A shortened Round 12 of the NRL finished on an entertaining note, with the Canberra Raiders finding some hot form in tricky conditions to dust the South Sydney side at ANZ Stadium. With so many tries from kicks in the modern day NRL, it was refreshing to see the Green Machine work some exciting set plays and push the ball through the hands several times to score.
This is how the ‘Grubber’ saw the teams over the Round 12 fixtures:
1. Dragons – Have been atop the NRL News Power Rankings for some time in 2009, on Friday night they showed yet another side to their impressive 2009 regime. Minus a few players, the mob from St George Illawarra fronted up against a visibly focused Panthers outfit. The Dragons weathered the early storm and did away with a Penrith side that really did turn up to play. Wayne Bennett unable to contain several smiles at the press conference, for he knew just how far the side has come. These guys are the real deal.
Grubbers Comment: Amount offered to Wendell Sailor by sponsors of the Dragons to get their firm on TV cameras if a try was scored? Little if any, Wendell would have done camera work for nothing
2. Knights – Surprised everyone, including the players’ own mums after beating the highly fancied Bulldogs side. They might have switched-off too early, but their attacking in the early stages had set them up for a good win. Did the job without Gidley and McManus which shows the future is in good hands in Newcastle. Will only challenge the top sides in the Top 8 finals this year, but next year they will be genuine Grand Final contenders.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Chris Houston getting a personal sponsorship deal with ‘Bra’s and Things’ after relentless adjustments to his bra throughout a game? 4/1
3. Bulldogs – Blinked and they missed the train too early in this game. Maybe a hiccup they had to have, coach Kevin Moore not too concerned with this one, however he will be getting seriously concerned with the amount of bad calls the Bulldogs are receiving. Again the Canterbury boys were left gobsmacked by a controversial decision, they’ve already had bad luck take 4 points from them this year – could this decision have changed another result? Got the BYE this week, will be sitting pretty and remain on target for Top 4.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Bulldogs holding their own inquiry into poor NRL officiating and having plenty of points reinstated through legal avenues? 12/1
4. Raiders – A rapid riser on the ranks this week, their highly entertaining attacking football was a pleasure to watch. Brought life to a game that has been so kick happy in recent times. The win made more impressive by the fact that Campese wasn’t there, the Raiders have several good young kids it seems coming through in multiple positions. Milne is not dissimilar to Michael Jennings in that he has explosive pace and would be one of the NRL quickest over a short to mid distance.
Grubbers Comment: Odds the Raiders had a washing machine meltdown after their uniforms were blue and white during their game against Souths? 10/1
5. New Zealand Warriors – Unearthing a classy rookie would have pleased coach Ivan Cleary and NZ fans just as much as getting the win. Snapped a concerning losing streak, but their improved defence in keeping the Tigers scoreless was the most rewarding factor for them. Their more urgent defence against a noted attacking side will have them feeling much more confident, still remain a darkhorse for the Top 8 and will worry other sides – need to keep winning at home.
Grubbers Comment: Great punters bet for Premiership if you like value. If they get there, will worry opponents, get on them now before the price goes up.
6. Penrith Panthers – Their exciting brand of footy coupled with the youth factor wasn’t enough to bring down the Dragons at WIN. Showed everyone how important Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis and Trent Waterhouse were to this team. Sure, the try scoring prowess of Jennings wasn’t there either – but the Panthers were still able to get some points, it was the engine room stuff that let them down. Looked ‘up’ for the task, but lacked the experience to go on with it.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Panthers side shaving their odd looking beards off after it did nothing for luck at the weekend? 5/1
7. Souths – Jason Taylor is hiding it, but there looks to be a real concern for this side. Souths have enormous depth in 2009 and really should be travelling much better. John Sutton will be better for the run and while his selective passing was good, along with some attacking kicks – his kicking in general play was a little off. Sandow needs to stop worrying about shoulder charges and get back to his normal playmaking game. Team looks a little tired and disinterested at times, lacking the early season fire in the belly stuff.
Grubbers Comment: Odds the Rabbitohs are due for an emergency Russell Crowe fly-in meeting to read through the Book of Feuds again? 12/1
8. Sharks – Some thought they had just won the Premiership, but that still looks light years away. The Cronulla side finally rode their luck and after trailling for much of this game they managed a wobbly field goal at the death to capitalise on some Eels mistakes. Getting the monkey off their backs and getting back under the radar could be just the medicine for this side, new faces in this lineup did a good enough job and their defence was getting back to its gritty best.
Grubbers Comment:Â Chances of bookmakers running a market on the length of time Cronulla can remain afloat? 15/1
9. Eels – Produced another ugly display of footy, but were still set to win this game just like last week against Souths. Coach Anderson has tried several combinations, but his side seems to lack class in some departments and will-power in others. Putting aside their unconventional style, simply lack the ability to close out close games too it seems. Need to find some answers as they drift closer to spoon land.
Grubbers Comment: Truth in the rumour that the Parramatta club is offering free season tickets to anyone interested next year? 6/1
10. Tigers – Crucified by the NRL News Grubber and their fans,Â the Tigers could not manage a single point in their trip to New Zealand. At times looked tired and weren’t served well at all by a poor kicking game. Injuries really having a big impact on this side, they are without several key players including Farah who remains on NSW Origin duty. The next month will decide their NRL fate and should they miss yet another Finals Series – they ‘blank cheque’ to all involved since 2005 will surely be ripped up.
Grubbers Comment:Â Odds of the Tigers blaming their poor showing on swine flu after flying to NZ? 12/1