As we get further into the NRL season, we are seeing the consistency of some teams and the false hope of others fade away. The Dragons continue to steel themselves at the top, as the once defensively sound Sharks outfit now falls away in several categories. Here’s the NRL News Weekly Power Rankings after NRL Round 5 compiled by the famous ‘Grubber’:
1. Dragons – Deserving of their spot at the top, have been rebuilt this year based on solid defense and a team of harder, heavier forward based players. Have created a unique style that is working well. Have depth up their sleeve too.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Dragons officials are already planning a ‘Saint Benny’ statue outside Kogarah Oval? 15/1
2. Titans – Again creep up the charts, avoiding any media attention. Their raid into Townsville was impressive, another side building on great defence but have the luxury of some strike weapons in attack. Prince, Presto and Rogers have the creativity to split any side. Usually drop off at this time, will need to keep it tight in the weeks ahead.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of this side getting any Sydney coverage in the next few weeks? Slim to none.
3. Bulldogs – Continue to be the surprise packet of 2009, their new team continue to gel well and always seem to play for each other. The experience of Brett Kimmorley worked well in the wet, smart kicking the key. Michael Ennis continues his passion at hooker and remains a driving force for the other players. Great mix of talent. Workers, skills men and athletes all bundled in, complementing well.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that 99% of the Bulldogs players would need a ‘navman’ to find Belmore Oval should they return their for future training and games?
4. Broncos – Was a tougher ask than many predicted, heading to Sydney to face the in-form Roosters. While the usual suspects in Folau, Hodges and Lockyer performed well – the previously underrated Brisbane forwards did a good job here. Hung tough when needed, did the job and continue to remain at the top. Henjack has done well not to alter a winning formula too much.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of penalties that Justin Hodges will give away in 2009? Plenty.
5. Storm – While not at their best, hard to point the finger when they keep winning. Coach Craig Bellamy would still be happy they can win ugly, and the signing of Brett Finch will add a new dimension to this side. Probably lack the firepower they once did on the edge, with Steve Turner and Will Chambers nothing like the old stars; Folau or King.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Brett Finch will do a Clint Newton and win the comp with Melbourne after a mid-season switch of clubs? 10/1
6. Knights – Have suddenly made their move, put in a great display against the NZ Warriors and have a river of riches in the halves. Expect to see Mullen and Rogers as the new combination moving forward, still possess arguably the best backrowers in the comp – with the mobile Houston and Patterson able to do it all. Watch this space.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Jarrod Mullen being played from the bench again this season? 150/1
7. Sea Eagles – The Manly boys were always going to win this one, regardless of how Brett Stewart went – this was their Grand Final. The attack of Stewart complimented the play of Matt Orford perfectly, there is no denying his try scoring ability the guy is a freak. The Wests Tigers did however, make these guys look better than they were. Need to back it up next week against Souths.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of finding anyone in Manly that now doesn’t know the name Brett Stewart? 100/1
8. Roosters – Deserve big wraps for pushing the Broncos all the way. Their forwards are allowing the likes of Anasta and Pearce more time and edge man Kenny-Dowall continues to be dynamic on the air and on the ground. Sam Perrett keeps improving at the back and with some luck the Roosters could get on a roll. Going OK.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Roosters getting a decent crowd at anytime this year? Slim to none.
9. Panthers – Big improvers in recent weeks, their effort against the Storm was highly impressive. Their raids down the Storms right edge were netting huge results, the Penrith side just couldn’t gobble the last past. The stage fright should go away if they keep turning up in big games. Looks like the halves might be settling and in-fighting is going away. Luke Lewis defied my previous critcisim and started to prove himself in the halves pairing role.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Panthers officials have had a ‘Shrink’ at training, to help fighting players find harmony and love each other once more? 10/1
10. Souths – Got found out in the wet again, experience hurting them in the halves at present. May look to use Wing more to run the play when things are getting tough, weren’t able to flex their attacking muscle in the wet – but their basic errors hurt too. Probably didn’t have their usual energy in this game either, need to be cautious not to lose the mojo in the next few weeks.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Jason Taylor will turn the sprinklers on at training all week to teach this side how to play in the wet? 15/1
11. Raiders – When they play expansive, they are an exciting side to watch. Campese again very hot, youngsters in this side will be hard to contain. Duggan again looks to be a real find, and the no.7 Herbert looks to be a long term solution for this side – despite talk of Michael Monaghan on the horizon. Will really frustrate the other sides this year, lost focus momentarily in this game – but did more than enough to win.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Michael Monaghan will play from the bench when he returns to this side? 75/1
12. NZ Warriors – Injuries have really seen this side drop from contention in recent weeks. Looked like the ‘old’ Warriors sides of the past in Newcastle, relying on catch-up football to get back into the game. Desperately need the settling hand of Steve Price. Russell Packer did however play a good game in the big shoes of Pricey, need to keep McKinnon highly involved in attack.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Steven Price will be on the field next week, even if he is half dead? 2/1
13. Cowboys – It seems the structure being implemented by Neil Henry could be restricting the likes of Jonathan Thurston and Matt Bowen. While the forwards need some improvement, this side are playing without luck and might be guilty of trying too hard. Don’t seem to have the depth they once had, coach might have to throw out the gameplan and let them do their thing for one game to get the feel back.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Neil Henry reversing roles and getting Mal Meninga to do the team talk and tactics for him this week? 12/1
14. Wests Tigers – Their attacking firepower so often covers their major problems, the Tigers are lucky in that they can score a good looking try from anywhere on the field – but they need to get back to basics and number up. Serious problems with their line defence and communication. A few losses in succession could really mentally hammer these guys in the weeks ahead.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of tackling practise this side will do through the week? Plenty. And a bit more.
15. Eels – Played on emotion for parts of their match, but will be pushing it without a front line halfback this year. Forwards put in at times, but no where near consistent enough. May look to use Kris Keating at no.7 – he seems to be the only suspect that adds consistent spark to the side. Could be a long year for these boys.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Daniel Mortimer will be asked for ID to get into the Ground this week should he be selected in the Eels first grade side? 5/1
16. Cronulla – Statistically the worst team in NRL history. Their attack has reached such seriously poor levels, no other team in the 12 year history of the National Rugby League has been that bad. As highlighted by Phil Gould, this side needs to change their style and quickly. Not only is their attack continuing to fail, their once hard defence again leaked big time. The Raiders barging over for simple dummy half tries. This Rugby League side’s future is at serious risk.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Cronulla club can continue to exist past 2009? 25/1