Shute Shield: Road to the 2017 finals
With a month left in the regular season, 9 teams are still in contention for a spot in the top six, while the race for a top three finish and a home semi final in the opening week of the playoffs is well and truly alive.
Here’s how your sides run to the finals looks:
1st – Manly (62pts, +243) Southern Districts (H), Warringah (A), Penrith (H), West Harbour (A)
Manly can all but wrap up the minor premiership with a win against Souths on Saturday or Warringah next weekend. If they can do so, coach Brian Melrose may choose to rest players in the final rounds or build momentum towards the finals.
2nd – Warringah (53pt, +207) Sydney Uni (H), Manly (H), Southern Districts (A), Northern Suburbs (A)
Warringah are arguably the form team of the competition at the moment but they have the toughest road to the finals of any side. Two wins should be enough for the Rats to secure their spot in the top six, three or more should be enough for a home final in week one.
3rd – Randwick (50pts, +176) Parramatta (H), Gordon (A), West Harbour (A), Southern Districts (H)
Randwick should win at least three of their final four matches and secure a spot in the top three, although stranger things have happened this season. The return of the club’s representative stars should see the Galloping Greens play at Coogee Oval in the opening week of the finals.
4th – Southern Districts (47pts, +172) Manly (A), Penrith (H), Warringah (H), Randwick (A)
Like Warringah, Souths are hitting form at the right time of the year but they’ve got a tricky few weeks ahead of them. Two or three wins should be enough to secure a finals spot, while four wins could see the Rebels snag a top three spot and a home semi final if other results go their way.
5th – Eastwood (45pts, +97) Eastern Suburbs (H), Sydney Uni (A), Northern Suburbs (H), Penrith (H)
After three straight losses, the Woodies are now in danger of missing the finals if they don’t turn their form around quickly. Anything less than four wins will see Eastwood leave their fate in the hands of those below them on the ladder. Fortunately though, they play three matches at TG Millner. Saturday’s clash against Easts is a must win.
6th – Northern Suburbs (44pts, +126) Gordon (H), Parramatta (A), Eastwood (A), Warringah (H)
Last year’s premiers have now lost seven of their last eight matches but they’re still not that far from their best footy. The Shoreman need to pick up maximum points against Gordon and Parramatta and then find their best in the final two rounds. While it won’t be easy, it’s certainly too soon to write the reigning premiers off.
7th – Sydney University (40pts, +51) Warringah (A), Eastwood (H), Gordon (A), Parramatta (A)
After their 30-30 draw with Manly, the Students proved they can match it with the competition’s best. They should beat Gordon and Parramatta in the final two rounds, meaning Uni are playing for their season against Warringah and Eastwood in the next two weeks.
8th – Gordon (35pts, -108) Northern Suburbs (A), Randwick (H), Sydney Uni (H), Eastern Suburbs (H)
Last weekend’s last minute loss to West Harbour hurt Gordon, but they aren’t done just yet. The Highlanders need to win their final four matches and pick up a handful of bonus points to play final footy this year.
9th – West Harbour (34pts, -83) Penrith (A), Eastern Suburbs (A), Randwick (H), Manly (H)
Like Gordon, West Harbour are still alive but they’ll need a perfect month of footy to worry the sides above them on the ladder.
10th – Eastern Suburbs (27pts, -20) Eastwood (A), West Harbour (H), Parramatta (H), Gordon (A)
If Easts can play for 80 minutes, you wouldn’t be surprised to see them win all four of their remaining matches. Unfortunately, that will still leave them a few points shy of a finals berth. They can make Eastwood’s life very tough with a win over the Woodies on Saturday.
11th – Parramatta (20pts, -319) Randwick (A), Northern Suburbs (H), Eastern Suburbs (A), Sydney Uni (H)
The Two Blues are playing for pride in the final month of the season and while 2017 hasn’t panned out as they would of planned, they’ll be eager to cause an upset or two in the run towards the finals.
12th – Penrith (8pts, -542) West Harbour (H), Southern Districts (A), Manly (A), Eastwood (A)
Penrith have been edging closer to a breakthrough win every week and they’ve got their best chance of doing so against West Harbour at home on Saturday.