The Grubber returns today with his weekend review, an NRL Power Rankings that sees the Gold Coast Titans flounder to the bottom of the list and the Parramatta Eels sneak up into second place according to the Grubber.

Danny Wiedler also cops the wrath of the Grubber as Sonny Bill Williams was taken down by ‘Danny Whistleblower’ this week on a Channel 9 news story.

NRL Power Rankings: after Round 19, 2007 (By The Grubber)

1. Melbourne Storm: The juggernaut continues to roll on and it seems that only a breakout of the ebola virus within their playing ranks will prevent them from claiming the premiership. Every other side looks to be playing for second right now. Power score: 9.5/10, Odds that Melbourne will host a ticker tape parade for the Storm a la the Sydney Swans in 2005: 1000-1.

2. Parramatta Eels: Winning in Brisbane is always a tough prospect – Lockyer or not. They did it with aplomb, despite a late charge from the home side. Smith seems to be settling into some kind of consistency and if he is prepared to take on the line the Eels should prosper. Will be tough at home this Sunday against old rivals Manly. Power score: 8.5/10, Odds that Tooheys will revisit their clash “Manly and Parra” ad from the mid 80’s: We wish.

3. New Zealand Warriors: Right now the most consistent side in the NRLEM (National Rugby League Excluding Melbourne). Blew the Tigers off the park on Sunday with great second phase play and good control of the ruck area. Power score: 8.5/10, Odds that Paul Simpkins will be asked to front at an Auckland home game any time soon: 100-1.

4. Canterbury Bulldogs: Looked slick against Gold Coast and their dominant forward pack will be crucial to their success in a tough run home. Hard to see them not being able to get the necessary victories to secure a finals berth. Power score 8/10, Odds that SBW would ever talk to Danny Wielder (aka Ronald McDonald) about his career as suggested by Nine news on Monday night: 1000-1.

5. Manly Sea Eagles: Beat the “Curse of the Cement Truck” in a hard fought win against a gutsy Sharks side. Will need to limit their handling errors and play better football around the ruck though if they are to have a chance of knocking off another hoodoo by beating Parramatta at Parramatta in this weekend’s match of the round. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Parramatta giving Manly any kind of pre-game training field at all: 100-1.

6. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Were at their dour best against the Cowboys and their resolute defence managed to cruel one of the most explosive offensive sides in the NRL. Face an easy run home and their destiny is in their own hands at this stage. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds of Russell Crowe starring in “The Sum of Us” remake with Dean Widders.

7. Brisbane Broncos: Made it hard for themselves by giving away an early lead to the Eels and will rue their lack of intensity at the beginning of the game. Not the same side without Karmichael Hunt and Darren Lockyer and will need Michael Ennis to be at his absolute best (whatever that is) in order to challenge for a top 4 spot. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Wayne Bennett hanging on in Brisbane if they miss the 8 (despite his contract running until 2008): 20-1.

8. North Queensland: Not giving their fans a great deal of hope at the moment and without a home final their premiership campaign may well be sunk. Defence needs tightening up if they are to match the top sides. Power score: 7/10, Crowd figure at Leichhardt last time North Queensland played there: 4,724.

9. Wests Tigers: Return of Benji Marshall and Brett Hodgson should resurrect their season and the more experienced players will need to do everything they can to settle down the rookies. Remains to be seen whether safety first football is within their bag of tricks. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Brett Hodgson will be pensioned off to England: 3-1.

10. Sydney City Roosters: Showed real class to play for the full 80 minutes to beat Newcastle. Friday night will prove how much staying power there is in “let’s do it for Freddy”. Only a remote finals chance but their recent resurgence should bring a reasonable crowd against Melbourne. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that Fittler will tour with the All Golds at the end of year: Not as much of a long shot as you might think.

11. St George-Illawarra: Return of Mark Gasnier seemed to inspire the troops in manner of Brad Fittler coaching the Roosters. Look to have a lot of depth in their backline and may prove a later season annoyance for top 8 sides much like Newcastle in 2005. Power score: 6/10, Odds that Nathan Brown will sound out David Peachey in the off season about a return to the NRL: 5-1.

12. Penrith Panthers: Were sloppy offensively and defensively in their loss to the Dragons. Flat out trying to avoid the spoon with the resurgence of the Roosters and St George-Illawarra and will be relying on another Bulldogs salary cap rort to climb off the bottom. Power score: 5.5/10, Odds that another high profile Penrith forward will depart the club before the end of the season: 10-1.

13. Canberra Raiders: Never quite got into their groove against Melbourne and a spate of penalties cost them dearly. A week to week proposition right now, but the finals appears to be out of reach. Power score: 5.5/10, Percentage of times Canberra 1) makes the finals or 2) avoids the spoon every time some idiot columnist writes them off: 100%.

14. Cronulla Sharks: Rickies spare parts Sharks really stepped up against Manly on Friday night and may challenge some of their regular first graders for their spots. On the line this weekend for a finals berth. Power score: 5/10, Amount of free tickets Cronulla will give away to get more than 5000 fans to their home games: 10,000.

15. Newcastle Knights: In danger of missing the finals through poor execution and inability to focus for the duration of a match. Absence of Danny Buderus isn’t helping their cause. Hard to see what impact they could have even if they do make the 8. Power score: 4/10, Odds that Andrew Johns will overcome “neck” injury in manner of 2003 season to make a return: 10-1.

16. Gold Coast Titans: Inevitable lack of depth seems to taken its toll on the fledgling club and they will be up against it on Saturday night. Have fought gallantly to get this far but will be praying for the season to end if they lose this weekend. Power score: 4/10, Odds of “Titanic Struggle” headline surfacing this weekend if Gold Coast can nail a tight victory: 2-1.

Yours in League,
The Grubber

By ricky

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