A week at a time: Favourites, what favourites?
Competition turned on its head
We all know that no matter how good our footy team is, at some point they are going to lose, it’s that simple. But it was still somewhat of a shock when two of the Premiership favourites both lost this week, while the Broncos and Cowboys also suffered defeats in recent weeks.
What can you say about Melbourne? They were gone bar the shouting against the Eels on Monday night, but managed to steal the victory. They say winning is a habit; if that is the case they are going to take some stopping heading into the finals.
The Storm has won nine consecutive games. But if you think they can continue that winning streak all the way through to the Grand Final, consider this; they need to win another eight matches in a row. That would mean 17 matches on the trot!
There is no panic coming from Manly after their loss to the Wests Tigers, as coach Des Hasler put it: “there is still five weeks to go, it’s way too early to be talking about finals.”
The Dragons have lost consecutive games, but were well in control of both before letting seemingly match-winning leads slip. Are they in a form slump? Hardly. They simply didn’t finish the job they had started. Wayne Bennett’s spray (about the biggest spray one of his teams will ever get in front of cameras) will certainly have them back on track, and you would be a brave person to bet against them giving the Premiership another real shake.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that a team needs to lose in order to take out the Premiership - “it’s a loss they needed to have” - but recent results have given the chasing pack hope leading into the finals.
Make your vote count
This week NRL.com launched a new section on our website - "Versus" - that lets you decide who should win a head-to-head matchup. This week we pit the might of Manu Vatuvei against Broncos flyer Jharal Yow Yeh, Matt Bowen v Ben Barba and Reggie Rabbit against Sparky the Eel.
Take a look and have your say now.
We have an exclusive sit down interview with Greg Inglis that will be available on Monday. To get a sneak peak you can watch a bit of the interview here.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Nathan Hindmarsh needs only 124 running metres to take his career tally past 30,000! He is also just 66 tackles short of cracking 1000 for the season!
• Bulldogs livewire Ben Barba has made 24 linebreaks this season, seven more than the next best (Matt Cooper).
THIS WEEK ON NRL.com
Official View: Referees co-coach Bill Harrigan explains the obstruction rule.
NRL Mailbox: Everything you need to know about the Close the Gap campaign.
Stats Insider: The season killers - the stats that matter when trying to make the finals.
Your club's stats leaders: If football was played purely on paper, who would be your club's best players?
Sterling Gold: NRL.com expert Peter Sterling looks at his personal favourite players when it comes to excitement machines.
Inside Word: Trent Barrett believes the Sharks have to risk everything to stay in touch with the finals, even if it means losing Paul Gallen for the rest of the year.
Next Gen: Matt Russell looks at a crazy day in Newcastle that saw the Knights become just the second club to rack up 50 points in both grades on the same day.
On the Road: Steve Mascord writes about last weekend's incredible comebacks and why they may become more prevalent in our game.
Coach's Box: Graham Murray thinks that the Cowboys could finish as high as second.
In Touch: Leila McKinnon is sick of hearing about the most overrated player in the game, instead she goes in search of the most underrated player.
MATCH CENTRE – ROUND 22
Get all the team lists, head-to-head stats and our match previews in the match centre. Plus live stats and scores, match highlights and much much more!
Updated Team List – all the latest team news.
Ins and Outs – Okay, you have the team list, but who is missing, and who didn’t play last week?
Casualty Ward – When players were injured and when they are due back.
VIDEO ON NRL.COM
Greg Inglis Exclusive: Sneak peek.
NRL Late Mail: with Peter Sterling and Joel Caine
FROM THE CLUBS
There is heaps of great content being produced by your favourite club each and every week. Both in print and video, the NRL club network is keeping you up to date with your favourite players. Here is a snapshot of what is making news at some of the clubs. Make sure you check out your club's website by clicking on their logo in the toolbar above.
Broncos: Hodges – this is the best I've ever felt.
Sharks: Gordon ready to take on childhood hero Campbell.
Eels: Hindmarsh 300 tribute video.
Knights: Red-lining with 'The Stig' - a great new deal.
Raiders: Terry Campese blog
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