After the Sharks’ huge late win against the Warriors, the NRL’s top eight is officially locked in. But with two weeks of the regular season to go, there’s still plenty to sort out before we enter the finals. Who will your team be playing?
The Panthers were comprehensive against the Eels and the minor premiership is now theirs for the taking. The worst they can slip to is second, but with matches against the lowly Cowboys and Bulldogs to come, don’t expect them to drop any more on their way to top spot. They remain most likely to play the Eels in the first week of the finals, which, after this weekend’s showing, shouldn’t give them too many headaches.
Likely opponent: Eels
The Storm effectively locked away a top two spot after they got the job done against the Cowboys. They can still steal the minor premiership, but second and a matchup against the Roosters seems the most likely. The lowest they can fall is third, regardless, which wouldn’t make a difference at all considering a final back in Melbourne won’t be happening.
Likely opponent: Roosters
Big win against the Knights for the Roosters and they now can’t slip below sixth. They should secure a top four finish, but they can fall to fifth. On the other side of the coin, they can still finish second, but a third or fourth placed finish remains the most likely outcome.
Likely opponent: Storm
The Eels were never in the hunt against the ladder-leading Panthers, and any hope of a top two finish has now been extinguished. Top four is far from a foregone conclusion, but with two remaining games against bottom-eight sides, they should be able to hold on. Fourth seems most likely from here out.
Likely opponent: Panthers
A big win against the Dragons has kept the Raiders’ top four hopes alive. They can still finish as high as third and as low as seventh. A big final round match-up against the Sharks looms as the game that could decide both teams’ spots.
Likely opponent: Sharks
The Rabbitohs did just enough against the Tigers, which means they can still conceivably finish in the top four, but they can also drop as low as eighth. The Bulldogs and the Roosters await in the final two rounds, with at least the former looking like an easy win. But with pressure on them from below, they might have to beat the Roosters too to stave off the Knights and finish sixth.
Likely opponent: Knights
The Knights were well off the pace against the Roosters, and that’s cost them any hope of finishing in the top four. As high as fifth and as low as eighth remains possible, but with the Dragons and the Titans up last, a rise up the table to sixth looks very possible. Whatever the case, it’s likely they’ll play the Rabbitohs in the first week of the finals.
Likely opponent: Rabbitohs
The Sharks will officially play finals after their thrilling win against the Warriors. With the Roosters and the Raiders still to come, however, don’t expect them to finish anywhere other than eighth. They’re likely, in fact, to play the Raiders in back-to-back games – to both close out the regular season and as their finals opponents.
Likely opponent: Raiders