NRL 2022 draw analysis: Round 25 Roosters-South Sydney blockbuster could decide top eight
One of the most anticipated games of the 2022 regular season is set to decide the final two positions in the top eight. SEE EVERY TEAM’S RUN HOME.
The NRL has been broken into a three-division competition – the serious contenders, the possible finalists and five also-rans battling to avoid the wooden spoon.
An analysis of the draw for the remainder of the season indicates 26 points will be the cut-off point to make the play-offs and that the top eight might not be decided until old rivals the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs meet in a blockbuster opening of the new $800m Allianz Stadium in Round 25.
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With 10 rounds remaining before the finals:
# The top six teams are all but certain to make the top eight;
# Five teams – including heavyweights the Rabbitohs and Roosters – are vying for only two remaining finals berths; and
# The bottom five – the Knights, Bulldogs, Wests Tigers, Warriors and Titans — can already be classified as also-rans after 15 rounds.
We have ranked the run home for each club on the combined competition points of each of their remaining opponents in the run to September.
Of all 16 clubs, the Rabbitohs have by far the toughest draw.
DIVISION 1: Panthers, Storm, Cowboys, Sharks, Broncos, Eels
The Panthers, four points clear of Melbourne Storm, are paying $1.03 to win the minor premiership. They have a bye up their sleeves and games against bottom four clubs the Wests Tigers and Warriors.
Storm and the Cowboys will fight it out for second place. The Cowboys have a bye and the easier draw with three games against ‘division 3’ teams Wests Tigers, Warriors and Bulldogs.
The Eels, Sharks and Broncos will fight for the remaining spot in the top four.
Parramatta have been horribly inconsistent but look most likely to finish fourth and get a second chance in the finals.
DIVISION 2: Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Raiders
The Rabbitohs might be getting Latrell Mitchell back but have the hardest run home.
The teams they play have a combined 174 competition points. They don’t have a bye and have to play the Panthers, Storm and Cowboys plus the Eels twice.
They can scrape into eighth spot on 26 points with five wins from their last 10 games.
It helps having the Knights (away), the Bulldogs (away) and the Warriors (home).
Who would have thought the Roosters would be in ‘Division 2’ at the beginning of the season?
The bookies rated them alongside the Panthers and Storm as the premiership favourites.
At least they have a bye in hand but still have to play the top three Penrith, Storm and the Cowboys before the end of the season. It looks like they will have to win six of their last nine.
Their final game of the season, at the opening of the new Allianz Stadium, against the Rabbitohs could determine the final place in the top eight.
DIVISION 3: Knights, Bulldogs, Wests Tigers, Warriors, Titans
The battle to avoid the wooden spoon is as intense as it gets.
The TAB has the Warriors and Wests Tigers as $3 joint favourites with the Titans ($5), the Knights ($6) and the Bulldogs drifting ($7) on the back of their mini revival.
The fact we have five teams just making up the numbers for the remainder of the year is not good for the competition.
Imagine the boost in crowds and TV ratings if they were all fighting to avoid relegation.
You look at the extraordinary interest in the bottom sides every year in European soccer.
While it is still mathematically possible, the 12th placed Knights would have to win eight from 10 or the Bulldogs eight from nine (they have a bye) to scrape in.
The Knights just aren’t playing well enough and the Dogs would have to consistently produce their form from the last fortnight which is highly unlikely.
Still Titans coach Justin Holbrook says there’s still much to be achieved this year.
“You certainly don’t give up,” he said, “You’ve got to stay optimistic.
“Like in 2020 we’ve got to finish the season really well.
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“You saw it against the Sharks, we’re still competing and trying to win footy games.
“We can’t just capitulate and we won’t.”
Originally published as NRL 2022 draw analysis: Round 25 Roosters-South Sydney blockbuster could decide top eight