NRL Power Rankings, Round 9

Roosters Coach Brad FittlerThe NRL Ladder is jamming up, with results bringing teams closer together in Round 9. Here is the Grubber’s NRL Weekly Power Rankings for the shortened Round 9 fixtures;

1. Newcastle Knights – Have only lost 1 game in the past 6 weeks, sitting equal second on the ladder and are playing some great footy. Their mobile forward pack remains such a potent weapon for them, few teams have the speed and agility to go with the brute force like the Knights. Steve Simpson adding old fashion starch to the team too. Looking very nice.

Grubbers Comment: Odds of Adam McDougall getting his starting spot back when injury free? 25/1

2. Dragons – Some may question their 2nd place this week, but considering they were affected by rep duties and were playing in North Queensland – they put in a big showing. Wayne Bennett wasn’t happy with things, but they continued to toil in a tough game regardless. Are showing all the gritty signs that weren’t there in recent years. Keep smiling Dragons fans. Face off in a big one against the Dogs on Friday Night, however WIN Stadium could prove the difference.

Grubbers Comment: Chances that Jamie Soward was playing with a cold, after sitting on the bench for 75 minutes of the Country v City match? 10/1

3. Broncos – Deserve this high ranking after their rookies nearly got home over Manly. Some magical play from Antonio Winterstein and Israel Folau at times had the crowd in raptures. Forward pack of Sims, Clinton and Thaiday are truly impressing. Corey Parker looked damaging on the fringes and when Hunt and Hodges return, these guys will rocket back to their best. Traveling well and look very comfortable under Ivan Henjack.

Grubbers Comment: Chances the Broncos could field two first grade teams with the amount of talent they have? Strong to Certain.

4. Titans – Similar to the Dragons, they may have lost but all the effort was there. Got some questionable calls and still remained focused. If I had to put money on a team to win the comp, the Titans would get my cash at this early stage. Possess a great blend of talented experienced men, along with the brash and risk-taking outside backs you need. Bailey, Prince, Rogers, Laffranchi, Presto and Walker – combined with the likes of Gordon, Zilman, Tonga and Rankin. Must remain injury free.

Grubbers Comment: Chances Coca-Cola have upped their sponsorship of John Cartwright after he added Coke Zero to his usual Diet Coke roster in the box? 25/1

5. Storm – Starting to show some good signs, Brett Finch looks to be a handy addition. Their attack is lacking that cohesion and venom of yester-year, but fortunately their defence is doing OK and keeping them in games. Good return game from Sika Manu and Adam Blair remains in devastating form. Need more time, will play themselves into even greater form.

Grubbers Comment: Odds that Bellamy will continue to start Cam Smith on the bench, to keep his form down before Origin? 18/1

6. Cowboys – Managed a win over the Dragons, but remain far from convincing and desperately need consistency. Not looking their usual dangerous-selves at home, however Thurston was running on tired legs. Best game from Carl Webb in some time and Steve Southern is getting back to his best form. Willie Tonga showing good signs too. Jury still out on these guys overall.

Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Cowboys awarded Dragon Matt Prior their ‘Players Player’ award? 8/1

7. Manly – They may have fallen over the line to beat the Broncos, but their game was far from convincing. They played a rookie-ladden Broncos, that actually gave Manly a chance in this one. The full strength Brisbane side would have ridden Manly into the ground had they been available. Attacking structure looks poor, mainly through completion and execution failure. Matt Orford struggling badly and looks 10 years older than his opponents. Kicking game non-existent. Brooky game this week against arch-rivals Parramatta may get them lifting to their best.

Grubbers Comment: Odds of Matt Orford needing a hip replacement before the 2009 season finishes? 25/1

8. Roosters – Serious concern for these guys. Had all the ball early on, got every referee call going their way – but still struggled to score points. Their only tries remain from kicks and it seems to frustrate them out of games. May be guilty of trying too hard at times, Braith Anasta seems to be playing too wide of ruck. His guidance is needed closer in, to assist Pearce who at times gets lost and much like Tim Smith of yesteryear, simply turns the ball back inside on too many plays.

Grubbers Comment: Odds that coach Brad Fittler was reading from a pre-written script at the press conference to starve off any fines? 11/1

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