In the end the Sharks pipped the Tigers to the final top-eight spot.
Robbie Farah will have no finals farewell, but Paul Gallen will, after Cronulla dominated WestsTigers 25-8 at Leichhardt Oval.
This means the Sharks will take on their old rivals Manly in round one of the semis, with the struggling Sea Eagles heading in after back-to-back losses and several injuries.
An upset defeat for Canberra at the hands of the Warriors has resulted in South Sydney facing the Sydney Roosters in a mouth-watering clash next weekend.
The Raiders have a tough ask to replicate their recent heroics against Melbourne Storm, while Brisbane will tackle Parramatta in their elimination final.
Now things get interesting.
NRL finals week one – Qualifying finals: Sydney Roosters (2) v South Sydney (3), SCG, Friday night; Melbourne (1) v Canberra (4), AAMI Park, Saturday evening. Elimination finals: Manly (6) v Cronulla (7), Lottoland (subject to asbestos report), Saturday night; Parramatta (5) v Brisbane (8), Bankwest Stadium, Sunday afternoon.
Young facing eye-watering ban
Canberra forward Hudson Young’s season is over, and he could receive one of the longest bans in NRL history, after being referred straight to the judiciary for an eye gouge.
Young stuck his fingers in the eyes of Warriors’ player Adam Pompey in a shocking incident.
Making it worse is that the Raiders youngster has already copped a five-week ban for a gouge earlier this year on Aiden Tolman.
That will be taken into account by the three-man panel this week when it determines a final punishment.
Fox Sports pundit Brett Finch, a former Canberra player, called for a 20-week ban for Hudson after the appalling act.
Young told Canberra coach Ricky Stuart after the match he hadn’t raked at Pompey’s eyes, and the players are understood to have spoken after the match.
Pompey is also reported to have since taken to social media after the match to claim he didn’t feel as if he had been gouged.
Regardless, Young is set for a long, long holiday for his disgraceful gouge.
Rapana off to Japan?
Making matters worse for Canberra is the news that star winger Jordan Rapana is set to leave the club and cross codes to rugby union.
Rapana, a try-scoring machine in the ACT and a Kiwi international, has been linked to a move to Japan to play the 15-man code at the end of the year.
The winger is off-contract and the Raiders are struggling to match the huge financial offer in the Far East.
In the nation’s capital he has formed a devastating combination with centre Joseph BJ Leilua over the past few seasons. He will be tough to replace.
Burgess hurts his legacy
Sam Burgess is one of the biggest names in the NRL and has been a huge hit at South Sydney since his arrival from England, leading it to a premiership in 2014.
But his illegal play and grubby actions are harming his reputation and legacy, according to legends Brad Fittler and Peter Sterling.
Burgess will miss week one of the finals after copping a one-week ban for pulling the hair of Roosters’ player Billy Smith.
It was the Englishman’s fifth charge in the past two years and his third this season alone.
Burgess has received a whopping 16 charges since he joined the Bunnies in 2010.
No one doubts ‘Slamming Sam’s’ toughness, but his ability to control his aggression and not lose it is under question.
“The one part of the legacy that might be tarnished is missing so many games. He loses the influence at the club that he’s been such a huge part of,” Sterling said on The Sunday Footy Show.
“These days you cannot (do those things) – there’s 36 cameras zeroing in on everything (you do).”
O’Brien the Knights new king
Newcastle Knights have appointed Roosters assistant Adam O’Brien to replace Nathan Brown as head coach for 2020, as expected.
It will be O’Brien’s first stint as a head coach in the NRL after serving as an assistant with Melbourne for 11 years and one with the Chooks.
He will need to find a new assistant to help him in the Hunter with Kristian Woolf departing to take the top job at English club St Helens.
David Furner has been linked to that job, though there is speculation veteran coach Tim Sheens could join as technical direction.
The Knights have had a nightmare season, on and off the field, and the heat will be on O’Brien to get the club into the finals in 2020.
Newcastle does have some impressive young talent coming through the grades, which should make the rookie coach’s life somewhat easier.
Tina’s simply the best
The NRL is in talks to bring back Tina Turner as the face and voice of rugby league.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Turner took the sport to new heights with a marketing campaign featuring the songs What you get is what you see and Simply the Best.
The American singer’s association with rugby league was a huge hit, a massive winner with fans, and helped encourage more women to follow the code.
The NRL wants to revive that partnership with Turner to record voiceovers and play a role in next year’s ad campaign.
For lovers of nostalgia, the Winfield Cup and all things from the good old days, this would be special.