1. Quadruple Trouble
Mounties, Wyong Roos, Penrith Panthers and New Zealand Warriors are in a four-way deadlock for first place with three rounds remaining.
Although the top two teams don’t receive home-grand advantage, there is a major psychological gain in finishing the regular season as Minor Premiers. All four teams will be determined to finish first in gathering end-of-season momentum and boost confidence entering the Finals.
2. Did the Bulldogs rediscover their bark?
The Canterbury Bulldogs were cruising for a top-four finish, winning six of seven games before back-to-back losses against the Newcastle Knights and North Sydney Bears. They bounced back into the winners’ column on the weekend with a hard-fought 29-22 victory over the top-of-the-table Wyong Roos.
While the Bulldogs carry the second-best attack with 498 points, their defence is a concern. They are ranked sixth in defence and Andy Patmore’s men will be determined to tighten up their defence with games against the Manly Sea Eagles, Cutters and Wests Tigers before the Finals.
3. Red-Hot Bears
The North Sydney Bears are rolling and have entrenched themselves in seventh place following their impressive 32-22 win over the league-leading Warriors.
The Bears’ turnaround has been nothing short of amazing after they languished at the bottom of the ladder for much of the season. Taking over mid-season, Ben Gardiner’s side have lost just two of their past ten matches, recording six wins and two draws. With a team stacked with talent including Kirisome Auva’a, Cody Walker and Paul Carter, the ceiling is certainly high.
4. Are the Jets and Wests Tigers still in contention?
While the Jets and Wests Tigers are still in the mix, they will face a mighty uphill climb to reach the Finals and need several results to fall their way.
The Jets take on the competition leaders, the Penrith Panthers, before the Knights and red-hot Bears. Wests Tigers face an even tougher road against the Warriors, Mounties and Bulldogs.
5. Cutters in the hot seat
The Illawarra Cutters are in control of their own Finals destiny, sitting in eight position. However, they face arguably the toughest finish to the regular season of any team with matches against competition heavyweights Mounties, Bulldogs and Penrith Panthers.
If the Cutters overcome their challenging end-of-season gauntlet and reach the Finals, they will certainly be battled tested and will pose as a dangerous threat to take out the VB NSW Cup.