Knights beat Broncos, Gidley hurt: photos
THE Knights could face a must-win game against Parramatta at Hunter Stadium this Sunday to reach the finals after the Cowboys, Titans and Warriors stayed alive with weekend wins.
The Cowboys (26 points) shocked the Sharks 31-18 at Cronulla and the Titans (26) stunned the Roosters 30-22 in Sydney yesterday after the Warriors (26) whacked the Raiders 50-16 in Auckland on Saturday.
All three teams are within one point of the Knights (27), who are seventh after beating the Broncos 26-18 in Brisbane last Friday and can finish no higher.
The Cowboys, Titans and Warriors all play this Saturday – against the Tigers, Storm and Dragons respectively – so potentially, all three could leap-frog the Knights and push Newcastle as low as 10th heading into the game against the Eels.
Playing on Old Boys’ Day, in Danny Buderus’s last ever home game and with a 72-hour start over the Eels, who host the Dragons tonight, the Knights will start as hot favourites to beat the back-to-back wooden-spooners and reclaim seventh spot.
But if any two of the Warriors, Titans or Cowboys win this Saturday, and the Eels upset Newcastle next Sunday, the Knights would miss the finals.
In the unlikely event of the Warriors, Titans and Cowboys all losing, the Knights would finish seventh even if they lost to the Eels.
If the Knights finish seventh, the most likely outcome, they will play the team that finishes sixth, either the Bulldogs or Sharks, in an elimination final in Sydney.
If that is the Sharks, the game will be played at the neutral territory of Allianz Stadium or ANZ Stadium, and not Cronulla’s home ground of Remondis Stadium. The NRL determined this year that Allianz and ANZ would be the only Sydney grounds used for finals.
The venue allocation will be left to the discretion of the NRL but Allianz is the likely option because ANZ, Canterbury’s home ground, will be used for their elimination final.
The Sharks (30) are sixth after losing to the Cowboys and will finish the regular season away to the Raiders (24), who are out of the finals, in Canberra this Sunday.
Canterbury (30), who beat Penrith 34-14 at ANZ on Saturday, are fifth due to a superior points difference to Cronulla.
The Bulldogs play the Broncos in Brisbane this Thursday; a win would secure fifth and an elimination final.
Willie Mason giving his all on Friday against the Brisbane Broncos. Picture GETTY IMAGES