NRL finals countdown: Best and worst-case scenarios for all teams in Round 25

A final-round duel between Cronulla and Wests Tigers will decide the top eight's make-up, with Brisbane's finals berth not yet assured.

NRL.com Stats has crunched the numbers to determine the best and worst-case scenarios for all clubs. Some teams, such as last-placed Gold Coast and top-two placeholders Melbourne and the Roosters, cannot change their ladder position in the last round.

Whoever prevails in the Sharks (eighth) and Tigers (ninth) clash at Leichhardt Oval is guaranteed to continue into the post-season.

But in the unlikely event of a draw, both clubs would qualify for the playoffs on for-and-against if the seventh-placed Broncos lose to the Bulldogs.

Melbourne secured the minor premiership with their win over Manly on Saturday while the Roosters can't do any worse than second regardless of results - leaving South Sydney, Canberra and Manly to scrap for the remaining two spots in the all-important top four.

The finals equation


Melbourne Storm (1st, 40 points)

Best finish: 1st

Worst finish: 1st

The Storm wrapped up the JJ Giltinan Shield for the third time in the past four seasons with last round's convincing win over Manly.

Coach Craig Bellamy may ponder resting some players for this week's game against the Cowboys.

Sydney Roosters (2nd, 36 points)

Best finish: 2nd

Worst finish: 2nd

Second place belongs to the Roosters no matter what happens in round 25. 

But that doesn't mean they're already focusing on the finals, with a grudge match against arch-rivals South Sydney to end the regular season on Thursday.

Canberra Raiders (3rd, 32 points)

Best finish: 3rd

Worst finish: 5th

A thrilling golden-point win over Cronulla on the weekend kept Canberra in the top four but they aren't completely assured of a finals double chance.

With fifth-placed Manly trailing the Green Machine by one win, a victory against the Warriors will ensure they finish third. South Sydney (fourth) are level on points but streets behind on for-and-against.

Even if the Raiders lose and the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles salute in their respective matches, Canberra's enviable points-differential total should solidify them in the four.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (4th, 32 points)

Best finish: 3rd

Worst finish: 5th

Like the Raiders, a win this weekend for the Rabbitohs will confirm a top-four finish.

It won't be easy, however, with Wayne Bennett's men to face premiers Sydney Roosters, who will be keen for revenge after losing to the Bunnies in round one.

If they're defeated by the Tricolours, South Sydney must hope the Sea Eagles are beaten by the Eels to avoid sweating on for-and-against to book a finals ticket.

Manly Sea Eagles (5th, 30 points)

Best finish: 3rd

Worst finish: 6th

Manly are only two points behind Canberra (third) and South Sydney (fourth) but points-differential looks to be their biggest obstacle in making the top four.

First and foremost, Des Hasler's troops need to trump Parramatta and rack up a decent score in doing so.

With a for-and-against total of 66, it would be a hard ask for the Sea Eagles to catch the Raiders (154).

But if the Rabbitohs (98) suffer a thumping defeat to the Roosters, Manly could leapfrog them into fourth position.

Parramatta Eels (6th, 28 points)

Best finish: 5th

Worst finish: 6th

The Eels can't make the top four but they're confirmed to host a sudden-death playoff at their Bankwest Stadium fortress.

The incentive to win big against the Sea Eagles this round and finish fifth is a favourable match-up with the side that sneaks into eighth place.

Brisbane Broncos (7th, 25 points)

Best finish: 7th

Worst finish: 9th

Brisbane's one-point earned from a draw with the Warriors earlier this year is set to be the difference in playing finals footy.

The only way Anthony Seibold's side can miss the playoffs is to lose to Canterbury on Saturday and then watch Cronulla and Wests Tigers draw, moving the teams equal with the Broncos.

And with a -41 for-and-against compared to the Sharks and Tigers' positive totals, that unlikely scenario would mean Brisbane slip to ninth.

Cronulla Sharks (8th, 24 points)

Best finish: 7th

Worst finish: 10th

The finals pressure has come a week early for Cronulla, with a win or draw required against the Tigers at a packed Leichhardt Oval on Sunday to make the eight.

The Sharks will rue their goal-kicking if they happen to miss the playoffs given they've lost five games despite scoring more tries than their opponent - including last Sunday's 15-14 defeat to Canberra.

Wests Tigers (9th, 24 points)

Best finish: 7th

Worst finish: 10th

The job is straightforward for Wests Tigers - defeat the Sharks and snap a finals drought dating back to 2011.

As mentioned above, a draw will be enough to nab a place in the eight if Brisbane lose given their respective for-and-against totals.

Newcastle Knights (10th, 22 points)

Best finish: 9th

Worst finish: 13th

A tumultuous campaign will end after round 25, with Newcastle unable to jump into the finals despite a big win over Gold Coast on Saturday.

Pride is at stake when they face Penrith to complete the year on Sunday afternoon.

Penrith Panthers (11th, 22 points)

Best finish: 9th

Worst finish: 13th

Penrith's finals dreams were officially dashed last round following Saturday's loss to the Roosters.

The distractions were rife at the club before a ball was even kicked in 2019 and it's shown in their overall performances.

North Queensland Cowboys (12th, 20 points)

Best finish: 11th

Worst finish: 14th

It's been a tough season for the Cowboys after the retirement of Johnathan Thurston with injuries working against them - and that's reflected in their position.

Having been in slight danger of the wooden spoon a few weeks ago, two consecutive victories has lifted North Queensland away from the bottom of the ladder.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (13th, 20 points)

Best finish: 11th

Worst finish: 14th

A late-season revival won't be enough for the Bulldogs to miraculously finish eighth.

Their four-game winning run was snapped by the Cowboys last week, ending the remote hope of a finals appearance.

New Zealand Warriors (14th, 19 points)

Best finish: 12th

Worst finish: 14th

A dismal few rounds has extinguished any hope of playing in the finals.

The Warriors travel to Canberra to end their campaign with the aim of improving their position by two.

St George Illawarra Dragons (15th, 16 points)

Best finish: 15th

Worst finish: 15th

If there's a positive to be gleaned from what's been a disappointing year, it's that St George Illawarra can't claim the wooden spoon for the first time in the joint-venture's history.

The Dragons have endured some well-documented challenges starting in the off-season and the club has regressed after reaching week two of the finals in 2018.

Gold Coast Titans (16th, 10 points)

Best finish: 16th

Worst finish: 16th

Unfortunately for the Titans, the wooden spoon has their name engraved.

Gold Coast play the Dragons in a bottom-two battle on Saturday night to complete a year they'd rather forget.