25 Sep 2020 5:22 PM +00:00

NRL Finals: Why every top four club will and won't win the Premiership

Picture credit: Scott Dillon

Unfortunately, if you support any of the Tigers, Raiders, Knights, Bulldogs, Titans, Cowboys, Sea Eagles or Eels, your team's season is truly dead and buried. However, on a more positive note, if you follow any of the NRL's other and more elite sides in the form of Melbourne, Sydney, South Sydney, or Cronulla, then your side still remains within a shot of glory on the competitions biggest stage. Or on a more sour note, they could also potentially blow it all away.

Here's how every one of the Storm, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Sharks could add another Premiership to their trophy cabinet or just completely lose it all together.

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Craig Bellamy's men

To date Melbourne has had a wonderful season and barring a disastrous last round they will take out the Minor Premiership for this campaign. They have the best points difference in the entire league with a plus of 179. That while they have won ten of their past twelve matches. If that wasn't good enough then two of those victories saw them put up 44 and 52 points against Canberra and St George, respectively. As he always does the man affectionately nicknamed Bellyache has his troops well prepared for an assault on yet another Premiership.

Why they could win it; Their insanely good attack- In twelve of the twenty-three games they've played in this season, the Storm have put up 20 or more points in them. And that is in no small part to attacking-duo Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu who have combined for a massive 30 tries this campaign. While Cameron Munster has 15 try assists (good for Top Five in the League) and Billy Slater has 11 try assists next to his name. These four major players, combined with captain Cameron Smith's absolute arsenal of weapons in attack, including his kicking game, means that when Melbourne get on a roll, there's absolutely no stopping them, no matter how hard the opposition may try.

Why they could lose it; Complacency- They won it last year absolutely smashing the Cowboys by a score-line of 34-6. While they also won it in 2012 when they defeated the Ben Barba superstar led Canterbury side. So it's safe to say that in recent years they've had a fair bit of success when it comes to winning the major trophies on offer in the NRL. And if their Round 21 loss to third placed South Sydney is anything to go by, maybe the effort isn't as full on this season as compared to previous ones. During the 30-20 defeat, they conceded four tries in a row without reply. With what happened at ANZ Stadium pointing to signs that it may, just may, happen to them again in the finals.


Trent Robinson's men

Second place isn't too shabby for a side that at the start of the season had plenty of new faces to integrate into the side, none bigger than Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco. While they also had to get used to the loss of Mitchell Pearce, a man who had put in 238 games worth of blood, sweat and tears into the club. However, they have now lost their past two games on the trot and it is an issue they will need to fix quickly against the Eels, something that shouldn't be too hard to do. Of a massive benefit to them is that they will get two bites of the cherry in their preparation for a fourteenth Premiership.

Why they could win it; Cooper Cronk- The mans played 60 combined games for both Australia and Queensland, while despite being a Halfback, he's scored a nice 19 tries in the process. He also has 345 games of NRL experience to go along with two Dally M Medals and two Grand Final wins next to his name. That along with his countless victories in the representative scene. And this campaign alone he has helped spearhead his side to a Top Two place in the competition, helped in no small part by his dazzling and effective attacking play. If he does what he does, then the Roosters will always be within a shot.

Why they could lose it; Poor form- As was touched on previously, the Roosters have lost their past two matches heading into the final round of the regular season. While only two games before that they just scraped past cellar-dwellers North Queensland, 26-20. In their loss to Canberra, they conceded the games opening 12 points. While against Brisbane playing at home, they got put under the pump, losing by 14 points and managing only one try in the sorrowing defeat. And their victory was against the Cowboys who are in 13th position, and at home, only by six. A lot of question marks raised there. If this continues on into the finals, then they won't be the best team to emerge from the NRL this post-season.

Anthony Seibold's men

For a rookie coach (Seibold), 3rd place on the ladder in the worlds toughest Rugby League competition is very, very respectable. The Rabbitohs boast the NRL's second-best attack with 531 points scored this season, behind only Canberra (547). While Sam Burgess has been an absolute beast for his side this season, with the Englishman averaging 144m per game. That along with 1.8 average tackle breaks and 1.8 average offloads per match. He's also making over 32 tackles every game he plays in. He and GI (Greg Inglis), 128m per game and 14  combined try/try assists are absolutely pivotal to a South Sydney Premiership this campaign.

Why they could win it; The three-headed Burgess monster- Sam, George and Tom help to make up a feared forward pack that's as good as any in the League. They run hard and give as good as they get. If they lay the necessary foundations for their backs to work off of, then there's no reason that these three won't be able to give the Premiership race a real shakeup. They are together averaging an astonishing 360m per game. While Sam has a tackle success of 90%, George an even better 91% and Tom 90%. They know how to play together and 100% bleed red & green. If the Rabbitohs win the entire thing, then it would be safe to say you might even see big Sammy win another Clive Churchill Medal.

Why they could lose it; Anthony Seibold- As impressive as his current 3rd place status is during his rookie NRL coaching year, he's relatively young for a coach (43) and has obviously never coached in the Finals before. While he's done his trade as an assistant coach at Melbourne, Manly and Queensland, coaching a professional Rugby League team on your own is an entirely different thing altogether. He might and probably will struggle a bit when the games have gone down to the wire and there are only a couple of points in it. As good as he's done so far and might continue to do, this is where his inexperience will more than likely hurt the side that he's coaching the most.

Shane Flanagan's men


They are holding a spot within the Top Four and as long as they can win their last match against the Bulldogs then they'll get two chances at competing for the Premiership. However, recent events might mean that those two chances don't matter at all after news emerged of a potential Cronulla salary cap scandal as well as to a lesser extent the circus that Andrew Fifita has been involved in due to his comments aimed at a particular Rugby League journalist. But it wasn't too long ago that Cronulla beat Melbourne 17-14. If they face off in the first week of the finals then maybe they could put all this BS behind them and do it again? Who knows?

Why they could win it; The monkey is off their backs- They took 50 years to claim their first NRL title, 50!!! That's 50 years of pressure and failed attempts before they finally won what they wanted the most. Many players who beat Melbourne that day are still playing for Cronulla now. No longer do they have that pressure, or that insane waiting period weighing heavily upon them. They can just go out there and play their natural style of Footy without worrying about any of that crap that would've affected them the season they finally won it in 2016. And with leaders such as Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen within the side, they'll know just how much a 2nd Premiership will mean to the Shire.

Why they could lose it; Everything that's happened in the past month- Regardless of whether the reports coming out are true or not, there will now be players worrying about their futures within the club and that will 100% affect their mindsets going into matches from here on in, no matter how much Flanagan, Gallen and company might try to convince the playing group otherwise. Nothing here helps the Sharks cause for a Premiership at all. While all the controversy surrounding Fifita and his shot at an NRL journalist might not affect the entire playing group, but it more than likely will affect him, if only a little bit. And given he's one of Cronulla's best forwards, that poses just a bit of an issue headed into the finals.

And there you have it, how every top-four club could potentially either win it all or blow it all this campaign. But regardless of what does happen from now until the final siren after the Grand Final is over, best of luck to Melbourne, Sydney, South Sydney and Cronulla in this year's Finals Series, I'm sure it'll be one to remember.

Who do you think will win the 2018 NRL Grand Final? Let us know in the comments below.