Manly, Cowboys under the pump in run to finals
MANLY and the Cowboys kept their finals hopes alive by snapping losing streaks with hard fought wins in round 25 but both look extremely vulnerable after the Dragons' stunning Sunday afternoon upset over the Panthers.
St George Illawarra will roll into round 26 with momentum and liking their top eight chances as they meet the Bulldogs needing a win to give themselves a huge chance of playing finals.
Their superior points differential will put the pressure on North Queensland and the Sea Eagles to beat opponents higher than them on the ladder or face the very real prospect of dropping out.
While most of the intrigue will surround places six to nine on the first weekend of September, there is still a fair bit to be worked out before a top four is cemented as well.
The Storm have secured the minor premiership and the Roosters are in the box seat to finish second, but the Broncos and Eels can still finish as high as second and as low as fifth, while the Sharks are still an outside chance of making the top four.
At the bottom of the ladder, the Knights are almost certain to finish with the wooden spoon, although an upset win over Cronulla could put the Wests Tigers under pressure to beat the Warriors.
Foxsports.com.au has projected the end of season ladder, first week of finals and run the rule over every club to establish their best and worst case scenario going into round 26.
PROJECTED FINALS SERIES
First Qualifying Final: Storm (1) v Eels (4)
First Elimination Final: Sharks (5) v Cowboys (8)
Second Elimination Final: Panthers (6) v Dragons (7)
Second Qualifying Final: Roosters (2) v Broncos (3)