1. Canberra Raiders: White hot again, even without Todd Carney the Raiders have bollocking forwards laying a platform for lightning fast and skillful backs. Should make the Top 8 on this form. Collin Best in sublime touch and scoring some of the tries of the year, looking like a gazelle in full flight when the big man strides out.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Craig Bellamy flying into the ACT to visit all the local pubs and clubs to discover secret of the new found Green Machine success? 15/1
2.Sydney Roosters: Bounced back in the best fashion, full of energy and getting the Manly monkey off their back. A great confidence booster should they face Manly in the NRL Top 8 play offs this year. Have the forwards to do damage in the NRL finals.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Brad Fittler took the whole team to a yoga class during the week, in the hope some of his ‘relaxed’ vibe would rub off? 10/1
3. St George Illawarra Dragons: Have been going along better than most think, shaping as a real force for the lower Top 8. Jason Ryles pulled out game of the season and was backed up by plenty of team mates. Nathan Brown seems in a whole new world of confidence since securing a position for next year in the UK Super League.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Nathan Brown ever having beers with the Melbourne coaching staff again any time soon? 100/1
4. Penrith Panthers: Even without Frank Pritchard, they muscled up and had too much for the Wests Tigers. Losing Lachlan Coote a concern, as his energy was contagious and their run home is a shocker. Could still throw up some surprises, must stick with the younger hookers for the remainder of the year to be a true chance. Priddis is solid without being creative, best he is achieving is the odd penalty play when he runs at the markers.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Penrith scouts staking out local schools chasing more talent this week after losing high school star Lachlan Coote for 6 weeks? 20/1
5. NZ Warriors: Took the Brownie blueprint for how to beat the Melbourne Storm, get in their face, muscle up and niggle. A massive boost of confidence for the Kiwi’s who have a nice run home playing most games at home. Things coming good at the right time.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Brent Tate winning the award for having the largest ‘Chin’ in the NRL, just ahead of Willie Mason and Mark Gasnier. Strong to Certain.
6. Brisbane Broncos: Were gutsy and fought through injury problems to beat the Cronulla Sharks, but probably should have won by more. Look a little disjointed at times and the magic from Darren Lockyer and Peter Wallace from early season is lacking, will make the Top 8 but will struggle for cohesion and depth.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Wayne Bennett can leave the Broncos with a 2008 NRL Premiership? 150/1
7. Newcastle Knights: Defence is their motivation, Brian Smith has a bunch of no names, old timers and wanna-be’s playing out of their skin. Great formation and communication and their creative attack shone through against the Bunnies. Given a majority share of possession they can trouble any NRL team.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the aging Adam McDougall playing Rugby League against his son soon? Strong to firm.
8. Melbourne Storm: A speed bump or a concern? A rare loss for the premiers, probably good to get it out of the way now but they are certainly a marked team. The opposition along with the NRL match officials are watching closely for their unique wrestling and subduing tactics. An interesting month ahead.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Storm CEO Brian Waldron squaring off with Nathan Brown in a carpark soon? 25/1
9. Cronulla Sharks: Commendable defence again, repelled wave after wave of Brisbane Broncos attack – but they look shocking in attack. Were lucky to score any points and this could be a major hurdle for them. Are defending well enough to keep them in games, but just can’t put sides way – yet.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Paul Gallen getting through an NRL game without being cited for something? Slim to None.
10. Manly Sea Eagles: Probably the loss they had to have. Were ambushed by the pumped up Roosters who simply had to win. Missing Jamie Lyon could prove to be a major problem for them, still have an element of ‘choke’ about them after last year. Can play so well, then just look soft and lost when on the big stage for a big match.
Grubbers Comment: Likelihood that Steve Matai has attended ‘anger management classes’ in recent weeks, after his niggling tactics have been in decline? 10/1
11. Parramatta Eels: A forgettable win, ugly and boring but it still got them 2 points. Had to defend a mammoth amount of tackles on their own line and while the Cowboys weren’t throwing everything at them – coach Michael Hagan would be happy with the tackling practise. Face a grand final this coming Round 21 against the Knights.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of fans the Eels still have left after playing some of the most boring NRL in 2008? 7000 and falling.
12. Gold Coast Titans: Were outclassed in the cold ACT, featured a stack of rookies who will be better for the run – but were never in the hunt. Many sides with more experienced personnel have suffered the same fate to Canberra at home – but sadly for the Titans their 2008 NRL season is grinding to a halt – depth getting the better of them.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Titans officials expanding their Robina complex to include a private Hospital to diagnose and house an ever growing number of injured Gold Coast players? 5/1
13. Wests Tigers: Looked good in patches, but didn’t have the legs to go with Penrith for the long haul. Silly penalties killed them and like many other teams are missing experienced and key players during this critical time. Their entertaining attack flashed through in parts, but defence would really be worrying coach Tim Sheens after this poor showing. Have a favourable match up this week against the withering Bulldogs.
Grubbers Comment: Truth in the rumour that Tim Sheens was caught conducting ‘cloning’ experiments involving DNA from Robbie Farah; trying to duplicate his star for hooker and half? Strong to certain.
14. South Sydney Rabbitohs: The fairytale is officially over, the resurgent Bunnies were woeful in defence and some of the tries they let through were gobsmacking. Will want to end the year on a confident note, hoping new players won’t have the confidence sucked out of them by more poor results. Were lucky the Knights missed most of their conversions.
Grubbers Comment: Odds the NRL are checking to see if Souths actually had a full compliment of 13 players on the field after their defence was leaking like a siv for most of the game against Newcastle? 15/1
15. Bulldogs: Were dead men walked before the game started. A bunch of boys sent to do a mans job, have done the Dragons a massive favour and given them a massive dose of confidence. Ben Barba was solid and tried hard, needs a few years of growth before becoming a major force. Tough times at Belmore, makes previous media scandals look like childs play at the moment.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Bulldogs inviting Anthony Mundine into the Belmore camp to motivate and tutor young upcoming Bulldogs such as Ben Barba? 5000/1
16. North Queensland Cowboys: Not much to say about North Queensland. Didn’t look overly enthusiastic, with the Eels they turned on the poorest game of the NRL 2008 season. Steve Southern looked to be the only player really putting in, will be desperate to get Neil Henry into the joint after wrongly booting Graham Murray.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of any Cowboys player having the guts to steal Jarryd Haynes girlfriend anytime soon after he dished out the foot to the face treament? 100/1