1.   MELBOUNRE STORM (44 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 20 wins and 4 losses
·        Most potent attack (633 points scored), including most tries scored (112)
·        Best defence (336 points conceded)
·        Average 39 sets per game
·        Top player for tries scored (Suliasi Vunivalu – 23) and line-break assists (Cameron Munster - 1.1 per game)
·        Rank 1st for ball movement and team cohesion with 98 line-break assists


2.   SYDNEY ROOSTERS (38 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 17 wins and 7 losses
·        Top tackling team in the NRL (8053 total for 335 per game)
·        Worst error rate in the league (12.6 per game)
·        Equal second best kicking game over the course of the season
·        Luke Keary (20) and Mitchell Pearce (18) inside top 5 for season line-break assists

Ø  WFC FINALS PREDICTION – Semis-final loss

3.   BRISBANE BRONCOS (36 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 16 wins and 8 losses
·        Second in total points – 597 (103 tries, 91 goals)
·        Second in total run metres gained (average 1657 per game)
·        Second best points differential (164)
·        James Roberts grabbed 16 tries, 5 try assists and 4.2 tackle breaks (per game) in 23 games
·        316.4 tackles per game (8th least) – Ball retention lowered this number (53% possession)


4.   PARRAMATTA EELS (36 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 16 wins and 8 losses
·        Record of 6 wins and 3 losses against other top 8 teams this season
·        Average of 10 errors per game
·        Semi Radradra scored 20 regular season tries (4th most, four tries in R25 and 3 tries in R26)
·        Nathan Brown averages 17.2 runs per game (6th most)
·        Clinton Gutherson and Bevan French injured
·        9 wins and 1 loss from last 10 games played

Ø  WFC FINALS PREDICTIONS – Preliminary Finals Loss

5.   CRONULLA SHARKS (34 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 15 wins and 9 losses
·        Outside the top 8 for both total points scored (476) and tries (78)
·        Rank 3rd for successful offloads (11.5 per game)
·        Second highest error rate amongst all teams (266 total/11 per game)
·        Paul Gallen leads all forwards in the league for runs per game (19.4) for an average of 182.8 metres gained (ranked 3nd)
·     Both Gallen (2.1) and forward compatriot Andrew Fifita (2.4) rank in top 10 for offloads per game  


6.   MANLY SEA EAGLES (32 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 14 wins and 10 losses
·        3 golden point wins over the course of the season and no losses
·        Rank 3rd for tries scored (99)
·        3rd most line-breaks (115) and equal 3rd most line-break assists (84)
·        2nd only to the Storm for try assists (81). Daly Cherry-Evans with 19 (1st), Tom Trbojevic 18 (=2nd)
·        Comfortably atop the rankings for 40/20’s in the regular season with 8 – Blake Green (5) and Daly Cherry-Evans (3)
·        Although sitting in 6th spot for team offloads (255), Martin Taupau averages 3.4 offloads per game (71 total = 1st)

Ø  WFC FINALS PREDICTION – Preliminary Finals Loss

7.   PENRITH PANTHERS (30 points)
Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 13 wins and 11 losses
·        Most missed tackles in the league (872), equating to 36.3 per game
·        Nathan Cleary led total points (216), total kick metres (7355) and conversion percentage (86%) statistics throughout the season
·        Have only beaten a top 8 side twice throughout the season with 7 losses
·        3rd most amount of errors (263 total/10.9per game)
·        11 wins from last 15 games. However, are coming into the finals on a 2 game losing streak (R25 Dragons, R26 Manly)

Ø  WFC FINALS PREDICTION – Quarter-finals Loss

Notable Statistics:
·        Season record of 13 wins and 11 losses
·        Ranked 4th worst for tries scored (78)
·        2nd for total completed runs as a team with Jason Taumalolo averaging 18.7 per game (4th highest)
·        Taumalolo is the only player to average over 200 run metres per game in the league (203.1), while averaging 5.2 tackle-breaks per game.
·        Without Johnathon Thurston the Cowboys sit outside the top 8 for both try assists (9th) and line-break assists (15th), although Michael Morgan has picked up 18 try assists and 10 line-break assists this season.

ØWFC FINALS PREDICTION – Quarter-finals Loss

The Finals Win/Loss Breakdown

WFC is tipping that the Storm will go all the way this season, with a last day grand final win to cement the ‘Big 3’ legacy, before splitting up. As the best and far most superior team all season long, it is hard to argue, after only 4 losses during the campaign, 2 of which occurred during the State of Origin period where a host of players were on rep duty.

As for the other teams attempting to derail Melbourne’s fairy-tale – the Brisbane based side has the best chance at doing so. After nearly slipping to 4th position after a dominate season, the Broncos will look to utilise their lively creativity in the halves and pace in the backline to over-run the Roosters in their week one matchup, to earn a week’s rest and sit one win away from the final.

The Roosters however, will bounce back in the Prelims, as their far superior squad will get over an up and down Manly, who themselves will advance from the bottom half of the draw after defeating the Penrith Panthers in back-to-back weeks. Mental psychology in this game will play a big factor, as in round 26 Manly jumped out to a big lead. The Panthers will put up a bigger fight this time but it won’t be enough.

We at WFC also believe that the experience of Cronulla’s premiership campaign from a season ago will see them comfortably get past a gallant North Queensland side in week 1, while using that finals experience in week 2 to defeat a hot Parramatta Eels outfit, before just falling short of another grand final – losing to the Broncos.

As for the Storm who are tipped to win the premiership, their semi-final match-up against the Roosters will be a hard fought effort – possibly even heading into an overtime finish.

With WFC predicting a repeat of the 2006 premiership grand final between the Storm and the Broncos, the result will see a reverse of that day with the Melbourne side successfully avenging last year’s narrow defeat. This victory will see the end of an era of Melbourne mastery in typical classy style.

So, with that all being said – Here is WFC’s NRL Finals brackets 

By Luke Scali - Twitter WFC_LS_Potzi