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Losses to three of the four teams chasing a top-eight berth plus a win for eighth-placed Cronulla made the 2020 finals race a whole lot clearer after round 16.

Penrith's win ended the mathematical minor premiership hopes of two teams and guaranteed themselves a top-four finish while the wooden spoon race is now officially down to four clubs.

In working out the best- and worst-case scenario for each team, has applied a methodology of all games being decided by a 12-point margin.

This allows a streak of upsets to have a real effect on the ladder, but a ladder move requiring a differential swing of hundreds of points over the final four rounds has not been taken into account.

The scenarios for all 16 teams

Panthers (currently 1st, 29 points)

Best/worst case: 1st to 4th

Became the first team to guarantee a top four finish with their huge win over Wests Tigers.

Storm (2nd, 26 points)

Best/worst case: 1st to 6th

A convincing win over Manly with four stars returning to the line-up removed the chances of them finishing worse than sixth.

Get Caught Up: Round 16

Eels (3rd, 24 points)

Best/worst case: 1st to 8th

A horror 38-0 loss to Souths and the loss of young gun five-eighth Dylan Brown for at least the rest of the regular season put the skids under Parramatta's season in a big way. Their best and worst possible finishes remain the same but a top-two finish is close to slipping away while a drop out of the top four now looks a genuine possibility.

Roosters (4th, 22 points)

Best/worst case: 1st to 8th

A monster win over the embattled Broncos officially sealed their place in the finals and kept them in the top four. Just a win behind the Eels now with a chance to press for a top-two finish if the Storm lose a couple of games.

Match Highlights: Raiders v Bulldogs

Raiders (5th, 22 points)

Best/worst case: 1st to 8th

Kept themselves level with the Roosters despite an almighty scare from Canterbury and guaranteed themselves a finals berth in the process.

Rabbitohs (6th, 20 points)

Best/worst case: 1st to 9th

Sounded an ominous warning with their best performance of the year against the third-placed Eels and all-but assured themselves a finals finish with their worst mathematical result improving from 12th to ninth.

Knights (currently 7th, 19 points)

Best/worst case: 2nd to 11th

An awful loss to the Warriors ruled out an improbable first-place finish and maintained their chances of missing the finals, although their worst-case finish improved from 12th to 11th.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Cowboys

Sharks (8th, 18 points)

Best/worst case: 3rd to 11th

Did what they needed to do against the Cowboys, although wins at the top of the table eliminated Cronulla's mathematical chances of finishing second. Worst-case finish improves from 13th to 11th but need to keep winning to ensure a finals berth.

Warriors (9th, 14 points)

Best/worst case: 6th to 14th

Produced their best effort of the season against Newcastle to move a win clear of the other teams outside the eight. Still two wins adrift of eighth and in need of plenty of luck for a finals chance, although anything up to sixth is still possible. This time last week could still have gone as low as 16th but now can't fall below 11th.

Match Highlights: Warriors v Knights

Dragons (10th, 12 points)

Best/worst case: 8th to 14th

Mathematically can still scrape into the eight but really needed to beat the Titans if they wanted to be any hope. If there's a glimmer of good news, at least they can no longer fall to last place.

Wests Tigers (11th, 12 points)

Best/worst case: 8th to 14th

Needed to somehow find a win against Penrith to keep their season alive and competed for roughly the first half-hour. A big run of favourable upsets and four straight wins could slide them into eighth; at least they can no longer come last.

Sea Eagles (12th, 12 points)

Best/worst case: 8th to 15th

A very similar story to the Tigers, desperately needed to find an upset win to keep their season alive and failed to do so. Like the Tigers, can technically make the eight with a huge run of upsets and also can't get the spoon from here.

Match Highlights: Dragons v Titans

Titans (13th, 10 points)

Best/worst case: 9th to 16th

A morale-boosting win over the Dragons moved them two wins clear of their rival Queensland clubs and put their chances of getting the wooden spoon well and truly in the "mathematical only" category.

Cowboys (14th, 6 points)

Best/worst case: 10th to 16th

Mad Monday can't come quick enough for the battered Cowboys, with a big loss to the Sharks also bringing an injury to halfback Michael Morgan. Final-round clash with Brisbane could have a big say in deciding the wooden spoon.

Broncos (15th, 6 points)

Best/worst case: 11th to 16th

A second massive loss to the Roosters in 2020 pushed their negative points differential past 300. Again only the continued struggles of the Dogs to find a drought-breaking win has kept them off the bottom rung of the ladder.

Bulldogs (16th, 4 points)

Best/worst case: 12th to 16th

Once again threatened to force an upset but couldn't go on with it against Canberra. Will leapfrog Brisbane on differential if they can find a win.


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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