Round 8 NRL Ladder predictions: Dragons crash, top 5 holding, everybody else up 1 spot.

(NRL ladder position in brackets)

1. Melbourne Storm. (5th) Holding. Made a few first half errors and maybe had a few tippers wondering why they hadn’t taken the Sharks great record at Melbourne into account. All fears laid to rest in the second stanza, laying on 7 tries and not many goals. When they click they look unstoppable.

2. Sydney Roosters. (4th) Holding. One positive from the Roosters growing injury toll is the emergence of Sam Walker. A dead set superstar at just 18. Suaalii should definitely get a debut next week given the loss of Morris. They are ruthless when on top right now and look to do things easy. As I said in the pre-season, always find a way to cover for loss of players.

3. Penrith Panthers. (1st) Holding. A closer game than the scoreline showed, as has been the case a few times this year. Their 5th game this season against a non top 8 side from last year hence why they’re not rising to the top yet on my ladder. 2 potentially easy games coming up.

4. Parramatta Eels. (2nd) Holding. Took their foot off the pedal for only 10 min early in the 2nd half but were otherwise pretty clinical. Their last try showed how good their spine is with Mahoney to Brown to Moses, bat on by Gutherson to the ultimate finisher in Sivo. Chugging along very nicely.

5. South Sydney Rabbitohs. Holding. (3rd) Hopping along well, 7 wins on the trot now. Seem to be only playing one half of footy each week but still getting the job done. Storm, Panthers and Eels amongst the next 4 games so that will really show where they are at. Benji loving the faster game and even managed to fool the bunker. Reynolds out for 4 to 6 weeks along with Mitchell will show if they’ve got depth.

6. Gold Coast Titans. (8th) Up 1 spot. If you score a stack of points early you’ll usually beat your opposition, but defence will win you premierships. It’s a bit like “Drive for show, putt for dough”. Clocked off after the first quarter and Fifita went missing in the first half. Perhaps too much on this 21yo shoulders but when he performs, so do they. Mitch Rein had his best game for a long time. Conceded 10 points thanks to a very questionable sin-binning.

7. Newcastle Knights. (11th) Up 1 spot. Best they could do was force back to back drop outs but aside from that had nothing in attack despite a huge advantage in “tackled in opposition 20” stats. Just got flogged by a hungrier team and they just lack intensity in key minutes. Stuck in a logjam with a stack of teams on 6 points, none of whom deserve to be in the 8 at the end of the season based on what we’ve seen so far.

8. New Zealand Warriors. (7th) Up 1 spot. Did enough in the first half to win. Thanks to this mob and the Titans, I’m done doing 8 leg multis.

9. Manly Sea Eagles. (10th) Up 1 spot. This is not the same team that lay down for the first 3 rounds of the competition. They can be forgiven for letting the last try in as the clock was against them. The half time rev up from Des certainly had some effect. Turbo Tom continues to eat metres, though a long range intercept try helped this stat. Couple of very winnable games coming up.

10. North Qld Cowboys. (12th) Up 1 spot. Mounted a mini comeback but 24-4 at halftime was too big a hurdle. Can look fantastic in attack but like most teams outside the top 5, too inconsistent.

11. Canberra Raiders. (9th) Up 1 spot. Pretty good in the first half and went into the break with a slim lead. 3 second half tries put them to bed though and couldn’t match it with the smarts of Souths when they had a 12 man opposition and a chance to snatch it in the last 8min. Again they conceded 30 plus points but it was against a top 5 team this time. They really must win against the Knights next week and then it gets a little easier. For a week.

12. Cronulla Sharks. (13th) Up 1 spot. Great first half, absolutely destroyed in the 2nd. Had more possession, couldn’t use it. More pain to come next week.

13. Canterbury Bulldogs. (16th) Up 1 spot. Playing a lot better than they were a few weeks back but a world away from the class of the top 5. Playing well and losing by 22 says a lot about where they are, and that is deep in the bottom 3.

14. Wests Tigers. (14th) Up 1 spot. Clearly showed they had something to play for and wanted it more than the Dragons. Big Kudos to them. Zac Cini looked really good on debut and completely outplayed his opposite number.

15. Brisbane Broncos. (15th) Up 1 spot. Looked like they were going to concede a cricket score for a while there. Did very well to grab only their 3rd win in 27 games and come back from a nightmare opening 15 min where they conceded 22 points. Another QLD derby next v Cowboys.

16. St.George Illawarra Dragons. Down 10 spots. (6th) A disgraceful performance. 44 missed tackles while only completing 67%. Scoreboard flattered them and basically soundly beaten by one of the worst teams in the comp. Ravalawa being rubbed out for 2 weeks is disastrous and it clearly showed today. The defence that had them 4 and 1 has gone missing and have now lost 2 games we shouldn’t have in the last 3 weeks.

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