The top eight is locked down for the next two weeks (in true 2020 fashion) but despite there being 16 games remaining in the regular season only three will involve the top eight sides facing each other.
Cronulla has the toughest run into the finals with games against the Roosters and Raiders and will be desperate for a win to show they will be more than cannon fodder heading into the very unfamiliar territory of “October Football” .
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So far this season the Sharks have won none from six against the other top eight sides including two big losses in their past two starts against the Panthers and Knights. Should they fail to win either of those matches they will be the first team since North Sydney in 1995 to enter a top eight finals series without having beaten any of the other finalists during the season.
The Roosters have won four straight games against the Sharks, despite being one of only two teams against which coach Trent Robinson has a losing record – the other, of course, being Storm.
Like the Sharks the Roosters also play two top eight opponents, with a final round clash against arch rivals Souths at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith on the other hand has seemingly the easiest run of any team in the final two weeks of the regular season with games away to the Cowboys and Bulldogs. It seems almost inevitable the Panthers will become just the ninth team in Premiership history to win 15 straight games but will playing the bottom three sides in their last four games prove a help or hindrance once the finals roll around – only time will tell!
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Speaking of winning streaks Melbourne has a chance for some history of its own this weekend when it faces Wests Tigers on the Sunshine Coast.
Storm has won 17 straight matches in Queensland and is looking to become just the fourth team of all time to win 18 straight games in a state – and break its previous best run of 17 consecutive games in Victoria in the process.
The Bulldogs won 20 straight in NSW in 2002-03, Roosters 19 straight in NSW in 1975 (the all-time best winning streak for a team) and Brisbane won 19 in Queensland in 2000-01.
Storm has won four of the past six games against Wests, but not in the fashion you may expect. All six games have been decided by single figures, with four by two points or less (two wins each). Wests won both games in 2018 with neither side cracking the 12 point mark, while Storm was last start winners with a try late in the game in round 10 last season stealing a 24-22 victory.
Wests will be hoping to win its final two matches to send Benji Marshall out on something of a high, but those wins would come at the risk of seemingly trolling their own fan base. Should the Tigers finish 9th this season, it will be the seventh time in the club’s 21 year history.
MATTY JOHNS PODCAST
Title – The Best and Worst
Full Synopsis – A fun one this week from the Fox Sports panel…..Matty, Paul Kent and Blocker talk about the best and worst performances in
Check it out below. If you can’t see it, click here.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Shaun Johnson has 22 try assists this season, just two short of his season best in 2017 and three clear of Benji Marshall. The main beneficiary of Johnson’s great form is Sione Katoa with almost half of his 15 tries directly created by Johnson.
Further down the list, Nathan Cleary has been getting most of the plaudits for the Panthers spectacular form (rightly so), but it’s the other Panthers half, Jarome Luai who the Panthers’ left side outside backs are most enamoured with in 2020!