And then there were two. Six teams with premiership aspirations, some higher than others, have had their seasons ended in recent weeks.
We’ve taken the opportunity recap each of the eliminated finalists’ season and grade their campaign on the whole.
Did we get it right? Read to see how we graded each eliminated finalists’ season.
The Sharks were knocked out of the post-season in the elimination final by the Raiders. After finishing the regular season with a 10-10 record, a team largely thought to be making up the numbers ultimately proved just that. Sione Katoa, Siosifa Talakai and Toby Rudolf were bright spots, while Shaun Johnson turned in arguably a career-best season, claiming his inaugural Porter-Gallen Medal as the Cronulla Sharks’ Player of the Year. Cronulla need to rejig their roster and be active in the player market to make strides forward in 2021. Unibet Australia offers the greatest value for all NRL markets for next season.
One of the league’s big improvers, the Knights came from outside and eight last year to finish seventh in 2020. Ultimately bowing out in an elimination final loss to the Rabbitohs, Newcastle clearly weren’t ready to push much further. But they showed signs that they have all the tools to be a great team one day. The Saifiti boys and Kalyn Ponga continue to do great things but there are other holes in their squad that need to be plugged. All in all, a successful campaign for rookie coach Adam O’Brien’s first in charge.
The Roosters came up considerably short in their bid for a three-peat, bowing out of the finals in straight sets with losses to Penrith and Canberra. Questions will now be asked as to what route this team takes from here. Do they go around again with the same group and have another crack at a premiership, or begin to rebulb the roster and load up for their next tilt? It may be hard for them to retain all their talent with such a tight salary cap.
It was a season that promised to much for the Eels but ultimately ended way earlier than they would have liked. Like the Roosters, Parra was bundled out of the finals in straight sets with losses to the Storm and Rabbitohs. Climbing into the top four was a step in the right direction and there is plenty to like about their squad with a raft of young talent. They must now build from this season and aim to win a final in 2021 as a bare minimum.
It was a real ‘what if’ season for the Green Machine. Through stages they looked like building but struggled to ever gain any true momentum. A preliminary final loss the Storm wasn’t an ideal way to go out, but truthfully, the Raiders never looked like premiership contenders for the most part of the season. Canberra have all the tools to have another genuine crack at the big one in 2021.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Souths probably went further than most expected them to and only narrowly went down to the Panthers 20-16 in the preliminary final. Having finished sixth on the ladder during the regular season and losing Latrell Mitchell to a season-ending hamstring injury, it was surprising to see this team advance to the third week of the post-season. Still plenty of positives to take away and a club that is never shy of making off-season changes to retool for another run at it.