St George are confident a strong second half of the season could still see them scrape into the semi-finals.
Despite a disastrous start to the campaign that saw them without a win after five rounds Saints have rallied, winning three of their last four games to put them in and around the chasing pack. St George also have a decent run home – with all matches against teams outside the top six – including Penrith (10th), Manly-Warringah (13th), Sutherland (9th), Sydney (7th) and Blacktown (12th).
The run starts when the 17th-placed Saints host fellow finals hopefuls University of NSW (14th) in a two-day match at Hurstville Oval in round 10 this weekend.
St George can barely afford a slip up but captain Stewart McCabe is adamant his side can do it, with a number of younger players starting to stand up at first grade level in recent weeks.
“I had a chat to Jacko (first grade coach Peter Jackson) about it the other day when we were on 12 points. We agreed that 52 points should sneak us into the top six, it usually does,” he said.
“In saying that the teams above us all have to play each other so they can’t all get points which will bring us back to the pack.
“We’ve got a good run home. We know we have to put a run together but we’ve still positive.”
St George, on 18 points, will need to put together an almost flawless run home to catch sixth-placed Eastern Suburbs (36 points).
Saints have also received some good news on the injury and availability front and could be bolstered by the return of NSW quick Trent Copeland from a broken finger this weekend.
There is also the possibility that Moises Henriques and Kurtis Patterson haven’t yet seen their final action for St George this season.
Saints are still without Harry Finch (broken thumb) and Nick Stapleton (broken wrist).