Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
10 hours ago
Well there is only five premiership rounds remaining this season and its been one of the closest competitions in recent memory. After 21 rounds only the Sharks, Raiders and Knights can't make the top eight. Titans are as good as gone but five wins on the trot, however unlikely, and they could grab hold of eighth spot.
General consensus is that 30 points will get you in the eight. 28 points may be good enough but you better have a good for and against. Despite these guidelines remaining true for recent seasons, I am about to drop a bombshell. At least one team will fail to make the top eight despite making it to the elusive thirty point safe zone.
I have gone ahead and mapped out what I consider the most likely results for the final forty matches and have come up with a possible final table. While I am no chance of getting all tips correct, it looks like a team will end the season outside the top eight on thirty points.
My top eight is as follows: Manly, Souths, Melbourne, Roosters, Penrith, Parramatta, The Cowboys and the Warriors.
In my subjective finishing positions both the Cowboys and the Warriors finish on 30 points as do the Bulldogs. Due to an inferior points differential Canterbury will miss out of the finals. The Dragons and Broncos will both come agonisingly close as well on 28 points.
While the chances that the top eight will finish the way I predict it are unlikely, there is still an extremely high chance that thirty points wont guarantee you a place in the finals.
My final positioning brings up some interesting points and relies on certain results. I have Manly beating the Rabbitohs this weekend and with that win pretty much sealing the minor premiership. And although I have the Dragons finishing on 28 points, I have them going down to Canberra in the nation's capital. It doesn't matter how bad the Raiders are going they always seem to rise against St George Illawarra.
Along with Manly and Souths, I have the Storm and Roosters rounding out the top four. Just like last year I see these four as the only teams that can take out the premiership. Parramatta, North Queensland and the Warriors can all beat anyone when the turn it on but I don't see them having the consistency to win four games of semi final intensity in a row. Due to a horror injury run Penrith will only be making up the numbers.
The Bulldogs are the big losers and will drop right out of the top eight. A few weeks ago they looked like finals certainties and right in the hunt for the premiership. The last three weeks have shown that something in their dynamic has changed and they have lost that desire to win. The media is suggesting this is due to Michael Ennis' departure but who really knows?
The wooden spoon will come down to three teams and I have the Sharks, Raiders and Knights all finishing on 16 points. For and against will decide who comes in last place.
So what do you all think? Am I right or am I way off? Let me know below.