There have been some tipping nightmares of late, the Knights pipping the fancied Dragons and the Wests Tigers doing their thing over the stuttering Storm of 2009. Here’s how the Grubber saw things in Round 6 –
1. Titans -Â May have got a miracle, but they are very consistent at present, winning 4 straight. Playmakers are getting wraps, but the forwards are the unsung hero’s here. Cartwright has the defence in good order and these guys just need to keep rolling on.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Titans recruiters asking for the signature of Scott Princes future son? 30/1
2. Bulldogs – If not for the stripped points, these guys are sitting 2 points clear atop the ladder. Possibly the smartest recruitment in NRL history in a single year. Bought the conductor in Kimmorley who is sitting nicely behind some talented forwards and the speed, talent on the edges is doing the rest. Won this game in 2nd gear, could have put 60 on the Eels if they weren’t struck down by a virus.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of club management sending the Sharks a thank-you card for gifting them the signature of Brett Kimmorley? 15/1
3. Knights – In some ways similar to the Titans, not getting much press – but have a skillful side that believes they can beat anyone on their day. Weathered an early storm well with big Dell putting on a carnival, but eventually getting the last laugh. Biggest asset is mindset for this side, they never seem phased when down on the scoreboard. Well coached and good blend of youth and experience.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that backrower Chris Houston actually wears a bra during NRL matches, after adjusting his chest every few minutes? 5/1
4. Broncos – Probably were made to look better than they were by the Panthers, but they still won. Hard to criticise, forwards seem to have put their hands up in the last 2 weeks and of course there is that man Wallace. Need to keep banking wins before State of Origin.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Peter Wallace gave former teammate Wade Graham some tips on future recruitment options? 10/1
5. Dragons – Had some lapses in defence and as yet don’t have the points to fight their way out. Injury to Wendell Sailor demonstrated what he brings to the team in emotion alone. Ben Hornby has been quiet so far in 2009, when he arrives they’ll have plenty of points. Return of Weyman will help upfront.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Mad Dog and Big Dell sharing a room in the same Nursing Home in future years? 15/1
6. Manly – The revival continues, were gifted plenty of ball by Souths – but with their fullback on deck, have plenty of points in them. Confidence growing, all signs are good. Need to win an arm wrestle now to re-inforce their mindset. Forwards will get a big test against some of the top sides.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Steve Menzies still playing in the NRL when his future son debuts? 35/1
7. Tigers – This weeks bolters, played uptempo, physical and enthusiastic against the Storm and got the chocolates at home. Some minor problems in defence on the edges still, but scrambled enough to plug the holes. Chris Lawrence is the future for this club, they must not let him leave. Keith Galloway too, is in career best form. Could get on a roll here.
Grubbers Comment: Estimated heart rate of coach Tim Sheens when Benji went blind side from the scrum, 1m from the sideline in the final 30 seconds? Over 200.
8. Cowboys – The shackles were lifted from Jonathan Thurston finally, and some of the pressure eased might help these guys in the weeks ahead. Still a tad rusty, but the signs were good. Shane Tronc’s effort from 5m typified their mindset and will have Neil Henry breathing a sign of relief too, looks like it’s game on now for the Cows.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the entertaining Cowboys ruined any chance of the Adelaide folk ever supporting a disappointing Sharks side? 10/1
9. NZ Warriors – Are virtually playing on one leg, but got the vital win to snap a losing streak. Stacey Jones again proving a magician and other players will continue to feed off that and believe in the weeks ahead. At times guilty of going ad-lib, but Cleary should get this out of these guys in the weeks ahead. Drawing good crowds and the signs are good.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Ivan Cleary becoming the longest running NZ Warriors coach at the current rate? 5/1
10. Souths – A concerning effort here, plenty of dropped ball and also a tonne of missed chances. Not time to hit the panic button, but halves might not be as rock solid as first thought. Could be tempted to use Craig Wing more in the thick of it and earlier. Need to just write this week off and look ahead. Verdict still out on the boys from Redfern it seems.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Russell Crowe urgently needs to hold another ‘love session’ with the Bunnies team immediately? 12/1
11. Storm – Another stuttering effort and it seems the ‘get out of jail’ element the Storm used to have is gone. Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis were a little quiet this week and frustration might be setting in. Still trying to gel a few new faces into the side, the entry of Brett Finch will be interesting and by all accounts should be a good fit. Need to fire up in the forwards and recover their ruck dominance, without gifting penalties. Dual referee system possibly still hurting these guys.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of pressure on Brett Finch next week? Plenty
12. Panthers – Lost focus for a bit and lost their chance. Were building nicely prior to this week and will need to get their minds back on the job quickly, including off-field dramas. Have shown what they can do, probably still lack experience at no.7 to be a consistent force in 2009. Will win their fair share of games, but just lack a genuine guiding hand at times.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of pub venue ‘The Mean Fiddler’ sponsoring the Penrith Panthers anytime in the future? Slim to none.
13. Roosters – Switched off in the 2nd half, didn’t score a point and watched the game get away from them. Hard to tell whether its fitness or focus, but these guys need to find some ticker in the late stages or risk slipping further back from the pack. In saying that, the road trip to NZ is always a tough ask – get their chance at home against the Dragons this week.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Brad Fittler will revert to the old 5am training session start times for the next few weeks? Strong to certain.
14. Raiders – Again showed their zip in parts and nearly pulled off a miracle. Terry Campese continues his glittering run of form, hard to keep these guys at the lower end of the scale – because they are in most games, but lack the killer punch at the end. May mature throughout 2009, still have the talent for the future – just need to keep them all fit and signed up for the future.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Raiders ‘away uniform’ worn against the Titans was the worst fashion mistake in NRL history? 4/1
15. Sharks – Still a worry these guys, had a sniff in the game – but just look a shambles. Their recruitment has failed badly, and Ricky Stuart will need to be Peter Powers to steel the mindset of his young troops. Hard for Barrett to do his work behind a beaten forward pack, this could cost him a shot at NSW Origin. Will need to write this year off to blood young talent and start recruiting from scratch.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Cronulla building another Leagues club under the opposite Grand Stand to try and double their dwindling income? 15/1
16. Eels – Alarm bells ringing off their hinges here. Like the Sharks, had chances to get into this game and while the Keating boys were a shining light – the rest of the team lacked composure, drive and focus for the most part. Communication was non-existent and if Anderson can’t get these guys singing from the same hymn book – it’s going to be a long, long year.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of 3P Founders, Kenny, Grothe, Price and Leabetter coming out of retirement to wear the Eels jersey once again and help their side out of trouble? 15/1