With the Grubber only falling one game short of a perfect round, he has his finger well and truly on the pulse after 5 Rounds of the NRL in 2008. You can bet he will make South Sydney pay dearly for costing him a perfect round, so expect to see the Rabbits remaining in the wilderness on the Power Rankings ladder.
1. Brisbane Broncos 9/10: Impressed with some sublime attacking movements in a game that Newcastle tried their hearts out in. Winning these away games proves the Broncos are really set to ruffle plenty of feathers this year. Continuing to look good without Darren Lockyer. You get the feeling they are building for the “Win it for Benny!” NRL Premiership year.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Brisbane sending Kurt Gidley a thank-you card for his goal kicking performance? 4/1
2. Sydney Roosters 9/10: With the top 4 teams all winning away from home and locked on 8 points, differential came into this weeks power rankings. The Roosters braved an early onslaught from Penrith and were patient while they were starved of quality ball. Mitchell Pearce and Braith Anasta are growing better with every game, their combination and understanding is class leading. Confidence bubbling out of control and they seem to have decent depth in the forwards now.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Craig Fitzgibbon getting plastic surgery to shave a few years off his life and increase his chances of a new deal at Bondi? 10/1
3. Gold Coast Titans 8.5/10: Nabbing an away win was a major milestone for the young club, the Titans have a good roster and with Mat Rogers slotting into pivot well – they are looking mighty good for the Top 8. Form of Nathan Friend is especially good for the Gold Coast boys. Even Preston Campbell is playing with additional confidence and good hands, will continue to hold their high spot on the ladder barring any injury crisis.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Titans ever winning a fashion award, after playing is possibly the wimpiest looking pale blue strip ever seen in the Rugby League world? 1000/1
4. Melbourne Storm 8.5/10: The Premiers were back with a bang after hammering last years Grand Final opponent. Played stylish football and used a physical style in the forwards that left Manly really limping away from this loss. Desire looks to be coming back and with some minor positional changes will be back to their best. Greg Inglis could be better served away from the pivot role.
Grubbers Comment: I refuse to call the guy Cam Smith. It must be a gee-up, there is no way anyone could be that precious – could they Cameron?
5. Cronulla Sharks 8/10: Ricky Stuart’s rag-tag bunch of tackling machines did it again. They are winning the close contests in 2008 and while their points differential is hard to swallow at -3 they Sharks deserve their spot and possess a desire and attitude that many other NRL teams just don’t have. Their style of game really suits semi-final standards and should they hobble into the Top 8 (which they should, come years end) they will really be a good dark horse.
Grubbers Comment: Likelihood of the NRL approaching the Cronulla Sharks and threatening to kick them out of the competition if they don’t start embracing a more enjoyable style of Rugby League? 15/1
6. NZ Warriors 7/10: Bounced back superbly to take down the Bulldogs at home. Showed much greater depth and structure in attack and proved they are still the real deal, even without Steve Price and Wade McKinnon in the ranks. Manu Vatuvei still gives everyone heart problems, but his aggressive attack is hard to resist and many teams simply cannot tackle him. Are still vulnerable to kicking with Vatuvei and even Lance Hohia not possessing the height or skills to ward off the top teams.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Manu Vatuvei having more gold in his teeth than Mr-T had around his neck? 3/1
7. Canberra Raiders 7/10: Never say die. Simply an amazing comeback and topped off with a champagne performance from Todd Carney. Somehow manage to keep finding players, even with injury problems and the suspended Weyman the Raiders still field a strong team. Hold huge advantages on the edges with tall, rangy and fast men – will catch a few more teams napping this season. Defence must also be commended.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Raiders management telling the players to “Win it for Neil Henry this year!” 5000/1
8. Newcastle Knights 6.5/10: The Knights sneak in above the Cowboys after performing valiantly against the might of the Broncos. Despite a young and newly combining team, they seem to be improving quicker than many other teams and possess a good amount of belief. Brian Smith must surely deserve some praise for his efforts, after copping plenty of sprays in recent times. Will come into their own around Origin time if Danny Buderus isn’t picked for hooking duties and they could catch some undermanned teams napping.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Cooper Vuna is somehow a distant blood relative to Manu Vatuvei as they both possess similar handling skills? 4/1
9. North Queensland Cowboys 6.5/10: Pulled off a nice raid on the lacklusture St George Illawarra Dragons and managed to come away with the tough victory at WIN Stadium. Probably were below their best and miss the speed and creativity of Matt Bowen. Forwards are starting to do their job and making things easier for Jonathan Thurston, however Ty Williams is costing them at times with poor decisions in defence and attack.
Grubbers Comment: Chances that Graham Murray is able to safely run ‘boxing’ drills at training, with the likes of Carl Webb and Luke O’Donnell in the ranks? 50/1
10. BulldogsÂ 6/10: The Doggies fought bravely against the NZ Warriors in Round 5 of the NRL, even with little possession they kept hanging in there. Need a feature player in the halves to set them apart, when their forwards are on top – they lack the genuine creativity from a prominent playmaker to get them ahead. So while they are fighting above their weight at present, I can’t see them consistently performing at this level.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Bulldogs taking their family club slogan to new heights, by inviting the ’60 Minutes: Father and Daughter Couple’ to be their no.1 ticket holders for next season? 10/1
11. Wests Tigers 6/10: The injury riddled Tigers still looked like heavy weights in the first 3/4 of their match against the Raiders. Come to think of it, I still don’t know how they lost! Attack looked well structured and Matt Head slotted in very, very well – kicking and passing astutely. Bryce Gibbs looks heavier but more potent in attack but it seems most likely that fitness is hurting the Wests side. They seem to lose not only concentration, but also potency in the back end of games.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Tim Sheens will revert to a Jason Taylor style sideline rant if the Tigers blow another big lead again? 3/1
12. Parramatta Eels 5.5/10: Surprised everybody with a rare loss at Parramatta Stadium. While Tim Smith has copped a trashing in the media over his role, the real problem is the Eels defence – which is the worst in the NRL. Feliti Mateo and Brett Finch might help spark some attack, but they will need more go forward from the hooker. With Piggy not 100% and the Eels losing PJ Marsh, the dummy half play has been their quiet killer too.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Parramatta management holding an inquiry into the influence of Andrew Johns on their halves? 5/1
13. Manly Sea Eagles 5.5/10: Are quickly gaining the tag ‘chokers’. Fizzled out badly under the blow torch and many of their big names were the worst culprits. Matt Orford and Anthony Watmough went missing and the Sea Eagles were barreled out of contention in the blink of an eye. While they can produce good defence and attack at times, their ability in physical arm wrestles remains to be seen. Hard to see how they will evolve this year.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Matt Orford killed off those vicious rumours about him failing in big time matches? 100/1
14. Penrith Panthers 5.5/10: Probably a little hard done by in the rankings this week, but the Panthers still managed to lose a game at home – even to the highly ranked Roosters. Had enough ball in the early periods of this match to put on more points but just couldn’t do it. The mental state of the players at the Penrith is a real concern, they have been losing for so long now – they probably could do with a full clean out to rid the players of mental scars. Matt Elliott might have the coaching ability, but does his personality affect team morale and performance?
Grubbers Comment: The likelihood of Luke Priddis playing for the Panthers beyond 2008? 10,000/1
15. St George Illawarra Dragons 5/10: The Dragons found yet another way to lose an NRL game and even playing at their usual WIN Stadium stronghold couldn’t help them. Rumour has it that almost every other NRL team considers the Dragons a ‘soft’ side and holds no fears playing them. Their problems evolve from the forward pack, key forwards have been cherry picked over the years and they remain lifeless up the middle. Nathan Brown must be starting to look forward to leaving the sinking ship by the look of it.
Grubbers Comment: Percentage of Dragons players remaining at the club under Wayne Bennett? 10%
16. South Sydney Rabbitohs 4/10: The pressure really told on the Bunnies. Jason Taylor emulating Nathan Brown during his junior years and approaching players on the sideline. The usually calm and calculating Taylor buckled under the pressure and exposed his in-experience at the highest level. Souths are probably guilty of trying too hard, they had plenty of ball yet still couldn’t get over the stripe. When you think back to last year, they still only won games with their defence. Need to decide on the best possible halves pairing and stick with it through thick and thin. Dean Widders is out of sorts and possibly needs a spell, Issac Luke can’t come back fast enough.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Jason Taylor taking his coaching even closer to the action and donning a jersey in the weeks ahead? 5/1