Daniel Nichols – NRL Power Rankings: Round 4

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.

1. Broncos (6)
The Broncos knocked off the previously undefeated Dragons in front of a confident Dragons home crowd. Talk of Anthony Griffin’s demise have well and truly gone away, and the Broncos will be buoyed by the return of superstar centre Justin Hodges this week. They’ll be extremely confident of continuing the Eels winless streak away from Pirtek.

2. Sea Eagles (7)
For those who didn’t think the Eagles were right in the title race, well they do now. Held the premiers scoreless in a game that was a lot like the semi final last season, in reverse. The Eagles look like a different side with Foran back in the side and have established themselves as genuine premiership threats again, even without their number one fullback.

3. Dragons (1)
Dropped their first game of the season to the Broncos on Friday Night. Hardly the end of the world for a side who wouldn’t have dreamed of being three from four pre-season, yet opposition fans are hoping the bubble has burst. They have a chance to make a huge statement when they meet the off colour Bunnies on Saturday Night at the beautiful SCG.

4. Storm (2)
No Cam Smith, no Storm. The very statement that scares Storm fan more than any opposition forward pack. Smith was a late withdrawal and the Storm, after the first ten minutes, were never in the contest. The previously inconsistent Dogs looked a million dollars and ran riot. Storm fans won’t exactly be searching for answers, but they will be looking to bounce back against the Titans.

5. Titans (8)
Snake jokes aside, the Titans have sssslipped well and truly under the radar so far in 2014 and now sit fourth on the table with three wins from four. A dire game against their Queensland rivals the Cowboys overshadowed the fact the Titans won a close one, something they weren’t renowned for in 2013. Huge game this weekend against the Storm.

6. Dogs (9)
The Jekyll and Hyde of 2014. Two horror games, two brilliant games. Smashed the Storm from pillar to post and will be riding a wave of confidence in their huge clash with the defending premiers this Friday Night. It’s doubtful the Fifita news off field will affect the side on field however the Dogs will have to put two decent performances together in a row before they get too far ahead of themselves.

7. Roosters (5)
Played their part in a great Friday night game in the grand final replay. No alarm bells just yet for Roosters fans, who will be hoping SBW’s return can fire them against their old rivals the Bulldogs. The Roosters much talked about forward pack lost a rare battle to the Eagles, and face a tough challenge this Friday Night. Still amongst the teams to beat.

8. Panthers (3)
Struggled against the Eels on Saturday Night in a very disappointing display. Missed Wallace and Mansour badly and will be happy to have both back when they host the Raiders. Tim Grant’s omission last weekend led to rumours he was leaving for the Bunnies but those seem to have fallen. Tyrone Peachey hasn’t lived up to his price tag just yet. Mansour especially is a big in.

9. Tigers (4)
Put together two huge wins, including a massive upset against Souths, however came crashing back to Earth with a huge loss across the Tasman. The Tigers face a tough test when they host the red hot Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Tedesco’s injury rendered the Tigers attack almost toothless and they will be hoping he recovers quickly.

10. Warriors (12)
Have finally out together the performance we all know they are capable of. Warriors fans are licking their lips at the prospect of playing the Sharks on Saturday afternoon. Former Sharks Bukuya and Townsend are starting to look the party and Tomkins is steadily improving his game. Hurrell and Vatuvei will be $1.01 to score this weekend.

11. Eels (13)
A huge win over their local rivals the Panthers. The Eels have looked like a champion team at Pirtek, but will need to solve their travel woes to threaten for the finals. Radradra will deadset give opposing wingers nightmares, as in full flight he is a scary, scary sight. The Eels backline is looking threatening while Sandow impressed on his return to first grade.

12. Knights (15)
Rose for Alex in their massive win over the hapless and hopeless Sharks. The Knights possess some of the biggest and best strike weapons out wide and it’s as if they remembered this fact against the Cronulla side. Ran riot up the battle up the middle, out wide, it was no battle, it was all one way traffic. Would fancy their chances against the Cowboys on Monday Night. I have a feeling they will ride the emotion for a few weeks yet.

13. Raiders (14)
Every time it looks like the Raiders will fall into a slump, they pull something out of the fire. Beat the heavily favoured Bunnies at ANZ Stadium and will be looking to back it up away to Penrith. Milford is genuine star and the Raiders will try everything to ensure he reneges on his deal to join the Broncos next season. Missing some strike power in the forwards.

14. Bunnies (10)
Started the season on fire smashing the premiers, but since then, have not performed anywhere near their best. The round two loss to the Eagles was no great harm, however straight losses to the Tigers and Raiders, two games they would have been confident of winning with relative ease, will have fans and officials worried. Need a big performance this weekend.

15. Cowboys (11)
Have been in each and every one of their games this season, yet have only won one. Would have expected to beat the Titans but couldn’t get the job done. Paul Green looks like he has a battle on his hands to get the Cowboys to the finals given that Thurston and their starting front row will be looking to Origin in a few weeks time.

16. Sharks (16)
Absolutely hapless at the moment. Smashed by 30 points and held scoreless against the second worst team in the competition this season. Have incredibly named an unchanged side against the Warriors this weekend. Konrad Hurrell returns and will likely mark Blake Ayshford. Sharks fans will have nightmares about that clash. Todd Carney is not running freely and Gal and Lewis are weeks away.

Knives Sharpening
Peter Sharpe may become the first caretaker coach to not see out his caretaker mission. We are all well aware of the Sharks troubles with injuries but that fact will only fly for so long before fans start to ask questions. He has unbelievably named an unchanged line up after being held scoreless by the only other team yet to record a win this season. The Sharks season is slipping and fast. Sharpe may be returned to the position he was more comfortable with, assisting the first grade coach, before too long.

Buzz On The Money
Phil Rothfield’s suggestions to expand the competition and split into divisions may have some merritt. A second Brisbane side makes a lot of sense to increase the Queensland presence in the competition, while a team in Perth ads another high rating time slot for games. You’d have to feel for the Central Coast and Central Queensland bids though. For the record I don’t see it happening any time soon, but I do like the discussion.

Keary Tug Of War Continues
I can’t believe the ongoing stoush over the services of Luke Keary, a player who hasn’t even established himself as a first grader let alone an Origin player. Origin rules have to be tightened up to avoid this happening in the future. How hard is it to say ‘you play where you were born’ or ‘you play where you first played footy at a professional level’ … not that hard. If you’re born and play first league in New Zealand or Victoria, you’re not eligible. Easy.

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