WHAT IS IN STAKE IN THE END ROUND FOR THE EIGHTH NO. NR
* MELBOURNE (1st, 34 pts, +179)
To play: Penrith (h)
Prospects: the defending prime ministers were victorious in a week in which Premier League rivals slipped the Roosters and Rabbitohs and now probably end up in first place. Must still achieve a final at home if they get angry by the sliding Panthers.
* SYDNEY ROOSTERS (2nd, 32 pt, +147)
To play: Parramatta (a)
Prospects: a real contender when they had won nine out of ten, but have since fallen two in a row and will be without Dylan Napa for most final series. Must show a form against the alen or risk being in the lead in week one of the playoffs.
* SOUTH SYDNEY (3rd, 32 pts, +104)
To play: Wests Tigers (h)
Prospect: World-beaters only a month ago, the Rabbitohs now own the longest losing streak of all teams in the top eight with three in a row. It is unlikely that the top four will fall with another loss, but must gain some confidence against the Tigers.
* CRONULLA (4th, 32 pt, +84)
To play: Canterbury (a)
Prospects: Their bullocking wins over Newcastle, the Sharks are the most in-form team in the league with three victories. Can still finish the top two if they overthrow the re-established Bulldogs but can also fall out of the top four if they lose and other results are against it.
* PENRITH (5th, 30 pt, +50)
To play: Melbourne (a)
Prospect: watch a shadow from the team that led the league in May and have a big chance to lose a final away match if they lose as expected and then the Broncos of Warriors claim victories against teams underneath.
* ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA (6th, 30 pt, +37)
To play: Newcastle (a)
Prospects: Face limping in the final as cannon fodder after six losses in eight games, including eruptions to Parramatta and Canterbury. Injuries to Gareth Widdop, Euan Aitken, Paul Vaughan and Jason Nightingale do not help and a final of the road elimination could be the result.
* BRISBANE (7th, 30 pt, +24)
To play: Manly (h)
Prospects: taking shape at the right time of the year with victories over title candidates the Rabbitohs and Roosters in the past two weeks, and they could even steal an elimination final for home if they beat Manly and benefit from other results.
* WARRIORS (8th, 30 pt, +21)
To play: Canberra (h)
Prospects: have won three of their last four and, like the Broncos, were able to remove a home elimination if they do business against the Raiders and some scores fall in their favor. A Warriors finale on their home field is a narrow proposition.
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