How to make the finals
Now that State of Origin is done for another year, it's time to dust off the calculators to work out the mathematical equations required to see where your favourite team will finish on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder.
With seven rounds to go, 15 of the 16 teams are still in with a shot of playing in September, although for the sides near the bottom of the table it would take a minor miracle to qualify for the business end of the season.
History tells us the Cronulla Sharks and Melbourne Storm have already qualified for the NRL finals, but the race for the final two spots in the top four is heating up with four teams in with a real shot of earning the second chance in week one of the playoffs.
The Cowboys and the Bulldogs are in the box seat at the moment but play each other this weekend, meaning one – if not both – will be leapfrogged by the Raiders and/or Broncos.
Only four points separate the sixth-placed Brisbane Broncos from the 10th-ranked the St George Illawarra Dragons who are joined by three other teams on 20 competition points.
Seven of the past 10 seasons have seen 28 points be the cut-off mark to make the eight, with only the Warriors (2008) and Eels (2009) having to win more games to make the finals.
While history doesn't necessarily dictate the future, here's a look back at what was needed to finish in the positions that mattered most over the past decade.
The Storm* finished the regular season as minor premiers with 44 competition points, but it was the third-placed Broncos on 32 points who won the grand final.
The Newcastle Knights finished in fourth place on the ladder on 32 points and superior points differential, while the Eels rounded out the eight on 28 points despite being on just 12 after 16 rounds.
History repeated as the Storm* finished the year on top with 44 points, and this time carried that form through to the decider.
29 points was enough to make the top four in 2007 with the Warriors sneaking into fourth place. Incredibly, the Broncos finished eighth despite only finishing on 24 points; their superior for and against enough to see them edge out the Wests Tigers.
This was the tightest race for the minor premiership with the Storm* (38 points) edging out the Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles on for and against. The latter, however, would take their revenge in the grand final with a record 40-0 win.
The Sydney Roosters finished fourth on 34 points while the Warriors scraped into the eight on 30 (the most points out of any eight-placed side in the past decade) despite having a negative for and against.
The Dragons did enough to win the minor premiership for the first time in the club's history with 38 points, but it was the Storm who won when it mattered most.
Melbourne finished the regular season in fourth position on 34 points, while the Eels – courtesy of a draw with the Rabbitohs – rounded out the eight on 29 points.
The Dragons made it back-to-back minor premierships with another haul of 38 competition points, and this time made it count when they knocked off the Roosters on the first Sunday in October.
It was a good year for the Gold Coast Titans who finished fourth on 34 points, while the Sea Eagles claimed eight spot on 28 points.
The Storm reclaimed top spot after 26 rounds with 42 points, but it was Manly, the team one position below them, who won the grand final.
34 points once again proved enough to make the top four as the Wests Tigers snuck in, while the Knights claimed the last finals berth with 28 points and a superior points differential.
The Bulldogs secured their first minor premiership since 1994 on the back of 40 competition points but were outplayed in the grand final by the second-placed Storm.
Manly claimed fourth spot with 36 points while the Broncos finished eighth on 28.
The Roosters won their first of three-straight minor premierships with a haul of 40 points to edge the Rabbitohs for the JJ Giltinan Shield on for and against after they beat their archrivals in Round 26.
The Tricolours turned their regular season form into grand-final success by knocking off the fourth-placed Sea Eagles (35 points). The North Queensland Cowboys finished eighth on 28 points.
It was more of the same from the Roosters who claimed back-to-back minor premierships with a modest haul of 36 points, but had to watch on as the third-placed Bunnies won their first grand final since 1971.
The Penrith Panthers battled their way to fourth on 34 points while the Broncos once again finished eighth on 28 points with an impressive for and against.
History 'three-peated' with the Roosters making it a hat-trick of minor premierships on the back of 40 competition points, but it would be the Cowboys – who finished third – who lifted the trophy on grand final day for the first time in history.
The Storm edged out two other teams to finish fourth on 32 points while the Dragons completed the top eight on 28.
* The Melbourne Storm were later stripped of their Minor Premierships and Grand Final victories due to salary cap violations.