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Another week down in the NSWRL Premier League competition and the traffic jam that has been forever present on the ladder continues.
This weekend results saw two draws of contrasting proportions. The first was a tough 16-16 draw between the Knights and the Dragons, while the other saw 80 points scored in a try-athon between the Bunnies and the Tigers at Telstra Stadium.
At North Sydney Oval the Bears were unable to match it with the class and pace of the Canberra Raiders, going down 54-10 in a disappointing match for the Red and Black.
Parramatta?s 41-26 win over the Jets in the ?match of the round? saw the Eels move 4 points clear at the top of the ladder, reaffirming their control of the Premier League competition and delighting Eels fans who witnessed a draw and two wins from the three matches played at Parramatta Stadium.
So, how do the teams rate after round 12? Here?s my say:
1. +2 Parramatta Eels
Back at home for their clash against a quality Jets side, the Eels lifted to record a strong win and in the process re-established themselves as the bench mark of the competition.
2. +2 Canberra Raiders
Have moved into equal second spot after their thrashing of the Bears. The Raiders Premiership hopes will be more obvious in a few weeks when they face the Dragons, Jets and Eels, in a three week period that will be a true test of their Premiership credentials.
3. +2 Cronulla Sharks
Continue to go quietly about their business and have moved almost unnoticed into 2nd spot on the ladder. Strong performance against the Cougars on the weekend places Cronulla as a genuine Premiership contender.
4. ?3 Newtown Jets
Outclassed by the Eels on the weekend 41-26. The Jets will be there come final time, and if ace halfback Josh Lewis can maintain his top form, the Jets can beat anyone on their day.
5. ?3 St Marys Penrith Cougars
Followed up their huge win over the Eels with a loss to the Sharks. Continue to sit in equal 2nd on the ladder and should bounce back against the Eagles at home on the weekend.
6. = Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers
Plenty of points exist in this Tigers team, with 90 points in the last two weeks and 363 for the season ? the fourth best in the comp. The Tigers also boast the third best defensive record in the comp and if the traffic jam that exists on the competition ladder continues, the Tigers for and against could prove to be invaluable.
7. = Manly Sea Eagles
Had the weekend off with the bye. Restart their campaign against the Cougars this weekend in a tough assignment that will certainly provide the Eagles with a chance to assess their positioning within the competition.
8. = St George Illawarra Dragons
Like in the NRL, the Dragons Premier League side has been less then convincing all year, however they find themselves currently sitting high in equal 2nd. Will make the eight and are a genuine title threat.
9. = South Sydney Rabbitohs
Bizarre 40-40 draw with the Tigers on the weekend. Currently sit just 2 points shy of the eight and will challenge for a finals spot for the remainder of the season.
10. = Newcastle Knights
Maintained touch with the top eight after a gutsy draw with the Dragons. The Knights will have plenty of teams watching over their shoulder come end of season.
11. +1 Canterbury Bulldogs
Big win over the Magpies gave the Bulldogs their third win of the season. With inclusion in the top eight seemingly out of the equation, the Dogs have nothing to lose. One thing is for certain, the Doggies will be responsible for a few upsets before the seasons end.
12. ?1 North Sydney Bears
The Bears 2006 season is hanging by a thread. A big loss to the Raiders on the weekend has the Bears season fading away into oblivion. If anything, the Bears are the perfect example of a competition in desperate need of review and re-structure.
13 = Wests Magpies
Continue to fight in a season that is all but gone. Have a chance to regroup this weekend with the bye, then face up against Manly in round 14.