1. Roosters (Last week 1)
We have new table leaders and clear premiership favourites. The Roosters now set the pace for the rest of the competition after their four-point win over the Bunnies. In what many are predicting could be a Grand Final preview, the Roosters took full advantage of their opponents ill discipline in crucial areas by kicking their way to victory. Blake Ferguson continues to lead the way from the back with another 230 running metres. Hard to find too many weaknesses in this side.
2. Rabbitohs (2)
The Bunnies have now lost two of their past three but hold their spot due to their incredible run prior to that. A four-point loss to premiership rivals, the Roosters, has seen them drop from top spot but considering the cattle that will return for them in the next fortnight I’m not convinced it was a huge loss. They lead all the stat comparisons but were their own worst enemies with penalties in areas where Mitchell could take full advantage. This game will toughen them.
3. Panthers (4)
The Panthers just continue to get it done in ridiculous circumstances. Again they fell behind, again they looked gone and again they found a way to win. Nathan Cleary’s 83rd minute field goal saved his own blushes after missing a match-winning kick. Despite an awful week off field, the Panthers found a way to win a game they really should have. A 65% completion rate makes for awful reading, and viewing, but the only stat that matters is 17-16.
4. Storm (3)
The Storm missed a chance to return to the top of the competition after falling to the Sharks for the second time this season. Their ball control was awful and they were outplayed by the Sharks yet still almost stole it late. The Storm were a fair distance from their free flowing best but were dragged into it by the Sharks. Even so they still managed to produce two highlight reel tries and almost steal it late on.
5. Warriors (5)
As soon as two or three weeks ago fans of the sides in positions four to seven all wanted it to end so they played the Warriors in the finals. They were a spent force and the easy beats. Fast forward two weeks and I don’t think anyone would want to run into this side. RTS seems to have found an extra spring in his step and his side has lifted around them. They played the Knights off the park on Friday evening. They’re all but assured of their first finals footy in a fair while and they’re no longer here to make up the numbers.
6. Sharks (7)
The Sharks just refuse to go away. This was a typical a Sharks performance as you will ever see. They started as though they’d put the Storm to the sword, only to give away a stack of penalties and play some dire footy. Fast forward and they held the Storm out despite four plus sets on their own line. A brilliant moment from Josh Dugan secured the points late on. Valentine Holmes is fast becoming one of the best players in the competition. An injury to Wade Graham was the only real blemish on the day. Multiple try-saving efforts sums up their efforts. Incredible.
7. Tigers (8)
The Tigers are still in it. The Broncos loss on Thursday night opened up a brightening light to the finals and they took full advance by beating the Tigers in Canberra. A huge week off the field, through no fault of their own, ended on a high. The Tigers play some amazing footy, and did so again here, and were well worth their 22-20 victory. The race is on and the Broncos should be very nervous.
8. Broncos (6)
No one will be happier to see the back of Johnathan Thurston as the Broncos. Again, with the game on the line, it was the magic number seven who drove the Cowboys home to victory. Coen Hess’s reaction to the match-winning try was amazing and it tough not to get caught up in the emotion. Their season is long, long gone but it’s about ending the season on a high now. This was certainly a brilliant way to kick off the JT goodbye tour. Taumalolo, wow.
9. Eels (11)
It may seem almost hilarious for a side who has been dead last for the majority of the season to sit ninth on this list, but they’re one of the more in-form sides of the competition in recent weeks. A monster win over the Dragons has Eels fans wondering where this has been all season. Jarryd Hayne is in special form. He looks like an absolute monster after declaring full fitness after injury issues. Seriously though, we was this earlier in the season? Yikes!
10. Titans (10)
The Titans came oh so close to pulling off yet another massive upset. For 78 plus minutes they looked as though they may further punish the Panthers, only to let it slip on the bell. Considering they lost Michael Gordon late and were forced into a reshuffle, this was an amazing effort. That said, it’s losses like this that ensure the Titans make up the numbers at this end of the season. Brimson is a freakish player. Almost everyone missed his two try-saving tackles, 40 metres apart, in a row, but it’s plays like this that will shape his career.
11. Dragons (9)
Last week, despite poor form, I was convinced the Dragons would come good and be a threat in he finals. A 40-4 drubbing to the last-placed Eels later and the Red V now look little more than fodder. They are a shell of their early season selves and if it was on recent form would be 16th in this list. A loss next week to the Tigers and they’re 16th. They had absolutely no answer to the blue and golds. Jarryd Hayne has their number. They conceded seven tries to a side running last. Yuk!
12. Sea Eagles (15)
Manly fans are another side who would be wondering where has this form been after their side won a second straight game. Their season was done and dusted a few weeks ago and perhaps it’s the lack of pressure that has seen them find form. Sure, this was only the Bulldogs, but they were pretty classy in backing up their win over the Sharks last week. I love me some Tommy Turbo in space. Incredible.
13. Raiders (12)
The Raiders can now officially move on and spend an extended off-season trying to sort themselves out. I hate watching the Raiders play. Loathe it. One minute they’re running 80 metres and scoring the most ridiculous of tries, yet for the next 20 minutes they’re conceding almost offensively bad penalties and forget how to play the game. Anyone with an access to the stats, please let me know if a team has ever scored so many points in a season only to lose so often?
14. Cowboys (16)
The Cowboys did it again. Johnathan Thurston did it again. With the game on the line, JT drove the Cowboys to glory over their most bitter rivals, the Broncos. Coen Hess’s try and celebrating in the final moments made my Thursday night and now has the Broncos fans looking over their shoulder. I’m not a Cowboys fan, and hope they lose next weekend, but I’m firmly on the tour bus for JT’s farewell. What a story, what a player.
15. Knights (14)
The Knights of the past few weeks remind me of the Knights of previous seasons. They look so far out of their depth. The 20-4 loss to the Warriors end their season, again. 45 missed tackles and 19 ineffective tackles shows a real lack of ability to defend when it gets tough. There are easier players to tackle than RTS, Johnson and Luke,but the Knights just aren’t muscling up.
16. Bulldogs (13)
The Dogs were brave. The Dogs were up to their eye balls in effort and hard work. The Bulldogs were fairly easily beaten by a side whose season ended many weeks ago. A late shuffle in the halves certainly didn’t help but the Dogs lack the quality to trouble sides in a consistent basis. They need a complete roster over haul, which we know will be near impossible.