1.Â Melbourne Storm: TheÂ carnival rolled into Penrith this week and Bellamy’s boys didn’t disappoint. A mere training run for the Storm, yet they still racked up over 40 points. Complacency the only enemy remaining for this well drilled team.
Grubbers Comment:Â Truth in the rumour that Craig Bellamy is cutting Storm training back to 2 nightsÂ a week? Strong to certain.
2. Cronulla Sharks: Strong and dominant for the full 80 minutes against the Roosters,Â Ricky Stuart might not have a tonne of superstars, but has a big rangy side across the park. Need a fit Brett Kearney to be any chance of winning the comp.
Grubbers Comment: “A Bird in the hand, is worth two in the can!”
3. St George Illawarra Dragons: Looked like the Dragons of old,Â a damaging Gasnier andÂ CooperÂ at their flashy best. Showed a great team effort to roll the NZ Warriors looking good for the NRL finals at this stage.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Gasnier throwing another flick pass like he did on the weekend and getting it to stick? 100/1
4. Manly Sea Eagles: The Wests Tigers probably made them look better than what they were, but the Eagles are still at the top end of the NRL ladder and have benefited from an improved Matt Orford kicking game. Beaver in fine form, but Watmough has been struggling for weeks.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Steve Matai getting through a single game without going down injured for some reason? 250/1
5. Canberra Raiders: Seemingly nothing can stop them. Even a solid half from the Bunnies didn’t phase the Green Machine. Neil Henry must have made some speech at half time, as they clicked into gear and blew the Rabbitohs away in period 2. Could be the ‘Fairytale’ winners a la Tigers in 2005.
Grubbers Comment: Likelihood of Todd Carney being put on suicide watch should the Raiders make the Grand Final? 5/1
6. Brisbane Broncos: Got home on Darren Lockyer brilliance in golden point, but played solidly all game. Only Scott Prince could keep the Titans in the same stratosphere as the Broncos on this night, will need to wait 2 weeks for a serious hit out as they face the Bulldogs this week.
Grubbers Comment: Odds that Ivan Henjack will have the toughest job in Australia next year as he takes the reigns at the Broncos? 3/1
7.Â Newcastle Knights: Were home and hosed by half time and slipped into cruise control. Defence remains the key element to their finals campaign. Will miss Danny Buderus, but their points difference looks good enough to get them through. Face the Storm in Newcastle in what should be a cracker this weekend.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Knights inviting hooker Terrence Seu Seu back for the remainder of the season after Bedsy has been ruled out indefinitely? 100/1
8. Parramatta Eels: May have taken this game too lightly and took a long time to overpower the struggling Bulldogs. Regardless, a win is a win and the Eels are again in the mix. The attitude of Jarryd Hayne seems to be the key to unlock several elements of the Eels, face a massive test against the form Dragons this weekend.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of the Eels getting any more second chances in 2008? 150/1
9.Â Gold Coast Titans: Down on personnel but playing with heart. Played well for most of this game against strong opponents in the Broncos. Scott Prince is to the Titans what Andrew Johns was to Newcastle, Preston Campbell also toughed out this match with a broken jaw. Close but no cigar.
Grubbers Comment: “A jaw-dropping performance from Preston Campbell!”
10. Sydney Roosters: Opponents have worked out how to nullify their tries from kicks and the Roosters are struggling to score through the hands. Low on confidence and doubting their chances it seems, Willie Mason kicking his team in the guts while they are struggling is a major team killer.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Willie Mason copping a hospital pass from team mates in this weekends match? Strong to certain.
11. NZ Warriors:Â Faced a hot team on their day, NZ Warriors played OK, Wade McKinnon again a standout – had a few early calls went their way, could have been a different result. Their poor for and against, means they need to win both remaining games and hope for some favourable results.
Grubbers Comment: Can win the comp, just need a few more Wade McKinnons.
12. South Sydney Rabbitohs: Did everything right early on and probably high fived too much during half time. Looked sharp and committed early on and to be fair, probably copped the full wrath of the Green Machine in full flight during period 2.
Grubbers Comment: Odds of Chris Sandow being allowed to kick a field goal again before half time? Slim to none.
13.Â North Queensland Cowboys: Weren’t good enough early on to dent the Newcastle confidence. Showed some ticker to fight back late in the game, but the horse had bolted. Last few outings are showing glimpses of confidence for next year under new coach Neil Henry.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Luke O’Donnell ever curbing that ‘temper, temper’ of his? 100/1
14. Bulldogs: Faced mammoth odds in this game, yet came out firing. Didn’t quite have the experience or concentration to shut the Eels out completely but an encouraging showing for next year.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of the Bulldogs searching for long lost brothers of Jamal Idris? 2/1
15.Â Wests Tigers: Silly penalties cost them dearly,Â had several early opportunities with the try line wide open and spilled the final pass -Â in the end this told the story. Defence was poor on line and understandably coach Tim Sheens wants to make changes; will miss the NRL finals for the 3rd successive year.
Grubbers Comment: Chances that several Tigers players will be playing for their contractual lives this weekend? 5/1
16. Penrith Panthers: Were never in this game, looked edgy early and spilt the pill. Lacked possession from the outset and were never going to chase the Storm down, obviously an unhappy home again as Pritchard and others are ready to put the cue in the rack. Petero remains an outstanding contributor and without his efforts, this team would be fighting for the spoon no doubt.
Grubbers Comment: Chances of Panthers management installing a sideline X-Ray machine for Frank PritchardÂ to ensure injuries are genuine? 3/1