Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
22 hours ago
As we approach the half way mark of the premiership rounds, the teams or near the bottom of the table are rightly attracting greater scrutiny - especially those who have performed well below expectations.
One factor that is common in these clubs, and especially the first three, is that their administrative arms have been in, and/or are still in, disarray.
The situation at the Sharks has been well documented. The press conference given by the embattled Chairman, Barry Pearce, on Saturday was painful. And it made matters even worse, if that was possible.
Now we have seen the open warfare between the owners of the Manly Sea Eagles resurface, with the position of the CEO under threat from one owner, but strongly defended by the other.
Is it any wonder that these two clubs are, on the field, performing massively below expectations?
And things are not all that much better at the Parramatta Eels where boardroom politics has dominated the headlines for months - though things may be about to settle down. And not before time!
At the other end of the table are the Bulldogs, the Dragons and the Broncos. They might be joined by the Knights tonight.
The Broncos and the Dragons have had coaching and other issues in the recent last - but things have been smooth in 2009. The result is that both teams are serious title contenders.
But the real change has been at the Bulldogs. A couple of seasons ago, the Bulldogs were in a total mess. The administration was performing about as badly as the team was and fans were an even bigger problem. Then the Bulldogs put in place a new administration, a new coach, and shook up the playing roster.
This year the Bulldogs have their act together off the field - and the team is delivering comprehensively on the field. It may be a coincidence - but I for one think not.
While there are times when teams can put off field dramas behind them, the highly competitive nature of the premiership today - and the extraordinary publicity off field events attract - surely makes it essential for every club to have its act together on and off the field.
One of the problems is that some clubs hold their board and committee elections in the middle of the premiership season. While there are corporate rules to be obeyed, surely elections can be programmed not to cause too much interference with what the club ought to be all about - winning premierships!