SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: James Graham of the Dragons and team mates stand to commemorate Anzac Day during the round eight NRL match between the St George Illawara Dragons and Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on April 25, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Although we're only two games into round eight of the 2018 season, this is still one of the best starts to a year of rugby league that I can remember.

2018 has had it all. Brilliant football, brilliant occasions and some crazy, unexpected results.

As a tipster, it has been an absolute nightmare. For the first time in recent memory, I've started the season a perfect two from two in the tipping thanks to the Dragons and Storm.

Those who follow the Zero Tackle weekly Power Rankings will know that although the first spot has largely belonged to two sides, while the spots 2-16 have been a challenge to say the least. I wouldn't have it any other way.

With the two Anzac Day results included, the NRL competition is wide open, and you'd be a very brave individual to call a grand final match-up or even a wooden spoon certainty from here.

The Dragons have been an absolute stand out across the opening eight rounds. Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt are the form halves of the competition. Paul Vaughan and James Graham have the Red V on the march up front while Sims, de Belin and Frizell have formed the competition's elite back row.

That said, with the greatest of respect to Paul McGregor's men, the Dragons have hardly been a picture of consistency after the opening two months of competition. Some are waiting for the Dragons crash to come, although they far outplayed pre-season favourites the Roosters yesterday. Perhaps this is the year the Dragons go the distance?

The two surprise packets of the competition thus far have been the Wests Tigers and New Zealand Warriors. The Tigers have exceeded expectations ten fold with their six and two start. They've beaten the Premiers the Storm twice and both losses have come by a combined three points.

The Warriors now sit at seven and two after being played off the park by a red hot Storm outfit. Although that result should hardly surprise, the Warriors are a completely different outfit in 2018. I'm already eating my words after predicting them to finish in 16th position. Blake Green and Tohu Harris are genuine contenders for recruit of the season.

Pre-season heavyweights the Roosters and Cowboys are struggling in a big way. The Roosters combinations have not yet clicked while the likes of Taumalolo, Morgan and Thurston have not fired as many predicted they would.

Premiers the Storm have had a stop/start opening two months. After dropping games to the Tigers (twice) and Sharks in uninspiring fashion, many wrote the Storm off. The purple have really missed Cooper Cronk although they have looked revitalised since Ryley Jacks has come into the side.

Much was expected of the Sharks who added two genuine stars to their already stacked roster. Unfortunately, they have had a slow start to proceedings although a recent victory over the Panthers shows that Shane Flanagan may be onto the right combination.

The aforementioned Panthers have been strong although they have some cracks to pave over before they can be considered a title threat. Maloney has slotted into the halves well but there are too many questions left to be answered. The return of Nathan Cleary should see the Penrith side take a big step forward.

2018 has been a horror show for those wearing blue and gold. The Eels were expected to push for the top four yet have started more like a side in the 'run' for a wooden spoon battle. It took them seven games to register their first win. The Jarryd Hayne experiment has not worked out, while Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman have struggled. You still have to believe they will come good, but have they left it too late?

Three-time wooden spooners the Knights look like a completely different side. A huge recruitment drive has delivered renewed belief. They looked set for a top eight challenge although a season ending injury to Mitchell Pearce will prove a massive hurdle. Young Ponga is one of the most exciting players in the competition.

South Sydney have provided more than nuisance value. Greg Inglis's return from injury has been a joy to watch. Cody Walker and Alex Johnson are lighting up the competition while Damien Cook is the first number nine in the modern era to push Cameron Smith. He still has ten + years to go yet but he is the form dummy half of the competition.

Manly fans are struggling to look to 2019 already after an awful start to their campaign. Off-field issues are dominating while the Manly big three, DCE and the Turbo brothers, are struggling for form.

The Titans, Raiders and Dogs are all on struggle street. The Dogs new structures will take time but they look a fair way off the pace. The Raiders have all the attacking weapons in the world but can't put it together. Ashley Taylor is one of the best young players in the game but is playing a lone hand at times.

The Broncos season has been extremely hard to describe. Are they going well? Are they struggling? Surely even Wayne Bennett would be starting to second guess his decision not to throw everything at Ben Hunt!?

It's a tough competition to predict, but my word it is fun.

Who is your pick to take out the trophy? Who will finish last come mid-September? Who will make the top four? Let us know below.

Comments are closed.