Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 6: What did we learn?

We’re only four weeks into the re-start of the NRL competition and it seems that we can make a few definite statements about various aspects of most clubs. Here’s my take on it at the moment:

 

The Sydney Roosters are deservedly short-priced favourites to win three flags in a row. They showed maturity and poise to come from behind, and without their best player, to show the Eels what premiership material is made from.

 

The Eels, energetic and talented as they no doubt are, still have a bit to learn about absorbing blowtorch heat for the full 80 minutes. But they’ll definitely have a say in what happens come finals time in October. Last year I championed Maika Sivo – how was his bulldozer dismissal of Teddy?

 

The Raiders need to rediscover their attacking prowess. It’s as simple as that. They defend well, they grind well, they have talent, speed and skills. But they’re just not clicking in attack. Manly held them out without too many dramas.

 

Manly, as much as many of us might dislike them, deserve huge kudos for the nature of their win on Sunday. Absolutely gutsy! I don’t often agree with Gus Gould but he was right when he opined that the players from several other clubs (I’m pointing at the three from north of the Tweed!) should watch and listen to the tape of that game to see what it means to play for your club, your jersey, your mates and with your mates.

 

The Tigers can turn it on and look great when they do – but it doesn’t happen often enough. Consistency is the difference between top eight and making up the numbers.

 

The Cowboys are in deeper do-do than we thought. Horrible defence, over reliance on Taumalolo, not much in attack. Paul Green might like to start to look elsewhere for a job next year.

 

Likewise the Titans. Not much to get excited about down the Gold Coast. A tough assignment for new coach Justin Holbrook. Not a lot to work with and a long, shortened season to complete.

 

The Dragons have used the opportunity when playing a couple of low-ranked teams to find a bit of form of their own. ‘Mary’ McGregor just might hold on to his job – for now.

 

After watching their good win over Melbourne, the Panthers have a bit more to offer than I thought. But, like the Tigers, they have to do it every week to have any real hope. Kikau is emblematic of their play – near unbeatable on his day but there are not enough of them yet.

 

Is Wayne Bennett correct? Latrell Mitchell just might be a full-back. If he is, it’s good news for the Rabbitohs who show enough to suggest that they’ll be there or thereabouts come finals time.

 

Not so the Warriors! And why sack Kearney, one of the best things going for them? Will they pack up and go home? Or, at least, face a series of desertions? Let’s hope they can soon pack up and go home to play their home games at home.

 

The Knights are on their way to becoming a very good team. Some good muscle up front, an experienced and scheming halfback, reasonably solid out wide and an X-factor at the back. Maybe not this year, but the window is opening.

 

The Broncos are simply dreadful! How the mighty have fallen. They, more than anyone, need to watch that Manly video. Individual, talented men trying hard but playing uncordinated footy means lower ladder status. Credit to Alex Glenn who, I thought, tried to inspire his troops but they didn’t jump on board. Please give Milford a rest – he looks like he doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on.

 

The Sharks look to be an honest outfit but won’t play finals. Not enough talent across the park to do much better than middle of the ladder. Just squeaking home against the Bulldogs says it all.

 

And the Bulldogs? Also honest triers but a long way short of the level required to be anywhere near a contender. I feel sorry for Dean Pay who will bear the brunt of the blame but he hasn’t got the roster he needs.

 

That leaves the Storm. What do we make of them? Have they finally reached the point where they cannot contend with the best? You’d be brave to make a call against a Bellamy-coached club with it’s history and led by the greatest player of the modern era. Top eight definitely; top four, maybe; likely premiers, very unlikely – unless they, like the Raiders, can rediscover their attacking spark.

 

So, on what we’ve seen in the past month, my top eight, in no particular order, will be Roosters, Sea Eagles, Eels, Knights, Panthers, Storm, Raiders and Rabbitohs, the current top eight. I just can’t see that changing.

 

The refs? Probably had a better time of it this weekend so I’ll hold fire on that front for now.

 

And as for expanding into a second team in Brisbane, or anywhere for that matter, forget it! There just isn’t enough of a pool of players at that level for the current 16 teams let alone any more. But, if there’s money to be made, it will happen.

 

And therein lies the biggest problem for the code! (Read John Campbell’s accompanying rugby league piece today for elucidation.)

 

@blenheimboy2

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. Makes sense. For the sake of the season you’d hope some battlers find a way to improve.

  2. Let’s live in hope then, JTH. Just don’t hold your breath.

  3. Liam Hauser says

    The current top 7 look sure to stay there (although the order could fluctuate), while eighth spot is likely to go to the Rabbitohs at this stage although I wouldn’t write the Tigers off just yet.
    As for the floundering teams, sacking the coach is NOT the answer. The management of these clubs and the cattle/playing stocks leave much to be desired.

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