Just two rounds remain in the 2020 NRL season and at the conclusion of Round 18, we know which eight sides will be competing in the finals.
You can just about crown the Panthers as minor premiers with their three point lead at the top of the table and an impressive win rate of 16 wins from 18 starts.
At the bottom end of the eight the remaining sides are still jockeying for position, trying to plot the best course to the Grand Final knowing one slip up ends their seasons.
It was a weekend full of statement victories with six of the eight wins coming by double digits as sides try to finish things on a high note.
We’ve run through the stats, facts and figures to find out top five lessons learned from the past weekend in the NRL.
1 – It Was A Weekend for Blowouts
If you had a bet in the NRL head to head markets this weekend it probably was not the most stressful of times whether you were on the winners or losers.
Every game went the way of the favourites and by some margin as well with six of the games being decided by multiple scores.
While with the $2 Line, only the Rabbitohs (-7.5) and Storm (-22) failed to cover the handicap.
Only the Souths and the Tigers on Thursday night was decided by one score while the Raiders, Roosters and Storm all ran riot.
The Raiders have a chance to put together another big win when they host the Warriors this weekend and that will have them primed for finals footy.
2 – Parramatta Desperately Needs to Find Ways to Score
Despite what was in all fairness a herculean defensive effort against the Panthers in Friday night’s blockbuster, the Eels flaws were exposed once again.
They might be willing tacklers and quite well organised week in, week out but they can’t defend their way to the premiership now.
Conceding 64% of possession against the top teams in the competition is a recipe for disaster, especially when they were held tryless by another finals contender for the second time in three weeks.
If they find themselves down by 10 in a finals game you can just about write the Eels off.
3 – Nobody Should Want to Face Souths
One team that seemingly has no trouble scoring is Souths, the Bunnies got the job done with the ball in hand to get by the desperate Tigers on Thursday night.
Perhaps the most impressive part of their last month is the fact Souths have won tight games and a pair of blowouts as well.
Nobody should want a bar of them come finals time because on their day they are very dangerous.
They have a chance at another statement win when they take on the Bulldogs this Thursday and the early read on that line says it’s too small so jump on it early.
4 – You Can Also Put a Line Through the Knights
Kalyn Ponga might be one of the most entertaining players in the NRL but the Knights just haven’t got the horses around him to compete for a title this season.
That was none more evident than Saturday night when the Roosters made them look like a park team with several players rested (including Ponga) and suggests that the Knights could be the team you back against with plenty of confidence in the first week of the finals even with their stars coming back.
A week after looking so good demolishing the (admittedly undermanned) Sharks, the Knights just couldn’t get the job done against one of the Premiership favourites.
The next two weeks for them will about setting things up for a run in the finals as they try and build some confidence.
5 – Good Luck Cronulla
We say it just about every week, we’re never 100% sure what is going to happen with the Sharks but it will probably be entertaining.
They left it very late to put away a Warriors side that is more than happy for the season to end (for very obvious reasons) and were really made to battle more than a side in their position should.
Up next is the Roosters who just seem to be getting stronger and stronger.
Yep… good luck Sharks.