cowboys, Tigers, Bulldogs & Roosters - all games in which they were in positions to win yet produced nothing when the game was there to be won - my comment held some serious weight.
But I forgot one crucial ingredient that makes up the 2010 NRL Premiership - no one is actually very good.
As a result the Canberra Raiders have since won 5 of their next 6 games and on Sunday knocked off the St.George-Illawarra Dragons 32-16 - the team that will be Minor Premiers.
Canberra's Scott Logan runs over Dean Young on Sunday Afternoon in Canberra.
Now that's not to say the Raiders didn't deserve to win - they were error free and played superbly in the 2nd half when David Furner introduced a genuine hooker into the game - but it speaks volumes for how poor the overall standard of teams is in today's game.
Yes there are some great players running around but team wise - if you look at this competition with objective eyes - it is pretty clear that no one team is a sure thing to play in the Grand Final, let alone win the premiership.
What it does mean however is we still have 12 teams in mathematical contention for the Top 8 with just 2 rounds remaining - but with Canberra's win they just became the 9th team that holds their playoff destiny in their own hands.
If they defeat the North Queensland Cowboys & Brisbane Broncos in their final two regular season games - they will be playing Finals Football in September.
Yet six weeks ago - Canberra's playoff chances looked a tad less immediate.
Welcome to the averageness that is the NRL in 2010.
Terry Campese celebrates his try v Dragons... but no Terry - Canberra aren't in the Top 8 yet. Add a finger.
In other Round 24 results - Gold Coast kept 2nd spot by beating the Roosters 23-14, Manly beat the Warriors 19-16, Melbourne were too good for Cronulla 24-4, Penrith obliterated the Bunnies 54-18, Newcastle also ran through the Broncos 44-18, Canterbury left it very late to down the Cowboys 22-20 and the Wests Tigers edged out the Eels 20-18.
You can find all the results in detail below with NRL Highlights of Every Game and our take on the match with The NRL Tweet Recap.
Latest Rugby League Podcast 18th August, 2010:
NOT The Footy Show Episode 35 - Round 24 NRL Preview Podcast -
#NRL Recap:Penrith obliterate Souths 54-18 at CUA Stadium, as fullback Michael Gordon bags 30 individual points (3 Tries & 9/10 Goals). Souths have 5 good minutes in between 75 terrible ones & Penrith are nothing short of awesome in the opening 20 minutes.
54 |=| Penrith Panthers:
M Gordon 3, S Earl 2, T Burns 2, S McKendry, M Iosefa Tries; M Gordon 9/10 Goals.
18 |=| South Sydney Rabbitohs:
L Capewell, R Wesser, D Farrell Tries; C Sandow 3/3 Goals.
|=| NRL Recap:Canberra's game plan of rolling forward is nearly unstoppable if they don't make errors - as the Dragons find out despite leading 4-0 at halftime. Raiders rout Dragons in 2nd half to win 32-16 in front of packed Canberra Stadium.
32 |=| Canberra Raiders:
D Vidot, T Campese, A Mogg, J Dugan, J Picker, G Buttriss Tries; J Croker 4/6 Goals.
16 |=| St.George-Illawarra Dragons: B Morris, M Gasnier, N Costigan Tries; J Soward 2/3 Goals.
|=| NRL Recap:Wests Tigers edge out Parramatta 20-18 in front of a sell out crowd at Parramatta Stadium. Tigers build a 20-6 lead before the Luke Burt's shocking penalty miss ends the Eels comeback in the final minutes.
18 |=| Parramatta Eels:
K Inu, J Horo, A Mitchell Tries; L Burt 3/4 Goals.
20 |=| Wests Tigers:
B Ryan 2, C Lawrence, A Fifita Tries; B Marshall 2/4 Goals.