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Monday, 9 August 2010

NRL Top 8 Predictions 2010: The Race for September - Who Makes the Cut?

WHO MAKES THE CUT IN 2010?
The Race to September in the 2010 NRL Premiership season is heating up and each club having just four games left to play - a loss here or a win there could decide the makeup of the Top 8 well before the final week of the season.

For the rest of this article - click the link below.

Note: This article was first written on Monday August 9 before Canberra beat Penrith 30-26 in Monday Night Football to complete Round 22 and the win by the Raiders kept them in Top 8 contention - forcing a redo of the predictions below that had factored in a Penrith victory.

As a result it has been amended to include that result - which has a bearing on the Final Predicted Table after 26 Rounds. (Predicted Ladder published August 10)

On the weekly NOT The Footy Show Podcast - we have been discussing the chances of each team to not only make the Finals but win the premiership, so make sure you check out the show on iTunes or on the website.
Here is the competition table after Round 22 of the 2010 NRL Premiership.
So where are we right now?

It looks like the Dragons will take out a second straight Minor Premiership after they defeated the Sydney Roosters 19-12 on Sunday afternoon. With the Raiders defeating the Panthers to end Round 22 - this leaves the Dragons with their 4 point lead and superior differential almost certainties to win the Minor Premiership.

So the teams still in contention for the Top 8 are:

Dragons, Panthers, Roosters, Titans, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Broncos, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Knights, Eels & Raiders.

Mercifully the Bulldogs season in which their game plan completely changed from the one that got them to the Finals last year - is over. The Cowboys are a huge disappointment or a sum of their parts - depending on whether or not you take two years of failure into consideration when looking at their roster. Cronulla are well... Cronulla - a team without top end talent proving that hard work can't win you games when talent simply isn't there. Then there is Melbourne - a team who would sit in 6th had they not busted the cap - but because they did they have sewn up the club's first wooden spoon and will continue to torment tipsters for the rest of the season.


So with 12 Teams fighting for 8 Playoff Spots - here is how the Run Home looks for every team:

ROUND 23 v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles @ WIN Jubilee
Great game for Monday Night Football. Dragons would all but secure the Minor Premiership with a win here. Manly could jump into Top 4 with a win with a win but a loss could see them drop down to 8th. Tip: Dragons
ROUND 24 v Canberra Raiders @ Canberra
St.George-Illawarra can't buy a win against Canberra but they should finish the Raiders season off mathematically with a win in Canberra. If there was a game on the schedule that the Dragons could use to revive their attack - this would be it as the Raiders are not a great defensive team. Tip: Raiders
ROUND 25 v Newcastle Knights @ EnergyAustralia
Newcastle may be fighting for their lives here at home to the Dragons which makes them a threat to the Dragons push for the Minor Premiership. Having said that the Dragons may already have the Minor Premiership sewn up and that gives the Knights a big chance in this one. Tip: Dragons
ROUND 26 v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ WIN Jubilee
The Dragons should be presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield as Minor Premiers in front of their home crowd but it could be after a defeat if the Rabbitohs still have something to play for entering the contest. Tip: Dragons



ROUND 23 v Wests Tigers @ Campbelltown
Huge game in the context of the Top 4. If the Tigers win at home they could move back into the Top 4, the Panthers lose here and they would probably hand the Dragons the Minor Premiership. Tip: Tigers
ROUND 24 v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ CUA
If Souths don't beat Melbourne they will have no choice but to knock off the Panthers at CUA to keep the pressure on the current Top 8. Dave Taylor may be available for this game which would be a huge boost but Penrith will still likely be in the race for the Minor Premiership so they will have plenty to play for themselves. Tip: Panthers
ROUND 25 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @ ANZ
Penrith will still be looking to secure a Top 4 (if not Top 2) spot entering Round 25 and unless the also-ran Bulldogs open up their style dramatically - the Panthers should take the two points here. Tip: Panthers
ROUND 26 v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks @ CUA
Cronulla shouldn't present the Panthers with any problems in Round 26. Unless the Panthers have a large number of players carrying injuries and resting them is a possibility if the Panthers have sewn up a their playoff spot. Still - it's the Sharks, so you pick Penrith. Tip: Panthers

ROUND 23 v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks @ Toyota
The Sydney Roosters should hand the Sharks a thrashing and improve their Points Differential significantly. A Roosters win would keep them embedded in the Top 4. Sharks look destined for the unofficial Wooden Spoon. Tip: Roosters
ROUND 24 v Gold Coast Titans @ SFS
With both the Titans & Roosters expected to win in Round 23 - this game will have a major bearing on the makeup of the Top 4. Given the game is at the SFS you would lean towards the Roosters and their superior differential might secure them a Top 4 spot with a win over the Titans. The ladder is so congested the Titans could incredibly end up in 2nd spot if they win here and results go their way. Tip: Roosters
ROUND 25 v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles @ SFS
The Sydney Roosters might be still in a position to take out the Minor Premiership entering this contest and Manly could find themselves in a rather tough spot if the previous two rounds aren't kind. Given it is at the SFS - the Roosters get an advantage but if Manly are desperate for points to stay in the Top 8 that may lift them here. Tip: Roosters
ROUND 26 v North Queensland Cowboys @ Dairy Farmers
Not the easiest task for the Roosters to go up to Townsville for the last week of the season when their minds will be firmly on the upcoming playoffs and a likely Home Final. So it represents a danger game especially if the Roosters have to win it to secure either a chance at the Minor Premiership or a Top 4 spot. The Cowboys will have played a month without Johnathan Thurston by this stage - so their development will be interesting as the game plan shifts. Tip: Roosters

ROUND 23 v North Queensland Cowboys @ Skilled
The Titans are starting to emerge from their injury crisis and it looks like the Cowboys have entered theirs with Johnathan Thurston done for the season. If the Titans are fair dinkum challengers for the title they must beat the Cowboys and do it well. Tip: Titans
ROUND 24 v Sydney Roosters @ SFS
With both the Titans & Roosters expected to win in Round 23 - this game will have a major bearing on the makeup of the Top 4. Given the game is at the SFS you would lean towards the Roosters and their superior differential might secure them a Top 4 spot with a win over the Titans. The ladder is so congested the Titans could incredibly end up in 2nd spot if they win here and results go their way. Tip: Roosters
ROUND 25 v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks @ Toyota
Recently any team visiting the Sharks at Toyota Park has had their way with the home side - in fact since Round 9 the Sharks have been beaten by 20, 16, 18, 30 & 27 points in every home game. The Titans might be needing a big differential boost from this game as well. That being said if there is a game the Sharks might win before the end of the year - this is it. Tip: Titans
ROUND 26 v Wests Tigers @ Skilled
A game that will probably decide who gets a Home Final. Both teams have poor differentials amongst the teams in contention for a Top 4 birth and whoever wins this game could secure the higher seeding. Tougher to pick than a broken nose at the best of times - let alone 4 weeks in advance! Tip: Tigers

ROUND 23 v Penrith Panthers @ Campbelltown
Huge game in the context of the Top 4. If the Tigers win at home they could move back into the Top 4, the Panthers lose here and they would probably hand the Dragons the Minor Premiership. Tip: Tigers
ROUND 24 v Parramatta Eels @ Parramatta
This game may already be a sell-out such is the anticipation of Jarryd Hayne v Benji Marshall but unless Parramatta beat Brisbane the week before - the Eels will not only need to win this game but win it by about 40 points. Highly doubtful and the Tigers could be all of a sudden on the playoff ropes if they lose to the Panthers in Round 23 and then here against the Eels. Crunch game. Tip: Tigers
ROUND 25 v Melbourne Storm @ Leichhardt
The Tigers won't have any idea what kind of Melbourne side will show up as this is an away game for the Storm but the fact remains the Tigers have to win this game to keep up with the Top 4. However if the Tigers lose in Rounds 23 & 24 they might simply have to win this game to get into the playoffs. If Melbourne are going to rest their star players - away from home in Round 25 seems the most likely time. Tip: Tigers
ROUND 26 v Gold Coast Titans @ Skilled
A game that will probably decide who gets a Home Final. Both teams have poor differentials amongst the teams in contention for a Top 4 birth and whoever wins this game could secure the higher seeding. Tougher to pick than a broken nose at the best of times - let alone 4 weeks in advance! Tip: Tigers

ROUND 23 v St.George-Illawarra Dragons @ WIN Jubilee
Great game for Monday Night Football. Dragons would all but secure the Minor Premiership with a win here. Manly could jump into Top 4 with a win but a loss could see them drop down to 8th. Tip: Dragons
ROUND 24 v Warriors @ Brookvale
If Manly are still on 26 points when they face the Warriors here at Brookvale - they might be in a position where a loss would put the Sea Eagles on the edge of the Top 8. Considering the Warriors might be on 28 points going into this game if they beat the Knights in Round 23 - Manly can not afford to let the Warriors get 4 points ahead by surrendering this game at Brookvale. Tip: Sea Eagles
ROUND 25 v Sydney Roosters @ SFS
The Sydney Roosters might be still in a position to take out the Minor Premiership entering this contest and Manly could find themselves in a rather tough spot if the previous two rounds aren't kind. Given it is at the SFS - the Roosters get an advantage but if Manly are desperate for points to stay in the Top 8 that may lift them here. Tip: Roosters
ROUND 26 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @ Brookvale
Manly should be in the playoffs if they win one game from Rounds 23 to 25 but even then they might have to beat the Bulldogs at Brookvale to guarantee their spot. Canterbury playing their current game plan will pose no threat to the Sea Eagles - but if it opens up, Manly might be in a pickle in what will be Luke Patten's and possibly Brett Kimmorley's last game in the NRL. Tip: Sea Eagles

ROUND 23 v Parramatta Eels @ Suncorp
This game could decide the Top 8 - and yes it's only Round 23. Parramatta need to win all four games to make it with their bad differential while a Brisbane loss here (without Darren Lockyer) all of a sudden puts their own Top 8 spot in jeopardy. Tip: Eels
ROUND 24 v Newcastle Knights @ EnergyAustralia
With Darren Lockyer possibly still out with a rib injury and having been without him against Parramatta - the Broncos might be in a position where the Knights could draw level with them on 26 points if Newcastle win here. Lockyer has been the key ingredient for the Broncos this season as he rediscovered his fitness - but without him can Peter Wallace & Corey Norman do the job? Newcastle's season might be on life support if they lose the week before to the Warriors but if they win - they will be a tough proposition at home. Tip: Knights
ROUND 25 v Warriors @ Mt Smart
If both teams don't have a win in the previous two rounds - this game might be critical to their Top 8 survival. If either team has a win though - this game will probably see one side leapfrog the other in the lower half of the Top 8. Darren Lockyer is likely to return from injury for this game. Tip: Broncos
ROUND 26 v Canberra Raiders @ Suncorp
Brisbane may yet need to win this game to guarantee their playoff spot and the visiting Raiders may put a spanner in the works if they have re-energised their attacking setup. But Brisbane should have Darren Lockyer back (with a run under his belt v Warriors) and they will beat the Raiders and make the playoffs for yet again. Tip: Broncos

ROUND 23 v Newcastle Knights @ Mt Smart
Not only does a Warriors win here put them on the verge of securing a playoff spot - but by beating the Knights the Warriors would rub out the chances of one of their competitors. Knights simply have to win this, as the Warriors are a team with a tough draw that could drop out of the Top 8 - and open a spot up for Newcastle. Tip: Warriors
ROUND 24 v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles @ Brookvale
If Manly are still on 26 points when they face the Warriors here at Brookvale - they might be in a position where a loss would put the Sea Eagles on the edge of the Top 8. Considering the Warriors might be on 28 points going into this game if they beat the Knights in Round 23 - Manly can not afford to let the Warriors get 4 points ahead by surrendering this game at Brookvale. Tip: Sea Eagles
ROUND 25 v Brisbane Broncos @ Mt Smart
If both teams don't have a win in the previous two rounds - this game might be critical to their Top 8 survival. If either team has a win though - this game will probably see one side leapfrog the other in the lower half of the Top 8. Darren Lockyer is likely to return from injury for this game. Tip: Broncos
ROUND 26 v Parramatta Eels @ Parramatta
If the Warriors stumble and win just one game from the previous three entering this Round 26 clash - they might have to beat Parramatta in order to stay in the Top 8. Parramatta will have to be on a 3 match winning streak to be a realistic shot at forcing their way into the Top 8 but even two wins from three might give them a glimmer of hope if they beat the Warriors here. It is possible that the winner of this game would relegate the loser to also-ran status in 2010. Tip: Eels

ROUND 23 v Melbourne Storm @ AAMI
South Sydney will get some troops back here (Sam Burgess & Michael Crocker) but they have lost two key men in John Sutton & Ben Lowe for the season. Melbourne have nothing to play for on the road but have two home games on the trot here where they have played well. South's don't have to win this but considering it is against an non-contending team who might rest a star or three - they really should make it a priority even down on troops. Tip: Storm
ROUND 24 v Penrith Panthers @ CUA
If Souths don't beat Melbourne they will have no choice but to knock off the Panthers at CUA to keep the pressure on the current Top 8. Dave Taylor may be available for this game which would be a huge boost but Penrith will still likely be in the race for the Minor Premiership so they will have plenty to play for themselves. Tip: Panthers
ROUND 25 v Parramatta Eels @ ANZ
Winner of this clash between the Rabbitohs & Eels can probably keep their season alive at ANZ... stick a fork in the loser - because they are done for 2010. Tip: Eels
ROUND 26 v St.George-Illawarra Dragons @ WIN Jubilee
The Dragons should be presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield as Minor Premiers in front of their home crowd but it could be after a defeat if the Rabbitohs still have something to play for entering the contest. Tip: Dragons

ROUND 23 v Warriors @ Mt Smart
Not only does a Warriors win here put them on the verge of securing a playoff spot - but by beating the Knights the Warriors would rub out the chances of one of their competitors. Knights simply have to win this, as the Warriors are a team with a tough draw that could drop out of the Top 8 - and open a spot up for Newcastle. Tip: Warriors
ROUND 24 v Brisbane Broncos @ EnergyAustralia
With Darren Lockyer possibly still out with a rib injury and having been without him against Parramatta - the Broncos might be in a position where the Knights could draw level with them on 26 points if Newcastle win here. Lockyer has been the key ingredient for the Broncos this season as he rediscovered his fitness - but without him can Peter Wallace & Corey Norman do the job? Newcastle's season might be on life support if they lose the week before to the Warriors but if they win - they will be a tough proposition at home. Tip: Knights
ROUND 25 v St.George-Illawarra Dragons @ EnergyAustralia
Newcastle may be fighting for their lives here at home to the Dragons which makes them a threat to the Dragons push for the Minor Premiership. Having said that the Dragons may already have the Minor Premiership sewn up and that gives the Knights a big chance in this one. Tip: Dragons
ROUND 26 v Melbourne Storm @ AAMI
Melbourne at home in Round 26... not an ideal matchup for the Knights who by some miracle may be alive in the Top 8 race entering the last week of the season. Newcastle will have to have won two of their previous three to be alive but either way - Melbourne's stars will all turn out in their farewell game as a 'team' and they'll be hard to beat in front of what should be their biggest crowd at AAMI Park for 2010. Tip: Storm



ROUND 23 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @ ANZ
Although Canberra beat Penrith to end Round 22 - the Raiders are long long odds to make the Finals. As a result someone needs to tell David Furner his side needs to look towards adopting a new attacking structure for 2011 in this one... funny thing is - his Canterbury counterpart Kevin Moore might be well served re-adopting the Bulldogs 2009 model as well. Tip: Bulldogs
ROUND 24 v St.George-Illawarra Dragons @ Canberra
St.George-Illawarra can't buy a win against Canberra but they should finish the Raiders season off mathematically with a win in Canberra. If there was a game on the schedule that the Dragons could use to revive their attack - this would be it as the Raiders are not a great defensive team. Tip: Dragons
ROUND 25 v North Queensland Cowboys @ Canberra
Canberra won't be in playoff contention by Round 25 so this preview is essentially pointless. Hopefully however both teams throw the footy around and we get plenty of points regardless. Tip: Raiders
ROUND 26 v Brisbane Broncos @ Suncorp
Brisbane may yet need to win this game to guarantee their playoff spot and the visiting Raiders may put a spanner in the works if they have re-energised their attacking setup. But Brisbane should have Darren Lockyer back (with a run under his belt v Warriors) and they will beat the Raiders and make the playoffs for yet again. Tip: Broncos

ROUND 23 v Brisbane Broncos @ Suncorp
This game could decide the Top 8 - and yes it's only Round 23. Parramatta need to win all four games to make it with their bad differential while a Brisbane loss here (without Darren Lockyer) all of a sudden puts their own Top 8 spot in jeopardy. Tip: Eels
ROUND 24 v Wests Tigers @ Parramatta
This game may already be a sell-out such is the anticipation of Jarryd Hayne v Benji Marshall but unless Parramatta beat Brisbane the week before - the Eels will not only need to win this game but win it by about 40 points. Highly doubtful and the Tigers could be all of a sudden on the playoff ropes if they lose to the Panthers in Round 23 and then here against the Eels. Crunch game. Tip: Tigers
ROUND 25 v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ ANZ
Winner of this clash between the Rabbitohs & Eels can probably keep their season alive at ANZ... stick a fork in the loser - because they are done for 2010. Tip: Eels
ROUND 26 v Warriors @ Parramatta
If the Warriors stumble and win just one game from the previous three entering this Round 26 clash - they might have to beat Parramatta in order to stay in the Top 8. Parramatta will have to be on a 3 match winning streak to be a realistic shot at forcing their way into the Top 8 but even two wins from three might give them a glimmer of hope if they beat the Warriors here. It is possible that the winner of this game would relegate the loser to also-ran status in 2010. Tip: Eels

So that's the Last Four Rounds of the 2010 NRL Premiership Regular Season broken down... what does our Final Regular Season Ladder look like?
Note: All Games were given default 24-18 score lines: thus any win was given +6 differential boost, any loss a -6.
While not every prediction we have made will be correct - the way the Final Regular Season Ladder turns out with those results, suggests only 9 NRL Teams can make the Finals with Four Rounds remaining.

As mentioned above - you can rule Canberra out of the race with a loss because their differential is so bad and their draw doesn't seem likely to hand them four wins in the last month. South Sydney could lose all four of their remaining games and bow out early, while Newcastle's differential will count against them even if they win three of their last four. That leaves just the Eels in with a shot - the reason is they play the Warriors & Broncos and wins against both teams could open up a spot in the Top 8 for them - yes they need to win all four games to overcome their poor differential but if they win 3 in a row they put themselves in a position where they could replace the Warriors in 8th spot with a win in the Final Round.

It looks like only a late season fade by just one of the Warriors, Sea Eagles or Broncos would open up a playoff spot - and Parramatta may be the only team that can make a run.

IF a team can make a run that isn't already in the Top 8 after 22 Rounds.

As a result of these predictions the First Week of the 2010 NRL Finals Series would feature the following Matchups.

FINALS WEEK ONE - 2010 NRL PREMIERSHIP

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So what do you think?

Are we way off with our Top 8?


Who forces their way into the Top 8 and who drops out?

And finally - once in the Finals - who wins it all in 2010?

Leave a reaction below or get us via The NRL Tweet.
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4 comments:

Stretchgoosey said...

I can't be sure but I'm guessing you're a tigers fan with the tips you're forecasting. I would reverse the titans and tigers result and where the titans may drop only the game against the roosters I suspect the tigers may only win once more this season. Parra are gone and I don't think the broncos will drop 2 games without Lockyer. The broncos pack will own the eels who had resort to trick shots to score against the titans. I expect the broncos to end the eels season early.

W D Nicolson said...

RE: Stretchgoosey

No I'm not a Tigers fan champ.

Just calling it as I see it.

Thing about the Tigers is they have won a lot of games this year that in the past few seasons they would've lost - it's a huge factor when September rolls around - because I believe they have another level to go to when it comes to attacking football that a lot of other teams don't have.

Still I'll stand by my prediction that the Top 8 currently will be the Top 8 at the end of Round 26. The makeup obviously is a variable (esp with Penrith losing to Canberra tonight) but the only team that looks any chance is Parramatta because they have Jarryd Hayne.

Broncos are a good team but I think they lose so much quality without Darren Lockyer that Peter Walllace can't make up for. The two week absence (possibly more) is a mental thing too - as opposed to being without a guy for a week knowing he's coming back the next.

Who do you like for the Premiership though?

Anonymous said...

Who do you think will win it. Add your finals thoughts. I Think it will be Titans-24 Tigers-32.

James.D said...

seems you were right about tigers atleat for the first week.

looks like have started a charge for the finals, it would be a perfect time

most of your tips are spot on so far.

Go the Tigers