Round 26 is in the books, and with just a week to go, we are a step closer to knockout rugby league in 2023.

As it stands, the minor premiership and up to two spots in the top eight can still change, while who hosts the elimination finals is still up in the air, with the last two of those changeables both potentially coming down to the final game of the season when the Cronulla Sharks host the Canberra Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Zero Tackle have crunched the numbers so you don't have to, and here is what can still change from every game in the final round.


Suncorp Stadium
   Crowd: 43,271

It's pretty straight forward for the Broncos after Penrith's shock loss in Round 26 - if they beat the Storm, they take out the minor premiership.

They will have to do it without Kotoni Staggs though, who is facing a suspension, and potentially Reece Walsh who the Broncos might elect to rest on a five-day turnaround.

They will also be up against a horror record, having not beaten the Storm since 2016, and not in Brisbane since 2009. That's 12 straight losses in the Queensland capital for the Broncos to Craig Bellamy's side.

With a loss, the Broncos would only drop to second if the Panthers can win later in the weekend.

The Storm, if they win and the Warriors lose, can still advance to third spot on the table. Their spot in the top four however is secure after the Newcastle Knights beat the Cronulla Sharks in the final game of Round 26.

4 Pines Park
   Crowd: 16,503

The Sea Eagles win on Sunday in Round 26 means they will escape the reaches of the bottom four, but they also can't go any higher on the table with the Eels a point ahead of them and having a bye in the final round.

The Sea Eagles are the only team with their final position mathematically or otherwise locked in.

The Tigers and still avoid the wooden spoon in this one, but they will need to win big.

As it stands, they sit two points behind the St George Illawarra Dragons (who play the Newcastle Knights), but also have a for and against difference of 69 points to make up if they are going to avoid their second straight last-placed finish.

Accor Stadium
   Crowd: 35,263

This is one of the biggest clashes of the year. The NRL's two oldest rivals, squaring off for what could be a spot in the finals. The loser is eliminated, no matter what happens, with 30 competition points not enough to play finals rugby league.

The winner of this game will end on 32 competition points.

If it's the Rabbitohs, then their for and against ensures they will play finals football from either seventh or eighth spot, pending on other results.

The Roosters, on the other hand, would still need either the Cowboys or Raiders to lose their matches to make it into the finals given their own for and against compared to the Cowboys, or the fact the Raiders are already two competition points ahead.

Trent Robinson's side can go past the Raiders thanks to for and against, however, are no chance of doing the same to the Sharks if the Raiders manage to win the final game of the season.

Suncorp Stadium
   Crowd: 35,438

With the New Zealand Warriors managing a tight win over the St George Illawarra Dragons on Friday evening in Auckland, they have mathematically locked up their spot in the top four.

It means the Warriors are guaranteed a double chance, but unless they manage a 153-point for and against turn around with the Panthers (who would need to lose), they won't be hosting a Week 1 final in Auckland. They will, however, host in Week 2 or 3 depending on whether they win or lose their qualifying final.

They can fall from third to fourth a lot more realistically though - all that will take is a loss to the Dolphins, and the Storm beating the Broncos.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, sit in 14th spot at the end of Round 26 and if they win over the Warriors, could escape the bottom four.

The Titans are sitting 13th and equal on points with only a five-point advantage for and against wise. They play the Canterbury Bulldogs though, so the Dolphins might need to win by plenty to improve from 14th. Wayne Bennett's side can't go any lower than they currently are.

BlueBet Stadium
   Crowd: 21,525

By the time this game gets underway, the Panthers will know whether they can still win the minor premiership. Given their for and against is well ahead of the Broncos, the equation is simple: If the Broncos lose to the Storm, and the Panthers beat the Cowboys, they lift the minor premiership yet again.

If the Broncos win on Thursday, then the Panthers can't go up, down or any other way unless they were to lose by enough for a 153-point turnaround with the Warriors.

This game will mean a lot more for the Cowboys though given they are still in the finals race. Winning is non negotiable if they are to play knockout rugby league however.

If they win and finish on 32 points, then they would be sweating on either the Raiders losing (who have a for and against of -119), or the Roosters (who have a for and against of -39) knocking over the Rabbitohs, unless their win over Penrith is big enough for a 34-point for and against turnaround with the Rabbitohs.

In short, with a win of that size over Penrith being unlikely, they need one of the first two results to go their way to play finals football.

Netstrata Jubilee
   Crowd: 10,137

With the Newcastle Knights managing a big victory over the Cronulla Sharks in the Hunter on Sunday in what was their eighth straight, their spot in the finals is now secure.

What's more, the extra point they secured from a draw earlier in the season and the fixtures remaining means they are also guaranteed of hosting a Week 1 elimniation final.

The incredible run through the second half of the season will mean only the Raiders or Sharks (who play each other) could jump them for fifth spot, and the Knights will finish sixth at worst.

The Dragons, on the other hand, only need to avoid a mammoth loss to ensure they won't pick up the wooden spoon - but even that would require the Tigers to win by enough to cause a 69-point for and against turnaround.

Cbus Super Stadium
   Crowd: 14,942

Outside of the Sea Eagles and Tigers, this will be the game that matters least during the final weekend of action. The Titans can keep themselves out of the bottom four if they win, or lose by less than the Dolphins.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, could only improve their position with a win of about 96 points.

PointsBet Stadium
   Crowd: 12,750

The final game of the season could yet be one of the most critical, with the Raiders not yet locked into the finals.

To miss out, they would need to lose, have the Cowboys win, and the clash between the Roosters and Rabbitohs not finish in a draw. If that happens, both of those sides would finish on 31 competition points - one behind the Raiders - and Canberra would be safe.

If the Cowboys lose, then only one of the Rabbitohs or Roosters could jump the Raiders on 32 points and the Raiders would finish eighth on for and against. If the Cowboys win and the Roosters-Rabbitohs game finishes with a winning result, then the Raiders would need to win against Cronulla to avoid dropping to ninth.

With the Sharks sixth and the Raiders seventh heading into the game though, it means the winner will host an elimination final.

If Newcastle lose, then the winner would jump to fifth. If Newcastle win, then a Raiders win would see the same game in Week 1 of the finals, but in Canberra.

The Sharks can also technically still miss the finals. If they lose, the Rabbitohs win and the Cowboys win by a huge margin - enough for a 68-point for and against turnaround - then the Sharks would miss out altogether.

Bye: Parramatta Eels

Every team's best and worst finishing position

A total maximum for and against turnaround of 100 points has been used for the below calculations where teams could finish on tied points.

1. Brisbane Broncos

Best case: 1st
Worst case: 2nd
Likely finish: 2nd

2. Penrith Panthers

Best case: 1st
Worst case: 2nd
Likely finish: 1st

3. New Zealand Warriors

Best case: 3rd
Worst case: 4th
Likely finish: 3rd

4. Melbourne Storm

Best case: 3rd
Worst case: 4th
Likely finish: 4th

5. Newcastle Knights

Best case: 5th
Worst case: 6th
Likely finish: 5th

6. Cronulla Sharks

Best case: 5th
Worst case: 9th
Likely finish: 6th

7. Canberra Raiders

Best case: 5th
Worst case: 9th
Likely finish: 8th

8. South Sydney Rabbitohs

Best case: 7th
Worst case: 10th
Likely finish: 9th

9. North Queensland Cowboys

Best case: 7th
Worst case: 10th
Likely finish: 10th

10. Sydney Roosters

Best case: 7th
Worst case: 11th
Likely finish: 7th

11. Parramatta Eels

Best case: 10th
Worst case: 11th
Likely finish: 11th

12. Manly Sea Eagles

Best case: 12th
Worst case: 12th
Confirmed finish: 12th

13. Gold Coast Titans

Best case: 13th
Worst case: 14th
Likely finish: 13th

14. The Dolphins

Best case: 13th
Worst case: 14th
Likely finish: 13th

15. Canterbury Bulldogs

Best case: 15th
Worst case: 15th
Confirmed finish: 15th

16. St George Illawarra Dragons

Best case: 16th
Worst case: 17th
Likely finish: 16th

17. Wests Tigers

Best case: 16th
Worst case: 17th
Likely finish: 17th

Likely Week 1 finals

Qualifying final 1: Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
Qualifying final 2: Brisbane Broncos vs New Zealand Warriors
Elimination final 1: Newcastle Knights vs Canberra Raiders
Elimination final 2: Cronulla Sharks vs Sydney Roosters