All posts by ricky

NRL News
Mystery ex-player to return to NRL

As mentioned on the Channel 9 Footy Show by media man Danny Wiedler – there is mail around Rugby League circles that an ex-player is ready to return to the NRL. A very interesting comment indeed. NRL News put the feelers out this week and found the player most likely to return would be Brad Fittler. Apparently Fittler is in top shape due to his coaching role at the Roosters and he would easily slot into the top side without too much hassle. In terms of salary cap, if Fittler accepts match payments it would affect the Roosters situation. Fittler at pivot, Pearce at half an Braith at lock – it could be just the setup the Roosters need. Lets see if NRL News is right on the money with this one. Time will tell.

NRL Bulldogs – Manly Sea Eagles
Manly 16 def Bulldogs 14
Manly wins war at Telstra Stadium

A gutsy defensive effort by the Manly Sea Eagles allowed them to see off the fancied Bulldogs tonight in a grinding war of attrition at Telstra Stadium.

Manly: The Manly side of 2007 is still undefeated after a solid showing tonight, and interestingly they still have Orford, Menzies and Matai out injured. Manly saw plenty of ball in this match, due to the Dogs giving away the pill on early tackles and having to defend for long periods. I thought Manly really should have scored more points with the ball they had, very similar to last week when they played the Warriors – but full credit to them, they won the game with brutal and relentless defence. Monaghan continues to be the standout player for Manly, with creative attack and impressive defence – at one stage hitting Sonny Bill Williams with a jolting tackle and forcing the ball loose. Monaghan is not far behind the form of Jonathan Thurston, and that’s a big call. The Manly forwards tonight really contained Willie, Shrek and SBW – and full credit must go to them. Kite was pushing over the advantage line constantly and Choc Watmough was doing the same. Jamie Lyon marked SBW all night and rarely let him move, an impressive effort as SBW is such a handfull. Manly’s backs I felt were a little quiet, with Brett Steward not given much room to move and Chris Hicks making some poor decisions at times and coughed some ball. The kicking game from Manly was near perfect. Several times the Eagles were pinned in their own 30m area, and classy clearing kicks from Burns and Monaghan got them out of strife. This was also combined by an impressive short kicking game, proving the winner for Manly in the end – as Monaghan chipped over the top and regathered (Phil Blake Style) and sent Steve Bell in for the try. The Eagles face the Titans next week in what should be a great battle of defence vs attack.

Bulldogs: Too much dropped ball. I have rarely seen the Bulldogs surrender such ball, they turned it over often and on early tackles. In the first half the Dogs had less then 45% of the ball, and a completion rate of 50% – it was amazing they were still in the game, lucky they defended stoutly or it was shut the gate. Sonny Bill is still finding his rhythm, he looks stunning at times – but then goes missing or throws a silly pass. Willie was penetrating tonight, however Shrek was his usual aggressive self and always made yards and punished in defence. Ben Roberts is playing well at half, but found it hard behind the forwards tonight – I can understand why he is keeping Sherwin out of the top grade – Folkes is on to a future star here. But other then McCalwain the rest of the side were very average, even the General was a little quiet – the Dogs won’t walk away totally without confidence, which is lucky – as they face the inform Eels at Parramatta next week in what should be a top game.

Summary: Bulldogs gave away too much ball, and wasted too much energy in defence. The Eagles, while a little stunted in attack – did enough in defence and had just enough guts and spark to win the game. When the Eagles play at their best, it will be impressive. The Dogs won’t lose sleep over this one – big game next week against the Eels.

Manly 16 (M Robertson, C Hicks, S Bell tries; J Lyon 2 conversions)
Bulldogs 14 (D McIlwain, SB Williams tries; H El Masri 2 conversions, 1 penalty)
NRL News Rugby League

NRL Melbourne Storm – St George Illawarra Dragons
Storm 24 def Dragons 10
Melbourne do Dragons in 2nd Gear

The Melbourne Storm tonight took the 2 points from the trip to Oki Jubilee stadium tonight, but only after some tense moments as the young and out of form Dragons kept in the match until late in the back end.

St George Illawarra Dragons: Showed a more committed attitude tonight, and were much improved from their previous outing against the Cronulla Sharks. The forward pack showed more punch, with Poore and Payne really revving up and getting over the advantage line – a tough ask against the premier Melbourne Storm pack. Cooper really went looking for work tonight and assisted many times and was able to create room with his link ups with Hornby. Hornby was at his usual best, making the correct decisions most times and forcing the defence to hang back and wait his moves. Probably the negative in the Saints side at the moment is the defence of Ritchie ‘Rich’ Williams. While looking solid in attack, Ritchie Rich does plenty of arm grabbing in tackles and let the opposition through on several occasions. Some poor ball control really erased any chance the Saints had of winning, especially on a night where they COULD have won – due to plenty of Melbourne mistakes and gift penalties. You rarely get chances like that against the Storm. Severely missing Young, Gaz and Head – I felt dropping Head to reserve grade was a touch over the top and the Saints should have him at 7 and Hornbag at 6. Poor kicking game saw the Saints hand Billy Slater so much ball on the full, and they then had to try and stop him slicing through the broken defence line! Kudos must go to Josh Morris who had an impressive game at the back, nice positional play and supreme attacking raids as he chimed into the Dragons backline – bagging a try and outgunning Billy Slater for pace which is a rare feat.

Melbourne Storm: Wow, how many Melbourne Storm forwards can you name without reading their team line-up? I bet not many! These forwards aren’t household names in NSW and QLD, but they are putting in a massive performance each week. Guys like Hoffman, Johnston, Lima, White and Kafusi are playing power games and really are a handfull for opposition teams. I think when the Storm face the likes of the Bulldogs and Souths it will be such a tense forward battle – bring it on. Slater was slick again tonight, and the Dragons continued to kick to him on the full – bombing Slater failed badly and he cut the Dragons up very well in broken field. Matt Geyer had an off night dropping some ball and giving away brain explosion penalties that nearly let the Dragons get back into the game. Israel Falou continues to grow and grow, some punishing defence from the youngster and a dynamic kick regather try for the Storm is ensuring he has a role in the side for the future. The Storm still have room for improvement and when they click – the score could really be anything. A slight injury scare to Cameron Smith as his leg got buckled back in goal, more info through the week on this.

Summary: Dragons are simply not of first grade quality at the moment. Too many rookies means not enough experience, with their regular cast of thousands injured – it puts the Dragons in a rebuilding type phase and while they have some young guns – their time will be in 1 or 2 years from now. The Storm meanwhile are winning, but not even playing near their best. Belamy will hammer the Storm this week on their discipline and the next few games will see them really rise and rise.

Melbourne 24 (S Turner 2 I Falou, M King, A Quinn tries ; C Smith 1, S Turner conversions)
St George Illawarra 10 (W Naiqama, J Morris tries; W Naiqama conversion)
NRL News Rugby League

NRL Rugby League
Gold Coast Titans 28 def Brisbane Broncos 18
The Gold Coast Titans have defeated the Broncos at Suncorp in front of a big Queensland crowd. Many of the supporters being pro-Titans; the young side played extremely confidently and this win will certainly place them in good stead going forward. Now in the top 8 with 3 wins from 5 games, John Cartwright and his team look to have done a stellar job with the new side. The Broncos meanwhile stay in the cellar of the NRL 2007 ladder and things get worse as they lose several key players for rep duty this week.

NRL News Rugby League

NRL Parramatta Eels 27 – Penrith Panthers 14
NRL News

Eels on right side of see-saw Clash

At the request of some readers, we’ll be doing an overview of the teams individually rather than a minute by minute description of the game – which can generally be found anywhere on the internet.

Parramatta Eels: Had some forced team changes this week with Riddell and Robinson out with injuries and Tahu and Cayless coming back into the side after missing last week. Parramatta started very physically and aimed to outmuscle Penrith, but Penriths nimble dummy half running made it hard for the Eels to keep the hits coming. The Eels had the majority of possession in the first half through gift penalties from Shayne Hayne and finally started to show some promise in attack. Tim Smith was at his 2005 best, with some impressive selective passing and deft kicking. Parramatta were denied a certain try from a Smith kick with a Burt put down – very surprising call from the video ref. Burts support play was dynamic throughout the game and he is certainly in top form. The outside backs all played solidly, with Tahu dangerous 1 on 1, Ben Smith stretching out in attack for the first time in a while and Hayne showing experience beyond his years. Grothe was a little erratic at times in defence, dropping high balls on several occasions and tackling high at critical times to turn over possession. The Parra forwards really lacked punch as the game rolled on. While Cayless tried hard, it was really only Foi Foi Moi Moi that was able to burst through the opposition line. While not providing much dropped ball, the forwards really were average at best. The only major negative to come out of the Eels performance was the game of Brett Finch. Brett has been the centre of fan and media attention but did himself no favours tonight, kicking out on the full very early to set the tone for his night. Several dropped balls, poor pass selection and flakey defence will see pressure pile up on the Parramatta pivot – as Blake Green continues to shout out for his chance in the run on side. Green played off the bench in the alternate hooking role, and again showed patience and experience beyond his years. Green is doing everything right to get his chance. The Eels are now 3 from 5 games without playing the absolute quality of football they would have liked, this promise must have Hagan excited as they roll on.

Penrith Panthers: Erratic. That is word that best sums up the Penrith Panthers in 2007 and it was exactly how they played tonight. The Panthers looked more like the dominant side all night, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. A massive effort from the Penrith forwards must be mentioned. Joel Clinton I thought played his best game in 12 months, he really stepped up and was physical in attack and defence – something at times lacking from Clinton in big games. Reece Wesser was the key for the Panthers and after scoring early he continued to look dangerous, at times like he had spiders on him – the Eels simply couldn’t grass him. Wesser is a deceptively strong player, he surprised with his ability to fend and push away several times tonight and had his team been more disciplined – he would be collecting the man of the match award. Discipline, Discipline, Discipline. It absolutely killed the Panthers. After spending the week with referees boss Robert Finch, Matthew Elliot must have been tempted to hook some players after constant re-offending. Hayne continued to warn Panthers captain Craig Gower, but the Panthers continued to hold down the tackled player and keep hands on the ball during tackles. It saw the Eels piggy back down field on so many occasions and basically allowed the Eels to stay in the game. With the Penrith forwards dominating so much, the Panthers needed to keep going forward and play through the ruck – however for some reason they kept spreading the ball and playing side to side – preventing them from scoring so much more points. Penrith have really blown a chance to get ahead on the NRL Points Ladder, as they face the NRL benchmark team – the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park next week. A tough roadtrip for the Mountain men.

Summary: A typical example of see-sawing modern day NRL rugby league. A penalty can change the course of a game, as can a critical call from the video referee, as can a dropped ball or being pinned in goal for a restart. Never has it been so important to hold the ball and play field position. Teams are starting to learn that no matter how good their opposition are, if possession can be won – a grinding victory is possible. If the game is played in the opposing half – the opposition cannot score. I felt tonight that Penrith looked more dominant NRL side, it was their failure to keep posession and ill-discipline that actually cost them the game.

Parramatta 27 (L Burt (2), N Hindmarsh, I Hindmarsh tries; L Burt 4 conversions, 1 penalty; I Hindmarsh 1 field goal) Penrith 14 (M Gordon, R Wesser tries; M Gordon 1 conversion, 2 penalties) Crowd: 19,000 Referee: Shayne Hayne

NRL News Report

Matt Elliot and the Penrith Panthers
By Peter Roy

The Penrith Panthers face the Parramatta Eels tonight at CUA Stadium Penrith, and 2007 NRL has seen the Panthers play a new style – under the guidance of Matthew Elliot.

For as long as most of us can remember the Panthers backline played an adlib style of Rugby League that was regularly able to put on massive amounts of points – quickly.

The likes of Reece Wesser, Presto, Lewis and Rooney were popping up everywhere – trailing the big forwards and collecting the spoils.

After winning the NRL Grand Final in 2003, the Panthers struggled to be consistent in their usual fashion and we only see glimpses of their known brilliance. Obviously losing guys like Sattler, Lang and Girdler would hurt anyone. However there was a sense that the group as a whole was a little stale.

With a new direction needed, and Matt Elliot coming on board from the Raiders – it seems to have injected the lifeblood the Panthers needed. Full respect to John Lang, he is a well respected and experienced coach – but every team can do with change to freshen things up and keep sharp.

Many observers had Elliot pegged as an average coach as he battled away in Canberra with limited cattle, but the Penrith management saw the potential and swooped to sign Elliot up for 2007 and beyond.

Unlike many other coaches who spend hours studying the video of opposition teams, finding weaknesses and setting game plans to exploit this – Elliot is possibly in the mould of the older school mentors such as Jack Gibson and Warren ‘Wok’ Ryan.

Simple and effective tactics such as securing possession, “The Opposition Can’t Win Without the Ball” mentality and “Keeping the opposition pinned deep in their own half, means they can’t get near our tryline” – These old Gibson lines make plenty of sense in today’s game of inches. A penalty can absolutely change a match, just like a dropped ball, a charge down or poor kick can. They all relate back to ‘possession and field possession’. The best team in the world, cannot win if they don’t have the ball.

Elliot is also big on consistent trailing runners, and support play. If every person in the team does their job well, success will surely come – is his mentality.

With the Panthers showing some patches of ill-discipline in their games this year you can imagine the frustration of Elliot as he watches on. Unlike Wayne Bennett and Brian Smith – Elliot wears his heart on his sleeve and can be seen riding the emotion of the play on the sideline.

The ‘keep it simple’ style Elliot has employed has Panthers players relishing the new found structure and everyone understands their role and knows what to do and when.

This method is sure to be refined even further as the season goes on, and it looks to be an exciting time for the Panthers.

NRL News tips the Panthers to win the local Debry tonight.

Sonny Bill Williams and Candice Falzon Photos Spread

It’s been reported tonight on the NRL Footy Show by Danny Weidler that Bulldogs star Kiwi Sonny Bill Williams and Candice Falzon were snapped in photo’s together and the images are spreading quickly on the internet.

It is unsure what the pictures show the two doing; however it’s reported that management of both celebrities are investigating legal avenues.

This is certainly not what Sonny Bill Williams wanted to get involved with right now, as his game time is increasing and his injuries decreasing – it’s the perfect time to play into some form.

If the two celebrities are together, its ironic that Falzon’s previous partner was former Bulldog Braith Anasta.

NRL Predictions Round 5

Ok folks, you asked for it and here it is – the analysis of your team leading into this weeks round. Some very nice NRL Rugby League match-ups here and already we are seeing how close the overall points are on the NRL Ladder.

Punters: the best value of the Round can be found on the Manly Sea Eagles, while we have tipped the Bulldogs – The unbeaten Eagles are paying $2.80 for the win which is a top deal.

Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers @ CUA
Always a big one the local western derby. Will be a very interesting forward battle this one, I feel the Raiders made the Eels look better than they were last week. Penrith while a little inconsistent, didn’t get much ball against Titans, but when they did – they used it. Considering this, and a big CUA Stadium crowd at Penrith –
Panthers to win

Gold Coast Titans vs Brisbane Broncos @ Suncorp
This could be a very firey match, two clubs battling for the love of the banana benders. Brisbane playing a physical, grinding style at present and face the unpredictable attack of the Titans. While a home game for the Titans at Suncorp, they will face a very tough test. I think the experience of the Broncos will be too much for the Titans in a big game atmosphere.

Melbourne Storm vs St George Illawarra Dragons @ Oki
The Dragons must be dreading this week, what a team to face for redemption – the Storm. Impossible to tip against the Storm. The Saints have pushed Matt Head back to premier league and obviously struggling for confidence and experience. Storm to win.

Bulldogs vs Manly Sea Eagles @ Telstra
Now this will be a top game; the unbeaten Eagles face a real test with the feared Bulldogs forwards. Kite vs Willie should be a classic, I think the Eagles haven’t really been tested yet and the power game and thrust from the Dogs will see Manly fall away. Dogs to win

NZ Warriors vs North Queensland Cowboys @ Mt Smart NZ
Yet another top clash, these two gun sides will face off in NZ. The Cowboys are starting to feel the injury pinch with Webb and now O’Donnell gone for NRL 2007. This is a game where they’ll need their best forwards, I think the Warriors were very unlucky last week and deserved the win over Manly. I’ve gone for an upset here, NZ to win at home.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights @ Bluetounge Central Coast
The Knights face the first day of the rest of their lives without Johns. This factor alone is sure to see them have a slight hangover, along with the fact that Seu Seu was diciplined this week and skipped training sessions. Souths will be pumped to redeem after being touch up by the Dogs. Souths to win.

West Tigers vs Cronulla Sharks @ Campbelltown Stadium
NRL will be reporting live from this game, and what a tonne of pressure the 2005 premiers are under. Winless this season, and they now face a confident Sharks team who touched up the Dragons in a big way in Round 4. While it might seem silly to bet against the Sharks, I think the Tigers simply have to win. A vocal crowd is always in place at the ‘in your face’ type ground at Campbelltown and will give the Tigers the energy they need to overcome the Sharks. Tigers to win.

Canberra Raiders vs Sydney City Roosters @ Bruce Stadium, ACT
What a big one for Monday night football, Rugby League’s cellar dwellers will battle it out for the spoon stakes and we are only in Round 5. Roosters are surely nearing their first win, hunting their 1000th win for what seems like years. But, the Raiders at home on a Monday night, like Round 3 vs the Knights – can really turn it on. Raiders to win.

NRL Teams for Round 5 Announced

Gold Coast Titans VS Brisbane Broncos @ Suncorp Stadium, Friday 13/04/07 7.30pm

Gold Coast Titans –
Preston Campbell, Lelea Paea, Brett Delaney, Josh Graham, Jake Webster, Matt Hilder, Scott Prince ©, Luke Bailey ©, Clint Amos, Michael Henderson, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Luke Swain
Bench – Kris Kahler, Brad Meyers, Gavin Cooper, Nathan Friend

Brisbane Broncos –
Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Tonie Carroll, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Darren Lockyer ©, Shane Perry, Dane Carlaw, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Sam Thaiday, Brad Thorn, Greg Eastwood

Bench – Ben Hannant, Nick Kenny, Ian Lacey, Michael Ennis, David Stagg

Referee – Steve Clark

Penrith Panthers VS Parramatta Eels @ CUA Stadium, Friday, 13/04/07 7.30pm

Penrith Panthers –
Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Mitchell Jennings, Luke Lewis, Luke Rooney, Peter Wallace, Craig Gower ©, Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Frank Puletua, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith
Bench – Matthew Bell, Junior Moors, Bryan Norrie, Paul Aiton

Parramatta Eels –
Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless ©, PJ Marsh, Aaron Cannings, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ian Hindmarsh, Daniel Wagon
Bench –Blake Green, Josh Cordoba, Richard Fa’aoso, Feleti Mateo, Fuifui Moimoi

Referee – Shayne Hayne

St George-Illawarra Dragons VS Melbourne Storm @ Oki Jubilee Stadium, Saturday 14/04/07 5.30pm

St George-Illawarra Dragons-


Melbourne Storm –
Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Antonio Kaufusi, Cameron Smith, Brett White, Michael Crocker, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson

Bench – Sam Tagataese, Jeff Lima, Ben Cross, Steve Turner

Referee – Ben Cummins

Canterbury Bulldogs VS Manly Sea-Eagles @ Telstra Stadium, Saturday 14/04/07 7.30pm

Canterbury Bulldogs –
Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Trent Cutler, Daniel Holdsworth, Ben Roberts, Mark O’Meley, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan ©, Reni Maitua
Bench – Dallas McIlwain, Nick Kouparitsas, Kane Cleal, Chris Armit

Manly Sea-Eagles –
Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steven Bell, Jamie Lyon, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Michael Monaghan, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite ©, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson
Bench – George Rose, Mark Bryant, Glenn Hall, Clint Halden

Referee – Paul Simpkins

New Zealand Warriors VS North QLD Cowboys @ Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 15/04/07 2pm

New Zealand Warriors –
Wade McKinnon, Todd Byrne, Tony Martin, Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, Nathan Fien, Steve Price ©, Simon Mannering, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck
Bench – George Gatis, Evarn Tuimavave, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira

North QLD Cowboys –
Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Neil Sweeney, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston ©, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, Shane Tronc, Steve Southern, Jacob Lillyman, Justin Smith
Bench – David Faiumu, Scott Bolton, Sione Faumuina, Ray Cashmere

Referee – Tony Archer

South Sydney Rabbitohs VS Newcastle Knights @ Bluetongue Stadium, Sunday 15/04/07 2pm

South Sydney Rabbitohs –
David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Yileen Gordon, Jeremy Smith, Joe Williams, Peter Cusack ©, Daniel Irvine, Roy Asotasi, Dean Widders, David Fa’alogo, John Sutton
Bench – Shane Rigon, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Scott Geddes, Jaiman Lowe

Newcastle Knights –
Kurt Gidley, James Mc Manus, George Carmont, Brad Tighe, Adam MacDougall, Daniel Abraham, Jarrod Mullen, Josh Perry, Danny Buderus, Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Clint Newton, Daniel Tolar
Bench – Michael Young, Cory Paterson, Matthew White, Kirk Reynoldson, Reegan Tanner

Referee – Gavin Badger

Wests Tigers VS Cronulla Sharks @ Campbelltown Stadium, Sunday 15/04/07 3pm

Wests Tigers –
Brett Hodgson ©, Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, Benji Marshall, John Morris, Keith Galloway, Robbie Farah, Todd Payten, Ben Galea, Chris Heighington, Liam Fulton
Bench – Dene Halatau, Jason Moodie, Bronson Harrison, Bryce Gibbs

Cronulla Sharks –
Brett Kearney, David Simmons, Fraser Anderson, Ben Pomeroy, Luke Covell, Brett Seymour, Brett Kimmorley ©, Phil Leuluai, Kevin Kingston, Luke Douglas, Reece Williams, Lance Thompson, Greg Bird
Bench – Cameron Ciraldo, Isaac De Gois, Craig Stapleton, Ben Ross, Paul Gallen

Referee – Sean Hampstead

Canberra Raiders VS Sydney Roosters @ Canberra Stadium, Monday 16/04/07 7pm

Canberra Raiders –
William Zillman, Colin Best, Phil Graham, Adrian Purtell, Brett Kelly, Todd Carney, Michael Dobson, Scott Logan, Lincoln Withers, Dane Tilse, Neville Costigan, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue ©
Bench – Ben Jones, Michael Weyman, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Trevor Thurling

Sydney Roosters-
Anthony Minichiello, Sam Perrett, Iosia Soliola, Joel Monaghan, Shaun Kenny-Dowell, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Dave Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Nate Myles, Craig Fitzgibbon ©, Anthony Tupou
Bench – Chris Beattie, Shane Shackleton, Amos Roberts, Lopini Paea

Referee – Jared Maxwell

NRL Review for Round 4

Well a tough round to pick and we missed a few upsets this week; this is how we saw your team perform this week:

Rabbitohs: Occasion got to them, too much hype. Kidwell will be missed but big Joe will be a handy fill-in. Just a minor speed bump.
Bulldogs: Building nicely now, with two back to back wins. Cutler seems a real find. Shifty and Utai will find it hard pinning spots down.
Roosters: Not too many nice things to say here; except: Toupo, Mini and Wing. Everyone else needs to improve. Long year.
Broncos: Weren’t brilliant, but got the money. Will improve as focus moves off them. Eastwood really stepping up.
Knights: Threw the game away after starting so well. Better forwards effort. Losing Joey will give them a hangover for a few weeks. Mullen will step up.
Storm: Good enough to win when playing poorly. Ruck defence a little patchy and King is not faultless in line defence. But still the best team in the NRL.
Eels: Finally clicked in attack after forwards stepped up. Need halves cohesion. Blake Green needs a spot.
Raiders: Went from hero’s to zero’s in a week. Capable of beating most, but consistency is the next challenge. Zilman needs positional work in D.
Tigers: So unlucky yet again, haven’t played a bad game in 2007, yet find themselves win less. The Tigers really need a big bopper – forwards too light.
Cowboys: A la Storm, playing poorly at times but still have the talent to win games. Injuries killing them; Webb now O’Donnell.
Sea Eagles: Amazingly still unbeaten after never really setting the world on fire in any games. Should have scored more points with 60%+ possession against NZ. Orford and Menzies will take Eagles to another level.
Warriors: Rock solid defence, very unlucky this week. Must secure an away win to gain assurance in 07. Going ok.
Panthers: Most inconsistent team so far; playing like premiers one week, then has beens the next. Playing a style much like Warriors of yesteryear, flamboyant and risky.
Titans: Surprised everyone, forward pack dominating and creative backs. Still a little bit of an enigma. Meyers went well.
Sharks: Controlled the game for 80 minutes, strong showing – Bird is amazing right now, agressive and hard to stop. Might get on a roll, face hapless Tigers this week.
St George: Uh Oh – bad signs here. Usual injuries killing them, but losing confidence which is rare for the Red Vee. Missing Bailey badly.