Auckland Nines Day One: Where your team stands
You would've been deemed a crazy person if you said in the lead-up to the Downer NRL Auckland Nines that the Sharks, Sea Eagles and Storm would be the only three teams unbeaten after the first day. Alas, it was the case after 17 exciting fixtures at Eden Park on Day One. With only the Sydney Roosters ruled out of making the quarter finals on Sunday, here is where the fortunes of the 15 remaining teams lie.
Storm 4 competition points (+16 points differential), Rabbitohs 2 (-5), Eels 2 (-7), Roosters 0 (-4)
The unbeaten Melbourne Storm can sleep easy tonight, safe in the knowledge they have secured their first-ever appearance in the quarter-finals of the Auckland Nines. Melbourne sits atop the Waiheke pool as the only team with a positive points differential, after victories over Parramatta and South Sydney. Speaking of the Rabbitohs and Eels, the winner of their clash on Day 2 will guarantee a spot in the next round after both enjoyed last-minute wins over the Roosters, coupled with a loss to the Storm. In the unlikely result of a draw when they clash on Sunday, South Sydney would go through on differential. After losing both of their opening matches the Roosters became the first team to be eliminated from the tournament.
Panthers 2 (+15), Cowboys 2 (+15), Knights 2 (-15), Wests Tigers 2 (-15)
The equation for the Rangitoto Pool is simple: win on Sunday. In Saturday's early games the Cowboys and Panthers looked like world beaters as they put the Knights and Wests Tigers to the sword respectively. Such is the nature of the tournament, both the Knights and Tigers snuck away with one-point wins later on in the afternoon. This means every single team in this pool remains in contention for a Sunday quarter-finals berth. Points differential – namely points scored – will only be a factor if any of the Sunday pool fixtures (Panthers v Cowboys, Knights v Tigers) ends in a draw.
Sea Eagles 4 competition points (+6 points differential), Warriors 2 (+23), Bulldogs 2 (-24), Broncos 0 (-5)
The Hunua Pool remains wide open heading into Day 2, with no team confirmed as going through and all four still in with a chance of progressing. Manly are very much in the box seat, sitting outright top on four points after beating the Broncos first-up before producing a gritty 15-12 win over the Warriors. Even with a loss to the Bulldogs, Manly are likely to advance given they hold a substantial points differential advantage. Points differential is set to help the Warriors in their quest to play quarter-finals football. Even a loss to Brisbane won't necessarily end the campaign, while other results could see them jump past Manly into top spot. The Broncos face an uphill battle, needing a victory over the Warriors by 15 points or more as well as relying on the other results going their way. The Bulldogs almost certainly require a win coupled with a Warriors' loss to play past the group stages, with the competition's worst for and against putting them firmly on the back foot.
Sharks 4 (+20), Titans 2 (zero), Raiders 2 (-3), Dragons 0 (-17)
The Sharks have all but booked their ticket to the quarter-finals after handy wins over the Titans and Dragons. It will take a miracle for them to miss out with their +20 point differential holding them in good stead. The Dragons' dreams of making their first ever Nines finals series are teetering on a cliff edge though after two controversial losses. Even with a win over the Titans on Sunday, the Red V would need to reverse their -17 points difference and hope local rivals Cronulla turn it on against the Raiders. Essentially a quarter-final berth is Canberra's or Gold Coast's for the taking. Possessing a similar for and against, the Piha pool will come down to winning margins on Sunday for the Titans (v Dragons) and the Raiders (v Sharks) – whether they come out victorious in their respective games however remains to be seen.