NRL Round 11 Power Rankings, As we approach the half-way mark of the season, the Top 8 is starting to really take shape now. In the weeks ahead, we will dig out some old articles from our reporters at the beginning of the year to show just who picked who in regards to the Top 8 teams.
Here’s how the Grubber saw Round 11 of the NRL;
1. Bulldogs – Ranked 1st, only just edging out the Dragons. It has been both these sides for most of the year. Showed their depth, winning a big match up with Melbourne even after losing Noddy early. Defence is admirable and simply have so many talented players waiting in the wings if needed. Morris still sidelined, along with a host of first graders in the NSW Cup. Well positioned.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of a lightning striking a third time in 2009 to take another 2 points away from the Bulldogs? 15/1
2. Dragons – The physical domination and patience from St Geo Illawarra was highly impressive. Bennett continues to fine tune this team, they withstood the emotion from the Sharks on the big derby night and pounced beautifully with some well constructed attack with good depth. Have plenty of options with Soward, Head, Hornby who can all run the show. Priddis remains their only concern, the veteran probably lacks the potentcy of competing hookers.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Dragons making Steve Clark a life member of the club? Strong to certain.
3.Â Broncos – Made hard work of their outing at Campbelltown, but did have some injuries and it was a tough road trip. Youngsters continue to build nicely, and if Dave Taylor can keep his mind on the job their forwards look much better. Have ridden their luck at times, but still have shown good enough consistency to remain at the pointy end of the NRLNEWS.COM Power Rankings.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Darren Lockyer ever getting his hair cut that short again after aging 10 years? 50/1
4. Titans – Some may question the Grubber putting these guys at No.4, but they too have ridden their luck when needed. Still have that great blend of experience and youth in their team, Walker has been steady since returning and Kevin Gordon is a real talent. Will miss Bailey and Harrison during Origin, but keeping Prince and Laffranchi is a major coup for these guys. Are hardening up nicely in the close games and need more gritty wins as the semis approach.
Grubbers Comment: Truth in the rumour that all Titans players bought lottery tickets after their win against Manly? 5/1
5. Panthers – Along with the Knights, the Panthers have been the surprise packet of the 2009 season. Coach Elliott rode out the early storm, cleaned out problematic players and the results are now coming through. Their youngsters have plenty in their attacking kit bag, Jennings, Coote and Graham can hurt you from anywhere but their improving defence is what could see them sneak into the Top 8 this year.
Grubbers Comment: Wonder why Frank Pritchard suddenly wants to sign for life with Penrith after previously wanting out?
6. Cowboys – Had a big win Monday night, but were probably made to look better by the Newcastle side having an off night. Sure, improvement was there from the Nth Queensland forwards – with O’Donnell, Tronc and Southern all building to better form. There is still something missing from these guys, they will possibly struggle to make the Top 8 unless they really lift it up a gear. Aren’t travelling well away from home and when challenged they are going into their shells. Jury still out.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Luke O’Donnell ever backing away from a fight again after resisting the urge to flatten Danny Wicks? 75/1
7. Raiders – Started slowly, but eventually burst to life on the back of Campese guidance. Their young speedsters finally reminded us of what they can do, their struggle so far in 2009 seems down to focus on gameday as they do have the ability and ‘graveyard’ style home ground. If they can string a few wins together, might ride that into the finals. David Shillington has been a real buy for these guys and continues his good work up front.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Raiders sending David Milne to finishing school to improve his TV interview skills? 18/1
8. Wests – The Tigers have been let down by conversion kicks several times in 2009, but apart from that, they remain upbeat and still look capable of making their mark on this competition. Injuries have crept up in recent weeks, but the Tigers have been resilient to say the least. Might be some question marks in defence under the high-ball, but can hurt most teams from anywhere on the park. Dark horse for the Top 8.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Sorbent sponsoring the Tigers in 2010 after countless toilet paper rolls were thrown onto the goal posts at Campbelltown? 12/1
9. Knights – After some really impressive weeks of footy, finally stumbled. Coach Brian Smith wasn’t too worried, simply writing it off as a bad night at the office. Couldn’t catch a ball up in Townsville but this shouldn’t have too much effect. Will naturally miss Kurt Gidley and now McManus on Origin duty and do face the Bulldogs this week in what should be their big test as to how they are travelling.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Knights talent scouts setting up base camps in Wales and Darwin? 45/1
10. Souths – A real disappointment this week, were expected to belt Parramatta but struggled to compete. Were gifted 2 tries and without those, they would have been soundly beaten. A draw was a good result considering, Jason Taylor glossed over things quickly – but there might be a mid-season focus lapse for these guys. While Sutto and Sandow are out, they have more than enough depth to cover and should remain competitive.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Bunnies snaring Brad Fittler as another consultant if the Roosters punt him? 18/1
11. Storm – Started the arm-wrestle well, but were given a lesson by the Noddy-less Bulldogs. The loss immediately showing coach Bellamy how far off the pace his side are. Their strength remains with Billy Slater kick returns, but finally opposition are kicking dead or for touch where possible. The Tigers showed this years ago, but NRL sides refused to do it against the Storm. Melbourne need to change their style to achieve more points.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Craig Bellamy resorting to counseling for the team soon, to rediscover their mojo? 20/1
12. Manly – If they weren’t already panicing, then time to do it now. The Sea Eagles threw everything into this game, they were physical, committed and the desire was there to be seen. But simply, they couldn’t score enough points. Forget the controversy at the end, Manly should have been in front by much more. Orford’s kicking remains very below par, and without Brett Stewart – these guys look like shot ducks.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Manly saviour Max Delmege going down in a Roman style back-stabbing? 15/1
13. Eels – A surprise showing from the wounded Eels, down to their third half-back and minus their captain and a host of others, they toiled hard to salvage a draw. Certainly not playing attractive footy, but showed enough desire to warrant the contest. Form of Jarryd Hayne remains near career best, the fullback has scored over a 1/3 of the Eels tries this season.
Grubbers Comment: Amount of field goal practise at Eels training this week? Plenty.
14. NZ Warriors – Have fallen away very quickly and coach Cleary has hit the alarm bell this week and has introduced several new faces. Will miss Steve Price big time during Origin and may want to reconsider shelving Nathan Fien.Â Have now lost their last 3 matches, allowing Kevin Locke and Aaron Heremaia to get their shots. New blood could be the answer, just look a little stale.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that the Warriors will change airlines to improve their away game comfort levels? 10/1
15.Â Sharks – Again tried hard, but just lack the talent. Smart move by Ricky Stuart to give Corey Hughes a spell, the veteran has just been lacking a touch of fire and creativity of late. Will miss the dominance of Gallen, but his consistent infringements may be having an effect on teammates. Gallen remains a talented player, but still the dirtest in the NRL. Won’t get a better chance to win than against the Eels this week, if they lose – they get an awfully bad all time loss record to boot.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Paul Gallen keeping the Sharks captaincy after consistent screw ups? Slim to None.
16. Roosters – Really hitting rock bottom, boast enough stars to easily qualify for the Top 8 but it seems there is a lack of cohesion or harmony. Pressure building on Freddy who must be tearing his hair out. Decision to play Anasta at fullback was mind boggling? Were beaten in every department, probably not ideal to be having the BYE this week.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Roosters going to see the Wizard of Oz, to ask for a heart? 2/1