NAB League Boys Finals: Race to the top three
JUST a month remains in the 2022 NAB League Boys season, with four rounds of action left, and teams vying for the best possible spot in the finals. For those unfamiliar with the NAB League Boys season, there are 16 rounds of action, followed by a Wildcard Round to determine the last makeup of the top eight. From there, teams in positions fourth to 13th will face off in effective elimination finals, while the top three sides have a bye.
In those elimination finals, fourth will take on 13th, fifth will face 12th, sixth will meet 11th, seventh will lock horns with 10th and eighth will tackle ninth. The winners of each match advance to the finals series which is more of the traditional top eight finals series of qualifying and elimination finals. The highest ranked winner of the wildcard round will receive a double chance, which all things being reasonable, will be fourth spot. Theoretically the team that finishes in fourth goes from an elimination final – where they miss finals – to a double chance against the minor premiers.
With four rounds remaining, we take a look at how the teams are positioned and what might occur over the next month.
LADDER AFTER ROUND 12:
It is very difficult to imagine Gippsland Power not taking top spot in the NAB League Boys this season. The Power are yet to drop a game, with a game in hand, and play two of the bottom five sides in the run home. A blockbuster top two clash against Dandenong Stingrays in the final round will be massive, with the Stingrays tipped to take care of Eastern Ranges and Bendigo Pioneers and likely take second spot.
The third spot and double chance is right up for grabs, with Geelong having a bye, but two winnable games against both Western Jets and GWV Reels, though the test will be against Sandringham Dragons this weekend. If they win that, they are in the box seat for third. They are also helped by the fact their two nearest rivals – Tasmania and Murray Bushrangers – take on equally daunting tasks in Gippsland and Oakleigh Chargers, depending on availability for the Chargers.
The fifth through seventh spots are the most intriguing, with Murray likely to win its last two games against Calder Cannon and the Pioneers, whilst Oakleigh and Sandringham face off in the last round. If Oakleigh beat Murray and Sandringham beat Geelong, then it sets up both to leapfrog the Bushrangers, but if Murray defeat Oakleigh, expect the Dragons and Chargers – widely regarded as the three best sides with Gippsland – to face off in an elimination final.
Eastern Ranges and GWV Reels will battle out for eighth and ninth, but ultimately will end up facing off in wildcard round anyway. They meet in Round 14 in what could be a fascinating preview of the game. Rounding out the bottom four, Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers only have the three games, while Western Jets and Northern Knights have four, with Northern taking on the other bottom three sides in the Jets and Pioneers, so could well leapfrog the Jets into 11th and potentially push the Cannons.
Four rounds left, so much to play out. You will be able to catch all the wrap ups and notes of the top players via Rookie Me Central.