Stars face early exit

This is as ‘must-win’ as a must-win game can get.
“It’s do-or-die, the season’s on the line. Win and we go through, lose and we go home. It’s simple,” departing Bronco Ben Te’o sums up. 

In front of an expected sell-out crowd for Petero Civoniceva’s farewell at Suncorp on Friday night, victory over the lowly Panthers will seal a finals spot for the eighth-placed Broncos, who also hold a significant +52 points differential advantage over the ninth-placed Tigers.  

“Penrith will want to come up and, like most teams do when they’re out of the finals, they’ll want to spoil everyone’s party. It’s up to us,” he said. 

“We always try and use milestones at this club as something special and really turn up for that person. With it being Petero’s last home game, it’s more motivation for us to get a win and progress our season to get him out on a winning note. It’s definitely not a game I want to go out on either,” added Te’o, who will join South Sydney in 2013.

Civoniceva said it would be too selfish of him to harbour any thoughts of it possibly being his final game in the NRL. 

“We’re just in too precarious a position,” he said. “Maybe towards kick-off there’ll be a few thoughts on it possibly being my last game, but we’re fighting for survival. We’re walking the tightrope and it’s do-or-die. So my thoughts will be on us as a team, on making sure that we play well.”

Should the Broncos be upset by Penrith, Brisbane will need to rely on the Raiders losing or Melbourne defeating the Tigers to keep their premiership hopes alive. 

But having sewn up a top-two spot with their last-ditch win over the Sharks on Monday, Storm coach Craig Bellamy has suggested he could rest some of his stars. 

This could bode well for the Tigers, whose fate also won’t be decided until the Raiders take on the Warriors in New Zealand, even if they can etch out a win. 

The joint venture need either the Broncos to lose to Penrith or the Raiders to be upset by the Warriors to nab a finals spot. A distraught Gareth Ellis conceded Saturday night’s battle with the Storm could be his final game in the NRL. 

“I obviously wanted to finish the best way possible but now winning is the be-all and end-all this week,” he said.  

“Now we’re relying on other results, which is disappointing. You never want your fate being held in other people’s hands but that’s the reality of the situation now. It could be my last game for the Tigers, but hopefully it’s not. 

“Two weeks ago when we lost to the Bulldogs it was some of the best footy we played all year but to play the way we did against the Roosters was disappointing... We’ve just got to pick ourselves up and put in a better performance.”