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

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, 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.


    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

    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.

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (74)

    • August 10th 2017 @ 5:25am
      peeeko said | August 10th 2017 @ 5:25am | ! Report

      sadly i agree

    • August 10th 2017 @ 7:22am
      Gray-Hand said | August 10th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      The Broncos aren’t going to win 4 from 4.
      The sharks will beat them through the middle of the field. They can cover the loss of McCullough against a team like the Titans, but not against a pack like the Sharks.

      • Columnist

        August 10th 2017 @ 8:07am
        Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        Sharks don’t have a proper #9 either.
        Broncos look like they are switching to all out attack mode.
        They are very dangerous.
        Can Sharks close them down in front of a very hostile crowd? Possibly.

        • August 10th 2017 @ 10:27am
          Gray-Hand said | August 10th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          Tim – you actually tipped the Sharks in the expert tips article. Which one are you going with?

        • Roar Rookie

          August 10th 2017 @ 10:39am
          Don said | August 10th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          Sharks have a proper 9 on the pine in Segeyaro though.

          The big challenge for the Sharks will be to belt Hunt (fairly) when he comes on. He goes missing at half when he has copped some whacks and will likely do the same thing at hooker.

          For the Broncos, they need to copy the QLD SOO tactics on Fifita and take his legs out. Not sure the Broncos pack has enough good low tacklers to do that though.

        • August 10th 2017 @ 11:52am
          Brian said | August 10th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          With the Broncos it is always reliant on the refereeing. If we have a ref who doesn’t police the ruck/ gives square ups we’re at an immediate disadvantage because the team doesn’t try and slow the game down like the Storm or Sharks.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 10th 2017 @ 12:43pm
            Don said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            Ease up.
            Adam Blair, McGuire, Gillett and Thaiday try to slow down the ruck as much as anyone else in the game.

            Just because they aren’t as good at it as the Storm doesn’t make the Broncos clean skins.

            • Columnist

              August 10th 2017 @ 12:51pm
              Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

              Brisbane concede very few penalties in comparison to most of the other contenders. They aren’t actually that bad on the ruck slowing front. Sure ain’t no Storm, Roosters or Sharks.

            • August 10th 2017 @ 12:54pm
              Roberto said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

              Don, you have no clue.
              Stop throwing up names, have a look at the actual stats before throwing up half-cocked assumptions

              • Roar Rookie

                August 10th 2017 @ 1:55pm
                Don said | August 10th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

                I watch the games rather than just focusing on stats.
                The Broncos slow the ruck.
                Whether a penalty is blown or not often depends on where the transgression occurs.

                They don’t use the tactic as much as the Roosters and Storm do where they actually want the penalty blown so they can reset. But Blair in particular slows down the ruck as much as anyone.

                A few years ago we had people on here saying that the Roosters were being treated unfairly by refs because of high penalty counts against them.
                Equally we had people saying they were just undisciplined.
                A few of us at the time were talking about it being a tactic they used.

                Reality was they gave away penalties on purpose under pressure in their red zone so they could reset their line.

                This is a common tactic now. But for 2 years it showed as a bad stat against them until everyone accepted they did it on purpose. Still shows as a “bad” stat if we close our eyes to the game and review stats to determine team “discipline.”

                I’d say wrestling to give away a penalty in lieu of a try is disciplined play in line with a game plan.
                But in the stats it shows as a guy who gives away penalties….

            • August 10th 2017 @ 1:45pm
              Gray-Hand said | August 10th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

              Don, you have no idea what you are talking about.

              The Broncos play one of the quickest ruck games in the competition by design. Their tactics are to hit the opposition with shoulders and get them on the ground fast with a minimum of wrestling. That, together with the natural tendency of referees to even up ruck speeds makes the game run quicker with more sets of play. The broncos back their fitness and their smaller forward pack to close out matches.

              Look at the statistics – the Broncos both run and concede more metres than most clubs. That’s not because they are so great at attack and bad at defence – it’s because their games have a lot more sets. They also don’t get pinged for slowing down the ruck anywhere near as often as most teams.

              • Columnist

                August 10th 2017 @ 7:33pm
                Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

                Grey Hand and Roberto are right. Broncos are pretty clean in the ruck.

      • August 10th 2017 @ 9:16am
        Andrew said | August 10th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Sharks have had poor completions all year and their last two wins over Souths and the Warriors were not impressive wins at all (before losing to the Raiders). I think after this game against the Broncos we will have a pretty clear indication of whether the Sharks can compete. I think the Broncos are on too big a roll at the moment (I know they lost to the Eels but they played well losing to them), and while James Maloney will obviously make the Sharks better, their attention to detail just isn’t the same this year, so if the Sharks lost three of their last four it wouldn’t surprise me.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 10th 2017 @ 11:39am
          Conan of Cooma said | August 10th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Sharks were in exactly the same predicament last year, falling over at the end of the season. Didn’t stop them from hoisting the trophy.

          • Columnist

            August 10th 2017 @ 12:41pm
            Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

            True. However, they did get two pieces of superb luck.

        • August 11th 2017 @ 5:51am
          Chris Love said | August 11th 2017 @ 5:51am | ! Report

          One thing that may have been overlooked also is Parramatta’s nack, even in their shot years, of beating Brisbane in Brisbane. I’m pretty sure if we got a stats guru to look closely, parramatta would have the upper hand in Brisbane and the reverse in Parramatta.

    • August 10th 2017 @ 8:30am
      back2back said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Hoping Sharks don’t have a similar end to Souths 2015. Defending premier fizzling at the back end of the season. Next 3 weeks will tell.

      • Columnist

        August 10th 2017 @ 8:31am
        Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        I don’t think so. I reckon Sharks are still contenders.

      • Roar Guru

        August 10th 2017 @ 9:29am
        PNG Broncos fan88 said | August 10th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        I’m hoping they finish 4th and topple Storm in Melbourne wk1, they did it in rnd6 with Segy having a blinder. He is key from here on with max minutes at rake.
        That will setup them up perfectly to defend their title.

        • August 10th 2017 @ 11:11am
          Albo said | August 10th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          Can’t agree on Segy ! I think he jolts their forward momentum with his dummy half work. Their pack has been far less effective since Brayley was injured and hence their patchy recent form. Segy is a good individual talent, but more important for the Sharks is their power base with their pack needing to be fully rolling forward & firing. They bwill also now miss Jack Bird in coming weeks. I think the Sharks will struggle to make the top 4. I would nominate the Storm, Roosters, Eels & Broncos for the top 4 at this stage. The bottom half of the 8 will be mostly determined by the Panthers performances. They could win all 4 or lose all 4 but they are all matches against others battling for spots in the 8. I think they will likely win their home games against Cowboys & Dragons to get to 30 points, but will probably need to also win one of the away games against the Raiders or Manly to be safe in the 8. I’m tipping the bottom half of the 8 to be Sharks, Manly, Penrith & Cowboys ( Dragons & Raiders to miss). So I guess I am pretty much with Tim’s forecast 8 , but swapping out the Sharks for the Eels to be inside the top 4.

          • August 10th 2017 @ 12:25pm
            The Spectator said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            Defending premiers are the nuisance team of the yr, can’t go back to back (If Manly under Snake or Mel under Smith can’t, someone will, someday but expect it to happen when the other contenders fall over I juried or suspended) and always have fallen under the premier fade out, hoping they take storm with them as well before they go. Only 15 teams in it every yr unfortunately!

            • Columnist

              August 10th 2017 @ 12:44pm
              Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

              Last side to properly go back to back was Broncos 92-93 and they were massively helped by Stuart’s breaking his ankle.

          • Columnist

            August 10th 2017 @ 12:42pm
            Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

            Agreed Albo. I reckon he’s not in sync with the Sharks pack

    • Roar Guru

      August 10th 2017 @ 8:32am
      Emcie said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      The Sharks vs Broncos game could shake up that table a bit. The winner can jump to second while the loser could drop as low as seventh

      • Columnist

        August 10th 2017 @ 12:45pm
        Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        It’s a huge game. Maloney back, Gallen still playing in spite of his Boyd tackle, no mccullogh. It’s on

        • August 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm
          souvalis said | August 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          Seggys been a great player with previous clubs and was really excited to see the Sharks get him..been disappointed with his performances thus far,but like the idea of using him later on to go at the bigger boofheads when they get tired…

          ..on the other side McGuire still playing despite stomping on players,Jimmy can throw punches whenever he likes with immunity or the fine option…Thaiday and Blair prowling around looking for. 3rd man in opportunity so,yeah,bring the grubbiness on ..will be accommodated..

          • Columnist

            August 10th 2017 @ 7:35pm
            Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

            You forgot Galen’s high tackle.

    • Roar Guru

      August 10th 2017 @ 8:33am
      The Barry said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Lot of variables for the Sharks. You’ve got them down for wins against the Cowboys (a) and Roosters (h) which are far from lay down miseres.

      By the way, the Bulldogs made the GF from 9th spot in 1998…

      It’d be great to see some bottom 6 teams knock over some top 10 teams. Not sure we’ll see many – there seems to be a pretty big gulf in quality between the top 10 and the rest. Not used to being in this position.

      • Columnist

        August 10th 2017 @ 12:47pm
        Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

        They made it, yes.
        I was on the sideline for that GF working with CH9. I remember what happened.
        Dogs 1995 is best comparison. Superb effort.

        • Roar Guru

          August 10th 2017 @ 1:33pm
          The Barry said | August 10th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          The semi final series of 1995 is the greatest month of rugby league I’ve ever seen.

          I watched the semi final against Brisbane on the weekend just gone. Brilliant footy from both sides but especially the Dogs. Pay, Britt, Lamb, Dymock were outstanding.

          From 6th spot, torn apart by SL, beating the best teams of the era Dragons, Broncos, Raiders and Manly in consecutive weeks. It was glorious.

          Didn’t use that as an example as you said the Eels came close in the NRL era making the GF from 8th. But the 98 Dogs were NRL era and made it from 9th.

          • Columnist

            August 10th 2017 @ 7:36pm
            Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

            Yeah but the eels nearly won – I’d argue should have won – in 2009. The Dogs weren’t close in 1998.

            • August 11th 2017 @ 4:15am
              The Spectator said | August 11th 2017 @ 4:15am | ! Report

              09 GF, 5 mins to play, momentum all with Parramatta, 30 meters out Slater attempting to pick up a ball at his ankles fumbles knocks on and continues, ref let’s it go! If that was called Parramatta legitimately beat a team some 2mill better off then they were.

    • August 10th 2017 @ 8:37am
      chump said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Before the win over the titans people were writing the Broncos off. I think the Cronalla Sharps will get over the top of them.

      On the #9 front I rate what Segeyaro can inject into a game.

      • Roar Guru

        August 10th 2017 @ 8:51am
        Emcie said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        really? they scored 72 points over the 2 games before the eels game. Not saying that they’ll beat the sharks but who wsa writing them off after one loss? Sharks have been beaten by the titans and the raiders over the last month but no one’s writing them off

        • Columnist

          August 10th 2017 @ 12:48pm
          Tim Gore said | August 10th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          I thought they might be gone. They aren’t.

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