Parramatta Eels vs. North Queensland Cowboys (TV style) – My call (NRL Finals – Week Two – Semi-Final)

Earlier tonight, I called the second Semi-Final of the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) Finals between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys, which was held at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Eels came into this semi-final after a narrow loss last week against the Melbourne Storm (18-16), while the Cowboys came into this semi-final after defeating the defending premiers, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in an extra-time thriller (15-14), with Michael Morgan kicking the first field goal of his NRL career to sink the Sharks.

So, would the Eels keep their premiership dream alive? Or, would the Cowboys make their third-straight preliminary final?

Find out right here, and enjoy my call!

Brisbane Broncos vs. Penrith Panthers (TV style) – My call (NRL Finals – Week Two – Semi-Final)

Earlier tonight, I called the first semi-final of the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) Finals Series between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers, which was held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The Broncos came into this semi-final after losing narrowly to the Sydney Roosters in last week’s qualifying final (24-22), while the Panthers won last week’s Elimination Final against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (22-10).

In recent matches between the two teams, the Panthers have won six of their 10, including five of their last eight, four of their last six, and two of their last three. However, Broncos won their only meeting this year before tonight back in Round 9 (32-18).

So, in their first finals meeting since 2003, would it be the Broncos or the Panthers who would make the preliminary final to face the Melbourne Storm next week?

Find out right here, and enjoy my call!

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks vs. North Queensland Cowboys (TV style) – My call (NRL Finals – Week One – Elimination Final)

Earlier today, I called the Elimination Final in the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) Finals Series between the defending premiers, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, and the 2015 premiers, the North Queensland Cowboys.

The Sharks come into the elimination final having won two of their last three matches, but having lost three of their last five, while the Cowboys have lost five of their last six matches, including last week against the Brisbane Broncos.

In recent matches between the two teams, the Sharks have won six of their last eight against the Cowboys, and have won both encounters they have had against each other at Allianz Stadium, both finals matches.

In finals matches, the Sharks have won two of their three encounters against the Cowboys.

So, will the Sharks keep their chances of winning back-to-back premierships alive? Or, will the Cowboys defy injury, and the odds to keep their chances of winning a second premiership in three years alive?

Find out right here, and enjoy!

Melbourne Storm vs. Parramatta Eels (TV style) – My call (NRL Finals – Week One – Qualifying Final)

Earlier today, I called the qualifying final in the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) Finals Series between the Melbourne Storm and the Parramatta Eels, which was held at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

The Storm came into this qualifying final on a seven-match winning streak, and have a dominant recent record against the Eels, winning seven of their last 11 matches against them, including six of their last nine, and four of their last six.

In addition to this, the Storm are only one of two teams who had a points differential of +100 or better, and while the Broncos lost last night to the Roosters, the Storm will be looking for a win to move within one match of the 2017 NRL Grand Final, and set up a potential match-up with the Broncos as they look to keep the record where by no team with a points differential of less than +100 has won the premiership since the Top Eight era started in 1999.

The Eels, who will be making their first finals appearance since 2009, where they of course met the Storm in the 2009 NRL Grand Final, and have nine players making their finals debut today, come into today’s qualifying final on a three-match winning streak, and have won 11 of their last 13 matches, including nine of their last 10.

And despite their bad recent record against the Storm, the Eels have won two of their last three against the Storm.

So, in Cameron Smith’s 356th NRL match, where he breaks the record of Darren Lockyer for most matches played in the NRL, would the Storm win to get the week off, or would the Eels march into the preliminary final?

Find out here, and enjoy!

Sydney Roosters vs. Brisbane Broncos (TV style) – My call (NRL Finals – Week One – Qualifying Final)

Earlier tonight, I called the Qualifying Final in the National Rugby League (NRL) between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos.

The Roosters came into this qualifying final having won five of their last seven matches, including their last three matches, while the Broncos came into this qualifying final having won eight of their last 11 matches, including six of their last eight, and four of their last five.

In recent matches between the two teams, the Broncos had won 14 of their last 22 matches against the Roosters, but the Roosters had won seven of their last 13 matches against the Broncos.

So, would the Roosters win and get the week off, or would it be the Broncos who would move to within one match of the 2017 NRL Grand Final.

Find out right here, and enjoy my call of one of the matches of the year!

NRL Finals – Preview

The National Rugby League (NRL) Finals Series begins on Friday night with the second qualifying final between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos from Allianz Stadium in Sydney, but overall it has been a wonderful season so far in 2017.

The Melbourne Storm have won the minor premiership for the second-successive year, and their total of 44 points is the most by a minor premier since 2006 and 2007, also by the Melbourne Storm, who achieved 44 points in both of those years, albeit with one less round in 2007, and were six points clear in 2007, and eight points clear in 2006 over second place, making 2017 the largest margin between first and second place in the regular season since those years.

However, they were of course stripped of those minor premierships in 2006, 2007, and 2008 due to serious, systematic breaches of the salary cap back in 2010, along with the premierships in 2007 and 2009, as well as the World Club Challenge success back in 2010.

Back in 2006, the Brisbane Broncos finished third after the regular season of that year, and went onto win their last premiership to date, and the team I tipped at the start of the year is in the perfect position to make a charge towards their first premiership in 11 years, even when you look at it from a statistical sense, as in the last three years, the team who has finished third after the regular season has gone onto win the premiership.

However, the challengers to these two teams are strong.

The Sydney Roosters have produced a fantastic bounce-back season in 2017 after finishing second-last in 2016, and are capable of pushing the Storm all the way for the premiership. The Parramatta Eels have surprised everyone, including myself, and there is great hope from all Eels supporters far and wide that they can end their 31-year premiership drought.

However, we cannot forget the defending premiers the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, who are looking to become the first team to go back-to-back in a unified competition since the Broncos in 1992-93, as well as the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Penrith Panthers, and the North Queensland Cowboys, who have all battled with inconsistency, injuries, and off-field issues to varying degrees throughout 2017, but will look to cause some big upsets, and challenge for the crown.

Let’s have a look at each of the eight team, and attempt to work out who can, and will win the premiership in 2017.

Melbourne Storm (1st) (44 points) (Points Differential: +297)

The Melbourne Storm have been a class act so far in 2017, winning 20 matches, and losing only four! They are the best attacking team in the competition, scoring 633 points at an average of 26.37 points per game, and they are the best defensive team in the competition, conceding 336 points at an average of 14 points per game.

They have arguably the best spine in the competition in Billy Slater, who has been sensational in his return from his shoulder problems this year, Cameron Munster, who of course was brilliant on debut for Queensland in Game Three this year, Cooper Cronk, who will leave the Storm at the end of the season, and Cameron Smith, who will achieve the milestone of most matches played in the NRL on Saturday afternoon against the Parramatta Eels, playing his 356 NRL match.

They have a strong forward pack, led by the likes of Jesse Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi, Dale Finucane, and Tim Glasby, as well some star outside backs in Josh Addo-Carr, Suliasi Vunivalu, and the experienced Will Chambers.

The Storm are the complete package, and while they will have one eye looking towards the future, they will just focus on the present, and attempt to send Cronk out from their club as a winner!

Sydney Roosters (2nd) (38 points) (Points Differential: +72)

No one since the top eight finals system(s) were introduced in 1999 has won the premiership after having a points differential of lower than +100 after the regular season, but if there was a team to break through to defy that record, it is the Sydney Roosters.

They have had a great bounce-back year in 2017, and their big-name players have starred from the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Jake Friend, Boyd Cordner, and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves just to name a few, while Luke Keary has been superb in his first season with the club.

And while the Roosters have been strong defensively, ranked third in the competition, conceding 428 points at an average of 17.83 points per game, they have struggled to put it together in an attacking sense being only the seventh-best team in that department, scoring 500 points at an average of 20.83 points per game.

They can definitely challenge for the premiership, but time will tell as to whether the Roosters can win it!

Brisbane Broncos (3rd) (36 points) (Points Differential: +164)

As I mentioned before, no team since the top eight finals system(s) were introduced in 1999 has won the premiership after having a points differential of lower than +100 after the regular season, and the only two teams in this year’s finals series with a +100 points differential or better, which is in-fact the lowest number of teams in the finals with a +100 points differential or better since 2010, are the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos.

The Broncos come into the finals in interesting form, having won six of their last eight matches, with both of those losses coming against the Parramatta Eels, but have suffered a few key injuries, and while Darius Boyd should be back in the side beyond week one of the finals, the Broncos have plenty of quality depth to cover for the injuries, and that is why they are contenders for the title in 2017.

They are the second-best team in attack, scoring 597 points at an average of 24.87 points per game, and the fourth-best team defensively, conceding 433 points per game at an average of 18.04 points per game, and while many have questioned the Broncos toughness and mentality, outside of the Storm, statistically and historically speaking, they are the team to beat.

Parramatta Eels (4th) (36 points) (Points Differential: +39)

The Parramatta Eels have defied most people’s expectations, including my own, to not only reach the top eight, but to get inside the top four, which given their overall squad is remarkable!

And while the Eels have stars in Clint Gutherson (injured), Bevan French, Semi Radradra, Michael Jennings, Corey Norman, and Mitchell Moses, they have had some other players who have really lifted their games in the likes of Daniel Alvaro, Tim Mannah, Manu Ma’u, Tepai Moeroa, and Nathan Brown just to name a few.

However, the Eels are only the eighth-best attacking team in the competition, scoring 496 points at an average of 20.66 points per game, and only the eighth-best team defensively, conceding 457 points at an average of 19.04 points per game, and when you consider those facts, if a team from inside the top four is going to go out in straight sets, it will be them.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (5th) (34 points) (Points Differential: +69)

The defending premiers, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have finished outside of the top four in their title defence to date, and while they haven’t finished inside the top four after the regular season, it is not all doom and gloom for the Sharks, with the team still good defensively, being ranked second in the NRL, conceding 407 points at an average of 16.95 points per game.

However, despite maintaining most of their premiership-winning side from 2016, with 14 of those 17 named to play on Sunday against the North Queensland Cowboys, they have lost some attacking output, compared to last year. The Sharks are only the ninth-best attacking team in the competition, scoring 476 points at an average of 19.83 points per game.

Overall, while I think the Sharks can beat the Cowboys in week one, and defeat the Eels (should they lose to the Storm) in week two to make the preliminary finals, they are not going as well as what they were last year, and will fall to either the Broncos or the Roosters in week three of the finals.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (6th) (32 points) (Points Differential: +40)

The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have had, at times, an inconsistent season, but are capable of producing brilliance at any time, with players such as Daly Cherry-Evans, Blake Green, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau, and Akuila Uate.

The Sea Eagles are the fourth-best attacking team, scoring 552 points at an average of 23 points per game, but only the 11th-ranked team defensively, conceding 512 points at an average of 21.33 points per game, and while they are capable of making a run deep into the finals, I think they will only make the second week of the finals.

Penrith Panthers (7th) (30 points) (Points Differential: +45)

The Penrith Panthers, like the Sea Eagles, have had an up-and-down season in 2017, with off-field issues, issues with discipline with key players, blighted by breathtaking brilliance on the field has left me scratching my head about the Panthers ability to become a club that can be a consistent premiership challenger.

There are question marks about Anthony Griffin’s ability as an NRL coach, as well as Matt Moylan’s future at the club within the problems of his personal life as a professional rugby league player, as well as even massive doubts about Phil Gould’s ability, not as a coach, but as a general manager, and quite frankly, the Panthers are underachieving as a club.

And while the Panthers are the sixth-best team in attack, scoring 504 points at an average of 21 points per game, they are only the ninth-best team defensively, conceding 459 points at an average of 19.12 points per game, and that combined with the off-field issues of Moylan should see the Panthers exit after the first week of the finals.

North Queensland Cowboys (8th) (30 points) (Points Differential: +24)

The North Queensland Cowboys have been battered by injuries throughout 2017, losing Matthew Scott early to a season-ending knee injury, and then losing Johnathan Thurston, eventually, for the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury, as well as having numerous injuries to other key players throughout the year, and while Jason Taumalolo has still been strong, and the likes of Scott Bolton, John Asiata, and Coen Hess have stepped up their performances, it is clear that the team has been running on empty.

And while the Cowboys are the fifth-best team defensively, conceding 443 points at an average of 18.45 points per game, they are only the 10th-ranked attacking team in the NRL, scoring 467 points at an average of 19.45 points per game, and considering that, the Cowboys would be very lucky to make it past the first week of the finals, let alone challenge for their second premiership in three years.

Overall thoughts

To be honest, there are only two teams who are genuinely capable of winning the premiership in 2017, and they are the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos, and while I think the Sydney Roosters can challenge them if they find some more consistent form, I believe the other five teams in the finals don’t have a realistic chance of winning the premiership this year.

2017 NRL season – The run home

We are heading into the business rounds of the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season, and there are a number of teams who are queuing up for a shot at premiership glory.

After making my predictions before the season, and at the halfway mark of the season (Part One, Part Two), it is time to make some more predictions as we head ever closer to the finals as to where your team will finish in 2017.

 

Melbourne Storm (currently first on 30 points, +120 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: First on 42 points, +164 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Third)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Canberra Raiders Loss by 6

Round 21: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Win by 6

Round 22: North Queensland Cowboys Win by 6

Round 23: Sydney Roosters Win by 2

Round 24: Newcastle Knights Win by 18

Round 25: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 12

Round 26: Canberra Raiders Win by 6

My thoughts

The Melbourne Storm continue to amaze in so many ways, and I think from this position, they will win their second-successive minor premiership. The only match out of their last seven regular season matches I predict they will lose will be this week against the inspired and desperate Canberra Raiders, and will march into the finals on the back of six straight wins, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

In the finals series, the Storm will win their seventh match in a row against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Week One to move straight through to the preliminary finals. However, they will suffer a shock loss at home against the Raiders to crash out of the finals one win short of a second-successive grand final appearance.

 

Sydney Roosters (currently second on 28 points, +53 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Third on 38 points, +100 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Fifth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Newcastle Knights Win by 12

Round 21: North Queensland Cowboys Win by 8

Round 22: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 2

Round 23: Melbourne Storm Loss by 2

Round 24: Wests Tigers Win by 18

Round 25: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 1

Round 26: Gold Coast Titans Win by 12

My thoughts

The Sydney Roosters are a completely different team in 2017 compared to 2016, and while I don’t think they are quite as good as the team that won the premiership in 2013, and the minor premiership in 2013, 2014, and 2015, they should comfortably make the top four, despite a couple of hiccups in Round 22 and 23 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm.

However, the Roosters will lose in Week One of the finals against the Brisbane Broncos in an absolute thriller, before being shocked in Week Two against the Canberra Raiders to go out in straight sets.

 

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (currently third on 26 points, +87 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Fourth on 34 points, +98 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Sixth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 2

Round 21: Melbourne Storm Loss by 6

Round 22: Sydney Roosters Win by 2

Round 23: Wests Tigers Win by 18

Round 24: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 1

Round 25: New Zealand Warriors Loss by 6

Round 26: Penrith Panthers Win by 2

My thoughts

The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have proven everyone wrong, including myself, and should comfortably cruise into the finals, and likely finish inside the top four, despite losses against the Melbourne Storm, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the New Zealand Warriors during the final seven rounds.

However, the Sea Eagles fantastic season will come to an end after Week Two of the finals after losing to the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys.

 

Brisbane Broncos (currently fourth on 26 points, +68 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Second on 40 points, +142 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Premiers)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Win by 12

Round 21: Parramatta Eels Win by 6

Round 22: Gold Coast Titans Win by 12

Round 23: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 8

Round 24: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 18

Round 25: Parramatta Eels Win by 12

Round 26: North Queensland Cowboys Win by 6

My thoughts

The Brisbane Broncos have been my pick to win the premiership in 2017, and while I think they will just miss out on the minor premiership, they will finish inside the Top Two after winning their final eight matches of the regular season, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

In the finals, the Broncos will defeat the Sydney Roosters in a classic to qualify for a preliminary final, where they will defeat their great rivals, the North Queensland Cowboys, to qualify for their second grand final in three years.

They will meet the Canberra Raiders in the grand final, and in a tightly-fought contest, the Broncos will claim their sixth premiership in a unified competition (seventh if you include Super League), which would be their first premiership in 11 years, after completing an 11 match winning streak, and complete the ultimate redemption story after losing the 2015 NRL Grand Final against the Cowboys in extraordinary circumstances.

 

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (currently fifth on 26 points, +65 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 10th on 28 points, +48 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 2

Round 21: New Zealand Warriors Loss by 2

Round 22: Canberra Raiders Loss by 1

Round 23: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 8

Round 24: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 6

Round 25: Sydney Roosters Loss by 1

Round 26: Newcastle Knights Loss by 1

My thoughts

The defending premiers currently sit fifth on the competition ladder, and while many people think the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have a great chance of going back-to-back, I am predicting them to have a great fall, losing their last six matches, which would be their longest losing streak of season, including a two-point loss against the New Zealand Warriors, plus one-point losses against the Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters, and the Newcastle Knights to miss the Top Eight on points differential, and become the first defending premiers (excluding salary cap penalties) to miss the finals since the Wests Tigers back in 2006.

 

North Queensland Cowboys (currently sixth on 26 points, +56 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Fifth on 34 points, +68 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Fourth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: New Zealand Warriors Win by 18

Round 21: Sydney Roosters Loss by 8

Round 22: Melbourne Storm Loss by 6

Round 23: Penrith Panthers Win by 2

Round 24: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 6

Round 25: Wests Tigers Win by 6

Round 26: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 6

My thoughts

The North Queensland Cowboys, in the absence of co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, are proving how strong their club is, and despite some close losses in the final seven rounds against the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos, they will comfortably make the finals for the seventh year in a row.

In the finals, the Cowboys will defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons in Week One, before defeating the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Week Two to set up another blockbuster against the Brisbane Broncos, where their finals run will come to an end.

 

Parramatta Eels (currently seventh on 24 points, -19 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Seventh on 30 points, -15 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Seventh)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Wests Tigers Win by 12

Round 21: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 6

Round 22: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 2

Round 23: Newcastle Knights Win by 12

Round 24: Gold Coast Titans Win by 2

Round 25: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 12

Round 26: South Sydney Rabbitohs Loss by 2

My thoughts

The Parramatta Eels have comprehensively proven me wrong, and while on paper they look to have one of the easiest runs home, they will only win three of their last seven matches, including their last two to scrape into finals in seventh position, and with a negative points differential.

The Eels will then suffer a Week One exit at the hands of the Canberra Raiders.

 

St George Illawarra Dragons (currently eighth on 22 points, +52 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Eighth on 28 points, +55 differential, 112.7 percent)

(My predicted finals finish: Eighth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 2

Round 21: Newcastle Knights Loss by 2

Round 22: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 2

Round 23: Gold Coast Titans Win by 6

Round 24: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 18

Round 25: Penrith Panthers Loss by 1

Round 26: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Win by 18

My thoughts

In recent weeks, the St George Illawarra Dragons have been struggling, winning only one of their last four, including losing their last two matches, and while I think that losing streak will stretch out to four matches, I believe the Dragons will win three out of their last five matches, including their Round 26 encounter against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to be tied on the same amount of competition points, as well as on points differential with the Penrith Panthers.

However, the superior defence of the Dragons throughout 2017 will see them qualify for the finals in eighth position on percentage.

Despite making the finals, their stay in September will be short-lived, losing to the North Queensland Cowboys in Week One of the finals.

 

Penrith Panthers (currently ninth on 20 points, +21 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Ninth on 28 points, +55 differential, 111.8 percent)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Gold Coast Titans Win by 12

Round 21: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Win by 8

Round 22: Wests Tigers Win by 18

Round 23: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 2

Round 24: Canberra Raiders Loss by 1

Round 25: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 1

Round 26: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 2

My thoughts

The Penrith Panthers have started to find some momentum in 2017 after a difficult start, winning their last two matches. I think they will win their next three matches to extend their winning streak to five, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

However, the Panthers will lose three of their last four matches to finish equal with the St George Illawarra Dragons, both on competition points and on points differential, and despite the strong attack of the Panthers, the superior defence of the Dragons will see the Panthers miss out on the finals in heartbreaking circumstances.

 

Canberra Raiders (currently 10th on 18 points, +27 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Sixth on 30 points, +59 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Grand Finalists)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Melbourne Storm Win by 6

Round 21: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 12

Round 22: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 1

Round 23: New Zealand Warriors Win by 12

Round 24: Penrith Panthers Win by 1

Round 25: Newcastle Knights Win by 6

Round 26: Melbourne Storm Loss by 6

My thoughts

The Canberra Raiders have had difficult year so far in 2017, winning only seven out of their 17 matches, which has surprised most who tipped them to be premiership contenders, including myself. However, their golden point victory in Round 19 against the St George Illawarra Dragons, inspired by their halfback Aidan Sezer not only ended a four match losing streak, I think it will inspire them into a great run of form.

The Raiders will complete a seven match winning streak, which would be their longest of the season, to qualify for the finals in sixth position, with the only match they will lose in the regular season run home being against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park.

Once in the finals, the Raiders will win three-straight matches against the Parramatta Eels, Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm to qualify for their first grand final since 1994.

However, in a tight contest, the Raiders will fall just short against the Brisbane Broncos in their quest to win their first premiership since 1994.

 

New Zealand Warriors (currently 11th on 18 points, -38 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 12th on 22 points, -92 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 18

Round 21: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 2

Round 22: Newcastle Knights Loss by 6

Round 23: Canberra Raiders Loss by 12

Round 24: South Sydney Rabbitohs Loss by 8

Round 25: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Win by 6

Round 26: Wests Tigers Loss by 18

My thoughts

The New Zealand Warriors are the greatest underachievers this competition has ever seen, and with the injury to Shaun Johnson, you can’t see the Warriors shrugging off this tag anytime soon, and will miss the finals for the sixth year in a row.

The Warriors will lose seven out of their last nine matches, including four of their last five to comfortably miss the finals once again.

 

Gold Coast Titans (currently 12th on 18 points, -42 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 14th on 20 points, -75 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Penrith Panthers Loss by 12

Round 21: Wests Tigers Win by 12

Round 22: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 12

Round 23: St George Illawarra Dragons Loss by 6

Round 24: Parramatta Eels Loss by 2

Round 25: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 1

Round 26: Sydney Roosters Loss by 12

My thoughts

The Gold Coast Titans, despite their injuries, have put up a respectable record of seven wins from 17 matches, and despite the strong and consistent they have put in, I think they are about to fall away from any realistic contention.

The Titans will lose six of their last seven matches, including their last five, which would be their longest losing streak of the season, to finish 2017 in 14th position.

 

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (currently 13th on 18 points, -59 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 11th on 26 points, -91 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 12

Round 21: Penrith Panthers Loss by 8

Round 22: Parramatta Eels Win by 2

Round 23: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 2

Round 24: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Win by 1

Round 25: Gold Coast Titans Win by 1

Round 26: St George Illawarra Dragons Loss by 18

My thoughts

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are going to miss the finals, and if they do miss the finals, they will become the first Des Hasler-coached club to miss the finals since 2004.

The Bulldogs will lose their next two matches, before going on a four-match winning streak, which would be their longest winning streak of the season, as their finals hopes hang by a thread.

However, despite this winning run, other results go against them, leaving them with an unrealistic task to make the finals against the St George Illawarra Dragons as their season collapses in a heap.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs (currently 14th on 16 points, -42 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 13th on 20 points, -62 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Loss by 2

Round 21: Canberra Raiders Loss by 12

Round 22: St George Illawarra Dragons Loss by 2

Round 23: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 2

Round 24: New Zealand Warriors Win by 8

Round 25: Melbourne Storm Loss by 12

Round 26: Parramatta Eels Win by 2

My thoughts

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have shown signs of life at some points of the season, but have shown signs of inconsistency, and I think they will fall away during the last seven matches of the season.

In fact, the Rabbitohs will lose their next four to complete a six-match losing streak, which would be their longest of the season, and will lose seven out of their last nine matches to finish in 13th position.

 

Wests Tigers (currently 15th on 12 points, -169 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 16th on 14 points, -235 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Parramatta Eels Loss by 12

Round 21: Gold Coast Titans Loss by 12

Round 22: Penrith Panthers Loss by 18

Round 23: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 18

Round 24: Sydney Roosters Loss by 18

Round 25: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 6

Round 26: New Zealand Warriors Win by 18

My thoughts

I think the Wests Tigers will claim the wooden spoon after a tumultuous year. They will complete a seven-match losing streak in Round 25 against the North Queensland Cowboys, which would be their equal-longest of the year, before winning their last match of 2017 against the New Zealand Warriors.

 

Newcastle Knights (currently 16th on eight points, -180 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 15th on 14 points, -219 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Sydney Roosters Loss by 12

Round 21: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 2

Round 22: New Zealand Warriors Win by 6

Round 23: Parramatta Eels Loss by 12

Round 24: Melbourne Storm Loss by 18

Round 25: Canberra Raiders Loss by 6

Round 26: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 1

My thoughts

Many experts have already pencilled in the Newcastle Knights to win the wooden spoon, and many people would agree with them.

However, although I think the Knights will complete an eight-match losing streak against the Sydney Roosters, which would be their longest in 2017, they will win three of their last six matches, including knocking out the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from finals contention to avoid the wooden spoon on points differential.