|=|Manly & Canberra hold Playoff Fate in their own hands.
Round 26 of the NRL Premiership is upon us but we still have four teams contesting the final two spots in the Top 8.
Manly & Canberra sit on 28 points - two clear of the chasing pack.
Manly +41 are in 7th on differential ahead of Canberra +4 in 8th spot - with South Sydney +31 and Brisbane -25 chasing in 9th & 10th respectively.
The equation for playoff qualification is this:
If Manly or Canberra win - they make the Finals.
For South Sydney to qualify they need to beat St.George-Illawarra and rely on one of Manly or Canberra losing. If Canberra lose and the Rabbitohs win - South Sydney will qualify with a superior differential to Brisbane (who would beat Canberra in this scenario). If Manly lose and the Rabbitohs win - South Sydney will need Canterbury to beat Manly by at least 10 points to allow the Rabbitohs to qualify by beating the Dragons by any margin.
For Brisbane to qualify they need to beat Canberra by at least 15 points to jump past the Raiders on differential and rely on South Sydney losing to St.George-Illawarra. Mathematically Brisbane can leap-frog Manly but would have to beat Canberra by 40 then have Manly lose by 20 to Canterbury.
Further up the ladder - St.George-Illawarra are Minor Premiers, while the Tigers can clinch 2nd spot by beating the Titans - and the Titans could drop to as low as 6th with a loss.
Check out the rest of the Game Previews below or listen to the Podcast which goes into each game in depth.
To read the rest of this article click the link below. NOT THE FOOTY SHOW VIDEO PREVIEW ROUND 26
As we enter Round 26 of the 2010 Premiership - 10 teams remain in the hunt for the 8 playoff spots. But as pointed out above - winning alone won't be enough for the Broncos & Rabbitohs who sit out of the Top 8 at this stage.
|=| VOTE 1 WAZ for Digital Dragon + Waz is joined by Nic & Matt to talk all things Rugby League and in a guest spot - Alexander Lucas offers his suggestions to improve Monday Night Football + Matt joins Waz to talk QLD Cup, Kostya Tszyu's no-show and the Raiders playing the Broncos this Friday Night - are the rumours that Lockyer & Hodges will play true? Plus we ask the question - should all tries in the Finals be referred to the Video Referee? + Nic & Waz take you through the Round 25 Review and then dissect Round 26 - the Final Regular Season Round + NRL Tweet Player of the Year Update - Only 3 Players Can Win + What are the Injuries & Suspensions Picked up in Round 25? + What is our favourite banner of all time?
|=| Wednesday's Market: BRI $2.60 v CAN $1.50 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup)
|=| Wednesday's Preview:Canberra have their playoff destiny in their hands... Brisbane need to win and win by at least 15 points to put themselves in with a chance of a playoff spot. But even then the Broncos need the Rabbitohs to lose on Sunday night. This game pits one team full of confidence in the Raiders vs a team that has zero in the Broncos... but the real question is what kind of impact will Darren Lockyer have if he plays?
Canberra have everything to play for and Brisbane are up against it to make the Finals even if they win... take the Raiders on the road.
|=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): Brisbane failed to name Darren Lockyer because of a rib injury and Peter Wallace was left out of the team after injuring himself against the Warriors. Ben Hunt moves to halfback and Nick Kenny joins the bench. Canberra have kept Reece Robinson on the wing but have lost Alan Tongue to a calf injury - the Raiders have added Trevor Thurling, Travis Waddell & Troy Thompson to the bench.
Update September 3: The whispers from Brisbane have indicated both Darren Lockyer and Justin Hodges may play... Sam Thaiday is however in doubt but Peter Wallace will try and play with a busted shoulder with Corey Norman making way. Canberra have Joe Picker in some doubt but still have to decide between Danny Galea and Travis Waddell for the final bench spot with Trevor Thurling likely to play and Troy Thompson missing out.
|=| Wednesday's Market: GLD $1.55 v WTG $2.45 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup)
|=| Wednesday's Preview: The Gold Coast Titans blew their Top 2 chances by losing to the Sharks last weekend but can still move past the Tigers if they beat them by 9 points or more. That might be difficult given how good the Tigers are at winning close games in 2010 - but injuries to both squads leave this game down to the class of Scott Prince & Mat Rogers v Benji Marshall & Robbie Farah at Skilled Park.
Both teams have injury issues... but if Gareth Ellis lines up for the Tigers they'll sew up 2nd spot.
|=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): Gold Coast gain Anthony Laffranchi from a shoulder injury but Luke Bailey is in doubt with a thumb injury - as is Mat Rogers with a hip injury. The Tigers lost Chris Lawrence, Wade McKinnon & John Skandalis to injury in the Storm game and have named Geoff Daniela, Willie Mataka & Daniel Fitzhenry as their replacements.
Update September 3: Luke Bailey is out for the Titans and has been replaced by Luke O'Dwyer on the bench. Greg Bird moves to the backrow and Laffranchi goes to prop. Preston Campbell is likely to be held back until the first week of the Finals. The Tigers lost Geoff Daniela mid-week and will probably play either Fitzhenry or Sean Meaney at fullback and shift Mitch Brown to the centres. Sam Latu travelled to the Gold Coast with the team as 18th man which suggests Gareth Ellis will play despite a calf injury.
|=| Wednesday's Market: PAR $1.90 v WAR $1.95 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup) |=| Wednesday's Preview:Parramatta's season ended last weekend in a whimper against the Rabbitohs and although Parramatta skipper Nathan Cayless will retire at the end of the game... the Eels were woeful the week before and the Warriors crushed the Broncos by 32 points. The Cayless factor is worth considering and the Warriors are on the road... But if the Warriors win they could jump into the Top 4 if the Titans lose - go with the Warriors regardless. Full Preview in the NOT The Footy Show Podcast out Thursday September 2 on iTunes. |=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): Parramatta moves Jeff Robson back into halfback with his return from injury and Daniel Mortimer moves to the bench with Anthony Mitchell making way. The Warriors added Joel Moon to the squad as cover for Jerome Ropati. Micheal Luck is likely to be held back until the First Week of the Finals. Update September 3: Eels should be 1-17 although Jeff Robson may be a late scratching. Jerome Ropati is in doubt after failing to finish his comeback match from a groin injury against the Broncos. Joel Moon remains on standby.
|=| 15th North Queensland Cowboys: 5-18, 417-649, -232, 14pts.
|=| 6th Sydney Roosters: 13-10, 541-502, +39, 30pts.
|=| Wednesday's Market: NQL $3.70v SYD $1.28 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup)
|=| Wednesday's Preview:North Queensland have been out of contention for so long - they will be looking forward to this match because it means that a horrible 2010 season will be over. The Roosters on the other hand will be playing Finals Footy after finishing with the Wooden Spoon last year - so they should rip the Cowboys apart at Dairy Farmers if they are fair dinkum.
Back the Sydney Roosters to win and win easily at Dairy Farmers.
|=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): North Queensland have moved Matt Bowen back to fullback for his 200th 1st Grade Game and Shannon Gallant makes way and Anthony Watts joins the bench. The Roosters named Anthony Minichiello to return from a hamstring injury but he's still 50/50. Martin Kennedy & Lopini Paea have also joined the bench with Jonathan Ford and the suspended Daniel Conn missing out.
Update September 3: Braith Anasta said on NRL Tactics that Minichiello is 'questionable' for this game with Kane Linnett on the plane to Townsville as cover. The Cowboys may make some late changes but Ty Williams will play his final NRL game before retiring.
|=| Wednesday's Market: PEN $1.36 v CRO $3.15 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup)
|=| Wednesday's Preview: Penrith secured a home final by beating the Bulldogs but can still finish as high as 2nd if the Titans beat the Tigers. That is of course if they beat the Sharks at CUA given Cronulla's recent form. There is no Civoniceva & Walsh for the Panthers and those are two big losses... although the Panthers were pretty ordinary with them on Monday Night. Cronulla are a chance here given they will have more confidence entering the game than they have all year.
Penrith are at home and won't play as poorly as they did against Canterbury - they'll beat the Sharks.
|=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): Penrith lost Petero Civoniceva to suspension and he is out until the 2nd week of the Finals. Luke Walsh suffered an ankle injury late in the win over Canterbury and is replaced by Wade Graham. Tim Grant comes in for Civoniceva and Daine Laurie is also added to the bench. Still no Lachlan Coote for the Panthers. Cronulla have kept the same 17 that beat the Titans. This will be Trent Barrett & Luke Covell's last games in the NRL - both are retiring.
Update September 3: Michael Jennings may be a late scratching with a shoulder injury given the Panthers secured their home final last weekend. Grant should play despite his ankle injury while Daine Laurie is likely to miss out. Cronulla may lose Taulima Tautai to an injury with Trent Grubb a chance of making his 1st Grade debut.
|=| Wednesday's Market: MEL $1.08 v NEW $8.00 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup) |=| Wednesday's Preview:Once Melbourne were handed their heavy penalties for busting the Salary Cap - there were two games they were certainties to win. Game one was the match after the sentence (they smashed the Warriors 40-6 in Round 7) and Game two will be this Sunday in the final match this team plays together against the Knights. Even if Newcastle had Kurt Gidley they'd still be long odds and only a monumental brain snap by the Storm in front of their home fans can give the Knights a chance. The Storm will win this game... and they could rack up a huge score in the process. Full Preview in the NOT The Footy Show Podcast out Thursday September 2 on iTunes. |=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): Melbourne have named all their departing players (Greg Inglis, Brett White, Brett Finch, Aiden Tolman, Ryan Hoffman & Jeff Lima) and recalled Sika Manu from a one week rest. Tolman & Finch are in doubt however with rib & hand injuries with Luke Kelly & Jesse Bromwich on standby. The Knights lost Shannon McDonnell & Kurt Gidley to injury last weekend with Wes Naiqama & Scott Dureau their replacements. Joel Edwards and Cameron Ciraldo join the bench. Update September 3: Finch is definitely out while Tolman is a game day decision. The Knights may lose Ben Cross to a broken hand but if he plays they will choose their 18th man when on game day. Kevin Naiqama will make his NRL debut for Junior Sa'u who is out with a hamstring strain.
|=| Wednesday's Market: MAN $1.42 v CBY $2.85 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup) |=| Wednesday's Preview:Massive afternoon for Manly as they can either secure a playoff spot with a win or a draw... or put themselves in a position where they have to rely on the Dragons beating the Rabbitohs to play again in 2010. They'll have to do it without influential forward Glenn Stewart who is suspended until the Grand Final while Anthony Watmough is still carrying a serious leg injury and is no certainty to last the match. The Bulldogs on the other hand blew a 16-0 lead after 11 minutes before losing 24-18 to the Panthers and might have the attacking potency to win this... if Kevin Moore allows them to use them. At this stage I'm picking the Bulldogs to spring an upset and make the Sea Eagles sweat it out on Sunday Night. Full Preview in the NOT The Footy Show Podcast out Thursday September 2 on iTunes. |=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): Manly lost Glenn Stewart to suspension and moved Joe Galuvao into the starting lineup. Josh Perry was named to return from a leg injury on the bench, while Ben Farrar is listed at fullback. Anthony Watmough & Brent Kite are in doubt however. Canterbury retained the same 17 that lost to the Panthers and may start Ben Barba at centre once again with Jamal Idris moving to the backrow. Update September 3: Watmough & Kite are still in doubt but given it is a Sunday game - they may be right by then. Jamal Idris is in doubt with a shoulder injury.
|=| 9th South Sydney Rabbitohs: 11-12, 560-529, +31, 26pts .
|=| Wednesday's Market: STI $1.28 v SOU $3.70 (Graphic is Tuesday's Team Lineup) |=| Wednesday's Preview:The Dragons are already Minor Premiers but they will not want to have the J.J. Giltinan Shield paraded to their fans around WIN Jubilee after a loss... plus they need to keep some form going into the Finals so they have plenty to play for. The Rabbitohs will either have everything or nothing to play for - if Canberra & Manly win before this game kicks-off - the Bunnies are dead in the water for 2010. If only one wins... they are a chance if they can beat the Dragons at Kogarah... St.George-Illawarra won't let this game slip... Souths will have to take it away from them but I can't see it happening. Full Preview in the NOT The Footy Show Podcast out Thursday September 2 on iTunes. |=| Team Selection + Fantasy News August 31 (Friday's Update with help from SMH's Late Mail): St.George-Illawarra have brought Beau Scott back from a hamstring injury and named an extended bench including Luke Priddis (who will retire at the end of 2010), Kyle Stanley & Jon Green. South Sydney get Eddy Pettybourne back but lost Jason Clark to a hamstring injury. Update September 3: It appears Luke Priddis will get a farewell game at the expense of Jarrod Saffy, Trent Merrin or Matt Prior with Nick Emmett, Jon Green & Kyle Stanley missing out. Stanley could be a late inclusion after Jamie Simpson suffered a slight calf strain at training on Thursday. Beau Scott will play. South Sydney have some doubt over Jamie Simpson with a knee injury and Chris Sandow has a finger injury but will play.