It is always a strange feeling to realise we are just four rounds away from the NRL Finals getting underway.
Now comes the time for punters and fans to get out the spreadsheets and work out the permutations of every possible outcome in the remaining 32 games.
We are wading through the hypotheticals and trying to find a definitive answer to those questions in our weekly rugby league recap.
1 – It Was A Get-Right Weekend in Attack
The good news from the weekend was that it was the closest round of the season with an average winning margin of just 12 points, edging out Round 2 (13.125) and Round 6 (13.875).
Half the games were decided by single digits and just two had final margins of over 20 points.
On the other end of the scale, we saw the lowest scoring round in quite a while with an average of just 38.75 points per game, a drop of 9.75 from Round 20.
Seven of the eight games went under the total points line.
It did not quite reach the level of Rounds 2 (35.625) or 6 (37.375) but it may just be a sign of things to come.
As we get closer and closer to the finals, the top teams are starting to think ahead and may opt to put the cue in the rack when the game is in hand instead of really pushing for those big blowouts.
Meanwhile with so many teams still fighting for a spot in the final eight, you can imagine these sides will be looking to grind out results and avoid making the mistake that could end their season.
With the totals still hovering just above 50, there could be value betting the under over the next few weeks.
2 – Parramatta is a Write Off
Just last week we had the Eels in trouble, but now you can cash out any bets on the Eels to win the NRL Grand Final.
They were decidedly second best against Souths and seem destined to go one and done in the Finals.
After all, they took nearly an hour to get on the board and were well and truly out of it by the time that happened.
It will be a week at most before they fall out of the top four, they will likely finish sixth and face the “best of the rest” in Week 1.
Be honest, who would you back, the stumbling sixth placed Eels or a side that has had to battle week in, week out just to get into the finals?
3 – Kane Evans had a REALLY Bad Day at the Office
We’ve all had those days where you just didn’t feel like working but few have gone to the lengths of Kane Evans to get some time off.
Let’s start with his physical jabs in response to Will Chambers’ verbal barbs.
Then he went back to the bin just because once wasn’t enough.
He’ll have a week or two to reset before getting back into action after that performance.
4 – I Could Watch Manly and Melbourne Again
It might have finished as a 10-point win for the Premiers-elect, but there was a lot to like about Manly’s performance against the competition’s big boys.
While some might have expected Melbourne to do what they always do and blow Manly’s doors off, when the scores were locked at 8-8 at halftime, quite a few punters would have been very nervous.
Not to mention when they fell behind after this.
As they always do however, they found a way to win because… well the Tweet says it all.
It is not the easiest run home for the Storm, but it would be very surprising to see them do anything other than win the minor premiership and make the Grand Final, we might see them actually having to work a bit harder in the coming weeks.
As a minor footnote, how good did their jerseys look on the weekend too?
5 – The Titans Will Play Finals
The Justin Holbrook masterplan appears to be coming together at Robina as the Titans surged into seventh place with a win over the Cowboys on Sunday.
They combined brute force with a little bit of magic and were never really threatened by their cousins from the far north.
Currently at $1.70 to make the eight in our market, they are far from safe but looking at how they are playing compared to their rivals, you would be hard pressed to mount a case against them that didn’t involve a fluke run of injuries.