Competition leaders Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will be looking to wrap up their first minor premiership in 17 years when they take on North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
The equation is simple for the Sea Eagles. If they win they are guaranteed the J.J. Giltinan Shield, whereas if they lose, they will finish in second position behind either the Roosters or Rabbitohs.
Manly were far from comprehensive in their victory against the Panthers and will need to improve come finals time. In saying this, they will take some confidence from Sunday’s efforts because like all good football sides, when the game appeared to be out of their reach they found another gear and came out on top.
The Sea Eagles have won their last six clashes against the Cowboys, including the last two at 1300 Smiles Stadium. However, they must be weary of a Cowboys side that have won six of their last seven games and will be looking to build some momentum as they head into the finals series.
The Cowboys have scored the third most points this year in the NRL, and this poses as a massive threat to the Sea Eagles minor premiership hopes, however they will be confident of combating this as their defensive record is currently third in the NRL only leaking 369 points this year.
The match up between State of Origin team mates and superstars Daly Cherry-Evans and Johnathan Thurston shapes to be a beauty, and with both sides possessing very strong forward packs, the power struggle in the middle of the field could go a long way to determining the outcome of the game.
The Cowboys have proven this year that they are very tough to beat at home, however the Sea Eagles have everything to play for and this should make for a thrilling clash.