The North Queensland Cowboys will be out to avoid a banana skin when they take on a resurgent Canterbury Bulldogs side on Sunday, while the Wests Tigers also entertain the Newcastle Knights.
It is tighter than ever towards the top end of the NRL ladder and the Cowboys still have an outside chance of catching the Penrith Panthers who sit in top spot.
Securing a place in the top four, preferably the top two, is still the more realistic aim for the Cowboys and they cannot afford to slip up against the Bulldogs.
The Storm, Sharks and Eels are all chasing them hard and it looks certain to be an exciting finish to the NRL campaign.
Towards the wrong end of the ladder there is still a lot to play for despite finals being out of reach.
The Tigers have shown big signs of improvement of late and will be keen to keep on building momentum ahead of the 2023 campaign.
The Knights look to be in crisis and they need to arrest the slide quickly if they are to avoid the wooden spoon. The pressure is really mounting on coach Adam O’Brien and they need a win for him if nothing else.
Two games to look forward to on Sunday so let’s take a closer look at all four teams that are involved.
What: Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys
Where: Salter Oval, Bundaberg
When: 14:00 (AEST) Sunday 7th August 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Following a poor start to the season the Bulldogs are now on fire under interim coach Mick Potter and have won four out of the last six games.
They are playing an open and exciting brand of footy and have been scoring points for fun during that winning run. Now they will be out to upset the Cowboys.
Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton have been the key to the revival and they will again be crucial to their chances of overcoming the Cowboys.
The match-up between Burton and North Queensland’s Tom Dearden in the halves could also dictate which way this game will go.
The Bulldogs will be keen to keep the momentum going ahead of what looks set to be an exciting 2023 NRL campaign for them.
They are also set to play the Eels and Sharks in the coming weeks so could have a big say in how the ladder looks heading into finals.
Potter has no fresh injury concerns and sticks with the same 17 that smashed the Newcastle Knights last week.
The Cowboys continue to shine this season and impressed again when they put the Dragons to the sword last week to consolidate second place on the ladder.
They too are playing exciting rugby so the fans could be in for a treat on Sunday afternoon.
Todd Payten’s men have been hit by a setback as winger Kyle Feldt has picked up a hamstring injury that will keep him out for two games. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will replace him on the wing.
What: Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Where: Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
When: 16:05 (AEST) Sunday 7th August 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Wests Tigers caused a big upset against the Brisbane Broncos last week, while they also came within a whisker of beating the North Queensland Cowboys the week before.
The win over the Broncos moved them off the bottom of the ladder and just two points away from Newcastle who sit directly above them.
Now the aim will be to finish the season as strongly as possible and build momentum ahead of 2023 when the new coaching regime will take charge.
There was some bad news to come out of the win over the Broncos though as Jackson Hastings broke his fibula and has been ruled out of the rest of the season. Youngster Fonua Pole comes in as his replacement.
The Knights have had a season to forget and there has been no sign of things improving after losing the last four games on the bounce.
Statistics show they have the worst attack and defence in the comp, star fullback Kalyn Ponga is out with concussion and the heat is on coach Adam O’Brien.
They can take heart from the fact they beat the Tigers 26-4 earlier in the season, but it was back in round two and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
Bradman Best returning from a thumb injury is a huge boost but there is no place for prop David Klemmer who has been left out because of disciplinary issues.