1. Roosters (2)
There will be bigger tests to come over the coming weeks but the Roosters have done literally everything right in the past five weeks. A 42-6 win over the Warriors has them back as the form team of the competition and competition favourites. Tedesco, Mitchell, Keary, three names who will frighten any opposition defence in the build up to finals footy. Scarily, the Roosters scored 42 points with only 45% possession. 10 line-breaks to zero, 27 tackle breaks to 13. The premiers are firing on both sides of the ball right now.
2. Raiders (3)
The Raiders completed the comeback of the season in defeating the Storm 22-18 on Saturday evening. This could act as a preview for a game set to take place in a month’s time. At 18-0 down, and having defended with just 12 players for literally half the first half, this game looked gone. The Green Machine scored four unanswered tries including a Papalii monster effort in the 75th minute to snatch victory. The Raiders are very much in the premiership discussion right now.
3. Storm (1)
18-0 up and having enjoyed a man advantage for 20 combines minutes the Storm looked on pace for a massive score against the Raiders. Four straight tries conceded later and instead the minor premiers-elect are licking their wounds. Once they lost momentum the purple just couldn’t wrestle it back, pun intended. Cam Smith will likely come under scrutiny for some shocking photos. Otherwise though, hardly alarm bells for the best side in the competition. Wouldn’t want to be the Titans next weekend though.
4. Eels (4)
I know, I know, it was only the Titans, but this was a good win for the blue and gold on their march back to finals footy. Three tries to their big men in Alvaro, Ma’u and Lane set the Eels on their way before a Waqa Blake double and a late Niukore try ended the romp. The 36-12 win was exactly what you’d expect from a side gearing up for a title tilt. It’s hard to see them troubling the big three of four but Parra is playing good, exciting footy. Manu Ma’u is an absolute monster right now.
5. Manly (5)
The Sea Eagles are now sitting in the top four and look set for a genuine title tilt. The 32-12 win over the Tigers on Thursday night was as comfortable as they come. Jack Gosiewski scored a first-half double before everyone wearing a Sea Eagles jersey had their chance to cross the line. An incredible 64% possession showed just how in control DCE and co were on the night. Tom Trbojevic is in rare form and will be key over the next six weeks. Des Hasler is coach of the year by a mile.
6. Broncos (7)
The Broncos are now in the driver’s seat for a finals spot on the back of a 24-12 win over fellow top-eight hopefuls the Panthers on Friday night. Payne Haas destroyed the Panthers and has now wrapped up the rookie of the year race. Jamayne Isaako scored a double while young Staggs continues his incredible rise. Again though, Payne Haas was the star of the show. He’s fast becoming my favourite non-Shark in the competition. Incredible. Darius Boyd had a far improved game also.
7. Panthers (6)
Penrith’s final’s chances took a hit on Friday night at the hand of the Broncos. The 24-12 loss came in a game where the away side gave as good as they got and certainly had their chances. Young Brian To’o is having a brilliant rookie season. Unfortunately, the Panthers failed to take advantage of a man over yet again. Unfortunately, they could not contain Payne Haas with the game on the line. Huge game against the Cowboys this Friday.
8. Bulldogs (10)
The Dogs are absolutely firing right now. Another huge upset by the blue and whites have them sitting 13th and incredibly onto two wins behind the 8th placed Sharks. The 14-6 win came via a double to Corey Harawira-Naera while holding the Bunnies to only penalty goals. The Dogs’ completion rate has been incredible all season and was again 82% here. Keiran Foran had a blinder which was great to see on his return from injury.
9. Sharks (12)
Truthfully the Sharks should be celebrating a huge derby win but they blew chance after chance and had to be happy with a six-point win. Morris, Xerri and Johnson should have iced this game early on but a series of hair removing errors meant this game was much closer than it ever needed to be. Ultimately Xerri’s try sealed two very important competition points, returning the Sharks back to the top eight, but it was an absolute punish to watch.
10. Tigers (8)
The Tigers remain a mathematical chance of playing finals footy but in reality, probably saw their season ended by the Sea Eagles on Thursday night. Trailing 18-6 at the break they had the chance to show real fight yet were played off the park by a far better side. With only 36% possession this could have been much worse for the visitors in reality. They need to beat the Knights on Saturday to be any chance.
11. Bunnies (9)
The Bunnies’ form lapse has continued after a 14-6 loss to the Bulldogs. Incredibly they only troubled the scoreboard via penalty goals and could not find the line. Souths weapons have been blunted over the past month and a bit with Cody Walker looking a far cry for his Origin earning form, James Roberts looking almost lost and with Adam Reynolds playing with an obvious injury. This was a costly loss with the Bunnies dropping out of the top four.
12. Knights (14)
The Knights returned to winning ways in a big way. The 42-6 win over the Cowboys reminded the likes of the Panthers, Sharks and co that the Knights aren’t done yet. It was the usual suspects on Pearce and Ponga who led the red and blue towards a big victory. The seven try to one drubbing was exactly the afternoon the Knights needed. Bigger fish to fry but this has them back in final’s contention.
13. Warriors (11)
After two minutes the Warriors were riding high away from home against the red hot Roosters. Unfortunately, that was all she wrote in terms of their scoring for the day. 42 conceded points later and it’s yet another unhappy trip back across the Tasman for the hapless Warriors. The Warriors had 55% possession on Sunday afternoon but failed to register a line break. They conceded 10. That’s pretty awful reading for a side who promised so much earlier in the season.
14. Dragons (13)
The Dragons were so close yet so far away in their derby loss to the Sharks. The scoreboard will say a six-point loss but if the Sharks took their early chances this could have been 40/50-0. Young Leulia us a brilliant prospect and actually offered plenty at halfback. Poor Ben Hunt can’t buy a trick right now. Ravalawa had a horror night with five individual errors. Paul Vaughan is a weapon. Not good.
15. Cowboys (15)
Season over. Truthfully, without looking, I probably wrote this last week … and the week before. 2019 has been an absolute horror show for the Cowboys. They’re playing like their minds are in Bali already. I know this isn’t the truth but a 42-6 loss to the horribly out of form Knights says it all. Coen Hess can’t play in the centres. The sooner this season ends the better.
16. Titans (16)
What more can be said? The Titans need 2019 to end, now. Another week, another drubbing for a side who hasn’t looked interested or competitive in as long as I can remember. Things on the Gold Coast are not good right now. Their highest-paid player is being shopped, their best young player can’t find a regular spot, and their big-name forwards are going backwards. I’m scared to see what the Storm have in store this weekend.