It’s proving to be a tipsters nightmare as always in the NRL, with Round 16 serving up some interesting results as really only the Dragons and Panthers raise their hands as serious contenders in 2010.
This is how the Power Rankings stand after Round 16 of the NRL:
1. Dragons – Almost impossible to find fault with these guys and with Mark Gasnier set to return – the sky is the limit. Boast an exceptional array of talent across the park, it’s a shame the Storm are out of the race – because these two teams would have certainly been in the Grand Final.
2. Panthers – Matt Elliott is in the running for coach of the year it seems, after whats been an amazing rebuilding job after some torrid years at Penrith. The coach has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse so far in 2010. This side look dangerous anytime they have the ball.
3. South Sydney – Sitting in an ideal position at the minute. They are off everyones radar, staying out of the headlines and certainly poised to challenge from the Top 4 come finals time. Barring injury, this side is a genuine chance.
4. Wests Tigers – The Tigers haven’t really beaten a top side as yet, but despite losing to the Dragons – they aren’t far away from their best. Doing enough to hang in there and could time their run perfectly for finals footy.
5. Gold Coast – Have been slipping of late and their loss at home to the Knights was costly. Obviously missing Scott Prince, but should still be winning given their roster. After a super start, they are at the cross-roads – despite sitting on 20 competition points, they could go either way from here.
6. Brisbane – Haven’t been playing champagne League, but are doing enough to win games. Certainly come through the Origin period better than usual. Have won 6 from their last 7 games in a stunning run.
7. Warriors – Another side staying off the media radar, but humming along OK. A last gasp win over the Roosters keeps them within striking distance on the ladder. A promising bunch of younsters in this outfit that could keep surprising. Play an ‘all or nothing’ style of footy that could be dangerous for any opponent.
8. Manly Sea Eagles – Probably lucky to sneak into the Power Rankings Top 8, they’ve been misfiring for little while now and need something special to respark their season. Injury is killing them and now confidence is a problem too.
9. Roosters – This NRL side has been an improver in recent weeks, were horribly unlucky to lose in New Zealand. Steve Noyce probably making the wrong move to shift a home game to Christchurch where League fans crave more big time matches. A huge crowd probably proving the difference in the end.
10. Newcastle – The Knights have surprised everyone with 2 victories in a row. A last ditch win over the Eels might have cost a punter $90,000 in a 5 leg multi – but that won’t worry Gidley and the boys who then went to the Gold Coast and knocked off the Titans. Hard to gauge this team. When their speedy Polynesian outside backs are on, they are down right unstoppable.
11. Parramatta – What a horrid few weeks for the Eels, they’ve lost 4 of the past 5 games, their CEO is accused of shoplifting, Tahu’s brainsnap and Haynes unhappiness. Forwards are doing their thing finally, but the structure and strike power of their backs is non-existent. Tough times ahead.
12. Cronulla Sharks – The Sharks have grown some teeth and pulled off some good wins, nabbing positive results in 3 of their last 5 matches. Their gutsy showing against the Cowboys proves they have the ability. Could prove a problem for other sides, given the Sharks really have nothing to lose this year.
13. Canberra – Their attack really let them down against the Dogs, they had every chance to win that game but couldn’t seal the deal. Still a chance to of making the finals, but need to start their run now.
14. Bulldogs – Their horror year had a glimmer of light last night. Their defence stood up and with Ben Barba at pivot, they looked a better side. Will be interesting to monitor them over the next few weeks. Have a good draw in coming weeks, with the struggling Sharks, nullified Storm and inconsistent Roosters to play all at neutral stadiums (Bluetongue, Adelaide and SFS).
15. Cowboys – Things can’t get worse for the Cowboys, fortunately the Storm are forced to take the Wooden Spoon this year otherwise they would have a mortgage on it. Lost the unlosable game against the Sharks after leading 18-0. More rumours of player unreset and yet another coach seems under the pump up North.
16. Storm – Proving more potent that most expected despite playing for no results. Their stars remain on the pitch and they were unlucky not to beat the Bunnies over in Western Australia. Good news is that League in Perth seems a chance to revive once more.