Crystal ball guess for semi-final match ups

Lakes and Wests are battling for the Newcastle Rugby League minor premiership. Picture: Ryan OslandTHE battle for Newcastle Rugby League semi-final positions is wide open.

With various top-five matches scheduled in the final three rounds, there are myriad possibilities.


16 points (+65): Central (a), Cessnock (h), Souths (a)

Lakes have eyes on their first minor premiership since 2007. But their run home against three desperate opponents will not be easy. The Seagulls lost to both Cessnock and Souths in the first round.

First place could be decided on for and against, but Seagulls coach Dean Noonan said his squad could ill afford to focus on strengthening their points differential.

‘‘If you approach your preparation in footy on bigger-picture thoughts, then you’re going to get your pants pulled down,’’ Noonan said.


16 points (+46): Macquarie (h), Maitland (h), Central (a)

The match against cellar-dwellers Maitland at Harker Oval could be vital to Wests’ minor premiership hopes.

The three-time defending premiers could rack up a large winning margin to rein in Lakes.

However, Macquarie are arguably the in-form team of the competition over the past two rounds and could potentially derail the Rosellas, who have lost some of their previous aura.


13 points (+31): Souths (h), Lakes (a), Kurri (h)

Losses to Central and Macquarie have damaged Cessnock. Their minor premiership hopes are dead and they could yet finish fifth with difficult games against Souths and Lakes.

‘‘The top three is still achievable with two of our last three games at home,’’ Goannas coach Craig Miller said. ‘‘We’ve got to hold on to the battle as best we can.’’


12 points (+66): Wests (a), Souths (h), Maitland (a)

The Scorpions are finally building at the right moment.

After three dominant wins, Macquarie are arguably the form team of the competition, and the next two rounds will determine their title credentials.

‘‘The one good thing is Cessnock and Souths play each other next week, so if we get two points, we’ll leapfrog one of them,’’ Macquarie coach Barrie Moore said.


12 points (-26): Cessnock (a), Macquarie (a), Lakes (h)

Souths assistant coach Greg Hurrell said attitude was an issue last Sunday when they were whipped by Central.

That attitude needs to adjust swiftly as the Lions have the most challenging run home of the top five, but they could still finish third if they win their remaining matches.

A potential two-week suspension for playmaker Scott Briggs (high tackle) is a concern.


8 points (-42): Lakes (h), Kurri (a), Wests (h)

Mathematically the Butcher Boys remain a top-five chance if they win their remaining matches. Probably a bridge too far, but they will provide nuisance value.

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