1. Storm (2)
The Storm are back to being title favourites after a solid win over the Bunnies in Gosford. The 26-16 win all but assured the minor premiership. Cameron Munster is pushing Tedesco for the best player in the competition. Kenny Bromwich is having a monster season. Justin Olam is yet another young freak from the Melbourne system. Speaking of which, how good is the Storm’s fourth or fifth string fullback? Frightening.
2. Roosters (4)
All signs are pointing to a grand Final rematch in October as the Roosters continued their red hot form. James Tedesco, enough said! Daniel Tupou scored a clever double. Latrell looked invincible. Radley adds another route of attack when at lock. The Roosters bossed this despite just 42% possession. Angus Chrichton is reaching top form which is scary. This side is ridiculous despite being understrength. Huge win in the capital.
3. Raiders (1)
The Raiders’ magical run has finally ended. The four-point loss to the red hot Roosters hardly ends their season but this is a missed opportunity. The Roosters were travelling and missing some major cattle. The English brigade are all stars for the green machine. I could praise Bateman every week. Disappointing loss at home but it showed they can hang with literally the best. Decent signs.
4. Eels (5)
The Eels almost assured their return to finals footy with a hard-fought six-point win over the Knights. A last-minute penalty goal wrapped up a game they should have sewn up much earlier. Maika Sivo continues his impressive try scoring run. King Gutho scored a first-half double. Mitch Moses is having a career-best year. A lot to like here from Parra. Literally cannot believe anyone squared up to Manu Ma’u.
5. Sea Eagles (3)
Manly’s top four chances took a shot after a shock loss to the Warriors. At 18-nil down with not long to go Manly looked shot until a sin-binning opened the door. Three late tries set up a grandstand finish but Manly conceded late. Opportunity lost here as DCE and Turbo struggled to get into the game until late. 57% possession. Yikes.
6. Panthers (6)
The Panthers now look finals bound on the back of an incredible win despite being undermanned. Young Matt Burton had a wonderful debut while Cleary was brilliant. They conceded eight line breaks yet scrambled to defend. Eight! Even a late HIA and mismatch out wide couldn’t stop the desperate Panthers from achieving victory here. Great win in terms of importance and grit.
7. Broncos (10)
A 79th-minute solo effort try from Jake Turpin returned the Broncos to the top right. This was a poor game to say the least but Broncs fans won’t care after the last-minute win. Payne Haas is a ridiculously powerful player for his experience. Genuinely frightening how good this kid is. This win puts Brisbane into the driver seat for finals although this performance barely deserved it. A wins a win.
8. Tigers (7)
The Tigers had an amazing opportunity to secure a top-eight spot after results elsewhere went their way but they couldn’t get it done. A heartbreaking conversion miss to young Momirovski ended their late charge but truthfully the Dogs were well deserving. 59% possession and 600 more running metres yet they still couldn’t get it done. Ryan Matterson is charging late for the buy of the year. He’s incredible and destined for higher honours.
9. Rabbitohs (8)
How the Bunnies are still in the four absolutely shocks me. They’ve been awful for over a month. That said they weren’t terrible here but certainly never looked like they’d win. A hatty from Campbell Graham kept them in this game in front of a big crowd on the Central Coast. On paper, this was a good performance. 87% completion, 55% possession. They need Burgess back asap to get the middle going. Cam Murray though, incredible.
10. Bulldogs (11)
The Dogs are on fire. Three wins from five might not sound world-beating but the Dogs have beaten two top-eight hopefuls in a fortnight. Nick Meaney scored a wonderful intercept try to almost ice the game. Although they conceded two late tries the Dogs were well worth the competition points here. Josh Jackson had a blinder and showed great class after the siren.
11. Warriors (13)
The Warriors recorded an incredible victory over the high-flying Sea Eagles to push their finals aspirations. I’d be shocked if there wasn’t a spot for young Harris-Tavita after a brilliant performance here. Ken Maumalo simply cannot stop scoring tries. Manly came back in the final 10 after an Adam Blair sin-binning but the Warriors managed to hold on and secure it late. Brilliant.
12. Sharks (9)
The Sharks have gone from a finals threat to complete fodder in under a week. This was an awful performance by a side who should have been desperate to win. Again kicking cost them, technically, but a chip kick with under a minute until half time against the wind should see Chad Townsend run out for the Jets this weekend. Three late tries got them close but the Sharks didn’t deserve to win here. Johnson was incredible and Wade’s the best back-rower in the game. Outside that though, yuk.
13. Dragons (15)
The Dragons ended their long losing streak with a solid win over the Titans. Worryingly they still conceded 28 points but that’s not so bad when you score 40. Paul Vaughan had another monster game and continues to be a star in an average side. This win kept the Dragons’ slim finals hopes alive which was the order of the day. It was nice to James Graham receive much-deserved credit for reaching 400 games. Huge derby coming up on Sunday.
14. Knights (12)
Newcastle’s horror run continued on the back of a six-point loss to the Eels. The visitors had ample opportunity to send this into at least golden point but never looked close. I was waiting for a Pearce or Ponga last-minute moment of brilliance but I’m still waiting … David Klemmer was a monster in every department but that last-minute elbow was dumb and cost his side any chance of victory.
15. Cowboys (14)
The Cowboys’ season ended on Thursday night in ridiculous circumstances. A 79th minute try to Jake Turpin wrapped up a game they had won. Asiata and Drinkwater will be running plenty of laps after criminal missed tackles with the game and season on the line. I hate to be negative but this game was a punish to watch. The late try somewhat saved it but this Cowboys side is a far cry from sides of recent seasons and it goes much deeper than just the JT retirement.
16. Titans (16)
A much-improved effort this week yet another crushing defeat for the hapless Titans. Conceding seven tries is never good although scoring five wins a lot of games normally. I’m a huge fan of young Brimson, and Arrow’s return was positive for a side looking toward 2019. 98 points conceded in two weeks is not good. That Bryce Cartwright try assist was highlight reel stuff though.