After another weekend of byes in NRL Round 11, the Grubbers job was made slightly easier by having less games to view and review. Amongst the excitement at Liechhardt Oval on Sunday, the form of Keith Galloway continues to seriously impress. Very few punters are singing Galloway’s praises, but put simply his form could have him poised as an Origin bolter.
1. Sydney Roosters: The Chooks played out of their skins in Auckland, again turning on the air assault to blow the Warriors away. Probably require Minichiello at fullback and more from Riley Brown at hooker to go all the way, but are certainly the early pacesetters and growing in confidence weekly.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Roosters hatching a plan to bring Sonny Bill Williams to Bondi after already securing a host of ex-Dogs. 10/1
2. Wests Tigers: Timmy’s men marched home at Liechhardt and look to have a host of gamebreakers in the vital positions; at fullback, halfback, pivot and hooker. Matt Head is warming to career best form and Benji Marshall looks to have improved his defence on the week before. Keith Galloway remains the most unsung hero in the NRL, with blistering form and a creative off-load.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that former teammates Benji Marshall and Scott Prince actually kissed after the game this weekend, a la 2005 or was that a lick? 5/1
3. Bulldogs: Showed a desire not yet seen from them in 2008, were eager and totally out-enthused the toothless Sharks. Daniel Holdsworth performed well and the outside backs finally packed some punch for the Bulldogs for the first time. El Masri is finding his magic conversion form again and with Luke Patten still to come back and some key signings this week – the future might not be so bleak at Belmore.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Sonny Bill Williams has added a few boxing classes with stablemate Anthony Mundine to his training ritual, after lashing out at Ben Ross and Greg Bird? 3/1
4. St George Illawarra Dragons: Are proving to be giant killers after now having beaten most of the NRL’s Top 4 sides. Even after dropping a stack of ball, the Dragons had enough to overpower the Sea Eagles at Fortress Brookvale. With big Wendell Sailor lurking in reserves and some favourable fixtures, the Dragons could get a roll on during the next few weeks. Hard to pick, but regardless they are still capable of champagne attack on their day.
Grubbers Comment: Likelihood of the Dragons improving their ladder position rapidly if Jason Ryles was to depart mid-season? Strong to Certain
5. Melbourne Storm: The machine that is Melbourne still managed to roll on despite having a stack of players backing up and facing a plucky Souths outfit, that defended well. The Storm did enough to win, however after Craig Bellamy has helped NSW disect the aura of guys like Billy Slater, Israel Folau and Cameron Smith – there is no doubt NRL teams will use this to advantage as Souths did in certain areas this Round. Not a lay-down certainy for the Premiership.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Melbourne are running an illegal back room breeding program; with the likes of Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Will Chambers and Billy Slater forced to provide ‘donations’ to waiting hosts – in the hope of creating a next generation of Storm stars. 5/1
6. Gold Coast Titans: Weren’t on their game, but still came within a whisker of stealing the chocolates at Liechhardt. Didn’t get a decent bounce of the ball or any favourable calls from the referee, yet still kept themselves in the contest even with shocking possession percentages. Preston Campbell is playing every bit as well as his 2003 Premiership year with the Penrith Panthers. Titans forwards are highly impressive.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Scott Prince will have his mobile number stitched on to the back of his jersey next week so that Queensland Selectors know how to get in touch with him. 2/1
7. Cronulla Sharks: Were out of sorts and ended up being ambushed by the unassuming Bulldogs. Always going to be tough when they let so many points in, as they simply cannot score enough to dig themselves out of situations such as they faced on Monday night. Brett Kimmorley is in fine form and will be sorely missed by the Sharks, Ricky Stuart will whip the squad at training this week and they should bounce back in their usual gritty style.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Cronulla Sharks winning a premiership any time soon? 150/1
8. Manly Sea Eagles: Basically looked to be pretenders on Friday night as they went down to a St George Illawarra side that still dropped a fair bit of ball. Don’t look willing enough to roll their sleeves up and still lack that spark on the fringes they had last year. The likes of Matt Orford and Anthony Watmough are either game breakers or heart breakers as they seem unable to play consistently.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Anthony Watmough got lost driving home on Friday night after ‘that’ headclash that knocked him out? 2/1
9. NZ Warriors: Were beaten by a red hot Roosters side, weren’t disgraced as they really didn’t get a look in. Confidence may have taken a dent as their home ground win streak was torn up, however with Steve Price getting valuable game time the future remains hopeful. Need to start winning soon or risk missing the boat.
Grubbers Comment: Likelihood of the Warriors rushing Manu Vatuvei back into the run-on side to curb the downward spiral? Slim to none.
10. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Had their best chance this year to ram-raid a win over the fancied Melbourne Storm. The advantage of Bluetongue Stadium, a stack of possession and a weary, tired Melbourne Storm squad still weren’t enough to get Rusty’s Rabbitohs home. Looked slick at times with some deep backline plays, but their final tackle options were the worst I have seen in recent memory. Issac Luke should not be at halfback and Dean Widders is still only a bench player at best. Coach Jason Taylor needs to stop changing squad members and positions all too often.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of John Lang’s health insurance premiums rising, after jumping on board the Titanic? 5/1