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With seven games remaining before the finals, we're all but assured that sides one-through-six on the ladder will feature in the finals.

That leaves two vacancies. The best bit about those two spots is there are eight teams within two games of each other battling for them.

The Warriors face the toughest task and seventh and eighth spots are currently the Dragons' and Sharks' to lose.

With this in mind, the experts at NRL.com have used the ladder predictor to determine who they think will finish seventh and eighth in the Telstra Premiership.

Experts' view - Who'll finish 7th and 8th

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

Sharks and Raiders. Canberra to go into the eight and the Dragons to drop out. The Raiders are showing enough for me to eventually find their way into the finals. St George Illawarra are in all sorts following that COVID-19 breach. That will come back to haunt them.

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Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)

Wests Tigers and Sharks. There are just too many obstacles for the Dragons to overcome, opening the door for the Tigers and Sharks to do just enough to scrape in. Don't expect to see this settled until the final week of the regular season.

Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

Dragons and Knights. All the other teams play against each other and will find ways to knock each other out.

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Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

I have a feeling that the top eight is going to be decided in round 24, with the winner of the game between the Knights and the Titans jagging eighth spot. As for seventh spot, it is the Sharks' to lose. In the final six weeks of the competition they only play two top eight teams.

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

The Knights have the best draw with no matches against top-six teams after this weekend’s clash with the Roosters and games against the Broncos (twice) and Bulldogs. The Sharks also have a good draw, with Manly and Melbourne their only top-six opponents.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor-in-chief)

Jason Taumalolo and David Fifita are the most damaging players among the teams in the top-eight logjam. If those behemoths unwind from the back fence and regularly destroy defensive lines, the Cowboys and Titans each have the potential to surge into the finals on the back of their marquee back-rower.

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

The Knights copped it against Melbourne but have a friendly run home with destiny well and truly in their own hands. I'll take the Sharks to remain eighth with the Dragons slipping out.

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Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

Raiders and Knights. Canberra seem to have moved beyond whatever was bothering them and are looking the business once again. As for the Knights, if Kalyn Ponga plays every match you just can't see them missing out.

Laine Clark (NRL.com reporter)

Sharks and Raiders. The Sharks may not have been the most consistent team but a favourable run home and a superior points percentage should get them over the line. As for Canberra, any team boasting Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii and Josh Hodgson should scrape into the top eight from here.

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

The Dragons have imploded and will win only a couple more games on the way home. They will drop out of the eight and be replaced by Ricky Stuart’s Raiders who have found their mojo. The Sharks have a reasonable draw and will hold their spot.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

Dragons and Knights. Despite holding the most infamous barbecue since Parramatta fans burnt down the Cumberland Oval grandstand in 1981, the Dragons will keep their spot in the eight. The Knights' hopes rest with availability of Kalyn Ponga, Daniel Saifiti, Mitchell Pearce and Bradman Best in the final rounds.

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Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

A relatively gentle draw should be more than enough for the Sharks to take seventh place. The reverse is true for the Dragons, who will just drop out allowing the Knights to sneak into eighth place.

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

Sharks and Titans. Remarkably for a team that axed coach John Morris midway through the year, the Sharks have themselves well-placed to jag seventh spot with a favourable run home. The Titans are reasonably healthy and face only the Storm and Rabbitohs out of the finals certainties in the run home.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

The favourably-drawn Sharks can win five of their last seven matches to finish seventh on 26 points. It’ll take until the final round to decide eighth place but the Knights, who play just two more top-eight teams (Roosters and Cronulla), will end up a win clear of the Dragons and Raiders.

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

With the Knights finally set for a run of games with their key playmakers available I’ve got them finishing in seventh, with the Sharks pipping rivals St George Illawarra to take eighth place. 

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

There are many fans staring at the NRL ladder and channelling their inner Fox Mulder thinking "I want to believe". It's is so tempting to let one’s dreams take flight and envision your embattled team going on a winning run. Back to reality, however, with so many variables across injury, suspension and form, the Knights and Sharks look to be the two teams most likely.

 

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