Things are looking tight on the NRL ladder. We have six rounds left. We have one team on 30 points, three teams on 26 points, two teams on 24 points, and six teams on 22 points. The table has not been this congested in a long time. Positions in the top 8 are prime real estate and we are bound to see a few more twists and turns before the final whistle blows on Sunday, 7 September 2014.
With all that in mind, let us have a little look at the Warriors’ remaining six fixtures.
Round 21 – Raiders at GIO Stadium
Current position: 15th
Last played: Round 9, won 54 – 12
There are no two ways about it, the Raiders have been dismal. They have lost 13 games this year, inlcuding four of their last five, conceded 473 points, and scored only 340. Their only real shining light has been superstar fullback Anthony Milford (who is cutting his losses and making a move to the Broncos next year). The latest rumours are that winger Edrick Lee could make a return in the game against the Warriors but, considering their ongoing form, I doubt his comeback will be enough to have the impact this Canberra outfit require. Having such a poor defensive record, and coming up against a Warriors team that loves to score, I don’t see the score line being too dissimilar to the one recorded in round 9.
Round 22 – Sharks at Mt Smart
Current position: 16th
Last played: Round 5, lost 37 – 6
The only team whose stats make the Raiders look slightly better – but just slightly. While the Sharks have managed to win three of their last five matches, and had Andrew Fifita reintroduce himself to the comp with a bang in their round 20 clash, they’ve also managed to concede 449 points and score only 263 this season. Last time we played, the Sharks recorded a big win against a dysfunctional and disorganised Warriors outfit. This time the game is on our home turf against a very different Warriors team. I would struggle to see the Sharks causing a second upset against our boys.
Round 23 – Knights at Hunter Stadium
Current position: 14th
Last played: Round 12, won 38 – 18
One team who has showed some good form in their last few games, having only lost one of their last five (a run highlighted by their 16 – 12 win over the Roosters on round 20). While their on-field form has improved significantly, they’ve had their fair share of off-field drama. The Knights have a couple of tough matches in the form of the Rabbitohs and the Storm before they meet the Warriors. Their results against the Bunnies and Melbourne could go a long way in dictating their form against the Warriors. A few more tough wins could make them a massive danger at their home ground.
Round 24 – Roosters at Mt Smart
Current position: 5th
Last played: Round 14 (2013), won 23 – 12
A team that has been surprisingly hot and cold. Whether it is a lack of interest or desire, player fatigue, or something deeper, 2014 has not seen the Roosters consistently produce the form that saw them lift the premiership last year. Don’t get me wrong, the Roosters are still very much capable of beating any team in the competition, but a loss to the Warriors would not surprise me in the slightest.
Round 25 – Titans at Mt Smart
Current position: 13th
Last played: Round 11, won 24 – 16
A team that has experienced a steady slide down the ladder following a bright start to the season. Having suffered their fair share of injuries, and losing three of their last five, the Titans are not looking like serious top 8 contenders. Coming to Mt Smart will be a tough assignment for the boys from the Gold Coast.
Round 26 – Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium
Current position: 3rd
Last played: Round 16, won 30 – 20
The Warriors beat the Panthers in a bruising round 16 clash. It was a great game to watch and I don’t expect the last game of the season will produce anything less than another spectacle. With the Panthers having lost two in a row, as well as Peter Wallace for the season, it will be interesting to see if they can re-group and re-gain the form that saw them briefly sit at the top of the table. Round 26 is a long way away, but with the way the table looks at the moment, it could still prove vital in deciding who finishes where. This should be a cracker of a match.
In short, the Warriors play their next three games against the three bottom sides, have three games at home, and have beaten five of the six teams in their previous encounters. Things could be worse – a lot worse. With the form they’ve showed this season things are looking good for our boys to make the 8. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we wouldn’t want to jinx them in any way.
One game at a time. Bring on Canberra!
Do you think the Warriors will make the eight? Which game excites you most?