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Top four locked, one spot still up for grabs

Top four locked, one spot still up for grabs

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Manly’s win over the North Queensland Cowboys has officially put a stamp on the top four for the NRL finals – but eighth is still well and truly up for grabs.

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The Sea Eagles’ 46-18 win ensures they’ll take on minor premiers the Melbourne Storm in a blockbuster qualifying final, with the Sydney Roosters falling to fifth despite their excellent Thursday night win over the Canberra Raiders. Trent Robinson’s team must wait until Sunday afternoon to find out who they’re playing, though, with the Gold Coast Titans a chance to leapfrog the Cronulla Sharks into eighth.

The equation is simple for the Titans: beat the Warriors by 11 points or more, and a first finals appearance since 2016 is theirs. A one-point loss to the Knights in Round 24 appeared to have ended their quest for the eight, but everything has gone right for them thus far in the penultimate round. The Raiders’ Thursday night loss, plus the Storm taking down the Sharks on Friday night, has left destiny in their own hands. Sharks fans will be watching on with baited breath.

The Storm’s minor premiership also means the Penrith Panthers take on the Latrell Mitchell-less South Sydney Rabbitohs, who have rested a swathe of first-choice players for tonight’s clash with the Dragons, having nothing meaningful to play for.

Stuck in seventh heading into the round, the Knights opted for safety first in a flat 35-22 loss to the Broncos. Coach Adam O’Brien opted to play stars Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce despite resting a host of others, but hooked the pair shortly after half time with victory looking out of reach. Granted, the match was a dead rubber, but the Knights’ leaky defence will concern O’Brien ahead of a sudden-death clash with the equally rested Eels next week.

NRL finals week one fixtures

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First Qualifying Final: Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles
Second Qualifying Final: Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

First Elimination Final: Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla Sharks/Gold Coast Titans
Second Elimination Final: Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights



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