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Whilst teams don’t want to be peaking too early, with just five games until finals football they do want to be building into their best football.<br><br>It is very important to gather momentum because it in turn engenders confidence, and that is one of the greatest weapons that sides can draw from in the big end-of-season matches.<br><br>Last year Parramatta rode a wave of self-belief through to the Grand Final, only to go down to the mentally toughest team of modern times.<br><br>In the current scramble for a finals berth, momentum and confidence will play a major role in determining who finishes where and what kind of form they will take into the final month.<br><br>Make no mistake, what teams are looking to produce now won’t be much different to what they will be relying upon in their quest for ultimate success.<br><br>While it is said that finals footy is a whole new competition, it is a fallacy to think that teams unveil different plays or game plans to accommodate. They just want to be at their best both physically and mentally.<br><br>With that in mind it is interesting to have a look at what those teams that I think are still in contention have produced in their last four matches. Obviously some were more affected by Origin and the strength of opposition varied but a win is still a win and a loss is exactly that.<br><br>In order of relative success it looks like this:<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Wins&nbsp;&nbsp; Losses&nbsp;&nbsp; For&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Against&nbsp;&nbsp; Differential<br><br>ROOSTERS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 4&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 0&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 136&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 88&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; +48<br><br>EELS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 114&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 116&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -2<br><br>TIGERS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 85&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 90&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -5<br><br>SEA EAGLES&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 122&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 94&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; +28 &nbsp;<br><br>BRONCOS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 78&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 66&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; +12<br><br>WARRIORS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 73&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 78&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -5<br><br>TITANS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; 2&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 63&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 69&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -6<br><br>DRAGONS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 40&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 46&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -6 <br><br>PANTHERS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 70&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 80&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -10&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br>RABBITOHS&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 77&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 94&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -17<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br>There are a couple of things that immediately stand out. <br><br>Firstly, the fact that only seven of the 10 have a positive differential shows that the majority of teams are a long way from where they want to be.<br><br>Secondly, the Roosters are definitely the “it” team at the moment and finally, despite an unproductive month, the Dragons have only conceded a measly 46 points which is still a great foundation.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>Still each club - by being close enough if good enough - have cause for optimism especially, in my opinion, for the following reasons.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br>The Roosters in Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce have the most dangerous halves in the competition and that is where titles can be won. Again on Saturday night it was this dynamic duo that led the rout against the Eels with their talent, vision and execution. Both Todd’s precision kick for the Kenny-Dowall try and Mitchell’s dart to set up Minichiello made difficult plays look run of the mill. The rest of the team fit snugly around them.<br><br><a href=";roundid=857&amp;fixtureid=50020102103&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=711" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Carney's brilliant vision and execution to create a try for Kenny-Dowall.</a><br><br><a href=";roundid=857&amp;fixtureid=50020102103&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1250" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Pearce's incisive run to create a try for Minichiello.</a><br><br>The Eels also have a match-winner in Jarryd Hayne but only if they don’t become too reliant upon him. We’ve all seen what he is capable of in recent weeks but the expectation that he now carries has created an incredible degree of pressure on his young shoulders. Despite trying too hard against the Roosters, he still scored a try that only very few players in the game could have manufactured.<br><br><a href=";roundid=857&amp;fixtureid=50020102103&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1782" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Hayne's superb strength at the line - part of his game which is rarely acknowledged.</a><br><br>Unlike the previous four seasons, the Tigers will play in the finals this year - and being in such a strong position to all but ensure that will help their mindset no-end. I understand that they haven’t officially secured a spot as yet, but deep down they know that they will not be enduring the heartbreak of again just missing out. Since winning the title in ’05 they have finished 11th, 9th, 10th and 9th. A number of narrow wins of late has alleviated much of the pressure and they’ll be very confident of now getting much better. <br><br>The Eagles suffered an unexpected loss on Monday night and ironically it was their first half and not their second that got them in trouble. They are a much better outfit than they showed against Newcastle and if they can consistently produce the form they displayed against the Tigers the previous week, they are definite contenders. Jamie Lyon showed that day that he is the key, especially with his strong influence on rookie halves Trent Hodkinson and Keiran Foran.<br><br><a href=";roundid=856&amp;fixtureid=50020102007&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1796" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Lyon's try created by Hodkinson.</a><br><br><a href=";roundid=856&amp;fixtureid=50020102007&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=835" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Lyon's skills under the high ball.</a><br><br>The Broncos looked gone early in the season but the blooding of a host of inexperienced but talented youngsters has paid dividends. The emergence of the likes of Josh Hoffman, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Mitchell Dodds and co. are complementing their established stars beautifully. With a handful of rugby league games left, Israel Folau is also in scintillating form and looks keen to leave his mark.<br><br><a href=";roundid=849&amp;fixtureid=50020101307&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=1813" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Hoffman's supreme talent on display.</a><br><br><a href=";roundid=857&amp;fixtureid=50020102107&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1829%20target=" _blank="">CLICK HERE to see why Folau is one of the NRL's most lethal strike-weapons.</a><br><br>Since entering the competition the Warriors have always boasted tremendous point-scoring potential but never really backed it up with the necessary defensive steel. They can still leak points but recent wins over the Eels, Panthers and Storm showed that they are now able to keep dangerous sides in check. Along with Brisbane, they are the only side to win five in a row this year and their last gasp victory over the Roosters in Round 16 showed a welcome never say die attitude.<br><br><a href=";roundid=852&amp;fixtureid=50020101606&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=2439%20target=" _blank="">CLICK HERE to see Locke put his body on the line to clinch a last-gasp win over the Roosters.</a><br><br>The Titans have character and that is usually the difference between success and failure. Away wins against the Dragons and Warriors over the last fortnight continues their trend of meeting the challenge when considered the underdog. I’m not surprised that they have the best record in the competition for winning games after trailing at half-time which they’ve achieved on five from 12 occasions. They are the only team to do so against St George Illawarra.<br><br><a href=";roundid=856&amp;fixtureid=50020102002&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=801" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Kevin Gordon peg back the Dragons in Round 20.</a><br><br>The Dragons have proven hard to run down in any situation and sit on top of the ladder because they have been the most consistent of all teams. I go back to their incredible defensive effort which has seen them give up just 203 points. Outside of Melbourne, the next best is Penrith with 368. It is the best record since Manly way back in 1996 who it may be worth noting went on to be premiers. <br><br>Like St George Illawarra, the Panthers have copped criticism of late but coach Matt Elliott has replied in kind by saying he hasn’t seen too many “fluke” wins which have elevated them up to second spot. They have scored an unusually large number of tries from kicks but any side that can score the team try of the year as they did against Manly in Round 16 surely don’t have to rely on the boot.<br><br>Finally the Rabbits have been hit by injuries at the worst possible time but have welcomed back their best player this season. Issac Luke made a timely return against the Bulldogs over the weekend and whilst short of a run still showed he’s the man capable of leading them forward. Up until his dislocated shoulder the dynamic hooker was in scintillating touch and if he can maintain that form there is still enough quality around him for Souths to feature.<br><br><a href=";roundid=841&amp;fixtureid=50020100503&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=linebreak&amp;period=2&amp;time=1310" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Luke in his element - cutting right through the middle.</a><br><br><a href=";roundid=849&amp;fixtureid=50020101308&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=2&amp;time=1625%20target=" _blank="">CLICK HERE to see Luke's classic try against the Cowboys.</a>
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