No coach in history has won back-to-back grand finals with two different teams so Dessie and the Bulldogs have a chance to re-write the record books if they can calm the Storm. Does Des still have the wood over Bellamy?
A win for the Storm will spark a party like it’s 1999 and help erase the pain of being stripped of their two premierships from 2007 and 2009. Will the Storm gain revenge on Hasler and stop him from becoming back-to-back Dessie?
There is no doubting the Storm’s desire to return to the top of the NRL, but they will need to take down the reigning premiers first before they will get a crack at the title. Will Melbourne secure a place in the record books this season?
A date with Dessie in the grand final is an enticing match-up but if the Sea Eagles focus too much on wanting to beat their old coach they may not make it past the hungry Storm waiting for them in Melbourne.
Midway through the season the Storm were red-hot favourites to take the title, with no team able to get close until the Sharks stopped them in round 10. Can the Bunnies find that same formula and strike down the Storm?
The ‘Pride of the League’ are the sentimental favourites for everyone except Storm fans this week. Bellamy and his big three will be looking to stomp on the Bunnies and send them to a must-win match in the second week of the finals.
It looked like the Sharks were going to be the fairytale story of 2012 but then the Raiders jumped into the top eight and now look set to shake things up. Will the Raiders run the Sharks out of the finals race?
When it comes to strike weapons the Sharks are pretty well equipped with captain Gallen and kid Carney on their list. Can the Sharks find their early season form and sink the green machine on their home turf?
It is basically do-or-die for the Brisbane boys this weekend at Suncorp when they step out against the Panthers. No one will want to be responsible for ending Petero’s career prematurely so watch out for a fired-up Broncos outfit.
It has been a long season for the mountain men and it all comes to a close this Friday. A huge Suncorp crowd is a tough road trip for any team to conquer but at least the Panthers are no longer in danger of being handed the wooden spoon.
Benji has been cleared to play but with no Robbie Farah this must-win match will be a tough ask for the up-and-down Tigers. Can Sheens pull a swifty and save the Tigers’ season against the Storm or will it be lights out at Leichhardt?
A win against the Tigers could secure the Storm the minor premiership if the Bulldogs also lose against the Roosters, but Wests will be desperate not to start their holidays early. Will the Storm cast away the Tigers season?
A late season coaching shuffle and an inconsistent year means the Warriors will not be able to go one better than they did last season. Will the 2011 grand finalists show some pride in their final hit-out of 2012 when they host the Raiders?
The last game of the regular season is always a danger game with every team playing for pride or positions. The Warriors won’t want to let their home fans down so are the Raiders really secure in the top eight?
Every game you win you are closer to a loss... well, that might be what Raiders coach David Furner is telling his team when they face the might of the Bulldogs who are on their way to a lucky 13 wins in a row.
Maybe Des Hasler is telling the truth when he says the Bulldogs are not the benchmark of the competition... winning 12 games in a row might just be a lucky streak. Will the minor premiership be sealed this weekend?
The Storm are back in form with three straight wins and with the punters giving the Bulldogs and Sea Eagles the favourites tags they could be a dark horse to snatch the premiership. But first they need to get through the Sharks.
The second half of the season has not been as impressive as the first but the Sharks are still in the top eight and ready to fight it out in the finals. Can Gallen and Carney end the Sharks’ premiership drought and deliver the Shire a shiny new trophy?
They may be the reigning premiers but to long-time Manly fans that 1997 Grand Final loss still hurts. Will the Eagles take their revenge on Newcastle by ending the Knights' finals hopes this week?
After a slow start to life under Bennett the Knights have clicked into gear and rediscovered the will to win. Will their push for an unlikely finals berth continue with a win against old rivals Manly?
For a team that only won two of its first nine games the Titans have done well to climb back up the table and fight for a chance to grab a finals spot. With just three rounds to go are the Titans still a top-eight chance?
Well, if you are going to miss the top eight you may as well have fun doing it. The Eels attack has sparked back to life in the last month as they look to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. Can the winning ways of their interim coach continue against the Gold Coast?
The Kiwis won't be playing in any grand finals this year, but with home ground advantage on their side they'll be a huge chance of victory against the lowly-ranked Panthers – and show Ivan Cleary that he picked the wrong club to coach this season.
The threat of the wooden spoon is looming for a Penrith side that risks falling into last place on the NRL ladder with a loss here. Will that be enough inspiration for Cleary's men to take the points in their trip across the Tasman?
A six-try second half against the slippery Eels has helped the Tigers step above the Dragons in the fight for the final place in the top eight, but the masters of mayhem will need to keep winning if they are serious about September football.
Dropping a game to the lower-placed Roosters could be costly to the Dragons’ finals cause and coach Price will need to rally the red V troops if he wants to outgun the freakish Tigers. It is all on the line this week for the Dragons... can they deliver?
A wooden spoon is not a good look for a coach in his first season, especially after making a grand final appearance last season with his previous team. Coach Cleary will be desperate for his Panthers to claw through the Raiders and steer clear of the cooking utensil.
Pretending their home game was an away game was a brilliant masterstroke from Canberra coach Furner and it helped the Raiders deliver the Broncos their third straight loss. Can the mind games work for the Raiders at a real away game?
The Raiders’ secret weapon is the cold Canberra climate and they will need all of Mother Nature’s support if they are to stop a Broncos team looking for redemption. Should the Raiders pray for snow?
Coach Griffin served up a bucket of displeasure for his team’s poor performance against the cellar-dweller Eels and will be none too pleased if the Brisbane boys put in a repeat performance this round.
Five loses in a row is almost unheard of south of the border but Bellamy and his boys are currently on struggle street. Can Craig fire up his team and get them back to the top of the table?
A loss against the Storm could see the Panthers edge closer to the wooden spoon. It has been a tough year for the mountain men but coach Cleary will be ready to wrestle to a win.
Speed and strength were both key factors in the Broncos’ great start to the season but the past month has seen a different team take to the field. Can the Broncos get back to their winning ways and serve up a wooden spoon to the Eels?
Their previous coach finished with a win, so can their new (interim) coach start the same way? They caught the Storm off guard and with the Broncos struggling for consistency it could be the best time to face the Brisbane boys.
Des now has his team on top of the table but he still thinks the Bulldogs are not the benchmark of the competition. Be careful Des, if you keep saying it Matty Bowen and JT may well make it come true.
There should be a new rule that says Bowen and Barba must be involved in every play of the game. Watching these two warm up is worth the price of admission so imagine just how exciting the real match will be.
Like silky smooth Gold Coast sand in an hour glass, the Titans’ season is slowly sliding away. Can Carty continue to keep touch with top teams or will this local derby be the end of the road for hopes of the coast?
Coach Griffin is looking to beef up his defence so he can stop the rampaging Idris from taking control of the game and show their neighbours that the big brother Broncos are still the team to beat in the Sunshine state.
With a place in the top four within reach are the Sharks starting to look like fish out of water or is the recent patch of choppy water just a passing storm? If the Sharkies are serious title contenders they will need to show it against the struggling Raiders.
While a premiership might be out of reach for the Green Machine this season they can still cause some headaches for the teams fighting it out for finals placings. Watch out Sharkies, the Raiders are ready to spoil the party.
The Panthers have been in the headlines for the majority of 2012 but not always because of their on-field acumen. Can Ivan, Gus and Luke show a united front to finish the season or will the mountain men get lost in the Penrith valley?
With their hearts still breaking after the Rabbitohs took revenge for their Round 1 miracle, the Bondi boys will need to show the Penny Panthers that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Can the Roosters rejoin the race for the top eight?
Poor Mitchell Pearce was pipped at the post in Origin and then was unable to shut out the Sharks in the Shire. Will the Bondi boys help him bounce back against the Bunnies and regain the race for September footy?
Adam Reynolds is no longer just a rookie Rabbitoh from Redfern but a top class bunny with top class skills. Can the red and green team take down their Eastern Suburbs rivals and put an end to the Roosters' finals aspirations?
The Dragons have been the dominate force in southern Sydney for the last decade but now the Sharks are reclaiming their territory and stirring up the waters. Can the Red V rewind the clock and show the Sharks they still breathe fire?
No Gallen, no worries... well almost. They didn't quite streak home against the Roosters but a draw is better than a loss. Sitting pretty in the top four, the Sharks are looking anything but an endangered species this season. Can the Sharks shut out St George Illawarra?
Ex-coach Dessie spent years trying to get the Sea Eagles to fly under the radar of premiership favouritism with little success. Now that he has moved on it seems the Sea Eagles are finally flapping mid-pack without the added pressure being the team to beat... is it just smoke and mirrors?
They now have more coaches than the Australian Olympic team heading to London, but will it help the blue and gold army return to their glory days and serve up Brookvale boilover for the Sea Eagles? Go for gold Eels!
Friday night at Suncorp is a sweet way to end the week for many Broncos fans, especially with the whiff of next week’s epic Origin decider about. But does the predictability of yet another Friday night draw make it all too easy for Brisbane? Will they fall to complacency?
While the bye round helps some clubs it can unpick others, so the Sharks will need to be 100% set to snatch victory at Suncorp. The team who comes out number one in this battle could end up number two on the ladder.
The first Red V home game in the gong didn’t go the way they planned, thanks to the Bulldogs’ Morris brother, but they return this week for another chance to raise the roof. Can Soward and the Saints send the Titans back to their own beach with an empty bucket?
A big win against the Penny Panthers has put Carty and the coasters one step ahead of the Dragons on the ladder, but things could change if they can’t seal victory at WIN Stadium. With Princey powering back to his best the Titans will be tough to take down.
It is almost a new team taking the paddock each week for the mountain men but the lack of consistency sees them continue to slide and slide. A loss against the Eels could send the Panthers closer to the wooden spoon without a way to dig themselves out.
There was no lift-off from the Hayne plane last week against the Rabbitohs but the blue and gold army will be hoping for clearance when they come face to face with Cleary’s men. Kearney and co will need a clear runway to claim this victory.
Under the reign of Des, the Sea Eagles developed a real rivalry with the boys below the border. It all erupted in the Battle of Brookvale last year, can the premiers keep their cool and collect the cigar this year?
While Bellamy no longer has the ‘Blair Witch Project’ at his disposal he still has a few other blockbusters in his cabinet ready to roll. Can these enemies learn to co-exist or will there need to be another rumble in the jungle?
After blowing a half-time lead against the slippery Eels, the Shire boys will be looking for revenge against their sandy friends. Can the Sharks stay in touch with the top eight while their stars are swanning around in the sky blue?
Three wins in a row and just two points out of the tip eight... can you believe we are talking about the Titans? A win against the struggling Sharks will surely make the punters stand up and take notice of the Titans... surely?
They looked to find their spark against the Tigers only to be pipped at the post. Can Hurrell the Hulk hunt down a few more four-pointers or will the Storm streak the cross-Tasman team with another slick performance?
The second-placed Broncos couldn't keep pace last weekend against these Victorians, but the Warriors have some real speedsters at their disposal and might stand a chance. Are Bellamy's boys in a league of their own this season?
This top-of-the-table clash will be the second big rugby league game in Melbourne this week and coach Bellyache will be wanting to do his part for NSW and hand the Queenslanders a loss. Can the Storm deliver a state of despair for the Broncos?
Coach Griffin has once again decided to rest his Origin players from this match and will hand the duties over to the baby Broncos to once again show how much depth there is in the Sunshine state. Can the baby Broncs bounce to victory?
Things are looking shakey for the steel city Knights after struggling to find form so far this season. Can master coach Wayne find the right balance to rebuild the structure the Novocastrians are missing?
If you count the bye the Titans have just notched up two wins in a row and are now looking for the hat-trick against the Knights. Be warned Titans, coming up against a cranky Wayne Bennett is never a nice place to be.
The camouflage is gone but the winning continues for the reigning premiers. With a handful of players away on Origin duty, will the under-strength Sea Eagles come unstuck against the plucky Roosters?
With five wins and five losses this season, the Roosters are the epitome of a mid-table team. Without halfback Pearce there to run the show this week, can they get back into the winners list against the reigning champs?
It looks time for a re-think of the Knights’ master plan with the steel city struggling to build a winning formula. It is going to take more than a Bennett miracle to pull a premiership out of the Knights’ helmets this season.
A solid win against the dwindling Dragons has catapulted the cumbersome Cowboys into the top four. If the Cowboys keep giving the ball to the Segeyaro rocket the fans will keep watching... what a superstar!
The Brookvale boys beat their ex-coach, re-signed Foran, unleashed the Snake and brought back gorgeous George all in one week...and as a just reward, they get the slow starting, fast fading Raiders in front of their adoring fans at Brookvale.
The bottom four is not a desirable place to be at this time of year (or any time of year for that matter), but a win against the Sea Eagles will see the Green Machine step closer to the top eight. Can the Raiders stop the Eagle rock?
Consistency is the key for the Cowboys, who are confusing even the best judges with their up and down form this season. But seriously, if North Queensland didn’t have JT, who would actually care? Or watch?
Could this finally be the end of the negative, sorry ‘grinding’ style of play that took the Dragons to the top in 2010? The Saint’s last 10 minutes against the Roosters was the most exciting footy played in the Red V, since Mundine and Blacklock were doing backflips in front of the hill. More please!
New general manager, check. New coach, check. Same feeling of disappointment and anger at Penrith’s form? Check. Someone give Michael Jennings another couple of thousand tickets to hand out, they’re gonna need all the support they can get.
What are the Melbourne Toyota Cup team up to this weekend? Maybe they could play 2 games, one against the 20’s and another against the Panthers first graders? With the way Penrith are playing, Bellyache must be tempted to run on himself.
The Red V might not be the most exciting team to watch but they have beaten Wayne Bennett twice this season. Does that make them twice as good or twice as unlikely to win the entertainers award?
It is an away game at home for the Bondi boys so hopefully they will have a few fans turn up in support. Can the chooks use the ANZAC spirit to lift them to victory or will it be a case of black hawk down?
While it appears Peter Wallace will miss out on NSW selection, his return to the Broncos team will no doubt spark up this local derby. Will the baby Broncos continue to roll through the NRL and keep the Titans fighting for survival?
The Titans bounced back to form against the premiers in Round 7 and stepped away from the bottom of the ladder. Can Coach Cartwright keep building the victories or will he need to go back to the drawing board against the Broncos?
Shifty Sheens has devised the ultimate plan to defeat the Kiwis this Friday... make New Zealand a state of Australia so he can pick all their players in the green and gold! Well, I guess if Bondi is the captial of New Zealand then it is only fair that the Aussies get some benefits other than backpackers.
Needing a break from his struggling Eels, coach Kearney is glad to be in camp with his Kiwi bros as they prepare to face the multi-national Kangaroos. Will Benji and the boys be able to help Kearney remember what it feels like to win, or will this Test match be more testing than the Telstra Premiership?
Luckily for the premiers, Wests Tigers are taking the brunt of media criticism for starting their season poorly. Can Toovey get the premiership defense back on track or are the winning ways at Brookvale just a memory from the past?
After a heartbreaking loss to the Sharks last week, the Panthers will be looking to get back in the winners circle and stay in the top eight. Will the long trip to Brookvale prove too much for the western Sydney-siders or will they be ready for the eagle rock?
Forget the Centre of Excellence, coach Cartwright needs to create a Centre of Concentration and send his team for a mandatory check-in. The Titans matched it with the Storm for 40 minutes in round 3 but since then have been smashed 52-12... concentration, not strength!
Winning three from four to start the season shows the Doggies are genuine finals contenders in season 2012, but tell that to Des Hasler and he will try and convince you the real threat to the competition are the Eels... come on Des, be honest?
Captain Campese came up trumps against the Benji and the Toothless Tigers on Monday and now faces JT and the northerners back in the nation's capital. Can the Green Machine find some consistency and capture the Cowboys?
With the most head gear and body padding per-capita in the competition, the Cowboys are far from the young guns of the NRL. Can JT's boys rise about the Raiders and give man-tights (sorry, "compression garments") the respect they deserve?
The wooden spoon calls are already flying thick and fast out at Parramatta after the slow start to the season. Can the Eels slip out of their slump and score a win or will the battle of the west end in a mess?
The big bad Panthers got fluffed up by the Bunnies last weekend on home territory and will be out to regain their roar against the win-less Eels. Can the Panthers keep the Eels on the bottom of the NRL table?
If each game was just 40 minutes then the Titans would be a super competitive side after matching it with the Storm in the first half last week. Unfortunately the full time sirens sounds after 80 minutes and the Titans need to stay in the game against the Warriors.
The Warriors started 2012 as top 4 favourites, but after losses to Manly and the Bulldogs they now have some punters worried about their hard earned. Can the Warriors rookie coach guide the team to the top half of the ladder?
King Benny filled up the Broncos trophy cabinet during his 20 years of service in Brisbane. Will his time in the steel city deliver the same winning results or will they need to dig up a few more star players before the Knights strike gold?
Replacing Corey Parker with Big Petero is a luxury that not too many teams have in the gear bag. Should Petero struggle to keep his old legs pumping the Broncos are also prepared to bring back Alfie for a stint in the forwards.
Smithy and the Chookies will be looking to crack a win this week after hatching a big duck egg last week against the Penny Panthers. Can the veteran coach pluck victory from the Green machine?
The Raiders have all the weapons required to make the top eight in 2012 including a high-flying rookie in Jack Wighton. Can the Furner brothers keep the Raiders consistent or will the ship start slowly sinking...again?
After a slow start against the Panthers last week, the Bankstown boys will be looking for a quick start out of the blocks this week. With Frank the Tank suspended, can their English import Graham lead them to victory up front?
There’s a different bloke in charge, but it was the same old Dragons with their methodical showing against the Knights. Coach Price may not have the track record and aura of Bennett, but has he learnt enough under the master coach to keep the Dragons competitive this year?
The Storm survived a wet and windy trip to Canberra to defeat the Raiders and all they got for it was a chin strap controversy. Can Cam, Cooper and Billy remember how to tackle around the legs and lead the Storm to two wins in a row?
With ex-Storm quartet King, Croker, Inglis and Maguire jumping the rabbit proof fence this match is looking like 2012’s grudge match. Have the Rabbitohs recruits toughened up the previously pampered Bunnies or will they slink back to their Armani suits after another Storm stuffing?
The Bunnies have a rookie NRL coach and a rookie NRL halfback but the 'Pride of the League' are determined to show they are not wet behind the ears in season 2012. Will the Rabbits survive this round 1 blockbuster against their bitter neighbourhood rivals and bury the chooks?
After falling from glorious heights last season the Bondi boys are out for redemption, and there would be no better way to start on that road then to take out a few pesky rabbits. Can Smithy rebuild the Tricolours into a team that isn't just making up the numbers?
While a round 1 win against the premiers will not ease the pain of last year's grand final defeat, it will set the scene for a stellar 2012 season for the young and exciting Warriors. Can their new coach erase the memories in time for the Sea Eagles' arrival?
The Sea Eagles had their wings clipped in the off-season and are still tumbling back to earth after the WCC loss in England. Can Toovey and the boys live up to the favourites tag that departing coach Des Hasler has finally given them?