Two rounds remain in the Jersey Flegg regular season and it looks like all that’s left to be decided is placing in the Top 8 and, more importantly, who nabs the last spot.
1 Newcastle Knights
38 points, +298 F/A
Remaining games: Penrith (A), Bye in Round 24
Last 5 games: WLWWW
A win against Penrith this weekend will seal the minor premiership for the Knights, although it’s not necessary. They’ll jump to 40 points regardless at the end of Round 24 thanks to the bye, with Cronulla, who sit two points behind, needing to win both their games and bridge the points differential gap between the sides.
2 Cronulla Sharks
36 points, +119 F/A
Remaining games: Warriors (H), Wests Tigers (H)
Last 5 games: WWWWW
The hottest team form-wise in the competition, the Sharks will need to put massive scores on the lowly Warriors and Tigers to have a chance at the minor premiership (and hope Newcastle lose to Penrith). While that doesn’t seem likely, winning their last two games does, which will keep them in 2nd spot at the end of Round 24.
3 Penrith Panthers
34 points, +105 F/A
Remaining games: Newcastle (H), Manly (A)
Last 5 games: LWLWW
The Panthers ended the Knights’ four game winning streak back in Round 19 and will head into their clash confident of a similar result. A win would keep their hopes of a top 2 finish alive leading into a final round clash against Manly at Lottoland. To do that, they’d need Cronulla to drop one game and overturn the points differential. A place in the Top 4 is already guaranteed, although they could be jumped by Mounties.
32 points, +58 F/A
Remaining games: Bye in Round 23, St George Illawarra (H)
Last 5 games: WWWLW
Mounties sit four points clear of Parramatta and are guaranteed a Top 4 spot, as both teams have a bye this weekend. They can leapfrog Penrith into 3rd, if they defeat the Dragons in Round 24 and Penrith lose their remaining games.
5 Parramatta Eels
28 points, +134 F/A
Remaining games: Bye in Round 23, Canterbury (H)
Last 5 games: WLLWW
The Eels are unable to move any higher in the Top 8 but can drop to 6th if results don’t fall their way. A bye this weekend will move them to 30 points heading into their final match against the Bulldogs. A great points differential is in their favour and their only worry are the Roosters, who also have a bye and face the last-placed Tigers this weekend.
6 Sydney Roosters
27 points, +34 F/A
Remaining games: Wests Tigers (H), Bye in Round 24
Last 5 games: WLWLL
The Roosters have lost their last two games but play the wooden-spoon bound Tigers this weekend. A win will put them in a good position to jump the Eels into 5th spot. A bye in the final round will move them to 29 points even if they lose to the Tigers, meaning they can’t finish lower than 6th.
7 Canterbury Bulldogs
24 points, +68 F/A
Remaining games: North Sydney (H), Parramatta (A)
Last 5 games: LWWWL
Technically, the Bulldogs could miss out on the finals, although it seems very unlikely. For that to happen, they would need to lose their final two and Manly would have to win out and overturn a huge points differential. Like I said, very unlikely. Dropping from 7th to 8th is more plausible, although a win and a Dragons loss this weekend would confirm their position.
8 St George Illawarra Dragons
23 points, -18 F/A
Remaining games: Manly (A), Mounties (A)
Last 5 games: LWLLL
The Dragons head into an important clash with Manly this weekend on the back of three straight losses. They hold a three-point gap over the Sea Eagles and a win in either of their two games would see them confirm their finals spot. They can only drop to 9th if they lose their last two games and Manly win theirs.
9 Manly Sea Eagles
20 points, -131 F/A
Remaining games: St George Illawarra (H), Penrith (H)
Last 5 games: WLLLW
The only team outside the current Top 8 still in contention, Manly need to win this weekend, beat Penrith the week after and hope Mounties beat the Dragons. It doesn’t look likely but stranger things have happened in rugby league.
As for the bottom three sides:
- The Warriors (18 points, -181 F/A) sit in 10th and can’t end up with the spoon, with 11th being the lowest they could finish.
- North Sydney (16 points, -229 F/A) would avoid the spoon with a win from their finals two games, although it’s not necessary.
- Wests Tigers (12 points, -257 F/A) will only avoid the spoon if the Bears lose their remaining games, they win their last two and overturn the points differential.