The finals are here and the top eight is clear after Round 26, the last round of the regular NRL season, played out over the weekend entertaining footy fans around the nation.
As decided the week before, St George Illawarra have secured back-to-back Minor Premierships and the Red V’s stormed home to another decisive win on Sunday night beating the Rabbitohs 38 – 24 giving them momentum to head into the finals.
With rugby league enthusiasts still not convinced that the Dragons won’t choke in the September footy arena, the bookies have bitten the bullet have Bennett’s boys as the hot favourites to win the Premiership shield, Ladbrokes.com.au currently paying $2.70.
The match also put to bed the last-grasp hopes of South Sydney, who have officially finished ninth on the ladder.
The other team that has missed out on a spot in the semis is the Broncos, who have finished up before the finals for the first time in nearly two decades.
It was the end of an era for Brisbane on Friday night when they failed to beat the Raiders in a nail-biting 18 – 16 result, the Green Machine pushing themselves up to seventh on the ladder.
Following the Dragons is a thrilling top four with the Panthers, Tigers and Titans filling the first half of the ladder after getting through Round 26.
Penrith enjoyed the largest win of the round smashing the Sharks 50 – 12, while the Wests fell three points short of beating the Gold Coast on Friday night in a arm-wrestle of a match that had the fans going wild.
Other highlights of Round 26 included the Warriors decisive 26 – 12 victory over the Eels and the Bulldogs shock win over Manly.
For full results of the eight Round 26 games and to see how your wagers went click on the links below and stay tuned for our 2010 NRL Qualifying Finals previews later in the week complete with footy tips, team lists and odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au.
NRL Round 26 – Match 1 Results: Gold Coast Titans 21 v Wests Tigers 18
NRL Round 26 – Match 2 Results: Brisbane Broncos 16 v 18 Canberra Raiders
NRL Round 26 – Match 3 Results: Parramatta Eels 12 v 26 New Zealand Warriors
NRL Round 26 – Match 4 Results: North Queensland Cowboys 8 v 18 Sydney Roosters
NRL Round 26 – Match 5 Results: Penrith Panthers 50 v 12 Cronulla Sharks
NRL Round 26 – Match 6 Results: Melbourne Storm 34 v 4 Newcastle Knights
NRL Round 26 – Match 7 Results: Manly Sea Eagles 24 v 30 Canterbury Bulldogs
NRL Round 26 – Match 8 Results: St George Illawarra Dragons 38 v 24 South Sydney Rabbitohs