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NRL Power Rankings - Round 26

Grounded Sea Eagles: Manly couldn't get up for the game against the Panthers at the weekend.

Grounded Sea Eagles: Manly couldn't get up for the game against the Panthers at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images

With the finals upon us, the Power Rankings are split in half this week - how the top eight teams are travelling heading into the finals and how the other half look as they try to make amends in 2014.

The Roosters earned the minor premiership and also deserve the favourite’s tag for the finals but unlike most years when there’s a clear choice for the two teams likely to meet in the grand final, you wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the four top contenders lining up in the title decider.

1. Roosters (last week 4):  Trent Robinson should be named supercoach of the year. A lot of people forget how bad the Chooks were last year. Yes, they’ve added a few key players in Sonny Bill Williams, Michael Jennings and James Maloney but Robinson has extracted a lot of improvement from many players who last year looked pedestrian at best.

2. Storm (3): Supercoach Bellamy’s troops looked disinterested against the Titans last week and should have lost if not for one of the worst video referee blunders of the year in denying what should have been the match-winning try to Aidan Sezer. Melbourne represent a dangerous proposition for the Rabbitohs on Friday night - the Storm are underdogs and all the pressure will be on Souths to perform.

3. Rabbitohs (2): Supercoach Maguire needs to have a chat to Sam Burgess. He’s a very good player but he’s getting a grubby reputation. Throwing his legs around Jared Waerea-Hargreaves while trying to look nonchalant was worse than his other dubious acts last Friday - pushing the Roosters prop’s head to the ground while he was pinned and raking his fingers near the eye of James Maloney after the half-time siren. How would you like to be remembered, Sam?

4. Sea Eagles (1): Supercoach Toovey, try as he might, couldn’t conjure up the motivation needed to inspire his players against the Panthers on Sunday and they paid the price. More than a fighter’s chance against the Roosters, the Manly men won’t need to manufacture motivation this Saturday and they probably won’t have many fans to rev them up because Allianz Stadium is such a long way for Sea Eagles fans to travel - 19.7km.

5. Sharks (6): Supercoach Flanagan produced a masterstroke when he rested half his team and still managed to motivate them to lift when the match was on the line, leading by two points in Canberra on Sunday night with nothing on the line. Conspiracy theorists thought they would have followed the AFL tradition of tanking to avoid North Queensland, a team which beat them a couple of weeks ago at Cronulla.

6. Cowboys (7): Supercoach Henry is at the very least giving himself a chance of getting another gig elsewhere with his side’s late-season revival. Six wins on the trot leading into the finals means they are the dark horse but it’s hard to see them winning more than one sudden-death playoff game at best on the road.

7. Bulldogs (5): Supercoach Hasler’s players will have had the longest rest leading into the finals from last Thursday’s loss to Brisbane to Sunday’s stoush with Newcastle. It’s too late to be making major modifications to a team but the Dogs need to change things up a bit to do any real damage in the finals.

8. Knights (8): Supercoach Bennett never gets too excited by a win, no matter how big, even a 48-point one, but let’s face it - they were playing Parramatta, akin to practising your tennis strokes with the net down. A definite chance against the Dogs but it depends on how much life is left in their many sets of old legs.

9. Panthers (11): Supercoach Cleary has done wonders with a roster of youngsters and journeymen looking for a chance. The addition of some experienced former representative class players in Brent Kite, Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, plus Warriors forward Elijah Taylor, means they will be legitimate finals contenders in 2014.

10 Titans (10): Supercoach Cartwright side’s 2014 prospects look good not great. Dave Taylor is still the big enigma. If he can return to somewhere near his best form, the Titans can rise but you wouldn’t be putting more than loose change on that happening.

11. Warriors (9): Supercoach Elliott’s squad will retain plenty of talent but alas, it will also keep its propensity to play like champs one week and chumps the next.

12. Dragons (16): Supercoach Price’s season was a disaster and if he’s still at the helm next year, he has much better talent at his disposal. Gareth Widdop, Dylan Farrell and Joel Thompson are impressive signings and Josh Dugan can only get better with an off-season alongside his teammates under his belt.

13. Broncos (12): Supercoach Griffin isn’t going to attract big names. Ben Barba has fallen in Brisbane’s lap and Anthony Milford may also end up a Bronco but there’s little else on the roster with strikepower aside from the ageing Justin Hodges.

14. Raiders (13): Supercoach Stuart appears to be heading home to the national capital and to be honest, it sounds like that will be the best thing for everyone at Parramatta. It will probably prove a good move for Canberra too. Stuart is part of the fabric of the club. A reminder of the glory days of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He will galvanise the players with his famed intensity, which not only Raiders fans hope will mean an end to the recent history of young stars wanting to leave for brighter lights elsewhere.

15. Tigers (14): Supercoach Potter may well regret taking this job. The roster still looks hamstrung by the ghosts of salary cap past. There’s a lot of bright young talent but not enough to make them a premiership contender in 2014, the final year of Potter’s two-season deal.

16. Eels (16): Supercoaches beware. If Ricky Stuart leaves this post, you might want to think twice about accepting this gig. Corey Norman, Will Hopoate and Justin Hunt are better players than the current train wreck of a roster but unless the Eels unite on and off the field, they could give their six-year wooden spoon record from 1956-61 a nudge.

 

7 comments so far

  • Do you think Manly's loss on Sunday was an accident? A win gives a four day turnaround against Souths who have something to prove. A loss gives five against a crew with a worse discipline problem and possibly lacking Hargreaves.
    Sometimes a loss is a win ...

    Commenter
    LetMeThinkAboutThat
    Date and time
    September 10, 2013, 3:27AM
    • Knights "many sets of old legs" is a myth created by the media . Roberts is 22, Mullen 26, Gagai 22, Lielua 22 , Uate 25,Mcmanus 27, Boyd 26 - Average age of the back line is 24 yrs old. Mckinnon is 21 ,Rochow 23, Snowden 26,Scott 29,Smith 33 ,Mason 33, Bedsy 35, Houston 28, Tetavano 22 ,Cuthbo 28- Average age of the forwards is 24 yrs old. Besdy will soon be replaced by Clydesdale , Mason soon by Simms and both are kids on the rise. So please stop towing the line and do some research.

      Commenter
      Knight Vision
      Date and time
      September 10, 2013, 4:02AM
      • open brookie in sept and it will pack out, why should we be bullied into what you want? what about what we want as fans, Tigers, dragons and manly fans never get a home final even if finished first how many more scenarios is there, bag Manly fans and no more papers!

        Commenter
        obviously!
        Date and time
        September 10, 2013, 4:45AM
        • The finals home ground system is unfair. If they were to top the ladder and win every finals game Sharks, Panthers, Eels, Sea Eagles, Dragons and Tigers get nil home ground advantage in all four weeks. For the first two weeks, Raiders, Knights, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Bulldogs, Storm, Broncos, Warriors and Cowboys can play on their home ground. Week three Cowboys, Broncos, Warriors, Storm, Rabbitohs and Bulldogs can play on their home ground. Grand final is home ground for Souths and Canterbury if they make it. All this so that for most matches 25 to 30 thousand can one third fill a Sydney stadium with no atmosphere.

          Commenter
          MNCMike
          Date and time
          September 10, 2013, 9:43AM
      • Easts rightfully on TOP,after scoring the most points and having the best defence...the side will be even better with the return of Luke O'Donnell,Aubo and RTS..
        .
        Melb looked flat against the Titans

        What is it with Sam "the squirrel" Burgess?.....He's turned into a cross between Les Boyd and Cliff Watson.....a.niggardly,sneaky,cheap shot merchant....the refs will be watching him like a hawke from now on as he has plenty of "form" in recent times

        Manly folded meekly against the Panthers......the Roosters will feel very confident playing the cee eagles, given they have beaten the manly 3 times this year

        Given coach Flanagans poor win statistics and the fact Cronulla have not won the comp in 45 years....I doubt very much they will make any impact in the finals series

        Most of the Cows wins in recent weeks have been in Townsville ...the stats show that when they play in Sydney they are usually lose

        The Dogs are a shadow of the team from 2012...the BARBA matter must be disruptive in the extreme

        The Knights,under the sour coach Bennett won't trouble the top sides

        Panthers finished the season well,flogging a disappointing Manly bunch

        Dave Taylor finally plays 2 good games for the season....what happened in the other 22 rounds?
        the Warriors finished with a whimper
        Saints have had a shocker of a season,,,they need a new coach
        Broncos, " " " " " " " " "
        Raiders have very poor discipline as evidenced by 2 players out on the grog before a game in NZ a couple of weeks ago.
        Tigers are a shambles.
        Parra win the wooden spoon and one of their players gets done for DUI on Mad Mon......says it all........Stuart has taken the club backwards....

        Commenter
        Cyril Q.Snodgrass
        Location
        Broome
        Date and time
        September 10, 2013, 11:15AM
        • Hey mate thanks for the babble. Rorters have beaten sea eagles twice, not thrice. Rorters should be on TOP as the spent a BOMB on players to get there. Robinson will be the next Ricky Stuart, looks like a great coach until he doesn't have the players. Cleary on the other hand had one of the worst squads and managed to get them up for wins over manly and Melbourne. That's a coach.

          Commenter
          Know all
          Date and time
          September 10, 2013, 1:03PM
      • Wow what a average season this year was?! Tiger, eels, St George, Canberra and to a lesser extent the (early season) doggies and warriors really dragged the standard down.
        Forget the salary cap the nrl give interest free loans to club so they can upgrade their training facilities if the story in the smh yesterday was true. How else can the comp be equal?

        Commenter
        Cookie
        Date and time
        September 10, 2013, 1:15PM

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