Voss: Who are the real contenders?
Andrew Voss trims the title hopefuls to five, previews a massive week for the Sharks and Roosters, talks tripping penalties and calls for a footrace of the NRL's fastest.
How many teams can win the premiership?
Well the easy answer is that there are still 10 teams in with a chance, but I'm going to cut the list to five.
Melbourne is the obvious favourite. I have said it a number of times this season but I've enjoyed watching their style of football this year more than any other.
I have the Roosters, Broncos and Sharks all on the same rating as contenders heading into this weekend.
I still regard the Sharks' win over the Roosters in Gosford in Round 17 as one of the most impressive performances by a team this year. Produce that on Grand Final Day and they'll have a second premiership.
And of the rest, I have Parramatta as the danger. It would be some occasion if the blue and golds reach the decider. Momentum is a wonderful thing in September.
As for the other five, they all have a bit still to prove. It's a great race.
How big is Friday night's Broncos clash for the Sharks?
And that's putting to one side the 300-game milestone for Paul Gallen.
Coach Shane Flanagan is correct in demanding more defensive consistency from his team. As for consistency in results that's where there is a problem in terms of winning the competition again. Right now, Cronulla hasn't managed to win three in a row since back in May. You have to win at least three in a row in the finals to become premiers.
If the Storm are the benchmark, they have shown just how good they can be through their win at Suncorp Stadium in Round 17.
The ball is in the court of Cronulla to see if they can do the same. On the other hand if Brisbane come up with a convincing win, I'd be prepared to lift them to outright second favourites.
But wait, there's more…
Can the Roosters challenge the Storm in Melbourne?
It would be some win if they can topple the side looking to latch one hand to the minor premiership shield.
Speaking in very broad terms, I think a pass mark for the Roosters would be to keep Melbourne to under 18 points. If their defence can hold the Storm to no more than two tries, regardless of the result, then I say their premiership challenge will be in decent shape.
Perhaps the Roosters players under most pressure are a few young backs in Connor Watson, Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu. AAMI Park is the deep end, so dive right in fellas!
Should tripping penalties be tougher?
100 per cent yes. Enough is enough.
The trip by Newastle's Chanel Mata'utia on the Warriors Mason Lino last Saturday warranted tougher action on field, and I believe sterner action through our judiciary system.
I expressed my concerns right from the start of the year that while I supported a fines system being introduced, I didn't believe tripping should be a charge included for such a penalty.
Surely tripping can be included as an offence the referee can use the sin bin.
Can Eels fans leave work early on Friday?
Yes they can.
And well done to the Eels for their promotion where coach Brad Arthur will provide the 'official' leave pass to employees so they can catch the 6pm kick off at ANZ Stadium against Newcastle.
And you can add a note from Vossy as well. I'm saying if you can't knock off extra early to make the game, you have my permission to make sure you still get away in time to watch the match on Fox League.
Can't wait to call it!
Could the great try race actually become a race?
One out of left field to finish this week.
Just imagine the promotional opportunity we have this season with our race for the NRL's leading tryscorer.
Examine the top five list with four rounds to play.
Johnston, Vunivalu, Addo-Carr, Rapana, Roberts. There are some speedy players in that lot.
Can we actually have a footrace as well to crown the fastest player and leading tryscorer?
And while we're at it, I hope the organisers of the Dally Ms are working on a new award to determine the best diving try for the corner of the season. This is something that could be a fan vote. You can call it the CPID medal.
That's the 'corner post is dead!'