Round 9 - My Mountain of Rankings

Many a football mind was blown this past week as footy fans endured a few breathtaking games which resulted in some amazing upsets, the biggest of which was our King of the Hill Storm getting pimped slapped by the mighty open palm of the Green Machine. Are they still able to maintain their eternal grip on the top spot of these rankings or have they slipped up?

#1 - King of the Hill - Melbourne Storm

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that it was possible for Melbourne to be beaten by the Raiders on their home turf. But once again the world comes to appreciate the concept of "on any given day". The Storm got caught out by a team that had come to play and Storm fans have to hope that this performance wakes them up and get's them fired up for the months to come.

Expectations for Round 9: The Storm have the perfect opportunity to put themselves back in the winner's circle with a dominant win over the Panthers this weekend. The Panthers are a good side, but I don't think there is any chance they can match it with an angry Storm side which is hell bent on being the best side in the competition.

#2 South Sydney Rabbitohs

I'm sure I say this every week but Greg Inglis is just a champion. He turns a game on its head like few have before him and he is the firewood that keeps the South Sydney flame burning so damn bright. There isn't too much to say about the Rabbitohs, they're going to be alright while Greg Inglis is around. I'm not discrediting the rest of the Bunnies outfit; Inglis is just so good they he stands out as a demi-god in a side which is playing quality footy.

Expectations for Round 9: The Cowboys have been somewhat underwhelming so far this season, so because of this I feel like the Bunnies won't have too much trouble dealing with them unless the Cowboys miraculously play lights out and Souths fall of the pace. I don't see that happening so I expect the Bunnies have got this one pretty much in the bag.

#3 Sydney Roosters

Despite not putting their best foot forward against the Panthers the Chooks still managed to cook up a pretty convincing win against Penrith and add to their crazy for and against totals. The past two weeks the Roosters have managed to pull out wins in two bogey games and that must be a pretty whopping big morale booster for the blokes who have been there for over one year. They do face their biggest test of the season this weekend though.

Expectations for Round 9: This game against the Sea Eagles is huge for the boys from Bondi. Brookvale has been somewhat of a cursed stadium for the Red White and Blue in years past. But the Roosters have been breaking hoodoo's left right and centre so what is another one added onto the pile? If the Roosters play their usual game it's hard to see them losing, but Manly are a quality side so it could go either way.

#4 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

After putting forward and awesome effort and coming up with nothing against Souths, it was disappointing to watch them put up a pretty lackluster performance against the Dragons and still manage to pull out a win. Defensively, they were strong for the most part, but they gave the Dragons way too much ball. The Dragons should never have been allowed to get into a position to win that game, yet they nearly pulled it out.

Expectations for Round 9: Manly don't go into too many games as an underdog, so they might be enjoying themselves this week. Manly are a really good side, so it's hard to discount them against the Roosters, but they've shown they are prone to lapses in concentration and ill discipline at times which is why Roosters are probably favourites to take the game. As far as expectations go, it should be a cracker of a game.

#5 Brisbane Broncos

The Broncos try really hard, but sometimes they just can't quite get where they need to be. Their consistency is admirable, and had they been coming up against a different side last weekend they may have actually won. But alas it wasn't to be. They're a good team; they just need to find a way to get into that extra gear and beat better sides to the punch, because at the moment, they are unable to reach the punch.

Expectations for Round 9: The Broncos will likely continue with their string of strong performances as they take on a pathetic Parramatta outfit this weekend. With Justin Hodges back things don't bode well for the Eels at all, this could be a very ugly game for them. The Eels forward pack offers nothing for the backs to take advantage of so I expect the Broncos might shut out the Eels.

#6 North Queensland Cowboys

Something isn't right North of the border. The Cowboys should be up there with Manly, Storm and the Rabbitohs as a formidable team, but they aren't. Barely managing to scrape home against the Eels is a dreadful thing to have on your resume. There are fixes that need to be made for this team to have any hope of competing with the big bully defences of the top four teams.

Expectations for Round 9: The Cowboys certainly have the calibre of players to match it with Souths, but they need to put in the performance to match their star power. They will need to pull something awesome out of their bag of tricks if they are to take down this competitive Bunnies squad. It's hard to see which Cowboys team will turn up, but it's not impossible to see them giving Souths a run for their money.

#7 Newcastle Knights

These guys nearly produced an awesome effort to get home against the Sharks over the weekend, but it wasn't meant to be as the Knights suffered their first home loss of the season. As usual, the Knights showed glimpses of what they were capable of, but ultimately they are in the same category as the Cowboys, they're just missing that something extra to put them up there with the better teams in the competition.

Expectations for Round 9: Travelling to Canberra is never easy for anyone, but the men from Canberra are full of confidence after snapping the Storm's unbeaten run last weekend. This could be a surprisingly exciting game if the Knights turn up with the right attitude and the Raiders pick up from where they left off last week. I expect this to be a cracking game!

#8 Gold Coast Titans

It was always going to be hard for the Titans to go over to New Zealand and take on an underrated Warriors outfit, but they tried their guts out in the second half and nearly pulled a win out of thin air. Much like the Tigers, these guys are still suffering from the injury bug which has plagued their season, but if they can channel the enthusiasm they displayed in the second half against the Warriors they should be able to pull out more wins and keep themselves in finals contention.

Expectations for Round 9: I have no idea who is going to win this game. The Titans should come away with the win, but if you take away the last fifteen minutes of last week they've struggle to score points and the Dragons boast a semi-formidable defence. The return of their two stud wingers should help the Titans cause though so I expect them to pull out the win.

#9 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Are Canterbury back? Their complete demolition of an injury plagued Wests side was certainly the cause of much discussion on the Bulldogs chances. The return of some ferociousness to their forward pack has excitement building among the clubs faithful. With two wins on the trot, it seems like the Bulldogs are rediscovering their old form, or trying to at least.

Expectations for Round 9: I'm absolutely excited for this match this week, it should be a corker! The Warriors are slowly discovering themselves after a slow start to the season and the Bulldogs are much of the same mould. I sort of expect the Bulldogs to grab the win here but it's never that easy to get a win when you come across the Tasman, as the Titans showed. This game is up for grabs, whoever turns up to play will grab it.

#10 Canberra Raiders

Who saw that performance coming? The Raiders turned up to play in a fashion few teams could handle. It was too much for the Storm, who as many had noticed played like they were just going through the motions. If Canberra can play with that intensity for the rest of the season, they'll go close to a top four finish. However, they need to keep tabs on their ball control; if they keep turning the ball over like they have been they'll find it very hard to keep winning games.

Expectations for Round 9: As confident as Canberra must feel after last week's awesome effort they are still not the greatest team in the league. They struggle to hang onto the ball and they struggle to make line breaks so they'll have to fix that up if they want to continue their winning form against the Knights.

#11 New Zealand Warriors

Thankfully the Warriors didn't find a way to lose this game, they managed to outlast the Titans which will hopefully be the kickstart of a nice little winning run for the men from New Zealand. There is a lot to be excited for if you're a Warriors fan. They've got some pretty energetic youngsters coming into the side so they prove tough to beat for the remainder of the season. Though its very hard to see a scenario where they make the top 8.

Expectations for Round 9: The Warriors will have to play their guts out if they want the win this week. The Bulldogs are finding themselves again and have the Warriors in their sights this week coming off two wins on the trot. The only saviour for the Warriors is that this game is at home so they'll have the crowd firmly on their side.

#12 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

This was an awesome game to watch, if you take out the scrappy ten minutes of blown field goal opportunities that is. The loss of big Paul Gallen for the next few weeks is definitely a massive blow for the Sharkies though. However Luke Lewis managed to knuckle down and produce an amazing game and he may have kept the Sharks in the game with some of the amazing efforts he put in. They've still got a way to go to get back into the top 8, but it's nice to see them in the winner's circle again.

Expectations for Round 9: Cronulla have a very realistic chance to get back to back wins as they face a Tigers side who doesn't even know which way is up at the moment. This could be the defining moment of their season as they sit one win outside the top eight and the finals is very much within their reach. I expect the Sharks to come out of the sheds exuding hunger and passion. The Sharks need this win.

#13 Penrith Panthers

It was a tough day at the office for everyone in Panthers colours this weekend. The Roosters suffocated their entire attack and they were not able to do anything except hand the ball over and let the Chooks run all over them. The Panthers defence let them down quite a bit as the Roosters didn't really do anything too exciting or overly complicated with the ball in hand. They just took advantage of their opportunities and the Panthers couldn't compete.

Expectations for Round 9: Facing the Roosters and the Storm in back to back weeks has got to be a nightmare for the Penrith squad. They do have a few exciting young players coming through but I don't think it will do them any good against this Storm team. Luke Walsh will have to kick bloody well for the Panthers if they are to have any hope of upsetting the Storm.

#14 St. George Illawarra Dragons

It happened to be the same old story for the Red V's as they struggled to put on points with the weight of possession clearly in their favour. The boys did everything right except put on points and in the end Manly came out the victors when the game was there for the taking. The culture of 'Dragons footy' doesn't really work when you let the opponents get a commanding lead early on in the match. Maybe having Josh Dugan come in is the spark which will lead to the Dragons figuring out how to score points.

Expectations for Round 9: If the Titans pick up from where they left off last week the Dragons could be in a lot of trouble early, and we all know how they fare when having to play from behind on the scoreboard. They have produced solid performances over the past month but it's hard to see where they'll score points from if Josh Dugan doesn't play and Brett Morris is out. They Dragons will have to produce something special to get the win here.

#15 Wests Tigers

That's five losses in a row for the Tigers who were completely outmatched by a strong Bulldogs side. It's tough for the Tigers as they've got injuries all over the park but they still can't get the little things done. Poor ball control and ill discipline are costing them dearly. They've got so much to work on it's hard to see them getting a win any time soon. Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah really need to get this team on their backs and show them how it's done.

Expectations for Round 9: It's hard for the Tigers (and their fans) to get excited about anything, but this is definitely a game they can win if they turn up with the right mindset. If they can string a few passes together and work well as a team with some second phase play they may be able to pip the Sharks and pull out a win.

#16 - Why do you even turn up? - Parramatta Eels

It's always nice to know that at the end of the week you can look back fondly at the football games passed and know that your team isn't as bad as Parramatta. Much like the Warriors they just have no idea how to win a game of footy. Something as simple as placing the ball over the white line is a grossly foreign concept for the Blue and Gold's. I feel like they've just given up completely on this football season. 2014 is the year of the Eel everyone!

Expectations for Round 9: I don't really expect anything from Parramatta anymore, If they could score a try against the quality Broncos forward pack that would be nice. But realistically they have a difficult match up ahead of them, the Broncos won't go down easy.

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