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NRL: Once there were six, now there are two.


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It was only just over a month ago, as we completed Round 6 of the NRL, that commentators were saying that the NRL has six top teams, any of whom could win the competition. It was said then that there was a huge gap between the top six and the rest of the NRL clubs. That top six was Penrith, Melbourne, South Sydney, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta and Canberra. A lot of pundits were saying that South Sydney was the likely Grand Final winner, others were saying Canberra. Not any more.

Canberra, suffering from a large injury and suspension toll, and loss of form by previous stars, is now sitting on 11th place with four wins and seven losses. This weekend Melbourne, playing without spine stars Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, and Harry Grant (the team's three best players) easily defeated Canberra.  South Sydney today, with Latrell Mitchell back, and halves Cody Walker, and Adam Reynolds and hooker Damien Cook in the team, lost to Penrith 56-12. This came two weeks after Melbourne scored 50 points against South Sydney. Penrith, like Melbourne before, completely smashed them. Moreover the 5th placed Roosters lost easily to the 15th placed Brisbane Broncos. Finally former bottom sitting Manly has been completely transformed by the return of Tom Trbojevic, and this weekend won convincingly against third placed Parramatta. Manly is now 6th, one win behind the Roosters.

Now the commentators opinions have been completely transformed. Everybody, including the bookmakers, is agreed that Penrith Panthers are now red hot favourites to win the Grand Final. And the only team that is considered a chance of beating them is Melbourne Storm. The possible dark horse is a rapidly rising Manly. But most people think that it will be Penrith and Melbourne in the Grand Final. 

What a shame that the previous openness of the competition seems to have disappeared.

Edited by Manfred Mann
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I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t get up at the crack of dawn to watch and records these games on telly or catches up later ...

Edited by DavidM
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Panthers are starting to make a claim to be one of the best teams of all time. Melbourne might give them a game, but no one else looks like they can compete with them at all.

Of course if this was the SL the narrative would be that the league is weaker than ever.

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1 hour ago, DavidM said:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t get up at the crack of dawn to watch and records these games on telly or catches up later ...

Sure. Hela Wigmen, Mr Frisky, Saint Toppy, Davo5, are like you in that regard. But do you really want to be lumped with them?

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Penrith are a great team but it is also a long season.

In Round 3 Nathan Clearly missed his only game of the season and the Panthers ran out 12-10 winners against the Storm.  On that day Melbourne were missing Papenhuyzen at full back and Harry Grant at 9 while the Panthers were also missing Koroisau.

In the last couple of weeks, the Storm have been winning without some of their key spine players and this weekend they beat the Raiders without any of Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Harry Grant.  I would like to see how the Panthers go without their first choice spine before nailing them down for the Premiership.

A lot will come down to injuries at the pointy end of the season.

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23 minutes ago, Manfred Mann said:

Sure. Hela Wigmen, Mr Frisky, Saint Toppy, Davo5, are like you in that regard. But do you really want to be lumped with them?

As long as I’m not lumped in with you, I’m over the moon. 

 

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3 hours ago, Manfred Mann said:

Everybody, including the bookmakers, is agreed that Penrith Panthers are now red hot favourites to win the Grand Final. And the only team that is considered a chance of beating them is Melbourne Storm.

Manfred you’ll be very pleased to know ive now watched the game and i will give you the benefit of my expert wisdom ..... yes that’s how it looks . But you never know , nothings inevitable come the ending . But they are head and shoulders above the rest . They’re winning consistently , and it’s how they’re winning .

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Others have mentioned injuries. Origin can also be disruptive for the top sides, sometimes not just in the short term.

Most of all, I wouldn`t underestimate the role of confidence. However invulnerable a team may appear when playing with the conviction that comes from winning, it can all look very different should something happen to sow the seeds of doubt.

Object lesson is the Sharks in 2016. Their year unfolded as follows - lost 2 of their first 3 games, then won 15 straight, then drew with the Titans, lost the next 3, won the next, and then were well-beaten by the Storm in the final regular season game. A lot of people (including me) thought they`d lose the qualifying final down in Canberra. But that game seemed to get them fully back on track, and they went on to win the premiership.

The draw with the Titans seemed to jolt them for a while. As though the long winning run had failed to equip them with the means to deal with setbacks.

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3 hours ago, DavidM said:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t get up at the crack of dawn to watch and records these games on telly or catches up later ...

Nor the only one who doesn't subscribe to Sky.

Sport, amongst other things, is a dream-world offering escape from harsh reality and the disturbing prospect of change.

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1 hour ago, Manfred Mann said:

Sure. Hela Wigmen, Mr Frisky, Saint Toppy, Davo5, are like you in that regard. But do you really want to be lumped with them?

And here i am still thinking this forums etiquette is not to victimise fellow posters for having a different opinion to others..

Maybe just agree with everything you say to stop being abused.?

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The Panthers were nigh on unbeatable last year yet lost to Storm in GF. 

As has been mentioned Melbourne are looking impressive despite their numerous absentees, including an entire spine. 

The Panthers have been incredibly fortunate with injuries but will that luck hold for the last four months of the season? 

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3 hours ago, MZH said:

Panthers are starting to make a claim to be one of the best teams of all time. Melbourne might give them a game, but no one else looks like they can compete with them at all.

Of course if this was the SL the narrative would be that the league is weaker than ever.

They need to win at least one GF before anyone starts talking about them like that. 

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5 hours ago, DavidM said:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t get up at the crack of dawn to watch and records these games on telly or catches up later ...

You’re definitely not, literally BILLIONS of others on the planet are like you.  What’s your point though?

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41 minutes ago, Eddie said:

They need to win at least one GF before anyone starts talking about them like that. 

That's true of course, the great sides back it up with trophies and they need to keep this up for the season. But I am struggling to remember a team so dominant week in week out like that.

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20 minutes ago, Davo5 said:

I didn’t realise the 2 teams who are to contest the NRL Grand Final is decided in May.

Yep , someone can hit a purple patch of form when it counts ... or vice vera , and in play offs it’s all on the day , and everything  that’s gone before doesn’t count for much . They look superior now but injuries can bite as well , and if it was that clear cut you’d pack it now 

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12 minutes ago, DavidM said:

Yep , someone can hit a purple patch of form when it counts ... or vice vera , and in play offs it’s all on the day , and everything  that’s gone before doesn’t count for much . They look superior now but injuries can bite as well , and if it was that clear cut you’d pack it now 

Absolutely,we’ve seen quite recently in both the NRL & Superleague that the standout team in the regular season,then crashes out in the playoffs,I think I’ll wait until late Sept before I write off the season as a 2 horse procession.

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The Panthers do look quite special, but there have been a couple of games (including against Brisbane) where when their attack is held out for a while they look very vulnerable. At the moment they generally look like they can score any time from anywhere.  Also winning runs themselves can become a bit of a millstone as the pressure builds to keep them going.

I do agree though that if everyone is fit its hard to see past Penrith, the Storm or the much-improved Manly.  

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Penrith look quite frightening at the moment.  Really unstoppable - they get down the field, and once they are about 20M from the line, they seem to have runner options everywhere, and the defence just seems unable to cover them.

I can't put my finger on WHY they are so much stronger.  Souths looked outstanding against the Roosters a few weeks ago, yet yesterday Penrith blitz them by 50 and literally looked too fast and too strong (man for man) for the bunnies, yet they don't appear to be noticeably bigger. When their second rower scored in the first half, he ran at Alex Johnston and literally pushed him off - didn't let Johnston get a hand on him - before turning him inside out with footwork.  Johnston is 1m85 and about 95kg. he was literally brushed away like a schoolkid.

Normally, the top NRL teams are roughly equal physically, with one or 2 freaks standing out here and there.  Penrith look physically stronger across the board.

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1 minute ago, Hela Wigmen said:

FWIW, come play-off season in Australia, there’s never six sides capable of winning the comp, normally 2-4. 

it just looks like that is narrowing up very early this season.

I am starting to think it would be a travesty if Penrith don't win it, as they look so far ahead of everybody else right now. 

Hopefully they get beat soon just to make a race of it, and give some hope to everybody else!

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