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Friday, June 24, 2005

It's just a matter of faith....and winning 6/10 

Right as interesting as work is I can't but help spending three-quarters of my time behind the desk trying to calculate how the Warriors can make the play-offs this season.

Currently they're sitting in 11th place on 14 points, but four of the teams ahead of them - Raiders, Storm, Bulldogs, Roosters are on 16 points or less - therefore thay are potentially only a couple of wins away from cementing a top eight position.

With the competition leaders the Broncos sitting on 26 points and second and third - Eels, Sea Eagles - on 22 points there isn't much seperating the field.

So I predict that over the next 11 rounds, the Warriors have a bye in the 26th which equals 2 free points, the team needs to pick up 14 points - or six wins from 10 games - which would put them on 28 points and surely inside the top eight.

Here are their last 10 games and analysis of the matchups.

Broncos at home - Warriors have won the last two home matches albeit against a weakened Storm and the Tigers and also beat the Broncos in Brisbane in round 2. The Warriors have also won 6 of the last 9 against the Broncos and if they can muscle up and come away with a victory on Sunday it will have the added bonus of turning Ericcson Stadium into the fortress it should be - look how confident Manly is when playing at home. Going against them is Brisbane's 11 match winning streak and having Todd Bryne and Louis Anderson out. This'll be a thriller result could go either way.

Cowboys away - This match is a must win for the Warriors as they'll never play a top-four team in a more weakened state. This game also has the potential to interest the gambling community. The Cowboys will have at least four, probably five, frontline stars out of action with State of Origin duty and the Warriors should wallop them. Before State of Origin II the weakened Cowboys were flogged 34-4 by the Dragons. If the Warriors lose this one their season is fucked.

Bulldogs home - The Bulldogs, currently one place ahead of the Warriors on the table, have struggled this season winning five matches, drawing one and losing 7 and they've used up both byes. If they lose this weekend against Manly their season could well be finished and Origin duties could deplete their team for this one. The two teams are yet to meet this season and its another key match for the Warriors - if they nail the Cowboys and can roll the Bulldogs they'll be well placed for a shot at the 8. This should be a test of character. Warriors in with a chance of a win.

Roosters away - The Roosters, like the Bulldogs, are similarly struggling and despite the profile of their players have struggled to put teams away this year. They beat the Warriors at Ericcson by four points in Round 10 in a heartbreaking loss and its time for the Warriors to return the favour. That's easier said than done and this'll be a hard one in the Cock's territory - don't count on two points from this one.

Raiders home - After a flying start to the season the Raiders have got the speed wobbles and lost five on the trot. Their captain Simon Woolford seems intent on getting suspended immediately upon return from suspension and this week they've dropped two of their usual starting players. The Raiders are quickly heading out of the top eight and it would only be right that the Warriors take their place. If the Warriors can't win this they don't deserve to make the finals.

Panthers away - The Warriors record against the panthers of late is woeful and they squeezed the Warriors 8-6 at Ericcson in round 8. The Panthers have a team that could beat any on their day but this season have seemed intent on striving for secondplace. Currently they are sitting third to last on 12 points above only the Rabbits and the Knights. Still, it'll be hard for the Warriors to win in Penrith - don't hold you breath for two points here.

Eels home - The warriors' ranks were seriously depleted when they lost at Hamilton last weekend however the Eels are a good team not a great team and if the Warriors can find form they're in with a chance. After the Bulldogs, Roosters and Broncos over the last few weeks the Warriors will at least be battle hardened and home support could see them through. (Warriors in with a chance)

Storm away - Storm have been struggling this season in home matches losing four of their last five at home but they'll be a stronger pack than when the Warriors beat them before State of Origin II. (Either way)

Knights home - enough said two points.

Sea Eagles away - Eagles haven't lost a match at Brookvale this season and it's hard to see the Warriors upsetting the competition's third placed team away from home.

Should wins/Must wins = Cowboys, Raiders, Knights

Could wins = Bulldogs, Broncos, Eels, Panthers and the Storm

Unlikely to win = Roosters, Sea Eagles

The Warriors must topple 3 of their five could win teams - that's why winning our home matches is so important.

What I like about the draw is they play alot of the teams either above them or close to them on the table which should make leapfrogging them into the top 8 easier.

Also reassuring is that both the Roosters and Storm are facing their third consecutive defeats and the Raiders their sixth - from the bottom of my heart I hope their run of poor luck continues.

Of course my calulations rely on the competition remaining tight and the Raiders continuing their downward streak.

Now for those still reading its time for the world-famous NRL Bennyasena vs NZ Herald Peter Jessup tipping competition:

Round 16 Match-ups
Roosters versus Eels: Jessup - Eels Bennyasena - Eels
Raiders versus Cowboys: Jessup and Bennyasena Cowboys
Panthers versus Knights: Jessup and Bennyasena Panthers
Storm versus Rabbits: Bennyasena and Jessup Storm (could be a close one though)
Warriors versus Broncos: Jessup Broncos Bennyasena Warriors
Dragons vs Tigers: Jessup and Bennyasena Dragons
Eagles vs Bulldogs: Jessup Bulldogs Bennyasena Eagles

To date after 96 matches Jessup leads the count with 55/96 while Bennyasena is biding his time on 51/96.

Top Eight Team Predictions:

Broncos - Eels - Sea Eagles - Dragons - Cowboys - Warriors - Storm - Sharks

Nice work there. I concur.

One thing I've been thinking about lately (man do we have way too much time on our hands) is how many points will get a team into the top 8?

Well the experts always say 26 should get a team in there but this year is a little unique I think in that the Knights have lost 13 from 13 and the Rabbitohs have only picked up 3 wins and a draw from 14 games.

So that means there are more points floating around for teams higher up the ladder.

Of course this is offset slightly by there being a huge number of sides who could still make the playoffs.

I'm leaning to the idea that there may be a tie with two or more teams on 26 points so sides who are border line might start to take notice of their for and against record. The warriors are respectable in this area though their defence has slipped a little in recent times.

What's going to be as equally fascinating as watching the warriors rise up the ranks or crumble to pieces is seeing what happens to the Roosters, Bulldogs and Panthers.

Imagine the odds you would have got at the start of the season if you'd said that none of those sides would make the top 8. A hundred to one surely.

I suspect all of them will have better second halves to the season than first halves and one of them will make the eight but there's simply no room for all of them to get there.
Oh and my picks:
Round 16 Match-ups
Roosters versus Eels: Roosters
Raiders versus Cowboys: Cowboys
Panthers versus Knights: Panthers
Storm versus Rabbits: Storm
Warriors versus Broncos: Warriors
Dragons vs Tigers: Dragons
Eagles vs Bulldogs: Eagles

If the Panthers can win they could start to find a bit of momentum. If the Warriors, Bulldogs and Roosters start as well there could be a fucken steam train coming into the top 8.

It's goping to be an awesome ride home. Just wait till Origin is over and interest should start to skyrocjet again after a recent lull.

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