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Experts' view: Who'll be minor premiers?

Seven rounds remain and just one point separates the Panthers, Eels and Storm heading into the finals.

Then we have the back-to-back premiers, the Roosters, within striking distance.

That scenario sets up a thrilling end to the regular season, with the minor premiership, and all-important top-two finish still up for grabs. 

The experts at have had their say on who they're backing to lift the J.J. Giltinan Shield.

Experts view

Jamie Soward (former Blues five-eighth)

The Panthers will be the minor premiers in 2020. I think the older teams like Roosters and Storm are going to be very cautious with their stars, opening the door for the Panthers to go all out.

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

Definitely the Panthers. They are playing perfect rugby league at the moment and I can't see anyone getting close to them by the end of the regular season. If they stay injury-free: Lock them in, Eddie!

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Paul Suttor ( editor)

The Roosters are timing their run - Trent Robinson has been resting key players in recent weeks and gave young halfback Kyle Flanagan a jolt by dropping him - and they are well-positioned to fly home over the closing rounds to pip their rivals at the post. If they knock over the Storm this round, they have a relatively soft schedule to close out the season.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

I've done the ladder predictor several times and every single time I do it tells me that the Panthers will be minor premiers, partly thanks to the one-point buffer their draw with the Knights in May. Penrith seem near-on unstoppable at this point.

Lone Scout ( Fantasy guru)

Boring answer but after running my eye over the Ladder Predictor, the Panthers will finish a few points clear of the Eels at the top of the table, with the Roosters and Storm in equal third place. The Panthers are in top form and will be a big chance of winning all of their games in the run home. 

Dan Walsh ( reporter)

Parramatta. Both they and the Panthers have handy runs home and reasonably handy rosters and their round 18 clash could well decide top honours for the regular season. The Eels should finish ahead, purely because Brad Arthur's squad boasts more experience.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

Eels. They've been winning games of late and not playing all that well, that suggests they are due for another run of good form. With no discernable weakness and a healthy dose of experience, top spot may well be coming their way.

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Tanisha Stanton ( reporter)

With the way the Panthers are playing at the moment, it makes it hard to not pick them. Nathan Cleary has taken ownership of the team and his fellow teammates are backing him all the way.

Joel Gould ( reporter)

The Panthers have their ducks in a row to finish as minor premiers. They lead the competition, are playing brilliant and tough football and have five of their next seven games against sides outside the top eight. The round 18 home clash with the Eels will be pivotal.

Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

Panthers. Not only are they already a point ahead, they could quite conceivably not lose again this year. On paper, only round 18 against the Eels presents a challenge the way they're going. Penrith will take out the JJ Giltinan Shield with a three-point buffer.

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Troy Whittaker ( reporter)

The Storm can pull away from Roosters and Parramatta by beating them over the next two weeks. Cameron Munster is injured, but they toppled the Chooks without him in round eight.

Ryan Papenhuyzen will be refreshed after a rest, so too Munster and Cameron Smith when they return. Melbourne then finishes the regular season against three bottom-eight sides.

Margie McDonald ( senior reporter)

Raiders. They are stalking silently, ready to ambush like true Vikings. From the remaining seven rounds, the Raiders have only one top-four side (Roosters) and one top-eight (Sharks). The other five matches are all bottom-eight teams – Broncos, Titans, Bulldogs, Dragons and Warriors.

Martin Lenehan ( senior journalist)

The minor premiership will come down to a battle between the Panthers and the Eels, with the winner to be decided when they square off in round 18. That clash looms as the only real hurdle for Penrith in an otherwise soft run home. They'll get the job done.

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

Panthers. They lead the league with seven rounds to go and only face one other top-four team in the regular season. All of their key players are in great form while other players are punching above their weight. 

Alicia Newton ( reporter)

The Panthers for me with an extremely soft draw ahead that involves only a clash against the Eels in round 18. That could prove the clincher. 

Kenny Scott ( Sunday Session podcaster)

It is a shame fans finally get two big western Sydney teams in a position to finish the season atop the ladder, and they have to do it without the huge crowd support they would enjoy under normal circumstances. Of those two teams, on current form, it’s going to be the Panthers.  Not only are they going brilliantly, but they’ve got the softest run home of the current top four. 


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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