The NRL ladder prediction: Where your club is actually going to finish

Tim Gore Columnist

By , Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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    With four rounds left to go there are still ten clubs in the mix for the finals. Three clubs are in a dog fight for eighth spot, with another two still mathematically a chance of dropping out of the eight if things go pear shaped.

    However, as we know – although the Eels got very close in 2009 – no club in the NRL era has ever won the competition from outside the top four.

    Only one club – the Storm – is a certainty to make the top four, but another four sides are fighting it out for the other three spots.

    It is this very uncertainty – and the hope and anticipation that it engenders – that has made the NRL ladder predictor the most visited site for rugby league fans.

    Let’s have a look at what could happen.

    Making the eight
    In over 75 per cent of the 18 completed seasons of the NRL so far 28 points were required to make it into the top eight. On a couple of occasions it was less, but in only one instance – 1999 – was more than 30 points required to make the top eight.

    In 2017, 30 points will be the cut off for the eight. Points differential is likely to be vital to making it too.

    There are five clubs still in contention who have not yet accumulated 30 points:
    • The Cowboys (28pts)
    • The Sea Eagles (28pts)
    • The Panthers (26pts)
    • The Dragons (24pts)
    • The Raiders (22pts)

    The Cowboys
    Current points: 28
    Points differential: +44
    Matches: L – Panthers (A), L – Sharks (H), W – Wests Tigers (A), L – Broncos (H)

    The boys from FNQ must only win two more games to be certain of playing finals. Their problem is that they have no gimmes in the run home – and no Johnathan Thurston. Away to the Panthers this weekend will be tough, and the Sharks and Broncos at home are no certainties. Their visit to Campbelltown is the only game they are better than even odds to win.

    Prediction: one win, three losses – 30 Points +20 points differential
    Finish: 8th

    The Sea Eagles

    Current points: 28
    Points differential: +41
    Matches: W – Wests Tigers (A), W – Bulldogs (A), W – Warriors (A), L – Penrith (H)

    How important was that win over the Roosters to stop the rot and renew the confidence. Down 18-4 Daly Cherry-Evans lifted his side. While three of their four remaining games are away, they are playing three out of contention and arguably demoralised sides before coming home to play the Panthers.

    daly-cherry-evans-manly-sea-eagles-nrl-rugby-league-2016

    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)


    Prediction:
    three wins, one loss – 34 Points +71 points differential
    Finish: 6th

    The Panthers
    Current points: 26
    Points differential: +51
    Matches: W – Cowboys (H), L – Raiders (A), W – Dragons (H), W – Sea Eagles (A)

    The men from the foot of the mountain are coming home like a steam train. After a slow start to the season they’ve now won five in a row to be in eighth. Their run home is hard but there is no reason they can’t get their fair share of them.

    Prediction: Three wins, one loss – 32 Points +65 points differential
    Finish: 7th

    The Dragons
    Current points: 24
    Points differential: +73
    Matches: W- Titans (H), L – Broncos (A), L – Panthers (A), W – Bulldogs (H)

    With 74 minutes gone against the Rabbitohs the Dragons looked like they had the match won. Now they’ve only won two of their last eight games and find themselves out of the eight. So can they rebound? No. No they can’t. They’ll get two more wins but they’ll fall short.

    Prediction: Two wins, two losses – 28 Points +67 points differential
    Finish: 10th

    The Raiders
    Current points: 22
    Points differential: +53
    Matches: W- Warriors (A), W – Panthers (H), W – Knights (H), L – Storm (A)

    The Raiders may have finally found the form that has eluded them. A scrappy win against the Rabbitohs, followed by a superb showing against the Sharks, they’ve left it to the very last moment. They can’t lose another game if they want to make the finals. And I think they’ll fall just short.

    The Warriors have a recent record of closing seasons off with lots of losses, The Raiders will be out for revenge against the Panthers after Round 14 and the Knights for Round 10. But then they come up against the Storm in Round 26.

    Prediction: Three wins, one loss – 28 Points +105 points differential
    Finish: 9th

    The Top Four
    Oddly, teams that have finished the home and away season in third place have won the Premiership the most. However, the top four finish has been essential.

    These are the five clubs I think are in genuine contention for the top four:
    • The Storm (36pts)
    • The Roosters (32pts)
    • The Broncos (30pts)
    • The Sharks (30pts)
    • The Eels (30pts)

    I think 36 points will be necessary to make the top four, and again points differential will be vital.

    The Storm
    Current points: 36
    Points differential: +178
    Matches: W- Roosters (H), W – Knights (A), W – Rabbitohs (H), W – Raiders (H)

    Wow. I thought the age of the Storm’s champion players may weary them enough that Bellamy’s boys would perhaps not be the pace setters for a change. Wrong. Second and third is daylight.

    The only thing that can stop the Storm in 2017 is injury to Cooper Cronk or Cameron Smith. I swore that Smith tore his pec against the Raiders and the next week he came out and destroyed the Sea Eagles. He can’t be stopped. He is the Terminator.

    Prediction: Four wins 44 Points +254 points differential
    Finish: 1st

    The Roosters
    Current points: 32
    Points differential: +65
    Matches: L – Storm (A), W – Wests Tigers (H), L – Sharks (A), W – Titans (H)

    I’m not convinced by the Roosters. That loss to the Sea Eagles upset me, and not just because is blew my multi. There was no resilience. Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner back should more than help but they’ve got two very tough matches out of their last four. I reckon they’ll be off to Melbourne first week of the finals…

    Prediction: Two wins, two losses, 36 points +73 points differential
    Finish: 4th

    The Broncos
    Current points: 30
    Points differential: +138
    Matches: W – Sharks (H), W – Dragons (H), W – Eels (H), W – Cowboys (A)

    The Broncos have every excuse to be dropping their bundle. However, they haven’t. I was sure losing Andrew McCullough would render their pack ineffective. However, their demolition of the Titans showed that it might not.

    Tautau Moga Brisbane Broncos NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Plus they are in the mood to attack and they’ve got some deadly weapons in Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt, Darius Boyd, the Nikorima they kept (Kodi) and James Roberts. I reckon they’ll run into the finals on the back of lots of tries.


    Prediction:
    Four wins, 38 points +198 points differential
    Finish: 2nd

    The Sharks
    Current points: 30
    Points differential: +75
    Matches: L – Broncos (A), W – Cowboys (A), W – Roosters (H), W – Knights (A)

    James Maloney is back and that should really help the Sharks steady the ship, after a quick loss to the Broncos that is. I lost a case of beer betting that the Sharks would miss the 2017 finals due to a stellar grand final hangover. Wrong. They’ll finish in third spot, primed for a back to back effort.

    Prediction: Three wins, one loss, 36 points +93 points differential
    Finish: 3rd

    The Eels
    Current points: 30
    Points differential: +12
    Matches: W – Knights (H), W – Titans (H), L – Broncos (A), W – Rabbitohs (H)

    The Eels won’t just make the finals this year – in spite of no Beau Scott and no Clint Gutherson – they area red hot things to make the top four. However, I reckon they’ll just miss on points differential.

    Prediction: Three wins, one loss, 36 points +60 points differential
    Finish: 5th

    So I reckon the final ladder looks like this:
    1. Storm 44 points +254
    2. Broncos 38 points +198
    3. Sharks 36 points +93
    4. Roosters 36 points +73
    5. Eels 36 points +60
    6. Sea Eagles 34 points +71
    7. Panthers 32 points +65
    8. Cowboys 30 points +20
    9. Raiders 28 points +105
    10. Dragons 28 points +67
    11. Rabbitohs 22 points -80
    12. Titans 20 points -166
    13. Warriors 18 points -138
    14. Bulldogs 18 points -161
    15. Wests Tigers 16 points -196
    16. Knights 12 points -256

    At least that is what I came up with on my third go for today.

    So how do you reckon the ladder will end up? Have a go yourself.

    It’s pretty much all of us whose team is still in contention are doing.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.