The Grubber has just submitted his report for Round 20 and the Warriors are the big movers this round, reaching 4th spot in the eyes of the Grubber as Cronulla fall way down below the hapless Panthers to reach the cellar in this weeks ‘NRL Power Rankings’ – Thanks once again to the Grubber for his unmistakable style of reporting; especially as he narrowly avoided flying coins this week as he braved proceedings at Parramatta Stadium!

1. Melbourne Storm: Probably a minor hiccup against the Roosters. They’ll certainly hope so anyway. Poor control in the ruck area and a defence that failed to scramble is what cost them. Face a relatively easy task this week against Cronulla and surely won’t be taken by surprise again. Don’t quite deserve to lose their top spot on the Power Rankings just yet. Power score: 9/10, Odds that loss against the Roosters will cause anyone to question their premiership credentials: 100-1.

2. Manly Sea Eagles:
Defeated another hoodoo this weekend with hard fought victory over Parramatta (hadn’t won at Parramatta Stadium since 1997). Superior fitness and mental toughness is proving to be a major asset in tight matches and the class of Brett Stewart has been the difference for them in several victories this season. Power score: 8.5/10, Odds of any commentator giving Manly even a remote chance of winning the premiership: 100-1.

3. Parramatta Eels: Did everything right in the first half against Manly, but momentary lapses, and a limited recovery time from Monday night cost them at the back end. Remain a serious threat in this premiership and have all the guns to get the job done against Canterbury on Friday night. Power score: 8/10, Odds that fiscally challenged homeowners in Parramatta will be defaulting on their mortgages as a result of coin attacks on Monday players: 10-1.

4. New Zealand Warriors: Power in the pack and solid offensive execution in the backs is a winning formula for the Warriors at the moment. Add in excitement machine Wade McKinnon and the Warriors looks to have their most complete outfit since the Grand Final appearance in 2002. Power score: 8/10, Odds that the Warriors will crack the 12,000 mark for a home game this season: 5-1.

5. Wests Tigers: As predicted, the return of Marshall and Hodgson added sufficient firepower to blow the Cowboys off the park. Remains to be seen whether Tigers defence can stand up against a quality opposition (JT did look to be in bad shape) and it may not be tested a great deal given easy run home. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds that Laurie Nichols would have supported a merged club playing in a competition half owned by News Ltd: 100-1.

6. Canterbury Bulldogs: Had lady luck on their side against St George-Illawarra and with O’Meley, Mason and Ryan likely to miss Friday night’s clash with Parramatta they could be in for a tough night. Younger players have stepped up before though and they may still prove hard to beat. Power score 7.5/10, Odds that Bulldogs players will use self-imposed nightclub ban as a motivation for adopting their now cliched “siege mentality” for this weekend’s clash with the Eels: 2-1.

7. Sydney City Roosters:
Outstanding go-forward and dummy half running had Melbourne on the back foot for most of the match. With a win against the Warriors and their relatively easy run home, they’re not out of this race yet. Tactical refusal of the front office to comes to terms with Freddy may be sufficient motivation for the side to do it for their old mate. Power score: 7.5/10, Odds that Roosters v Souths clash in round 25 will somehow be crucial in the finals fate of at least one team: 3-1, and if so, it should make for a classic.

8. Brisbane Broncos: Did enough against a very ordinary Cronulla outfit. Don’t look like quite the real deal at this stage however the return of Ennis and Hodges this week, and the commemorative nature of Sunday’s clash with Manly should be enough to inspire them into a better performance. Power score: 7/10, Odds of a Manly player recreating Don McKinnon’s effort from Round 1, 1988 and taking a leak on the field: 50-1.

9. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Continue to grind out victories in must win matches and will probably start as favourite in several of their remaining games. Tough attitude in defence isn’t complemented with attacking flair however and this may be their downfall against decent opposition. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Lleyton Hewitt ever attending another Souths game: 20-1.

10. St George-Illawarra Dragons: Didn’t quite do enough to overcome a depleted Bulldogs side and Saturday night’s effort was probably indicative of their 2007 campaign – at times near enough, but never quite good enough. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds that Matthew Head will somehow leave the UK Super League and return to the Dragons: 10-1.

11. Canberra Raiders: Did the job against the “Ill Disciplined Panthers” (yes, the tag is back) but it’s very hard to see them cracking the 8 despite their positioning. Also hard to see them making much of an impact once they’re out of their own backyard but should prove to be a thorn in the side of clubs with claims in the remaining 5 rounds. Power score: 6.5/10, Odds of Ikin/Geyer/Gilbert commentary team lining up again: 10,000-1.

12. Gold Coast Titans: Their likely poor ladder finish doesn’t really do justice to their previously solid season and it will be fascinating to see what they have left in the remaining fice rounds given that a top 8 finish looks extremely unlikely. Power score: 6/10, Odds of Scott Prince lining up Benji Marhsall in a season ending injury this Saturday night: 100-1.

13. North Queensland Cowboys: Forwards not going forward, brittle defence and an injured JT all make for a struggling football side. Probably wishing they could blame a sex scandal this year for their current form. Presented with a great opportunity to get things going again this weekend with the Raiders at Townsville. Power score: 5.5/10, Number of times since 2005 that the Cowboys have had 50 points put on them by the Tigers: Twice.

14. Penrith Panthers:
Offered their usual late flurry of points once the game was beyond reach – and this time it really was. A lot of soul searching to be done in the off season by Elliott and his crew. Power score: 4/10, Number of times professional sports commentary teams have referred to one of their colleagues as “riding the ceramic bus”: 1 and only (Friday night, Canberra v Penrith on Channel Nine).

15. Cronulla Sharks: Were woeful in attack and defence against Brisbane and it will surely take a miracle (or food poisoning of the Storm’s top 25 players) for them to knock off competition leaders Melbourne on Monday. Alright, stranger things have happened – just can’t remember any. Power score: 3.5/10, Odds that Ricky Stuart will overtake Brian Smith to claim the mantle of “coach that most players would least like to play under” after petulant outburst in wake of loss to Brisbane: 2-1.

16. Newcastle Knights: Nothing positive to say about this rabble at the moment and lamenting the loss of Johns and their late 90’s performance enhancing program won’t bring either of them back. Need to start muscling up in the line and working on set completion if they are to threaten again this season. Power score: 3.5/10, Number of Newcastle players who will play Origin next year: Probably none at this rate.

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

By ricky

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