1. Storm (Last week: 1)
This is starting to feel very, VERY familiar. I’ve been saying for weeks that the Storm probably haven’t played that well yet. I retract that statement. They were untouchable on Saturday night and left Canberra defenders clutching at air. Cameron Munster is now in the elite group of play makers. He ran riot in the 44-10 drubbing of the hapless Raiders. The defending champions are now CLEAR title favourites. Who can stop them?
2. Rabbitohs (2)
The Bunnies were a few minutes from a second straight loss and failing to honour 300 game player John Sutton AGAIN. If not for a slight Jarryd Hayne bobble the Bunnies would not be here right now, I’m convinced. That said, history will show a Bunnies win in a five tries to three effort. That Bunnies back line sure knows its way to the try line. Add Greg Inglis to that back five and the Bunnies suddenly look a serious threat, IF they can put together 80-minute efforts.
3. Roosters (3)
Message sent!!! The tri-colours now look the most likely to challenge the mighty Storm after a huge win over the Dragons. The 36-18 win flattered the Dragons if anything. Latrell Mitchell is an absolute freak. He gave Euan Aitken, a brilliant defender, an absolute bath in scoring three tries. Cooper Cronk is starting to fire in a big way. James Tedesco has reclaimed his position as one of the best fullbacks in the game. Scary, scary stuff.
4. Broncos (6)
It was ugly and frustrating, but it was brave. The Broncos’ win over the Sharks could very well set them up for a late charge at a top four spot. Forced to defend their line for the closing moments of the game, they repelled a desperate visiting team. Boyd’s intercept was a match-turning play. If he misses that the Sharks lead and have all the momentum. It wasn’t a game filled with highlights but these two points are invaluable.
5. Sharks (4)
Forget the referees. The Sharks took four hit ups in an attacking set, five metres from the line, with the game on the line. Jayson Bukuya had a two on none outside him and dummied. Matt Moylan created a three on two and tried to throw a ridiculous, highlight reel pass. Chad Townsend missed a conversion from pretty much right in front. The Sharks are responsible for this loss and I hope it hurts. Valentine Holmes should be offered a blank contract for ten years. James Segeyaro was an absolute beast.
6. Dragons (5)
The Dragons will be licking their wounds this morning after being battered senseless by a red hot Roosters outfit. The 36-18 loss probably looks better on paper than they deserved. The big name Dragons pack were a distant second in this battle. Gareth Widdop was absolutely no influence while Ben Hunt was barely sighted. Matt Dufty was a rare highlight in an otherwise forgettable afternoon.
7. Panthers (11)
How different this could have been. 24-6 down with 20 minutes to go, this game was over. The Panthers were in all sorts and the vultures were circling. Fast forward until the 80th minute and the Panthers were celebrating an insane come back. Josh Mansour’s 67th minute try completely turned this game on it’s head. From there the Panthers were unstoppable. Three more tries, including the match winner to Nathan Cleary and the Panthers are suddenly back in top four contention.
8. Warriors (8)
You couldn’t pay me enough to coach the Warriors. The Warriors needed to win this game to end the finals race and start preparing for September. Instead they were blown off the park and now face a nervous few weeks. Watching RTS get stepped was both majestic and painful. Shaun Johnson blowing up at the referees summed it up. Frustration. Try being a fan. Yuck.
9. Titans (12)
The red hot Titans. WOW!!! This was the most entertaining game of the weekend. That second half from the Titans was rugby league at its finest. Brenko Lee had Solomone Kata’s number and called it almost every time he touched the ball. Anthony Don and Philip Sami are try scoring freaks. I cannot believe the club won’t re-sign Don on improved terms. Young Brimson is a genius. Michael Gordon looks 23 again. How well is Mitch Rein playing!? Jarrod Wallace was immense.
10. Tigers (7)
The Tigers will be seething after the results of the weekend. They butchered a marvelous opportunity to sit just one win outside the eight. They just couldn’t lift to beat a Bulldogs side who had literally almost nothing to play for. If they can’t lift with so much on the line, then they don’t deserve finals football. If they play like they did on Friday night that won’t be an issue.
11. Raiders (9)
It is performances like this that are why the Raiders will not feature in finals footy, not the refereeing errors of last week. They were reduced to spectators and offered very little in the face of a Storm onslaught. Leilua may have crossed the try line but he needs to learn when to pass and when to hold onto the ball. If I were a Raider I’d be tearing my hair out. Some of Ricky Stuart’s last minute changes had social media shaking their heads. Fair to say it did not work. Season over.
12. Knights (10)
The Knights were one tackle away from keeping their slim finals hopes alive but could not shut the play down. Obvious forward pass aside, the Knights don’t deserve to play finals footy if they can’t shut out games like this. Kalyn Ponga’s return fired them back into form and looked to deliver them a huge win in Townsville. Something happened in that second half and the Knights just couldn’t find the line. Season over.
13. Cowboys (16)
The Cowboys staged a come back that would sum up round 20. They were done, dusted and social media was calling for heads to roll, and for good reason. They were awful early on. It must have been an almighty spray from Paul Green as the Cowboys returned a far different side. A literal last play try beside the posts was enough to send home fans away happy. Good fight back win.
14. Bulldogs (15)
The Dogs all but ended the finals race by upsetting the Tigers on Friday night. I’m a big fan of their young halves partnership. They show heart, determination and class well above some of their higher paid teammates. The Morris brothers are ageless. I love Rhyse Martin. As a spectacle this game was pretty dour, but the win puts space between the Dogs and last spot.
15. Eels (15)
Oh to be an Eels fan. One minute they’re celebrating a Jarryd Hayne intercept to ice to the game, the next minute their head in hands and copping wooden spoon jokes. The 26-20 loss to the Bunnies proved to be a good snap shot of the Eels’ season. They were electric at times, while at others you’d be angered to see such play in a NSW cup fixture. Hayne needs a new contract but there’s probably six or seven players who can be lucky to be in first grade moving forward.
16. Sea Eagles (14)
Six losses in a row at Lottoland. This sums up this Manly side. At 24-6 up with 20 minutes to go, this game should have been over. Ruck it up, slot a field goal, celebrate a huge win. Instead Manly spent almost the entire last 15 minutes of the game under their own posts. They completely forgot how to tackle and deserved to lose. They travel to the Shire to play their bunnies the Sharks on Sunday.