Only one player suspended from six charges across the weekend - Parramatta Eels enforcer Manu Ma'u w...
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My Mountain of Rankings – Round 15
By Patrick Zammit
It’s time to take a look at the Rankings ahead of an unappetising and underwhelming split round. As great as it is to see all the young faces pop up to replace the superstars that go off to play Origin, a part of me wishes I could see the Storm face the Titans at full strength. Why does it always have to be like this?
#1 – The King of the Hill - Melbourne Storm
Not even the loss of superstar Cooper Cronk could prevent the Storm taking the two points here, although they decided to do things the hard way and they almost got beat out by the Knights. In the end, Billy Slater used his exciting magic and managed to steal the win from the Knights. Not even Craig Gower could keep the Knights from blowing games. Just quietly, it was awesome to see Brett Finch at halfback, man he’s a top bloke.
Expectations for Round 15: If you go by the odds supplied by the bookies then this game has Titans rampage written all over it. But c’mon, it’s the Storm we’re talking about here. They’re didn’t get to number one by dilly dallying and lazing around on Sunday afternoons. Although just quietly I expect the Storm might struggle without their big fish.
#2 - South Sydney Rabbitohs
Even though the Titans put up a massive effort against these lads, I never thought Souths were in danger of losing the game at any point of the 80 minutes. The composure by their halves to get repeat sets or anything like that is just off the charts. They didn’t play their best game of the season, but being able to pull that kind of win out against an opposition who is playing good football is always good. I don’t know how many more times I can say it, but Adam Reynolds is a superstar.
Expectations for Round 15: The Football Gods are doing the best they can to give the Eels a slight edge heading into this game. But who are they kidding, this is Souths you’re trying to stop. If Sean Bean was here right now, he’d say “One does not simply defeat South Sydney”. Because it doesn’t happen... often.
#3 – Sydney Roosters
The Roosters couldn’t stay composed against the Warriors and managed to fall flat on their ass by trying to do too much. They lacked patience with the football and that proved to be their undoing. While there were some spectacular individual performances involved the end result was that they couldn’t do enough to stop the freight train that was the New Zealand Warriors. SIDE NOTE: What the hell happened to Shaun Kenny-Dowell? He is certainly not the player he used to be.
Expectations for Round 15: Well if you took a look at the Chooks team to take on the Bulldogs this Friday night you’re probably thinking that the Dogs will beat the living cockadoodledoo out of them. Honestly, you’re probably right. Of course the Bulldogs only just managed to beat the Dragons without Reynolds and Morris so the underpowered Roosters may still pose a threat.
#4 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Trent Hodkinson was the man of the hour (or hour and twenty minutes). This game was filled with controversy but the Bulldogs remained professional and managed to barely outlast a motivated Manly side which carried all the momentum into Golden Point extra time. Ben Barba seems to be almost back at his best which bodes well for the Bulldogs as they approach the back end of the season. Everyone seems to be in form and on the same page which is worrying for any opponents they may have.
Expectations for Round 15: This clash could have been awesome and full of fire and mythical beasts and eternal hate. Instead Origin sneaks in like a thief in the night and decides to rain on everyones parade and steal a lot of the talent from this game. Mind you the forward pack battle will still be brutal, the question is will the backup backs be able to take advantage of it?
Well, wasn’t this an awesome game? Manly fought back with incredible courage and were it not for a silly penalty and some Keiran Foran backchat they may have actually won the game. It’s pretty incredible that a quality side like Manly have been to Extra Time twice this season and are yet to come back with a win. Imagine where they’d be in the competition with those three points, and how that would change the ladder come finals time. Crazy stuff.
Expectations for Round 15: The Sea Eagles have to use this by way better than they used their last one. They seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole into a gloomy dark area where they can’t get up which is no fun at all. Sort yourselves out please!
#6 – Gold Coast Titans
These guys impressed me a bit over the past weekend. While they didn’t notch up a win against Souths, they certainly made a match of it and had things gone a bit differently they may have even have pulled out one or two points from the encounter. They are definitely a dark horse for this competition and they have the potential to upset teams who don’t come prepared for a matchup. Albert Kelly is awesome to watch when he gets into space.
Expectations for Round 15: The entire country has big hopes for the Gold Coast boys this weekend. Taking on the Storm is about as hard as it gets, until you decide to take their three best players out. Then they become mere mortals. The Titans won’t have a better opportunity than this to take down the Storm, so they better be up for it.
#7 – New Zealand Warriors
How awesome was it to see the Warriors embarrass the Roosters in-front of their home crowd? They played an completely intense brand of footy which just blew everyone’s mind and it managed to get them to an early lead. Aside from the moments just before half time they played a brilliant game and they should be so proud of themselves. I can’t think of too many players who would be able to run down Michael Jennings at full flight, Shaun Johnson take a bow.
Expectations for Round 15: I think everyone knows how I feel about having a week off when you’re on a ridiculously awesome run of form. So I truly feel sorry for the Warriors in this circumstance because the NRL has pulled the figurative handbrake on the freight train which was their win streak. It’ll be tough to get back ontop of it now.
#8 – Canberra Raiders
The Raiders showed that they’re still a force to be reckoned with when they play at home, as they managed to notch up their tenth win in a row in Canberra which is a pretty impressive effort. It wasn’t in ridiculously spectacular fashion but Penrith are a good team so it’s a job well done. Reece Robinson is really making the absence of Josh Dugan obsolete. It’s crazy to think that Canberra might actually be better off without him. BONUS FACT: Blake Ferguson, you are an idiot.
Expectations for Round 15: What started off as losing Blake Ferguson to Origin has become “Losing Blake Ferguson forever” which is pretty much the last thing the Raiders wanted to happen. The Raiders are now left to clean up the scraps after an incident many blame on the child of trouble Josh Dugan. We will see how this effects their match preparation for their Tigers game; I expect they’ll handle it like champs.
#9 – Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
What a second half from these guys, they came out firing and didn’t let of the gas pedal one bit. After a tentative start to the game the Sharks looked like they might be run over by a confident Parramatta outfit, but they stuck to their guns and it all paid dividends in the second half when they managed to get a few more tries on the board. Beau Ryan was awesome at the back replacing an injured Michael Gordon, he may just find himself a permanent fixture there.
Expectations for Round 15: The Sharks will feel rejuvenised after their performance last week. They played an awesome second half which will hopefully give them a butt-load of confidence heading into their bye week.
#10 – Penrith Panthers
The Panthers slumped to another loss as they continue to struggle to find their feet after their first bye of the season. Winger Travis Robinson was benched after a poor start to the game, leaving the Panthers to 16 men for the rest of the game which is a bit of a waste. Penrith weren’t the worst lads in the world out there, but they just couldn’t compete with the remarkable scrambling defence of the Canberra side.
Expectations for Round 15: The Panthers have a bit to sort out with this whole bye week situation. Their last bye halted their awesome winning run, so they’ll need to use some sort of magic to make this one make them play awesome again.
#11 – Newcastle Knights
I’m not sure what was more painful: Listening to the million different “Knights” puns used by the NRL commentators or watching the Knights surrender another lead and notching up another loss. Mullen actually looked half good and made some exciting plays for the boys from Newcastle, but they decided to stop scoring points and ultimately that was their downfall as the Storm scored a late try to edge out the Knights and steal the win.
Expectations for Round 15: The Knights are in all sorts of trouble at the moment, they really need to get their shit sorted out this bye week or they’ll have to go through another one of those horribly extreme cleanouts. It’s scary to think how bad this team would be if Bennett wasn’t their coach.
#12 – Brisbane Broncos
It’s about time these guys manned up and actually played some half decent footy. Although i’m not sure if it was a result of them being so awesome, or the Tigers just not wanting to tackle anything. I’m going to go with a little from Column A and a little from Column B. It was an improved effort after all so I think Broncos fans will take that as a positive and run away with their two points to make sure it doesn’t somehow get lost.
Expectations for Round 15: The Broncos finally managed to figure themselves out last week and they posted up a pretty decent performance. If they can use the bye week to build upon that performance then I think they’ll be alright.
#13 – North Queensland Cowboys
JT certainly made his presence known in his return for the Cowboys, which is a boost for his club and the Queensland State of Origin team. He stuck the fear into the Dragons defence and his influence was noticed across the park. I’ve also quietly noticed Clint Greenshields encouraging performances for the Cowboys at fullback. He’s injected himself a few times over the past few weeks and impressed me greatly. He was an awesome sneaky pickup for the Cowboys.
Expectations for Round 15: The Cowboys will be thankful that they don’t have to play without JT this weekend.. I’m sure they’ve realised now just how awesome he is and how much they rely on him. It’s almost a little sad really.
#14 – St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons certainly had their moments of razzle dazzle against the Cowboys, but it wasn’t enough. The Cowboys defence weathered set after set and managed to close out what was a surprisingly tough game. Josh Dugan had an awesome moment in this match, as he broke a tackle on a kick return resulting in a Dragons Try. As tough as the Cowboys played, the Dragons still leave a lot to be desired. They should have put more points on the board during that encounter.
Expectations for Round 15: Well the Dragons will be incredibly thankful that they don’t have to play a game of football without their beloved hero Josh Dugan. His situation is kind of a bit crazy at the moment but at least he doesn’t seem to be affecting the Dragons negatively, yet. Seriously I worry about what kind of trouble this kid will get into next. He reminds me of that one bad friend who your parents would tell you not to hang out with because he’s a bad influence on you.
#15 – Wests Tigers
Things were looking so encouraging for the Tigers... But then they decided to take the field against the Broncos and it all went downhill from there. The loss of Robbie Farah was a whole lot more apparent this weekend and the Tigers just couldn’t cope with it. I just don’t know how the Tigers are going to manage to move forward, they just seem like they’re so easily exposed and no matter how hard they try the holes in their game plan are never ending.
Expectations for Round 15: Well these blokes have had a pretty eventful week, with Anasta succumbing to injury again. I expect that the Tigers will once again struggle to get themselves going during the game. This is all providing that Benji Marshall can’t find a way to get his Tigers enthusiastic once again.
#16 – Parramatta Eels
Much like the previous week against the Roosters, the Eels started quite well and even had the Sharks on the ropes at various points of the first half. But after the break everything changed and when they had to defend set after set the Sharks started finding holes in their defence. The Eels need to find ways to get Jake Mullaney more involved in their attack. They looked awesomely dangerous when he was getting his hands on the ball early in the tackle count.
Expectations for Round 15: This is pretty much the best opportunity the Eels have to get an upset against the Bunnies. Playing at home where they have an awesome record. Against Souths who have their mate Greg Inglis missing thanks to a little known game called State of Origin. If this isn’t a sign of the stars aligning in Parramatta’s then I don’t know what is.