NRL Power Rankings By ‘The Grubber”

Here are the NRL Power Rankings for Round 1 2008. The Grubber welcomes new readers for 2008 and is happy to have old NRL News readers back again; so let him dust off his clipboard as he goes around the grounds to report on the real Rugby League form from each Round;

1. Melbourne Storm – Right back into the groove, straight to the top of the charts with their clinical win against the Warriors to kick-off 2008. New crop of younger forwards look very good, big and aggressive. Slater and C.Smith remain major NRL strike weapons that keep this team on top. Power Score 9.5/10

Grubbers Comment: Odds of NRL investigating reports of a science lab out of Melbourne that somehow keeps producing incredible hulk like talent year after year? 10/1

2. Gold Coast Titans – Surprised everyone with a comprehensive victory over the Cowboys even with Jonathan Thurston back on deck. Look to have better depth in this NRL season and with the new Skilled Stadium at Robina – 2008 could see them reach the finals. Smart management sees over 50% of the Titans team off-contract at season end forcing them to play for their lives. Working a treat so far. Power Score: 9/10

Grubbers Comment: Odds of Titans fans remembering who ‘Chris Walker’ is after replacement Jordan Atkins scores 4 tries on debut? 50/1

3. Brisbane Broncos: New look Broncos look awesome. Might have been made to look even better by a woeful Panthers outfit – but new purchases look like smart acquisitions. Showed smarter forwards play and iced the cake with the new combination of Peter Wallace and Darren Lockyer immediately looking like a premiership force. Expect big things from Brisbane. Power Score: 8.5/10

Grubbers Comments: Odds that Peter Wallace went to seek out old coach Matt Elliott after the game to say “Hello!” 25/1

4. Sydney Roosters – Jumped out of the blocks impressively to overpower the fancied South Sydney side. New buys seem to have given the Roosters more confidence and the return of Anthony Minichiello and Mitchell Pearce give the side more balance and options across the park. Look to be a new force in 2008. Power Score: 8.5/10

Grubbers Comment: Chances of Riley Brown having a statue built in his honour in Bondi? Strong to Certain.

5. Cronulla Sharks – Hard to split Sharks, Tigers and Eels. All were eventual winners and ground out their games. The Sharks however took the big scalp of Manly, an impressive win in this away game for Round 1. Defence remains remarkable, look better in attack with Brett Kearney back and the Cronulla forwards kept coming which is their biggest improvement from 2007. Power Score: 8/10

Grubbers Comments: Chances of bookmakers running exotic bet offers on the amount of damage Ricky Stuart will do to coaches boxes and equipment in 2008? 5/1

6. Wests Tigers – Notched up a win against the fancied Dragons in a heatwave at Telstra Stadium. While they lost Benji Marshall, they played a smart and tight brand of NRL that is suited to the tough, close games. Gee wouldn’t the Dragons love to possess this brand of football. Did enough to capitalize on St George Illawarra mistakes and should survive ok without Benji as players in the team seem to take it upon themselves to get the job done. Power Score: 7.5/10

Grubbers Comments: Odds that Benji Marshall’s manager knew of the dodgy knee and urged him to sign a short term deal with the Tigers rather than play roulette on the open market? 2/1

7. Parramatta Eels – Got the goods in the end with a stunning comeback over the tough Bulldogs. Couldn’t be placed any higher in the rankings, as no team played worse than the Eels did in their first half. New faces could be strong assets this year and their mental strength seems staggering after a calmly engineered fightback by Brett Finch. Power Score: 7.5/10

Grubbers Comments: Odds that Parramatta were still feeling the effects of a weekend hangover in the first half after a team meeting in Kings Cross? 3/1

8. Newcastle Knights: Secured that critical first Round win at home after weathering a Canberra Raiders arm-wrestle. Of-season purchases seem to have been good ones, with new faces doing the trick in a game that could have seen them score more points – barring some panic plays close to the line. Look like big improver’s. Power Score: 7/10

Grubbers Comments: Chances of Danny Buderus’ early departure having nothing at all to do with coach Brian Smith? 450/1

9. South Sydney Rabbitohs – Probably guilty of a little bit of stage fright, as they let their big brother get the better of them in the big local derby. Missed Craig Wing and additional substitutions but should have been able to adapt better than they did. Should bounce back from this early set back. Looked to have improved their attack from 2007, but defence let them down in the end. Power Score: 6.5/10

Grubbers Comment: Odd’s that the Sydney Roosters attack on Craig Wing was pre-meditated? 2/1

10. North Queensland Cowboys – Probably beat themselves after the Jonathan Thurston late admission tactic and failed to work cohesively at times in a misfiring match for the usual NRL heavyweight. It might only be Round 1 of the 2008 NRL, but will thoughts of a departing coach hurt their focus this season? Power Score: 6/10

Grubbers Comment: Odds that it was a Qantas hostie that tipped off the media to Jonathan Thurstons boarding of QF223 from Townsville to Coolongatta on Friday? 15/1

11. Manly Sea Eagles: First up shock loss. Were far from woeful, but did lack the pressure play precision of Michael Monaghan. Looked a little lost in attack and really only Anthony Watmough threatened. Should be better for the run with several new faces on board and roles to be determined. Jamie Lyon will continue to hamper the team at five-eighth. Playing stand-off in the UK Super League is worlds away from a halves role in weekly NRL. Power Score: 6/10

Grubbers Comments: Amount of times Max Delmege has rung Manly officials to query why the Eagles treated Monaghan so poorly and eventually let him go too early? 14

12. Bulldogs: Started with so much promise, but could have been masked by the shocking turnovers by the Eels. Probably should have scored at least 30 points given the ball and field position they had. New halves pairing was ok, but forwards really fell away in the end as did their discipline. SBW remains an achillies heel for the team. Power Score: 5.5/10

Grubbers Comments: Chances of Steve Folkes getting on the phone to his manager immediately after the final whistle in this game? 3/1

13. NZ Warriors: Hung in well against the Melbourne Storm, with good forward input and some promising signs on the edges in attack. Manu Vatuvei simply must be dropped from first grade. Any winger dropping 3+ balls a game leading to tries must go. Should be ok to cover for loss of Wade McKinnon, but will miss Price if he is out for extended periods. Power Score: 5.5/10

Grubbers Comment: Odds of New Zealand supporters finally getting a successful Warriors Premiership and ridding them of Rugby Union pain? 25/1

14. Canberra Raiders: Looked willing early on in their game against the Knights, showing some quick-fire wide attacking raids but couldn’t sustain pressure. Still have too many simple errors in their game and lack a little bit of depth. Forwards fell away badly in this one. Power Score: 5.5/10

Grubbers Comments: Odds of the rumour being true that Canberra had actually dipped into their travel fund for 2008 to top up Todd Carney’s contract – forcing all players to pay their own fares to away games? 30/1

15. St George Illawarra Dragons: It doesn’t get much worse for the team that promises so much yet rarely delivers. Had the players to get the job done against the Wests Tigers but didn’t read the game and kept taking wrong options. Simple errors, poor discipline – same old story. Halves of Soward and Chase were a highlight, as was Gaz – but forwards really disappointed. Power Score: 5/10

Grubbers Comments: Chances of Brownie sending his players into Kings Cross in the hope that gangsters can scare them into playing well? 5/1

16. Penrith Panthers: Straight to the bottom of the class. The chocolate soldiers melted quickly in the Brisbane heat, looking just like their old selves. Have bulked up the forwards, but they do look lacking in pace and fitness which could make this an even longer year. Discipline still remains beyond words, gave so many stupid penalties away it was beyond reporting. Matt Elliott was right to question Luke Priddis and his value, a former great that deserves respect – but Priddis may have held on a touch too long. Power Score: 3/10

Grubbers Comments: Likelihood of Matt Elliott holding ‘coaching parties’ in the Panthers Box this year, after entertaining Clinton Schifcofske and Jason Smith during the Brisbane game and regularly hosting Ryan Girdler and others for home games? 5/1

By ricky

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