Canterbury Cup NSW | Final Round Scenarios

True Blue and Channel Nine commentator Jamie Soward casts an eye over the remaining fixtures and predicts how each scenario will pan out in the lead up to a blockbuster finals series.

It's the final round of the Canterbury Cup NSW regular season for 2019 and while many teams have locked in a finals berth, the make-up of the top eight is still very much up in the air.  

The South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons are locked in a two-way battle for the Minor Premiership with matches against the Wentworthville Magpies and Bulldogs respectively proving decisive. 

Meanwhile, the North Sydney Bears and Mounties, who sit 5th and 6th respectively, still hold a chance for a top-four finish, with Wentworthville and the Warriors fighting desperately for a spot in the top eight after their resurgent late season form. 

Minor Premiership – Rabbitohs v Dragons 

These are the two sides who I believe will be the last two standing on Grand Final day later this year. I've enjoyed the way the Rabbitohs have gone about their football this year, particuarly through the middle stages where they struggled for consistency with the likes of Billy Brittain, Dean Britt and Connor Tracey featuring in the first-grade side.

They're building nicely into the back-end of the year and can't see them losing against Wentworthville this weekend depsite back-to-back wins leading into Round 24. 

In saying that, you look at the Dragons who boast some of the most exciting players in the competition with a lethal spine combination including Matt Dufty, Adam Clune, Darren Nicholls, and Tristan Sailor.

I get the feeling their match against the Bulldogs might result in a tough defeat – purely on the basis that the Bulldogs are coming off a shock loss to Wentworthville last weekend and will be desperate for some momentum into the finals. 

Tristan Sailor will be one to watch in the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW finals series.
Tristan Sailor will be one to watch in the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW finals series.

I expect the Rabbitohs to win and the Dragons to fall in a tight one although both sides will be prime for a huge finals series. 

Minor Premiership: Rabbitohs

Top Four – Bulldogs, Bears, Panthers, Mounties

It will be an exciting final round with four teams fighting it out for the final two spots in the top four. I have the Bulldogs holding onto third having tipped them to beat the Dragons after a surprise loss last weekend. 

They will be eager to build momentum into the finals series and the ambition of going back-to-back may be crucial in how they perform in the coming weeks. 

You can expect a huge finals series from Jayden Okunbor.
You can expect a huge finals series from Jayden Okunbor.

That leaves one spot remaining and I really like how the Mounties have gone about their craft in the back end of the season after a horrid losing streak. I'm not sure if they're back to the form we saw in the first half of the competition but the brand they're playing certainly shows that have what it takes to compete with the top teams, particuarly with Sam Williams running the show off the back of a powerful forward-pack. 

In saying that, the Panthers will be out to prove to the rest of the competition that they are still a premiership heavyweight against the Sea Eagles, who have cemented themselves as 'giant killers' despite having claimed the wooden spoon.

You look at the Panthers who haven't put in a consistent 80-minute performance recently but have a golden chance to prove their worth on Sunday. In saying that, I expect the Sea Eagles to trouble them at times going off their form in recent weeks but expect Matt Burton to stand up in the big moments like he has all year. 

If these results follow, that will see the Bulldogs and Panthers finishing in the coveted top-four with the Bears and Mounties just missing out. 

Top Four: Rabbitohs, Dragons, Bulldogs, Panthers

Top eight – Wentworthville v Warriors

Much to my surprise in 2019, the Magpies have achieved far greater than my initial expectations although I never doubted the influence that Rip Taylor can have on their side. Bevan French was arguably one of the form players of the competitoin before his departure but they have adapted accordingly and it's allowed Will Smith and Josh Hoffman to stamp their dominance in the competition.

You look at the Warriors, however, and they still have a slim chance of making the finals but must dominate the Magpies and hope for a Wentworthville loss. It's a tough ask and while I predict the Warriors to finish with flashes of what could have been, I back Wentworthville to hold onto eighth place...but only just. 

Eighth: Wentworthville Magpies