Only 7 Rounds remain; NRL News looked at all the teams with a fighting chance and this is how we see it:
1. Melbourne Storm: An easy one to start with, already have the minor premiership sewn up and have shown they can deal with injuries. Getting stars back each week now anyway.
2. Manly Sea Eagles: Showed enough against the Roosters to prove they are a threat. Defence has been good all year and they are warming to the task. Will be top 4 for sure.
3. Bulldogs: Have a good run how against some lower sides and have been really peaking at the right time. Have talent across the park and some are still yet to peak in 2007; Tonga and Matuia especially – a real premiership chance.
4. Cowboys: Did well to hang in their recently and shrug off some average form. I feel they may have played their best footy for 2007 however. Have a fair run how, probably place to much emphasis on Johnathan Thurston – always risky (a la Newcastle / Johns)
5. Broncos: While they lost their international centre partnering to injury last week, the Broncos are another team coming good at the business end of the NRL 2007. They started to climb the NRL table at the right time and assuming confidence remains high – will be mid field in the top 8. Next few weeks withouth Hodges and Tate crucial.
6. Eels: Poor game Monday, injuries and a horror run home may see the Eels slip out of the Top 4. Have been sneaking around the Top 4 all year, but this will be a very tough period for them. Play the Broncos twice, Bulldogs, Melbourne and Manly – ouch. The Eels will look heavily to Hayne. If he fires at fullback and Tahu makes a strong return, they may pinch a higher spot.
7. Wests Tigers: The entertainers have a nice run home with several home games and several lowly ranked teams to play. The Tigers realistically could pull 5th or 6th spot – their recent form has certainly been impressive. Still awaiting Benji and Hodgo – could be the real darkhorse in 2007 and will have the big guns watching their back.
8. South Sydney: A real tough one to pick at spot 8 – several teams have a chance. We tossed around the Sharks and Bunnies purely from their impressive defence. The Bunnies have a slightly better run home than the Sharks. If Souths can score some points in attack in these remaining rounds, not only will they sneak into the 8 – they will trouble some teams in the finals. Their style suits finals footy big time. This spot will be a real dogfight with the Sharks, Warriors, Knights, Titans and even the Dragons gunning for it.