Final round: How will the NRL top eight finish up?
The final round of the 2019 NRL season is almost upon us - and the top eight is still up in the air.
While Melbourne have locked up another minor premiership, and defending premiers Sydney Roosters have sealed a top two spot there's still plenty to be sorted out when Round 25 kicks off.
With three rounds to go every spot in the NRL top eight can change hands as teams jostle for the double chance and the outsiders look to force their way in.
We predict how the ladder will finish.
1. MELBOURNE STORM
Run home: Rd 25 v Cowboys (H)
Analysis: Locked up yet another minor premiership and a week one final at AAMI Park. Likely to rest Cameron Munster after a shoulder injury scare.
2. SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Run home: Rd 25 v Rabbitohs (A)
Analysis: Will finish the season second regardless of how they fare against South Sydney. Big guns Cooper Cronk and Boyd Cordner are expected to return as they tune up for the finals.
3. CANBERRA RAIDERS
Run home: Rd 25 v Warriors (H)
Analysis: Have locked up a top-four spot (ignoring the mathematical possibility of Manly overturning a vastly inferior for-and-against) but can still slip back to fourth spot, which would mean a trip to Melbourne for week one of the finals.
4. SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Run home: Rd 25 v Roosters (H)
Analysis: Have bounced back to form over the past couple of weeks and look to be heading in the right direction as the playoffs loom. Could still jag third spot - and a blockbuster finals clash with old rivals the Roosters - if the Raiders slip up at home against the Warriors.
5. PARRAMATTA EELS
Run home: Rd 25 v Sea Eagles (H)
Analysis: Have dropped back-to-back games to fall out of the race for the top four, but still have a home final to look forward to in week one. Should rebound at home against Manly to book a clash with the eighth-placed team at Bankwest Stadium.
6. MANLY SEA EAGLES
Run home: Rd 25 v Eels (A)
Analysis: Tom Trbojevic's injury is a hammer blow to Manly's premiership hopes, which were further dented by Saturday's loss to Melbourne ending their top four hopes. Technically they can still finish fourth but, along with a Canberra loss, would need to hammer Parramatta to overturn their inferior for-and-against (currently 86 points). Still have the magician Des Hasler pulling the strings, but no Tommy Turbo should tip the scales in the Eels' favour and drop the Sea Eagles to sixth.
7. BRISBANE BRONCOS
Run home: Rd 25 v Bulldogs (A)
Analysis: Only a loss to Canterbury and the Tigers-Sharks clash finishing as a draw will prevent Brisbane from finishing in the top eight, so lock them in for finals. Anthony Seibold's side has had its low points this campaign but looks to be trending upwards as the playoffs loom.
8. CRONULLA SHARKS
Run home: Rd 25 v Wests Tigers (A)
Analysis: Blew a chance to secure a top-eight spot after falling to the Raiders in golden point. Now they face a straight shootout for the finals away to Wests Tigers. Shaun Johnson's return from injury should be enough to get them home, just.
9. WESTS TIGERS
Run home: Rd 25 v Sharks (H)
Analysis: Did the right thing by beating the Dragons to keep their finals hopes alive going into the final round of the season. Leichhardt Oval will be pumping for Sunday's clash with Cronulla - will Robbie Farah make a miracle return from injury to spark his beloved Tigers?
It's all over for:
12. North Queensland
14. New Zealand
15. St George Illawarra
16. Gold Coast Titans
POSSIBLE MATCH UPS:
1. Melbourne vs 4. South Sydney
2. Roosters vs 3. Canberra
5. Parramatta vs 8. Cronulla
6. Manly vs 7. Brisbane