Well, it was the Round of upsets in the NRL – but the famous ‘Grubber’ was on the money, picking the Dragons, Panthers and Knights when many had written them off earlier in the week. Anyone who took the advice on Souths would be sitting pretty now, with most agencies having the Bunnies at around the $4.50 or more mark early in the week. As such the NRL News Weekly Power Rankings by the Grubber have been turned on their head – how did your team rate?
1. Dragons: Showed exactly how good their forwards are this year, dismantling the Broncos pack – allowing their backs to get a good hit-out. Soward improved significantly and their seems even more improvement to come in this side. The test will be if they can maintain the desire, but so far looking the goods. Big Dell improving each week and the purchase of Darius Boyd has proved a smart one.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that teetotaller Wayne Bennett considered an alcoholic beverage to celebrate his impressive win in Brisbane? 20/1
2. Bulldogs: These guys look so good, their styles all compliment each other. Went quiet for the middle period of this game, but otherwise their game is uptempo, full of quality and backed by plenty of enthusiasm. Have the depth this year as well, with a virtual first grade team running around in the NSW Cup. The Dogs too like the Dragons have some improvement, but already the signs are there.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Cronulla Sharks made the worst recruiting decision ever, cutting Kimmorley and Goodwin as they came back to haunt their old side? 10/1
3. South Sydney: They may have come from behind to win this match, but winning in New Zealand is becoming one of the hardest road trips in the NRL. Sure, they played a Warriors side missing some stars – but don’t underestimate the power of Jones at half, and the Bunnies still got home. Forwards passed a big test and the backs did their bit when the gaps arose. Have much greater depth than in previous years, keeping each player on his toes to perform. Working well.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Souths actually had more New Zealand players than the Warriors did? 25/1
4. Titans: Pulled off a massive coup in Melbourne, sending the bookies into raptures when they toppled the heavily backed Storm side. Again without Scott Prince, the Gold Coast side continues to surprise everyone. Have had some things fall their way, but still deserve plenty of credit for this win. Defence is really keeping this side in the hunt, if Mat Rogers remains fit – they’ll be a good chance of a lower Top 8 spot come season end.
Grubbers Comment: Chances that Scott Prince is has actually still been playing in ‘head gear disguise’ to guide his team to victory? 15/1
5. Knights: Yet another surprise result, although the Grubber knew that Manly would still struggle in this one. Was a big occasion for the Knights, EnergyAustralia Stadium, big home crowd – they wanted to set the tone for the year. They lacked total cohesion, but were defensively willing. Jarrod Mullen pulled off a big effort, returning early from injury and having a good game. Coach Smith needs to try and keep a similar team on the park, injury permitting of course – otherwise risk losing the combinations. Uate and Sau remain the absolute standout players in the first few weeks.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Knights will keep the same half / five-eight combination for more than 1 week? 30/1
6. Panthers: Ahhh Penny, even their coach doesn’t know what they will do when they run out onto the park. The Grubber went on a journey deep into Cambridge Park to interview one of the Panthers most dedicated fans, a man the Penrith locals refer to as ‘Shrek’ – a man that generally knows exactly how his side is performing. He said that win or lose, Penrith do generally have a lot of points in them. They proved that again, right from the kick-off – with Jennings and their outside backs carving the Tigers to bits at times. Luke Lewis turned in a strong performance in this match and Wade Graham remains a vital component in their team, lets hope he can stay in the coaches good books.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Wade Graham being kidnapped and shipped off to the Melbourne Storm under an assumed name? 15/1
7. Canberra Raiders: A massive jump up the charts, their attacking plays with plenty of inside balls and fast tempo movements was lethal. They’ve been without luck up until their win on Monday night and could get some wins from here. Forwards were just as dominant as their speedy outside backs, new fullback Josh Duggan could be the next big thing in the NRL – such was his skill and composure for his first ever game.
Grubbers Comment: Chances that Tom Leroyd-Lahrs is the hardest man to put on the turf in the NRL? Strong to Certain.
8. Roosters: Another side thats hard to pick, were probably made to look better than they were – by a woeful Eels side. But despite controversy in the lead-up and some new faces in the forward pack, they pulled it off. In particular their defence was reborn, as they repelled plenty of attack from Parramatta. Willie and Nate might find it hard to get a run soon after their replacements did a fair job, Anasta and Pearce could do so much more behind a stronger forward pack. They have workhorses like O’Meley and Fitzgibbon, but these guys aren’t the benchmarks they once were.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of ‘Australian Pensioners Insurance’ making a special offer to Roosters players coming off contract in the near future? 20/1
9. Storm: Ambushed by a low flying Titans side and are quickly losing their aura, in addition their Graveyard could become a mosh-pit if enemy teams keep winning. The move of Cameron Smith to pivot still looks like a death sentence for Melbourne. It might need a long time to happen, but can they afford to write off a season? Still have an array of dangerous backs, but without direction and a consistently dominant forward pack – it means nothing.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis will use ‘scissors, paper, rock’ to decide the five-eight for next weeks game? 10/1
10. Broncos: May have underestimated the Dragons side, but their forwards as predicted did melt a little bit under the pump. Could be a tough few weeks for Brisbane, the Webcke drama wasn’t ideal and Karmichael Hunt still looks uncommitted with his game. If they drop a few games in succession, their composure will really be tested as they have some some underbelly there it may seem.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Broncos throwing a farewell party for Shane Webcke after his controversial departure as assistant coach? 50/1
11. NZ Warriors: Did well with several key injuries, the test of Stacey Jones starting at half worked OK and coach Ivan Cleary may stick with it. When Steve Price returns they’ll be a different side. Need to ensure they win most home games, as their travel away on alternate weeks is always a difficult ask. Might need to touch up on their defence, as that seems to be the only thing letting them down at crucial times.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of coach Ivan Cleary cancelling training this week due to lack of players, out with injury? 15/1
12. Cowboys: While they weren’t at their best in Canberra, the colder conditions and slippery surface were always going to make them fish out of water. They rarely got a good bounce of the ball and copped the harsh stick on some 50/50 referee calls. The likes of Steve Southern and Luke O’Donnell really need to lift themselves to new heights, as they didn’t have their best games against the Raiders. However, did well to keep the scoreline as low as it was – given they had virtually no possession. JT seems out of sorts for some reason, but this could be his sluggish forwards in recent weeks.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Neil Henry wishes he had of stayed in Canberra after a shaky start to the 2009 season for the Cows? 30/1
13. Wests Tigers: Had the game won, but something when horribly wrong in the final 10 minutes. Their live wire attack is still there, Farah, Benji and Tuiaki all firing hard – but something needs to be done about their turnstyle defence. Some key misses cost them dearly, as did some crazy penalties when their discipline went out the window. Gareth Ellis remains a key man for this side, his work rate is amazing and he is proving to be a handy buy. Face a big test at Manly this week.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Tigers CEO getting locked out of the dressing rooms at half time ever again? 25/1
14. Parramatta: Went from bad against the Raiders to even worse against the Roosters. Attacking structure non-existent, with the combination of Finch and Hayne struggling badly to create any points. Had 55 tackles in the attacking zone, and couldn’t manage anything more than a 78th minute intercept. Don’t be surprised to see Daniel Anderson reshuffle the lineup this week to try and make something happen.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Parramatta scoring more than 6 points in a game anytime soon? 45/1
15. Cronulla Sharks: Were already losing players to injury, now it seems their brainsnaps are costing them through suspensions. Are set to lose possibly 4 players this week due to ill-discipline and their usual stout defence went MIA against the Bulldogs. Along with Manly are the most underperforming side in the NRL by far, they haven’t had any attack for years – if their defence folds, this could be a killer year on the field, which could translate to financial woes off the field. Danger time here in the Shire.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Sharks risking foreclosure should they continue to keep losing games? 5/1
16. Manly Sea Eagles: Des and the boys are stone cold motherless last on the NRL ladder, no one could have imagined the premiers would drop 4 straight games. Were possibly trying too hard in this game against the Knights, they seemingly have to try and manufacture everything now – in previous years, anything Manly did seemed to come off. The hard times are here and it will take an almighty effort to get them dug out, will gladly welcome back Brett Stewart – but the pressure on the fullback could be too heavy if they aren’t careful.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of times that ‘Pass it to Brett Stewart’ will be called out by fans and players on the weekend? 150-200 times.