Seasons were almost literally on the line in a monster weekend of footy. As we break for rep weekend we take a look at the Round 15 Power Rankings.
1. Rabbitohs (Last week: 1)
The Bunnies are absolutely flying right now. They ran in eight tries on Thursday night inclyding four tries to Robert Jennings. You’d have to think his re-signing is not far off. Two late tries to the Eels made this game look closer than it was, which sounds silly considering the scoreline. An 89% completion rate will bring a smile to fans of the red and green especially with the style of footy they are currently playing. Eight line breaks makes for exciting rugby league. Cody Walker is a genius.
2. Roosters (6)
This weekend’s big movers the Roosters have now won their last four games and six of their last seven. Friday night’s 32-6 thumping of premiership heavyweights the Panthers sent a massive message to the rest of the competition. They were dominant in every aspect of the contest and reduced the Panthers to spectators. Three tries in the opening 15 minutes all but ended the contest. 67% possession is downright insanity. Victor Radley is an excitement machine.
3. Dragons (4)
The Premiership leaders are right back in form after a huge win over the Sea Eagles on Saturday evening. Last week the Red V were lucky, this week they were ruthless. A six try to one flogging has ended Manly’s season and reaffirmed the Dragons’ title aspirations. 62 tackle breaks is a pretty crazy stat. They kicked for almost 200 metres more than the DCE-led Sea Eagles. That’s game management 101. Things are good for the Dragons.
4. Storm (5)
Hmm. Anyone starting to feel a little nervous about the purple machine that is starting to really roll? Sunday afternoon’s 28-10 win over the Knights is their third in a row despite them not playing overly brilliant. Josh Addo-Carr simply cannot stop scoring at the moment and added another two. An 82% completion rate is much more Storm-like than in previous weeks. Cam Smith is in supreme form right now. Cameron Munster too. Yikes.
5. Panthers (2)
The Panthers were dealt a harsh lesson on Friday night at the hands of the Roosters. Completing at a dismal 69% with only 33% possession makes for horrible reading. They conceded three tries in the opening 15 minutes and never really recovered. A brief moment of belief came in the 17th minute after a Dean Whare try but to be honest it was all Roosters all night. RCG is out for up to two months with a broken jaw. Horrible night for the Panthers.
6. Warriors (7)
The Warriors were far from their red hot best on Friday evening but got the job done against the Cowboys in Townsville. Johnson’s last minute field goal iced a 23-16 result that probably should never have been in doubt. The match finished with three tries each but Johnson’s 5/5 with the boot was the difference. They won with only 42% possession and an inferior 75% completion. They are a dangerous side as shown by their four line breaks to two on Friday. The Warriors’ kicking game was the difference here.
7. Sharks (3)
The Sharks can probably feel a little hard done by after a few unlucky moments but ultimately were not good enough on Saturday night in the Shire. The Sharks started awfully with their first kick leading to a Broncos try. 69% completion rate is awful for a side that is not exactly throwing the ball around. The Sharks made eight line breaks to five yet couldn’t convert. 12 errors and two penalty goals conceded is far more damaging than any refereeing decisions.
8. Broncos (8)
A brilliant Corey Oates try has the Broncos back in a comfortable position. They are hardly flying right now but continue to do just enough to stay in the finals. An 86% completion rate will always make it tough for opponents. The Broncs had a far superior kicking game on the night kicking for 530 metres. They dictated the game for the large majority despite almost dropping it late. TPJ got the visitors off to the perfect start with a charge down try in the first minute.
9. Raiders (10)
The Raiders are back in a big way. It’s no shock the Green Machine’s best win of the season came on the back of Josh Hodgson’s return. He was in literally everything early on and it was good to watch. The Raiders’ big men had a field day with Liam Knight scoring his first try and laying on an assist. Blake Austin played like a man possessed and must be looked at for a contract extension if he keeps that up. The 48 points to 12 win came on the back of eight line breaks and 500 more running metres.
10. Tigers (9)
62 missed tackles. 62! That is just not up to first grade standard. The Tigers spent the entire second half clutching at air and standing under the posts. The Raiders big men bossed their pack and delivered a huge reality check. Moses Mbye will join the club and the Tigers need the attacking spark. They made almost no use of a huge wind and looked the second best team in the ten minutes the Raiders were down to 12 men. This game could have put themselves well clear of the pack but have been dragged back. Horror result.
11. Titans (15)
The Titans are back in the winner’s circle after a dazzling display at Belmore against the hapless Dogs. Michael Gordon looked 25 again in a two-try effort. The Gold Coast side made an incredible nine line breaks to one and probably could and should have scored more than the 32 points they did register. The stats don’t indicate the Titans were dominant but in reality this was one way traffic for the majority of the contest. Brilliant performance. Ash Taylor was impressive.
12. Knights (11)
Sunday’s 28-10 loss could have ended the Knights 2018 season. Unfortunately in the absence of Mitchell Pearce it has become the Kalyn Ponga show. Despite yet another try and another brilliant effort, it’s a one man show in the Hunter. 66% completion rate is pretty bleak. They made almost 300 metres less than their opponents despite a 50% possession count. They’re being beaten up the middle and need to tighten up.
13. Cowboys (13)
The Cowboys are done and dusted for 2018. I cannot believe what I am seeing from the 2017 Grand Finalists. They had 58% of the ball, had a better completion rate, made 450 more metres than the Warriors, and forced six line drop outs to zero. Yet they still lost. Incredibly the Cowboys had seven more kicks in general play but recorded 150 metres less. The kicking game is absolutely where this game was won and lost.
14. Sea Eagles (10)
Any crazy thoughts of their season being salvaged is now well and truly gone for Manly fans after a horror performance on Saturday evening. They were played off the park by the Dragons but certainly contributed to their downfall. 15 errors, a massive 63 missed tackles and only 293 kicking metres made it very difficult to win a game at this level. Tom Wright’s solo try was incredible. I cannot believe he hasn’t been there since the start.
15. Eels (14)
The poor Eels are looking for answers after being taken apart by the red hot Bunnies on Thursday night. They did manage to score five tries which is a huge plus, but when you’re conceding eight it is all for naught. They completed at over 85% and only missed 32 tackles, both very surprising considering the 42 points conceded. Jarryd Hayne looks good since his return which is a positive. Other than that there’s probably not a whole lot to like about the Eels right now.
16. Bulldogs (16)
The Dogs would have fancied their chances against the Titans at Belmore but were never in the game. They conceded nine line breaks to a side struggling to score points. Michael Gordon tore them to shreds. The Dogs much talked about forward pack were battered by a much better pack. The Dogs had more ball yet hardly used it. I don’t know where the points come from but this current six, seven and nine just aren’t getting it done. Moses Mbye leaves the club.