NRL Ladder predictions after round 15: Knights, Souths rise, Sharks up again, Dragons hard to rate, Titan’s crash.

Stat of the week: Storm averaging close to 36 points per game, pre-season finalist favourite Titan’s averaging over 29 points conceded per game. Broncos averaging over 32 points conceded per game.

(NRL ladder position in brackets)

1. Melbourne Storm. (1st) Holding. 5 tries in the first 15min and 40-0 at half time before a 50 point win against an opposition who just couldn’t hold them and were never in it. Destruction personified.

2. Penrith Panthers. (2nd) Holding. At 12-0 down I thought I’d tipped correctly. In the end a comprehensive home victory against one of my top 5 who may not be much longer. Continue to be part of a clear top 2 sides in this competition.

3. South Sydney Rabbitohs. (4th) Up 2 spots. Easily put away an opposition who must be firming as favourites for the spoon and have more internal troubles than I’ve had hot dinners. Another seemingly easy game next round verses a mob who’ve just been thrashed, and that’s being kind.

4. Parramatta Eels. (3rd) Down 1 spot. An early scare against a much improved Bulldogs. Their ability to perform against other top tier sides is still yet to be regularly tested. Dropping a spot here though because of next round’s games where they play Penrith away and Souths have an easy game.

5. Sydney Roosters. (5th) Down 1 spot. An early 12 point lead against the premiership “favourites” but, as Manly proved this weekend, 12 points is nothing in the NRL these days. Scoreless for the next 66min. Next up the Storm, and I can’t see them currently matching it with them right now. Mind you nobody would.

6. Manly Sea Eagles. (6th) Holding. Huge 2nd half comeback and they gobbled up the deficit in no time at all, and then went on with it. Top shelf performance after the break. They can’t afford to fall behind by 16 to the top tier though. Doggies up next after Origin II.

7. Cronulla Sharks. (8th) Up 2 spots. Forget the late comeback scare from the Cowboys, a win is a win and that’s 4 on the bang for the Sharks. Their rise continues with the more than struggling Broncos next.

8. St.George Illawarra Dragons. (7th) Up 3 spots. They’ve been up and down on my ladder like a yo-yo, but so has their form. Take what you like out of a win against the struggling Raiders, but they were a top 8 side last year, and the battle for the last 2 final’s spots will continue to be up and down, just like the Dragons. Warriors next and it’s anybody’s guess what team will turn up for either club.

9. North Qld Cowboys. (9th) Up 1 spot. Don’t really deserve to rise after a loss but it was a narrow one and the teams around them keep losing too. For and against will mean no semis for them. The Knights will be desperate to beat them next round.

10. New Zealand Warriors. (11th) Holding. Narrow loss in a tight, must win game. Too many of these this season thus far. Dragons next in a top 8 tussle. Another club whose differential may come back to bite them later.

11. Newcastle Knights. (12th) Up 3 spots. The large rise only due to the capacity of the teams around them to self destruct, plus the return of Ponga and Frizzel is imminent. Good, tough, desperate win. Cowboys next.

12. Gold Coast Titans. (13th) Down 3 spots. Turned a 16 point lead into a 32 point loss in only 33 mins. Their ability to concede huge scores continues and their differential is heading rapidly south, which won’t really matter if they can’t win games.

13. Wests Tigers. (14th) Down 1 spot. Oh dear. 66 points conceded. It was Melbourne though. Hardly a confidence booster.

14. Canberra Raiders. (10th) Down 1 spot. Led by 12 in both halves but conditions got the better of them, as did the Dragons. A shell of the side that has featured in regular recent final’s appearances.

15. Canterbury Bulldogs. (15th) Holding. Have really improved recently and actually led the Eels at half time before the opposition class got the better of them. Things are looking a lot brighter than they were a few weeks ago.

16. Brisbane Broncos. (16th) Holding. Deserve the spoon the way they are going. Disappointing, disgraceful, a rabble, terrible, say what you like, it is what it is. A complete rebuild required from top to bottom. Which is where they are now. Would struggle in a 2nd tier 16 team comp.

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