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NRL: The race to make the top four

Just four points separate the North Queensland Cowboys in second and the Parramatta Eels in seventh spot, so with just three games remaining the race to make the top four remains wide open.

Penrith Panthers are sitting pretty at the top of the ladder but it is tighter than can be just below them as the rest scramble for position.

Finishing in the top four makes a huge difference to your chances of going all the way and winning the NRL premiership so the next three rounds will be extra fierce.

As things stand North Queensland Cowboys, Cronulla Sharks and Melbourne Storm are in the box seats but that could quite easily change with the South Sydney Rabbitohs finishing strong.

The Brisbane Broncos and the Eels may be hit and miss at the moment but will not have given up hope of forcing their way into the top four. However for the Sydney Roosters it is looking a bridge too far and they will be happy to settle for the top eight.

So with three games remaining lets take a look at each of the contenders, their form, run-in and odds of making the top four.
 

North Queensland Cowboys

1/100

It would be a dramatic drop if the second-placed Cowboys were to miss out on the top four as they are four points ahead of South Sydney in fifth spot.

However they do have games against the Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers to come. That makes this weekend’s game against the New Zealand Warriors even more important.

They need to bounce back from last week’s defeat to the Roosters and a win would book their top-four spot.  Second spot and a home final will also be the aim for the Cowboys.
 

Cronulla Sharks

1/100

Just like the Cowboys, it would take something out of the ordinary for the Sharks to miss out on the top four.

Craig Fitzgibbon’s side also have a very nice looking run in and will fancy their chances of taking second spot ahead of the Cowboys if they can stay focused.

They are in good form after winning the last three games and next up is a clash against a Manly Sea Eagles side that is struggling for results. Then it’s the Bulldogs and Knights to wrap up the regular season.

Melbourne Storm

3/10

Melbourne hold fourth spot for now so the situation is in their own hands as they sit two points ahead of the chasing pack.

They have recovered from a blip in form and showed they are back in the groove with an impressive win 16-0 win away at Penrith last week.

Their run-in could be easier though as Craig Bellamy’s men face the Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters and Parramatta Eels so it could go right to the wire.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

13/4

The Rabbitohs are one of the form teams in the competition right now after winning six out of the last seven games and if anyone is to break into the top four it will most likely be the bunnies.

They smashed the Parramatta Eels 26-0 last week and with the likes of Latrell Mitchell and Alex Johnston on fire they could take some stopping with finals fast approaching.

Souths are an outside chance to go all the way and win the NRL premiership and finishing in the top four will boost their chances.

The run-in is tough however with games against the Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters to come.

Brisbane Broncos

9/1

The Broncos have struggled to reproduce the kind of sparkling form they were showing earlier in the season but are still in the mix.

Just like the Rabbitohs and Eels they are on 28 points, just two behind the Storm. They bounced back from back-to-back defeats when beating the Newcastle Knights last week and need to keep the run going to have any chance.

Next up they face the Storm followed by games against the Eels and Dragons.

Parramatta Eels

11/1

Parramatta continue to frustrate their faithful followers by producing a mixed bag of performances.
One week they are beating the Panthers, the next week they are smashed on home soil by the Rabbitohs.

Their chances of making the top four will hinge on which Eels side shows up over the next three games.

This week they face a must-win game against the Canterbury Bulldogs, who beat them 34-4 earlier in the season, before finishing with tough games against the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm.

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