Each and every week until the finals I will present the totally unofficial LeagueFreak.com power rankings. Just a quick explanation, these are not based on who the better team is, or who would win if they played each other etc, it’s more a who would be happier with where they are, form, judgement type of system. The aim is not to bag out on teams, but create discussion. Please let us know if you agree, disagree etc, but please don’t turn this into a social media attack.
The pre-match wooden spoon contenders are absolutely flying high at the moment. On the back of two huge victories the talk has gone from when Steve Price will be sacked to where in the eight the Dragons will finish. Gareth Widdop may be the buy of the season and has proven himself as more than just a product of the Big Three. Should do a number on the under strength Sharks this Saturday night, something neither set of fans would have expected just three weeks ago.
Two narrow wins over quality opposition shows just how strong this team are. They were dead and buried against the Sea Eagles, only to come back and steal it in injury time, all without the best halfback in the game. They beat the Panthers even though they were reduced to 12 men after the sin binning of Billy Slater. They are once again the real deal. Re-signed Jesse Brommich today for four more years. All is well in Melbourne.
Honestly I did not see the Broncos undefeated after two rounds, I doubt many did. Ben Barba has re found himself in the sunny state, yet the Broncos are far from a one man side. Andrew McCullough has produced form that has experts predicting he will be a future Origin player, while Sam Thaiday seems to be a new man without the pressure of captaincy on his shoulders. Corey Parker has been his usual consistent self, while the highly doubted halves combo seems to be going more than ok.
Came within a sprayed kick after the siren of beating the Storm after a huge round one victory over the Raiders. Already have people talking about them as top eight certainties. Matt Moyal is a future star while Josh Mansour and co. have played well beyond their experience. Soward showed signs in his first game at the Penrith side while Wallace has slotted straight back into the club he featured for before his move to the Broncos. The Five year plan is well on track, and well ahead of time.
5. Sea Eagles
Came within a field goal of beating the Storm, before outlasting the Rabbits last Friday night. It went largely unnoticed but the Eagles beat the Bunnies without the Stewart brothers. Fans would be disappointed with the round one loss after being so far in front, however the Eagles are in great shape heading into a round three clash with the Eels. Cherry Evans is really pushing Cooper Cronk for the title of the best halfback in the game.
Although they ultimately fell just short against the Eagles, they are one and one after playing last season’s grand finalists. They put the Roosters to the sword in round one and looked great at times during last Friday night’s game with the Eagles. Inglis and Burgess have picked up where they left off last season and young Reynolds continues to develop. The injury to Luke Keary was a huge blow as it looks like Sutton may need to return to the halves.
Dropped a big game to the Broncos in round one but bounced back with a huge win over the Sharks. Won’t be getting too far ahead of themselves after beating a reserve grade Sharks team, however you can only beat what is put in front of you, and they well and truly did that on Monday night. James Graham may be one of the best big men in the game. The Dogs need more from their halves however with Graham and Pritchard firing you get the feeling the Dogs will do well this season.
Absolutely belted the Eels on Saturday night however would still be smarting from their loss to heated rivals the Bunnies. Roosters fans expect success and they would want to be two and 0 right now, however the opening rounds loss has hardly worried many. They’re going to be hard to beat again this year and a win against the Broncos will skyrocket them up the list, and more importantly the premiership table.
Off field dramas aside, the Tigers are probably ahead of where they would have expected to be right now. They were back to their entertaining best in their victory over the Titans and although they fell well short against the Dragons, their young guns have shown enough to get fans excited. James Tadesco is an absolute gun and Luke Brooks is a possible future Origin half. Anasta has a blinder on Sunday afternoon, something we haven’t heard for a few years now.
This is a strange one. The Cowboys struggled to put Canberra away and if not for some serious Thurston magic could be at the bottom of the table right now. They failed to fire against the Broncos, however it’s hardly time to panic up north. Thurston, as always, is the main man for the Cowboys and his ability to turn a game on his own hand is second to none. Could do a number on the out of sorts Warriors this weekend.
Most experts, myself included, would have had the Raiders running last by now with a big points differential. Instead they are one and one and if not for same JT magic could be undefeated. Ricky Stuart has re energised the Canberra outfit, who will like their chances at home against the Titans. You do get the unfortunate feeling that the Raiders are only an injury or two away from a loss of form, however all is sweet so far in the nation’s capital.
The Titans are a tough one. They would not be happy with being destroyed by the young Tigers, however would probably not have expected to beat the Sharks in round one. Produced a solid, if painful to watch effort against the Sharks, so they’d be semi happy with where they are at. Albert Kelly is a fantastic young player and has already scored two length of the field tries this season. Greg Bird seems to be ok after leaving the field late this weekend.
What a difference a week can make. Full of confidence after wiping the highly fancied Warriors off the park in round one, the Eels were brought back to Earth with a thud at the hands of the Roosters. A young side, they’re going to have an up and down season, however the Roosters ran absolutely riot and scored at will. Face the high flying Eagles at Brookie this weekend, and will be hoping for a MUCH improved effort against the other grand finalists after failing to fire against the Premiers.
One game off a grand final last season, yet hardly at the races this season. Without Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd they have lacked that attacking spark that was a feature of their late season run. Hardly a club in crisis, however they would have expected to beat the Raiders in front of their home crowd. Face the Storm this weekend so unless they can reproduce their amazing performance from the last time they met, it could get worse before it gets better for the Newcastle side.
The injury depleted Sharks were bashed from pillar to post last night by the Dogs. They were dominated in the forwards, had no creativity in the halves and the outside backs went sideways. This after a first up loss to the Titans at home. Todd Carney returns this week and boy do the Sharks need him to fire. The only bright side of the current situation is that they have Carney, Gallen, Lewis, Fifita, Toupou, Ryan and Robson to come back.
Whereas the Sharks are massively injury depleted, the Warriors have gone 0 and two with a near full strength side. Write this side off at your own peril, there is way too much talent there for them not to come good, however it has not been a good start to the season. Belted by the Eels and then embarrassed on their home ground by the less than highly fancied Dragons, they really need a victory or face falling too far off the pace. They will come good, but this is not the start they wanted, or expected.
Feedback Re Crowds Article
I just want to say thank you for the feedback and shares on last week’s crowd figures piece. NRL boss David Smith replied personally to both myself and Leaguefreak saying he will take the thoughts on board. Of course I don’t expect anything to change but it’s great to see people are genuinely looking for ways to bring the crowds back.
What We Learned This Week
If you want to create a stir on social media, there’s no quicker way to do so than to predict the Bulldogs would come second in the normal season. Once again I appreciate the feedback and discussion.
Club vs Origin Debate
Just a quick aside, as a Sharks fan (geese we do it tough) I wasn’t overly happy to read both Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis mentioning they hope to help NSW to victory this year. Actually let me explain, of course I want to see us end Queensland’s seemingly endless domination of Origin, however I would have thought both would be a little more focused on saving the Sharks season first.
The club vs state debate is something that will always rage, however I’d like to think both Gallen and Lewis would first want to be back playing in the black, white and blue first and foremost before worrying about Origin. Afterall it is the clubs that foot the contracts.
Question: If a player such as Gallen is injured or suspended for five or so weeks, should he be able to nominate for origin, this missing up to three more club fixtures? I’d love your thoughts. Origin is a huge event, however paying Gallen a rumoured 800k a season, surely the Sharks would be filthy to lose Gallen for another three weeks after losing him for six. Just a thought.
Tigers Joint Venture Question
If Balmain were to fold per say, would the club be within its rights to change the name to the Western Suburbs Magpies? I know the club stands as one, the Wests Tigers, however you’d have to think some fans, mainly Mapgies fans obviously, would be all for it.