As the jostling for position in the top eight intensifies over the next fortnight it's important to look at the history of the finals series’ from the past 10 years, all of which have featured the current McIntyre System.<br><br>For example, it seems plenty want to get on the Parramatta Eels’ bandwagon thanks to some ‘superhuman’ form from Jarryd Hayne and a six-game winning streak – but the side is yet to even make the top eight and considering if they do make the finals it is likely to be in the bottom half of the eight, fans should be aware that no team outside the top four has ever won the premiership.<br><br>Now, no-one here at NRL.com is looking to be a killjoy – the Eels’ run is great for the game and perhaps two more wins could actually move them up to fourth, putting recent history back on their side. But facts are facts, and there are plenty of interesting ones from the finals during the past 10 years.<br><br>Let’s start with the premiers. As stated above, no side outside the top four has claimed the premiership in the McIntyre era (since 1999). Meanwhile minor premiers have only gone on to win the major title three times (30 per cent), teams that have finished the regular season second have prevailed twice (20 per cent), team three has held the Telstra Premiership trophy aloft three times (30 per cent), leaving team four with two premierships (20 per cent).<br><br>In terms of just making the grand final the statistics read well for the minor premiers. In eight of the 10 seasons, or 80 per cent of the time, the minor premier has been in the decider. Sure this means they have lost it five out of eight – but they have nevertheless been there in the decider. The lowest-placed regular season team to make the grand final were St George Illawarra in 1999; they rallied from sixth place. But other than them and the 2005 Cowboys, who made the grand final from fifth, once again, it’s all about the top four sides.<br><br>(As a small side note, the team finishing third in the minor premiership has a three-from-three record and the team running fourth has a two-from-two record when they have made the grand final, so they tend to make it and win it… or not make it at all. Meanwhile team two has been runner-up on three occasions.)<br><br>In terms of finals series streaks (while discounting whatever winning streak a side may have been on entering the finals) on seven of 10 occasions the team who hoisted the trophy went through the finals without a loss, meaning only three teams have successfully recovered from an opening-week play-off loss to win the premiership.<br><br>The McIntyre system pits team one against team eight, team two against team seven, team three against team six and team four against team five in the opening week of the finals, with the two lowest-ranked losers being eliminated. This actually puts teams three and four at risk of elimination in Week One of the finals and while it has yet to happen, the Warriors did prove ‘eight’ can beat ‘one’ last season.<br><br>But, their miraculous win over the minor premier Melbourne last year was still the only win by team eight in the past 10 years, giving team eight just a 10 per cent win ratio in Week One of the finals. Here is the breakdown of all teams’ results in Week One.<br><br>• Team One: nine wins, one loss (90 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Two: six wins, four losses (60 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Three: five wins, five losses (50 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Four: six wins, four losses (60 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Five: four wins, six losses (40 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Six: five wins, five losses (50 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Seven: four wins, six losses (40 per cent win ratio)<br>• Team Eight: one win, nine losses (10 per cent win ratio)<br><br>These results have obviously had different permutations in different seasons but the end result has seen the following trends. <br><br>Team eight has obviously been eliminated in the first week on nine of ten occasions and team seven has also been given the quick punt six out of ten times. But perhaps a little more worrying for those teams travelling a little better team six has gone straight out of the finals on four occasions and even team five bombed out in one week back in 2004… so position in the top eight is paramount.<br><br>Then there is the age-old question about whether or not a week off in the finals series (earned by the two highest-ranked winners after Week One) is beneficial or a hindrance. Well, the results over the past 10 years suggest the debate will rage on, with those with a week off winning on 55 per cent of occasions and losing 45 per cent of the time the match after the lay-off. It does show that the break is certainly not necessarily the huge bonus it is made out to be – although it does guarantee your side won’t be eliminated in Week Two!<br><br>Another interesting fact that should not be overlooked is that one of the five top sides each year has gone straight out the back door of the finals with back-to-back losses – and on two of those occasions it was the team that finished second in the minor premiership! <br><br>That’s correct: the 1999 Roosters finished fourth before getting bundled out with successive losses. The 2000 Panthers (fifth), 2001 Bulldogs (second), 2002 Knights (second), 2003 Raiders (fourth), 2004 Broncos (third), 2005 Broncos (third), 2006 Sea Eagles (fifth), 2007 Warriors (fourth) and 2008 Roosters (fourth) all suffered the same inglorious fate. This begs the question… which top-five side will slide out the back door this year?<br><br>This and many questions are still to be answered as we enter the penultimate round of the minor premiership. In what has been one of the most interesting on-field seasons in memory the final fortnight has three teams vying for the JJ Giltinan Shield as minor premier, six teams jostling for the final spot in the top four, eight teams fighting for the final five spots in the top eight… plus two sides are in a knock-down, drag-’em-out battle to avoid the wooden spoon at the other end of the table.<br><br>Where will your team finish? With the above statistics in mind, what does that mean for their premiership chances? Will your side make the finals but then just prove cannon fodder? <a href="http://www.nrl.com/fanzone/ladderpredictor/tabid/10868/default.aspx"><b>Predict the final two rounds and the finals series here with our Ladder Predictor…</b></a><br>
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