Crucial matches to decide NRL top eight

THE GAMES THAT WILL SHAPE THE NRL’S FINAL EIGHT

ROUND 22

Cronulla v Canberra, Southern Cross Group Stadium, Saturday, August 6

A win here will edge the Raiders closer to a top-four spot, something few would have considered possible at the start of the season.

Wests Tigers v North Queensland, Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, August 7

Always hard to beat at their spiritual home, a win over the premiers could give the Tigers the momentum they need to progress.

ROUND 23

Canterbury v Manly, ANZ Stadium, Thursday, August 11

This shapes as a do-or-die clash for Manly in their late finals charge.

Canberra v Melbourne, GIO Stadium, Monday, August 15

If the Raiders can win this they will not only convince themselves but others of their status as genuine premiership contenders.

ROUND 24

Brisbane v Canterbury, Suncorp Stadium, Thursday, August 18

One of these side’s top four hopes could be dead after this game.

Penrith v Wests Tigers, Pepper Stadium, Friday, August 19

One of these side’s top eight hopes could be dead after this game.

ROUND 25

Canterbury v North Queensland, Belmore Sports Ground, Thursday, August 25

After their 36-0 thrashing to the Cowboys two rounds ago, the Bulldogs will need a much-improved showing here just two weeks out from the finals.

Melbourne v Brisbane, AAMI Park, Friday, August 26

Perennial contenders the Storm and the Broncos know how to be playing their best football at the right time of the year.

ROUND 26

North Queensland v Gold Coast, 1300 Smiles Stadium, Saturday, September 3

If all three Queensland teams qualify for the finals, Maroons fans will have something else to cheer about. A win here and the Titans will likely be in.

Melbourne v Cronulla, AAMI Park, Saturday, September 3

This is shaping as a dream final-round clash for the minor premiership.

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