The NRL results just keep getting closer in 2008, once again a round were several games were decided by only a few points. In this modern era, any team can win on their day and the race for the premiership is wide open – several teams looking like they could do the job this year.
Here’s how the Grubber saw the NRL Power Rankings for Round 16, 2008
1. Manly Sea Eagles: Really put on a show in Gosford. Steve Matai working his physical magic in the centres, having a huge impact and Jamie Lyon is developing well in the five-eighth role. Well oiled machine at the moment, traveling well.
Grubbers Comments: Chances of Jamie Lyon ever getting a call-up for State of Origin or the Kangaroos again; slim to none.
2. Sydney Roosters: Won without a stack of their regular stars and are starting to believe in themselves. Have better depth this year and the carefree coaching of Brad Fittler. A real contender, can beat anyone on their day.
Grubbers Comments: Odds that the Roosters players will be allowed in Kings Cross if they win the comp? 25/1
3. Cronulla Sharks: Starting to win by larger margins, a good away win in tough conditions. Their attack is starting to get more depth and fluidity about it, another side enjoying confidence and starting to believe. Defence remains perfect, Ricky has a good mix of playmakers now and has enforced strong defensive ideals.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that ‘Tell Your Pappa’ will go down in history after one of the craziest reverse-prowler tackles ever seen? 5/1
4. St George Illawarra Dragons: What’s happened at Kogarah? Is the shadow of Wayne Bennett forcing players to play for their contractual lives? Whatever it is, it’s working. The Dragons win again and have themselves on a big roll. The NRL Top 8 is a real possibility and the St George Illawarra side only have to win a handful more to lock themselves into the mix. Depth might be a concern, need to stay injury free.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of big Wendell Sailor getting another run anytime soon? 30/1
5. South Sydney Rabbitohs: What a form reversal. We tried to tell Jason Taylor back in the early rounds – stick with the same halves combination and side make-up for more than a week and things might just work. Should improve even more as Craig Wing gets more match time and works up combinations. Have plenty of players fighting for positions, so things are uptempo in the camp. Don’t write the Rabbits off yet.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of George Piggins ringing every media outlet bagging the Bunnies administrators if Souths start losing badly again? 2/1
6. Melbourne Storm: Gutsy showing from the Storm rookies. Forward pack looked frightening at times, have a tonne of talent in reserve for their assault on the Premiership this year. Copped some tough decisions by the referee and almost snatched victory at the end. Overall a good performance considering the situation.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of NRL Referee Ben Cummins ever getting to officiate a semi-final or representative fixture in the next 12 months? 500/1
7. NZ Warriors: Won away from home; even the intimidating Leichhardt Oval couldn’t de-rail them. Ruben Wiki’s 300th game had the boys fired up and even without a solid, dominating halves pairing – the Kiwi’s did enough in the forwards to win this game. Ian Henderson is going great guns at hooker, really providing the Warriors with an uptempo ruck-speed and the driving thrust they need at times.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of games the NZ Warriors would win away from home if they changed their black jerseys to a lighter shade, to avoid the Australian heat? Plenty.
8. Brisbane Broncos: Impressive display considering the State of Origin and injury toll that is hampering the Broncos. A draw will suffice and keep them in the mix. Will be interesting to see their Origin hang-over and how they handle the ongoing battle with injury. I fear they could drop off in coming weeks.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of a Broncos player or official ever finding Peter Wallace’s lost ‘ball’ on the Suncorp Stadium turf? 200/1
9. Penrith Panthers: Have done well to stay out of the media spotlight and have chipped away OK considering injuries hampering them at the moment. Are playing an exciting brand of footy in attack, unpredictable and risky but working to their advantage. Face a tough test against neighbouring Parramatta this week, in a match that is critical for both sides in the scheme of things.
Grubbers Comment: Truth in the rumour that Matt Elliot’s family have finally been allowed out of witness protection after earlier fears that rowdy Penrith locals could have turned on them after months of poor results? Possible to Highly Likely.
10. Parramatta Eels: No one knows what to expect from the Eels each week, possess good firepower in various positions but rarely do they all fire at once. In fairness, it would have been hard to mentally prepare to play a team massively understrength. Need to improve close quarters defence and work to grind out a win, rather than try to overplay their hand at times.
Grubbers Comment: Possibility that NRL referee Ben Cummins is secretly a big Parramatta Eels supporter? Strong to Certain.
11. Gold Coast Titans: Fought bravely at home, but wheels look to be wobbling. Losing Luke Bailey was a killer blow and confidence plus depth remain big concerns. Seem to be fragile in the air on the fringes at times and need to start winning away from home too. Scary times for the NRL newboys.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of John Cartwright putting in a double order of Diet Coke for his next session in the coaching box, to help him get over the nerves? 10/1
12. Newcastle Knights: Have been a touch unlucky in recent weeks, haven’t really played badly – just need somethings to swing their way. Missed a few Origin stars that probably could have got them home, the likes of Danny Buderus, Kurt Gidley and Ben Cross. Face Dragons and Panthers in coming weeks, games that they simply need to win to get them up in the hunt for the Top 8.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Brian McMannus is the most underrated player in the NRL? 5/1
13. Canberra Raiders: Didn’t play too bad, but needed to win badly at home to keep things on track. Their poor away record means they must take everything they can in the ACT, especially a big Monday Night game. Could really suffer from this loss. Todd Carney however is still playing well and when their attack clicks, it really has the potential to cause serious damage.
Grubbers Comment: Likelihood of the Canberra Raiders making the Top 8 in 2008? 25/1
14. Wests Tigers: Are fading faster than any team at the moment, had everything in their favour at Leichhardt on the weekend but never looked ‘up’ for the contest. Forwards aren’t rolling through the ruck, to make things worse – silly penalties are killing them. Missing depth due to massive injury toll and confidence is leaking away with each week. Benji still has some issues in defence and is making things hard for coach Tim Sheens to keep him in the mix. Will sorely miss Brett Hodgson next season.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of ‘kava’ handed around to teammates by Ruben Wiki before and after the game on Sunday?Â 34 (2 per player)
15. Bulldogs: Boys trying to play as men. Sonny Bill Williams was a threat, but otherwise didn’t look like a genuine NRL team. Severely down on confidence, personnel and have an axed coach at the helm. All spells disaster and there doesn’t look to be light at the end of the tunnel. Need to work hard to avoid the spoon now as Souths start to accelerate out of the cellar.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Steve Folkes has been calling brother in law Chris Anderson for coaching tips? 100/1
16. North Queensland Cowboys: Had their hearts broken by a plucky Souths side. Did very well considering their injury toll and lack of genuine gamebreakers. Have found so many ways to lose now, it must be a habit. Losing Carl Webb is a massive blow and I can’t see things getting any better. Firming weekly for the wooden spoon and this will play on their minds no doubt.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that former coach Graham Murray has been praying at his local church for his side to get a win? 500/1