If the finals of the 2017 Telstra NRL Premiership competition were to start today, nine rounds into the season, the eight teams, top to bottom that would play would be, in order, the Melbourne Storm, St. George Illawarra Dragons, Cronulla Sharks, Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters, Manly Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.
In what we would have to say was an unanticipated development, the North Queensland Cowboys are ninth on the ladder, although they have an identical won – loss record to the Bulldogs, but are one spot out of the finals due to a -21 point differential.
Interestingly, the number 10 Canberra Raiders have a +51 point differential, which trails on the top three teams in the NRL.
The Melbourne Storm has been the classy outfit thus far, having lost only one game all season, that being a narrow, nine-point loss to Cronulla.
As last year’s premiers, the Cronulla Sharks have lost three times, but those losses were by margins no larger than eight points, that being the unforeseen round one upset by the Brisbane Broncos that currently have bagged four consecutive.
Rounds 10 and 11 should give a clearer indication of which teams are legitimate and which may fade ahead of round 12, when eight of the 16 teams will have their bye weeks.