At the end of the pool rounds we have a series of interesting results.
From the Waiheke Pool: The Panthers progressed through undefeated with the Titans finishing second. The Sharks and Bulldogs under-performed given their squads and their performances were disappointing for the organisers who would have expected better from both the reigning NRL Premiers and one of the stronger NRL clubs. Penrith showed offensive prowess with 66 points scored over the three pool games (equal with Parramatta) and their thirty points differential was third in the competition. Titans will be without Hayne but are talking up their chances as they look to progress deep into the finals.
From the Rangitoto Pool: The Broncos and the Storm progress to the finals from the most tightly contested pool this year. The Storm held out the Knights to take second place whilst the Broncos lost to the Tigers but were already in the finals before the whistle blew time on. These games emphasised the speed of some of the young guns who get to show their talents. Exciting prospects from two of the heavyweights will have their fans confident for seasons to come.
The Piha Pool: Parramatta dominated each game and showed the best defence in the competition but their closest game was this morning against a surprising and enterprising Sea Eagles side that has people interested in how far they will progress as they join the Eels in this afternoons finals. The greatest disappointment was for the local fans who watched the Warriors fail to register a win however the loss of SJ before the first whistle would have severely impacted on their game plans. The Dragons were the other team in this pool and their losses to both finalists were indicative of their efforts.
From the Hunua Pool: The Cowboys were pre-tournament favourites after naming a star-studded squad and they cruised through the pool rounds with solid victories and topping the points scored for the tournament. South Sydney was left winless and yet was competitive in each of their pool contests. The surprise of the tournament has been the Roosters, one of the long shots before the first game they finished strongly over their more favoured opponents in the Raiders to take the final finals spot.
The finals will be a fast firing event. Penrith Panthers will be first up facing the Manly Sea Eagles with the Panthers favourites due to both the better defence and more potent attack. Second Cab off the rank will be the Parramatta Eels up against the Gold Coast Titans. The Eels will be confident that their defence will be more than sufficient in restricting the Hayne-less Titans. Brisbane Broncos will be challenged by the surprising Sydney Roosters and the last quarter final will be also a tough contest with the undefeated North Queensland Cowboys facing their perennial foe in the Melbourne Storm.
A great afternoon of entertainment awaits.