Is the NRL top eight already a done deal?
ROUND 13 signalled the halfway point of the 2015 premiership season, an ideal time to assess the performance of each team in what has been one of the most competitive seasons on record.
Here is my mid-year report.
BRONCOS (20 points): With two byes still to come, only a calamitous form slump or injury disaster would prevent a top-four finish. Their premiership credentials face the acid test with the final five games against Bulldogs, Dragons, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Storm.
COWBOYS (20): Ten successive wins is a colossal effort, albeit garnished with plenty of luck. As is the case with all teams, injury to key men will be their major issue. But if they lost Johnathan Thurston, it would be catastrophic.
STORM (18): Have been unusually unpredictable and questions are being asked about their hunger. But once the demands of Origin are over, they will jump right back into the premiership mix.
DRAGONS (18): Although beaten at the weekend, only a fool would write them off. Despite a wealth of talent in attack, their defence will win them more games than they lose. Whether they can go all the way is debatable.
RABBITOHS (16): Even at full strength, the potency of last year is not there. But the premiers still have the capacity to go back-to-back. While Greg Inglis is significant, Adam Reynolds is imperative.
ROOSTERS (14): I'm nervous about my premiership tip at season's start, given the Roosters' jittery form. Of concern is the way they panicked last weekend when points were needed against the Sharks. Too much talent not to be there, but they are looking wobbly.
BULLDOGS (14): A powerful roster but, like the Roosters, can be hot and cold. The impressive win last weekend will make those above them very nervous. But a fit James Graham is crucial to their success.
WARRIORS (14): Same old Warriors we see every year - one week brilliant, a shambles the next. They have the talent but not the mental strength or the consistency.
RAIDERS (12): At their best will test anyone, but their best is too infrequent. The road ahead is a tough one but with two byes to come, six more wins should get them to the eight.
PANTHERS (12): Very well balanced when at full strength, but injury is cruelling them again. Matt Moylan is a savage loss. If he returns and they scrape into the finals, they will be a threat.
TITANS (12): After the season they have had, a finals berth would herald a miracle. But courage alone won't get them there.
SHARKS (12): Again have delivered little after promising much. The return of Paul Gallen will enthuse them, but not enough to play finals.
TIGERS (10): Was Jason Taylor really the answer?
KNIGHTS (10): Good night.
EELS (8): A rabble, just like their management.
SEA EAGLES (8): No cherry on top this season.