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Eels dare to dream of a Bankwest final

With Parramatta now having all but guaranteed a return to the Telstra Premiership finals, Eels players say they need to stay switched on over the coming weeks to book themselves a week one finals berth at their Bankwest Stadium fortress.

The Eels could theoretically drop to ninth if they lost all their remaining games and other results went against them, or creep into the top four if they keep winning and benefit from other results, according to's ladder predictor.

However if they beat last-placed Gold Coast this weekend and win just once more against Brisbane, Canterbury or Manly, they will guarantee a home final (against the likes of Penrith, Brisbane, Cronulla or Wests Tigers) is the worst-case result.

Skipper Clint Gutherson praised the side's new-found resilience in close contests for helping them win six of their past seven games and putting them in this situation.

"It's better than where we were last year which is a plus!" Gutherson laughed.

"We just have to keep ticking away in this back end, two points is crucial … it's such a tight group there at the bottom of the eight so we want to stay clear of that. If we can win the next couple it's going to go a long way in us finishing higher up."

Craig Young - Hall of Fame

While stressing the team needed to retain a singular focus on the Titans this week, he admitted the thought of a home final was tantalising.

"If we can get a home final at Bankwest that's going to be special," he said.

"We had 21,000 there on the weekend [against Newcastle] and if there was to be a finals game the whole west would be behind us and it would go mental. That's what we want to be aiming to do and we have to keep ticking away and winning the games that we need to and hopefully end up at Bankwest."

Gutherson pointed to the 22-16 comeback win over the Raiders in Darwin in round 15 as the likely turning point with both the club's wins and losses up to that point mostly having been settled by huge margins.

"It started in Darwin when we were 16 points down, we didn't really worry, stuck to what we knew and it ended up working and we ended up getting the win," he said.

"Again on the weekend against Newcastle we found ourselves down with 25 or 30 to go. That's the positive thing we've been taking out of it, last year we'd probably end up losing by 30 instead of winning by six or four or two.

"That's what we're looking at leading into the back end of the year, that's how you want to win games, especially into the finals."

Gutherson said the players would rally around second-rower Shaun Lane, who has been named to face the Titans after images were leaked to the media earlier in the week of him with a bag of what appeared to be a white powder from last year's Mad Monday when he was at the Sea Eagles.

Danny Buderus - Hall of Fame

The matter is now with the NRL Integrity Unit.

"That's up to Laney and the club and the NRL to sort out, it's got nothing to do with me," Gutherson said.

"We've just got to focus on footy and get back to playing the footy we know. We're going to support Laney as much as we can but that's up to the club and the NRL to sort out.

"I'm sure it will probably hit him but he'll have the support there to look after him and make sure he's all right. I've just got to support him as a mate and look after him."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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