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With five rounds remaining before the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals, the race for the top eight and the all-important top four is heating up.

The team at NRL.com have done their Ladder Predictor for the last five rounds, looking into the crystal ball to see who will play finals footy this season.

Dom Brock, Production Editor
Storm 44, Sharks, 38, Roosters 38, Broncos 36, Eels 36, Cowboys 34, Sea Eagles 34, Panthers 30.

I've got the top four staying roughly as is, with only points differential splitting the Sharks and Roosters while the Eels just miss the top four on for-and-against. But it's really all about the three-way battle between the Sea Eagles, Panthers and Dragons now. The final three rounds are crucial – especially Penrith's clashes with the Dragons in Round 25 and Manly in Round 26 – and I've got the Panthers sneaking into the finals ahead of the Red V by just three points on for-and-against.

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent
Storm 44, Broncos 38, Roosters 38, Sharks 36, Eels 36, Sea Eagles 34, Dragons 30, Panthers 30.

If results go the way I have predicted over the final five weeks not only will I win the NRL.com tipping competition but the Cowboys will need to beat Brisbane – or at the least lose narrowly – to avoid missing out on the finals. Starting with the Storm this week the Cowboys face four teams in the final five weeks who are destined to play finals football, and if they can't beat their great rivals in Round 26 they may need to rely on points differential to edge out the Panthers. A Broncos win would also see them claim second spot and a home final in Week One.

Chris Kennedy, National Correspondent
Storm 44, Roosters 40, Broncos 36, Cowboys 36, Eels 36, Sharks 34, Sea Eagles 34, Dragons 30.

Few major changes to the top eight over the run home with Cronulla missing the top four and Penrith missing the finals the main talking points. Manly right the ship after a recent tough run to hang onto seventh and the Dragons edge Penrith in Round 25 to claim the final spot in the eight with the Panthers unluckily missing the finals on 28 points. A gentle run for the Eels and tough run home for the Sharks sees Parramatta leapfrog the premiers to fifth and the Cowboys creep into the top four with their Round 24 win over Cronulla. 

Adrian McMurray, Presenter/Producer
Storm 44, Eels 38, Sharks 36, Roosters 36, Cowboys 36, Sea Eagles 36, Broncos 34, Dragons 28.

It might seem bizarre but I've got the Eels winning every game in the run home to finish second behind the Storm, while the Dragons will scrape into the eight just above the Panthers on for-and-against. Andrew McCullough's injury might derail the Broncos' top-four hopes, and while I think the Raiders will have a big finish to the season I think they might just fall short on 26 points. 

Go to Ladder Predictor to see who makes your top eight and top four.

Andy Bryan, Deputy Editor
Storm 44, Roosters 40, Sharks 38, Eels 38, Sea Eagles 34, Broncos 32, Cowboys 32, Panthers 32.

The Storm will run away with the Minor Premiership, while the Eels will sneak into the top four and make their first finals appearance since 2009. The news that Andrew McCullough is out for the season is a massive blow for the Broncos who drop to sixth with big games against the Sharks, Eels and Cowboys in their final five matches. Manly are shaking, but should steady the ship to keep a finals berth, and the Cowboys will just hang on. The Dragons just miss the eight with losses to the Broncos, Panthers and somewhat of an upset loss to South Sydney.

Alicia Newton, National Correspondent
Storm 44, Roosters 40, Broncos 38, Eels 36, Sharks 34, Panthers 32, Sea Eagles 32, Cowboys 30.

The competition really is wide open from second spot through to ninth. North Queensland face a tough run home but should nudge St George Illawarra to make it through, while both the Panthers and Eels are likely to surge late with favourable draws to finish the regular season. 

Martin Gabor, National Correspondent
Storm 44, Sharks 40, Roosters 38, Eels 36, Broncos 34, Sea Eagles 34, Cowboys 32, Panthers 30.

I'm all aboard the Parramatta train and I'm tipping them to storm into the top four on the back of their staunch defence and unpredictable attack. Eighth spot will come down to the final round, and while I'm tipping the Panthers to lose to the Sea Eagles, I can see the Dragons falling to the Bulldogs given their woeful recent record against Canterbury.

NRL.com's predicted top eight:
Storm
Roosters
Sharks
Eels
Broncos
Sea Eagles
Cowboys
Panthers

Predicted elimination finals match-ups:
Broncos v Panthers
Sea Eagles v Cowboys

Predicted qualifying finals match-ups:
Storm v Eels
Roosters v Sharks

Go to Ladder Predictor to see who makes your top eight and top four.

 

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