HARD as it is to believe, the Wollongong Hawks (10-14) lost no ground on the ladder with last Friday's overtime loss to Adelaide (8-16).
Townsville (8-15) went down to Cairns (8-14), while Sydney (10-14) and Melbourne (10-12) both lost to Perth (19-5).
It now appears the teams finishing third and fourth behind Perth and New Zealand (20-3) are destined to reach the finals with losing records.
"The way our last couple of months have gone, to look at the table and see we're in fourth place is really quite a miracle," Hawks forward Tim Coenraad said.
"Our destiny is in our own hands. If we win all four games we're assured of a playoffs berth.
"We don't want to be there at the end of the season having to hope other teams lose. We want to stamp our own foot into the playoffs."
The Hawks square off with the third-placed Tigers in Melbourne on Saturday night.
"First things first, and that's Melbourne," Coenraad said.
"The loss the other night was a massive emotional blow. It's a tough pill to swallow but we have to get over it and move on and start preparing for Melbourne.
"They're a very dangerous team, especially at home. They're a tough unit and they've got a lot of talent on their team. We have to find ways to disrupt them."
Coenraad is confident the Hawks won't dwell too long on Friday's mini-meltdown against the 36ers.
"We've had a couple of days to evaluate and I don't think there'll be any lingering effects from the other night," the 27-year-old Queenslander said before yesterday's training session.
"After practice today, it'll be out of our heads."
Gordie McLeod may get frustrated sometimes but the Hawks coach doesn't doubt his side's ticker.
If the glass is half empty, Wollongong have lost 13 of their past 16 games. If the glass is half full, the fourth-placed Hawks have bravely battled on after losing three starters to season-ending knee injuries and could still have a chance of a finals berth.
"With the things that have happened to our group, we're competing, and we're really proud of that," McLeod said.