Big movers this week in the Rankings are the Bulldogs and Brisbane – both having solid wins against fancied opponents.
1. Melbourne: Clearly missed the control and direction of Cronk, but right now there is nothing stopping this outfit. Hard to see any team topping them at this point. Power score: 9/10, Number of Storm players who will use bye weekend to escape Melbourne media attention: 0.
2. Parramatta: On track for a top 4 finish and were explosive in the first half against the Roosters. Clocked off in the second stanza however and against a better side this may cost them. Power score: 8/10, Player who was happiest that Brett Finch was playing against him and could absorb the hatred of Roosters fans: Craig Wing.
*3. Brisbane: Were devastating in the first and second halves against the Tigers. Looking like the team that won a premiership last year. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Seventycentsalitre ever missing an Origin game through suspension: 100-1.
4. Canterbury: Dominating display against Manly may have set up season revival. Were simply devastating in the forwards on Friday night and remain a premiership force. Power score 8/10, Increase in police presence at Brookvale last Friday night: 400%.
5. Manly: Were very ordinary against Canterbury and 4th minute try to Watmough may have been the worst possible opening. Will be without numerous stars this weekend and face a real test against the Dragons. Power score: 7/10, Number of times NSW Police will send “riot squad” van to Brookvale again this year: 0 (unless of course Manly draw the Bulldogs in a home final).
6. Gold Coast: Welcomed the return of Preston Campbell and did enough to win at home. Hard to see them being a force in this premiership but may still have some surprises left in them. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Chris Walker seeing any NRL action in 2007: 20-1.
7. Wests Tigers: Had their pants pulled down by the resurgent Broncos. Did well to fight for 80 minutes though and thankfully didn’t just throw in the towel at half time. A better team than the score line suggested. Power score: 6.5/10, Most recent entrant to the “Willie Mason Haterz” club: Robbie Farah.
8. New Zealand: Belted the “Ill-disciplined Panthers” through solid execution and good ball movement. Will be eager to make it three in a row against the Titans this weekend. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds of Michael Witt ever scoring 20 points in a game again: 100-1.
9. North Queensland: Somehow managed to hold on against the Raiders through the individual brilliance of several of their star players. Not really looking like a top 4 outfit at this stage but there are still 10 rounds to go. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that the Warriors would have lost two points had they fielded a 14th man: 2-1.
10. Canberra: Will need to arrest recent slide in order to stay in touch with the rest of the top 8. A more solid effort around the ruck will be required to notch up their next win. Power score: 6/10, Odds of “play the ball” drills being upped at Raiders training this week: 2-1.
11. South Sydney: Executed well and defended solidly to beat Cronulla in another scrappy effort. Still struggling to score points however and on any other day Covell’s boot would have probably been the difference. Power score: 5.5/10, Excuses left for Ricky Stuart in defending Sharks form: 1, maybe 2.
12. Cronulla: Still struggling massively to put points on the board and season will soon be reaching a crisis point if they cannot arrest this slump. Halves look genuinely lost. Power score: 5.5/10, Number of Sharks halves combinations who have lined up for NSW: 0.
13. Newcastle: Couldn’t quite do enough to challenge the Titans but there are still some positives in their performances of late. Buderus is rising to the challenge of taking over Joey’s mantle. Power score: 5.5/10, Number of times Matthew Johns drops the F-bomb in The Final Winter: 2,345.
14. Roosters: Didn’t muscle up in defence against the Eels and off-field issues may have started to take a toll on the transit lounge club. Power score: 5/10, Most interesting clash remaining this year: Round 25, Roosters v Rabbitohs at Homebush.
15. St George-Illawarra: Outclassed for 70 minutes by the Storm however will back themselves as a good chance of defeating a massively depleted Manly side at home this weekend. Power score: 4.5/10, Odds that Nathan Brown’s top 8 prediction for Dragons will come to fruition: 20-1.
16. Penrith: Struggled again to mount pressure and are probably the easy beats of the NRL at the midpoint of the season. Must improve handling and offensive execution if they are to avoid the spoon. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Matt Elliot lasting out the season: 5-1.
Yours in League,
(PS – Stay Tuned for my Around the Grounds Article Tomorrow!)