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The race for the eight: Finals positions all but locked in

The Dragons' upset win over the Broncos has all but locked in the top eight teams for 2022 while the Eels and Roosters' victories have seemingly decided who will face who in the opening round of finals.

Outside of a miracle from Wests Tigers, Canberra will finish in eighth position after the Broncos fell to the Dragons at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.

After a 22-14 victory over the Storm on Thursday night, the Eels will now travel to Penrith to take on the minor premiers and defending champions in week one of the finals, with the victor just one win away from the Grand Final.

Cronulla and North Queensland are also guaranteed a second chance after they meet in the opening round of the play-offs, with the only thing to be determined this weekend being which team finishes second and secures a home final.

Trent Robinson's Roosters ensured they will host a home final after downing South Sydney on Friday night; the two teams are set to meet once again at Allianz Stadium in a sixth-against-seventh Elimination Final.

Best and worst case finishes

Penrith Panthers (1st, 42 points, +306 differential)

  • Best case: 1st
  • Worst case: 1st
  • Round 25 game: Lost 38-8 v Cowboys (A)

Penrith have wrapped up another minor premiership, and were presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield by NRL CEO Andrew Abdo at the conclusion of their Round 24 match. Coach Ivan Cleary has opted to rest most of his regular starting line-up in Round 25 as they travel north to face the Cowboys in Townsville.

Cowboys v Panthers

Cronulla Sharks (2nd, 36 points, +187)

  • Best case: 2nd
  • Worst case: 3rd
  • Round 25 game: v Knights (A), Sunday, 2.00pm.

Simply, if Cronulla beat Newcastle in the final round they will finish second. The Cowboys joined them on 36 points by beating Penrith and have a superior points differential so the Sharks must get the job done on Sunday to host a final in week one.

North Queensland Cowboys (3rd, 36 points, +272)

  • Best case: 2nd
  • Worst case: 3rd
  • Round 25 game: Won 38-8 v Panthers (H)

The Cowboys' win over Penrith drew them level on 36 competition points with the Sharks and they are now left to cheer for a Knights upset over Cronulla if they are to jump into second and host a final in Townsville.

Parramatta Eels (4th, 34 points, +119)

  • Best case: 4th
  • Worst case: 4th
  • Round 25 game: Won 22-14 v Storm (H)

Parramatta secured fourth spot and a double chance by beating Melbourne on Thursday night and will now meet Penrith in the opening weekend of the play-offs. The Eels will not be daunted by the task of taking on the premiers as they have won both matches against the Panthers this season. After failing to progress past the second week of the finals for the past three seasons in succession, the Eels now have the opportunity to move straight to the preliminary final if they beat the Panthers.

Match Highlights: Eels v Storm

Melbourne Storm (5th, 32 points, +247)

  • Best case: 5th
  • Worst case: 6th
  • Round 25 game: Lost 22-14 v Eels (A)

After falling short against the Roosters in Round 24, the Storm needed to win in Round 25 in order to secure a top-four spot but the eight-point loss means Craig Bellamy's men will likely face the Raiders in an Elimination Final in Melbourne in week one of the finals. The Tigers would need to beat the Raiders by 54 points for Canberra to drop out of the eight, meaning the Storm would face the Broncos.

Sydney Roosters (6th, 32 points, +201)

  • Best case: 6th
  • Worst case: 6th
  • Round 25 game: Won 26-16 v Rabbitohs (H)

The Roosters head into the finals on an eight-game winning streak after downing the Rabbitohs at the grand re-opening of Allianz Stadium. The 1908 foundation clubs will meet again at the same venue in a sudden-death showdown but the line-ups will be different after a high casualty toll on both sides, while a number of players are due to return.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Rabbitohs

South Sydney Rabbitohs (7th, 30 points, +130)

  • Best case: 7th
  • Worst case: 7th
  • Round 25 game: Lost 26-16 v Roosters (A)

Beat the Cowboys in Round 24 to lock themselves into the finals and are now are set to face Sydney Roosters twice in two weeks, with the huge rivalry game against the Roosters in Friday night's Allianz Stadium opening to be followed by a sudden-death play-off at the same venue.

Canberra Raiders (8th, 28 points, +17)

  • Best case: 8th
  • Worst case: 9th
  • Round 25 game: v Wests Tigers (A), Sunday, 4.05pm.

With Brisbane's capitulation at the back end of the season, Canberra will head into their final game of the year against Wests Tigers with eighth position all but locked in to the finals. Outside of the most unlikely of victories for Brett Kimmorley's side by 54 points, Canberra will finish in eighth position and face the Storm in Melbourne in an Elimination Final in the opening week of the finals.

Brisbane Broncos (9th, 28 points, -36)

  • Best case: 8th
  • Worst case: 9th
  • Round 25 game: Lost 22-12 Dragons (A)

An incredibly disappointing end for the Broncos, who won just one of their last six matches of the regular season. Brisbane's defeat to St George Illawarra on Saturday evening ensured they remained in ninth, and needing a rugby league miracle from Wests Tigers to leapfrog Canberra into the finals.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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