1. NZ Warriors – While they pulled a rabbit out of their hats to snatch victory, the ultra-cool return of veteran Stacey Jones has NZ looking very good for ability and depth now. Have the quality and backup to make a good show of things in 2009.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Stacey Jones playing well into his 50’s and still being competitive? 15/1.
2. Parramatta Eels – Apart from a shaky start, the Eels learned how to defend again and were rock solid against the rapid-fire Rabbits. Could be the confidence builder they needed to take the next steps.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Nathan Hindmarsh is continuing to grow his hair in the hope it takes the focus off his ‘other’ asset that is regularly mentioned during games? 5/1
3. North Queensland Cowboys – Bounced back in a big way at home, fired on all cylinders. While fitness remains a concern for this side, their attack will have other sides running scared once more.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Cowboys season hinging on Matt Bowens knee? Strong to certain.
4. Newcastle Knights – Not only did they show a tonne of courage in getting the victory with only 1 player left on the bench, with a full compliment both Dureau and Mullen looked the goods. If forwards can remain injury free and consistent, will do well.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Chris Houston could also get work as a salesman, after doing the best sell job ever on his controversial try? 3/1
5. Brisbane Broncos – While the cards fell their way in this game, you do make your own luck sometimes. The kids being blooded by the Broncos are paying them back 10 fold, and could have a farm-yard full of stars in the next 6 months.
Grubbers Comment:Â Odds that ex-Storm star Israel Folau has been teaching Justin Hodges how to ‘grapple’ with the best of them? 2/1
6. Sydney Roosters – Answered their critics in the best way possible, a big away win against the Raiders at Fortress Bruce. Got rid of the Cobwebs in the first half, but once they clicked looked good. Losing Minichiello a worry as outside back depth not great.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Anthony Minichiello needs a GPS-like device just to report on his injury levels during a game? 2/1
7. Melbourne Storm – Were very unlucky not to win, ultimately referee Ben Cummins cost them the game. Forwards probably haven’t hit their straps in the first two rounds and Greg Inglis looked to be playing sore. Don’t write these guys off any time soon.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Steve Turner getting a NSW State of Origin spot this year? Slim to none.
8. St George Illawarra – When they tried to play expansive, things got ugly. But probably showed enough to give coach Bennett and fans some hope. Most imporant part is, they are playing tough and they won ugly, something they never used to be able to do.
Grubbers Comment: Odds Jamie Soward has installed an ‘earpiece’ in his headgear to receive instructions from Wayne Bennett during games? 15/1
9. Bulldogs – Under the guidance of Brett Kimmorley they look extremely composed. Expect big things to keep coming from these guys, had their hearts broken by the interchange bungle – but should bounce back quickly.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Bulldogs trainer that called Andrew Ryan back onto the field of play after he was interchanged will now need witness protection? 5/1
10. South Sydney Rabbitohs – Hard to fault their performance, they probably got frustrated at getting turned away so often. Short turnaround from Round 1 and super positive headlines may not have helped. Craig Wing may get a look in sooner now, still look the goods.
Grubbers Comment: Chances that Craig Wing may have been secretly relieved at the Bunnies losing so he gets a chance at making the team? Highly Probable.
11. Penrith Panthers – Got some favourable calls in the first half and took full advantage. While still disjointed, they did enough to get in front and nearly win the game. Very concerning that they still managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the entire Panthers team will need ongoing counseling after losing the match from an ideal position? 3/1
12. Manly Sea Eagles – They may have been in a position to win this game, but should have been much further in front. Home crowd, Warriors playing in the heat – the advantages don’t get much better. Jamie Lyon the only positive sign for Manly fans, forwards not aiming up so far this year.
Grubbers Comment: Is Manly dropping faster than a bad business in the global recession? Strong to certain.
13. Gold Coast Titans – Had some hard luck at WIN Stadium, a few calls going against them. Need to be prepared to go the arm-wrestle, but seem to want to go fancy too often. Defensive line was a worry at times, looking a combination of compress and slide – need more talk without the ball.
Â Grubbers Comment: Odds that several Titans players including Nathan Friend and Preston Campbell are blinded by their own headgear at various stages in the game? 8/1
14. Cronulla Sharks – Had ample opportunity to score plenty of points against a wounded Knights side, but still couldn’t get over the white stripe. But while their attack has been off for years, their usually gritty defence was MIA also – which is a worry. Trent Barrett a positive hit-out, adding creativity, but he needs the likes of a Kearney to assist as he can’t do it all himself.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of holes Ricky Stuart would have punched in the coaches box wall during loss to the Knights? Plenty.
15. Canberra Raiders – Had a horrible first half of Rugby League, just could not hang on to a ball. Looked a little too eager at times and overcooked things. Their inexperience probably showed here. Still possess some raw speedsters and natural talent, just need to harness it and gain consistency.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Canberra making an SOS call to Todd Carney after a winless start to 2009? 450/1
16. Wests Tigers – Proved their win in Round 1 was a little lucky. A poor showing by the Tigers up north. Benji Marshall again seeming a little unsettled and may take longer to adjust to his new position. Some discipline and frustration showing through for them. Tough ask to face the Roosters at the SFS this week, as its classed as the Tigers home game.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Tigers players wearing GPS devices during this game were given the wrong co-ordinates to the tryline? 2/1