According to Warriors coach Brian McClennan, the Telstra Premiership hasn’t started yet. Not for most of the sides in it, anyway.
“It’s par for the course in the competition at the moment – there’s a lot of upsets, a lot of changes of form,” McClennan says in the wake of yesterday’s 44-22 flogging of South Sydney.
“I guess it’s that period after the start of the season where people are trying to find out where they are and teams are trying to get into their groove.
“It was a bit of a turnaround.”
It certainly was. South Sydney grinded out a 20-10 win over highly-rated Canterbury in their previous game, while the Warriors were beaten 32-12 by Canberra to complete a fortnight which prop Ben Matulino described as the worst in his time at the club.
How about North Queensland? Their points differential from rounds six to seven was 62, beaten 44-18 by Melbourne two Sundays ago and then 50-12 victors over the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.
“Great result for for-and-against – we needed it after last week against the Storm,” Cowboys coach Neil Henry said.
And then there’s Manly and Gold Coast. The Sea Eagles previous start before the weekend was a 30-0 shut-out of Penrith, while the troubled Titans had not won since round one.
And at “Fortress Brookvale”, Saturday night … Gold Coast 26, Manly 14!
How on earth do such reverses occur, you might (reasonably) ask.
“The game now has become such a pressure game,” explains South Sydney coach Michael Maguire. “I think there was a stage there in the first half where we had to defend four sets consistently.
“At some stage, that’s going to wear on your team.
“As much as you can fight and fight, as our players were out there trying to do, they opened us up at the back end.
“The top teams in the competition, they’re the ones doing that at the moment … if you have an error, you get burnt very quickly.”
In other words, teams that are good at applying sustained pressure are the ones coming up with wins and often piling on the points. The points may not come until much later in the contest, but they come. Flighty chancers, on the other hand, are coming up empty handed.
For the former category, throw in Melbourne and Brisbane.
“It’s been a good patch for us, obviously,” said Broncos boss Anthony Griffin.
“(Canberra) was probably not one of our technically great performances but attitude-wise, we punched the game right out.
“Seven weeks, 19 to go, it’s a long season.”
At least the Broncos are off the mark. The teams below them are still standing at the starting line, arguing tempestuously among themselves.