The Grubber gives his NRL News power rankings below. How is your team faring? Is your NRL team losing or gaining players? Read on, and see the Grubbers ‘Around the Grounds’ article:

NRL Round 12 Power Rankings:

1.Melbourne: Did well to back up from gruelling encounter with Manly to defeat a gallant Homebush Rabbitohs side. Still the team to beat in this competition and are dangerous from anywhere on the park. Power score: 9/10, Odds of Manu Vatuvei being named against them this weekend: 30-1.

2. Parramatta: Out powered, outplayed and out enthused the hapless Tigers. Halves seem to be getting the job done behind a powerful forward pack. Looking like a serious contender. Power score: 8.5/10, Odds of Mark Riddell being able to parlay recent success of Eels into “third party” fast food endorsement deal: 3-1.

3. North Queensland: Impressive comeback in victory against Cronulla. Showed patience and composure that will serve them well in September. Important victory during disruptive Origin period. Power score: 8.5/10, Odds that Thurston’s street brawling opponent from Saturday night made reference to last year’s scandal which derailed Cowboy’s season: 2-1.

4. Manly: Poor choices in defence and wasteful offensive execution contributed to sub-par performance against Penrith. Will surely come back strongly after the bye this weekend. Power score: 8/10, Odds that opposition teams will now be studying (and planning) the Nick Youngquest backline movement before taking on the Sea Eagles: 2-1.

5. Wests Tigers: Suffered a set-back against Parramatta and may have begun to believe their own hype. Despite the hammering, this may be the loss they needed at this stage of the season. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Tigers ever having another player picked for Origin: slim, for some reason.

6. Cronulla: Bounced back from poor performance against Roosters to give a solid account against North Queensland. Will now need to manage unusually high number of Origin stars (2). Power score: 7/10, “Over-Under” on “Number of Interceptions thrown by Kimmorley in Origin II”: 5.

7. Penrith: Got the job done against Manly behind a powerful forward pack and control of the ruck area. Time will tell whether they have more of these performances in them. Power score: 6.5/10, Number of metres Panthers players crawled off the mark against Manly: 230 (go ahead, ask Middleton).

8. Canterbury: Got squared up for ludicrous SBW send-off against Newcastle and showed commitment that has been lacking in recent times. May still be suffering from front-office issues. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that the Hughes family will continue to support the incestuous “family club”: 100-1.

9. Gold Coast: Demonstrated superb execution against Canberra to race away to early lead. Will surely start to suffer from massive forwards injury toll though. Power score: 6/10, Odds of some NRL player (other than Chris Walker) getting busted in a Gold Coast nightclub before the end of the year: 4-1.

10. Brisbane: Simply didn’t turn up against Jersey Flegg Dragons side and may now officially be suffering from “Premier’s Curse”. Fortunate to have Bye this weekend in order to regroup. Power score: 5.5/10, Odds that Wayne Bennett will blame poor form of Broncos side on recent distraction of player movements: 2-1.

11. Newcastle: Luke Walsh may have proved correct Brian Smith’s statement that Jarrod Mullen is not even the best half at the Knights (but evidently he is somehow the best half in NSW. Weird). Power score: 5/10, Odds that either Johns brother would ever concede that NSW side should not entirely consist of Newcastle players: 1000-1.

12. St George-Illawarra: Shocked the monkey with massive upset win over a partially Lockyer-less Broncos side. Soward may have found a home where surnames are not as important as form. Power score: 5/10, Odds that militant Dragons fans will be sporting witty “Soward is a Coward” signs following eventual and inevitable poor performance from their new signing: 2-1.

13. New Zealand: Were always going to struggle one man down. Have now signed Brisbane cyborg Brent Tate for next year so perhaps better things ahead for them with their inconsistent backline. Power score: 4.5/10, Odds that Tate will eventually wield a cast on his arm (David Barnhill style) to complement his bionic neck brace: 2-1.

14. South Sydney: Were reasonable in defeat against non-testicle grabbing Storm outfit. Cannot be too far away from a good performance, or another wooden spoon. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Russell Crowe remaining interested in team beyond ’07: 10-1.

15. Roosters: Started well, but didn’t quite do enough to beat determined Newcastle side. Forwards starting to show some positive signs. Power score: 4/10, Previous number of occasions where a team running last has had three players picked for NSW Origin: Zero (probably, I mean I didn’t check).

16. Canberra: Hot and cold side that never fails to deliver inconsistency. Had no luck against Gold Coast however and will be out for revenge this weekend against Parramatta side which flogged them earlier this year. Power score: 3.5/10, Odds of sacked Raider Steve Irwin being awarded Order of Australia medal in manner of late Crocodile Hunter: 10,000-1.

And…some quick “around the grounds”:

1. Player movements: There’s been plenty written and said in the last week about the recent spate of player movements. We’ve heard that they’re disruptive, demonstrate a lack of loyalty and that they distract from the game itself. All of those statements are probably true. The movements are disruptive – but then again, so is trying to balance salary cap payments and manage a roster, that’s just a part of the challenge. Take the “disruption” out of running a team and you’d lose the unpredictability of the NRL – which has made the game so interesting in the last few seasons. Sure, there is a lack of loyalty, but as Bob Sugar said in Jerry Maguire “it’s not show friends, it’s show business“. Do player movements distract from the game? No doubt about it. But so does every nightclub/drinking indiscretion too. Would any of us seriously want to give that up? Part of the reason we love league is the off-field drama. The NRL is the singularly most interesting code in the country. The stuff that happens off the paddock is almost as good as the game itself. This new approach to player trading is just the next evolution in the madness that is rugby league.

2. Injuries and the cap: Word this week that the Dragons may soon find themselves in salary cap trouble due to the number of players that they have already had to use this year. Apparently they have reached beyond their top 25 on several occasions and may find themselves having fielded a playing rotation whose value exceeds the salary cap. Now, if there’s any certainty in rugby league these days, it’s that St George-Illawarra will always whine about injuries wrecking their season. This time however they may have a point. The Dragons couldn’t really do much about the injuries. These things happen. But perhaps it’s time for the NRL to consider providing concessions to teams in this situation. This could be achieved through the development of a “disabled list”, much the current rule in Major League Baseball. Teams would have to name a 25 man “active roster” and any injured players would be exempt from this roster and would be listed on the Disabled List. Players listed on the “DL” would not be eligible to play for a period of either 15 or 60 days (depending on the severity of the injury and the club’s assessment of their absence and would stay on a 15 day or 60 day DL regardless of whether the injury heals more quickly than expected) and would be exempt from the team’s cap. This would allow teams to call up players from the lower grades with little salary cap impact.

3. Penalty count: Ok, once and for all, here are the rules regarding discussing a lopsided penalty count. 1) If you didn’t see the game, you can’t comment. End of story. You’re relying on what you read in the paper, or what you heard Andrew Voss say on Sunday morning and therefore you don’t know whether that heavy count may have been justified. This rule should be really obvious. 2) Sometimes a heavy penalty count in favour of one team is actually justified. Take Penrith on Friday night for instance. An ill-disciplined side who well and truly deserved the 13 whistles blown against ’em. 3) A lopsided count can be misleading. Again, on Friday night, Manly were awarded 13 penalties, but many of those came early in the tackle count and late in the game when Manly were already in the Penrith red-zone. Given the margin of 6 points (i.e. Manly needed a try) those additional penalties didn’t do the Sea Eagles any favours and instead just killed their momentum. The Bulldogs pulled the same trick against the Warriors on Sunday. I hope that ends the debate. The key message to take away is this: watch the game (so you know what you’re talking about) and consider the context of the game when penalties are given. Makes a world of difference.

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

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