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Hammer’s NRL Power Rankings Round 15

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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BigZacko’s Racing Wrap

March brings us well into the Autumn Carnival and yesterdays racing did not disappoint. Four Group One races were dished up with some superb racing;

Canterbury Stakes – Happy Clapper (click for replays)
The Race.
Our new ageless wonder, Happy Clapper made very light work of a strong field. Settling off the hot speed set by Global Glamour Blake Shinn was able to present at the top of the straight and the horse with a superior turn of foot than any other in the race ambled up and pulled away easily.

The Follow.
Early G1’s prove to be great form races and this one will be no different, Happy Clapper will progress as last year towards another Doncaster and Queen Elizabeth where he will challenge Winx. Global Glamour was a great display of speed and will likely be highly competitive in mares races moving forward when getting up to the mile.

Of the rest most will head towards the Doncaster as such the runs of Invincible Gem and Clearly Innocent (who couldn’t keep up early) were solid for a progression.

Randwick Guineas – Kementari

The Race.
Trapeze Artist took up the running and set a solid tempo whilst Kementari was able to settle back in the field with cover, given clear running from the turn he let down like a very good horse and stretched out well to easily cover this group 1 field.

The Follow.
Kementari will progress towards the Doncaster where he will be very competitive with a light weight, with the likely progression to the Rosehill Guineas for most of the field the run of Ace High (VRC Derby winner) was very good. D’Argento looks like a very talented horse who is lacking maturity, right now he is running on raw ability, once he learns to stride out and balance himself he will be a superb racehorse, this Autumn may have come a bit early for him though, that said if the “penny drops” watch out!

Newmarket Handicap – Redkirk Warrior

The Race.
Straight racing can be very misleading, with Redkirk Warrior showing a superior sustained speed to lead from start to finish down the outside (the side on angle is VERY misleading) in the process becoming only the 5th horse to go back-to-back in the Newmarket. As is typical of G1 racing there were some great runs behind the winner also with Brave Smash proving the step back to the 1200m was no problem just missing flashing from well back on the inside and the 3YO Merchant Navy lost no admirers in third.

The Follow.
The first two will likely head to Sydney to challenge Redzel in the TJ Smith which is setting up to be a cracking race whilst Merchant Navy is likely to head overseas for a crack at international riches in June.

Australian Cup – Harlem
The Race.
This was a very classy field of stayers and the speed was right on from the start with The Taj Mahal setting a very solid tempo which really strung the field out. The big striding Gailo Chop was forced to work hard the whole way and delivered the run of the race being beaten into second, hopefully a trip to Sydney is not off the cards. The Hayes trained Harlem settled off the hot speed and took a great inside run to drive through and win comfortably, delivering on the promise he showed in the spring now that he is gelded and has his “mind on the job”.

The Follow.
Where to look?!? This contest will be a great form race moving forward, the absolute class of the staying fraternity was on display with a number of these horses heading to Sydney to progress towards the 2000m and 2400m weight for age “heavyweight championships”. The “Williams crew” will also likely head towards the Sydney Cup, Homesman in particular looked very good for the progression.

Our Web Page

Welcome to the new Bats & Balls Podcast webpage. From Twitter to Facebook to even the occasional blog this page will have everything Bats and Balls.

A brief history of Bats & Balls Podcast

During a hot Western Sydney Summer Josh Button midway through a cricket game had an idea of doing a Sports Podcast. Josh is a regular on Inebriation Nation (a beer podcast) and wanted his own sports show. Josh asked a few friends and Brendan Smith was the one who answered the call. After finding a name & logo the Bats and Balls Podcast was born.

Wednesday 4th March 2015 was the 1st show of Bats and Balls Podcast. It was the night before the 2015 NRL season and the episode was the NRL Preview. With only 1 poor microphone the boys did episode 1. From this point on the show has only got better and the team has added some new technology which has helped greatly. For a laugh go and listen to Episode 1 then listen to one of the latest episodes and hear the difference for yourself.

The Bats and Balls team love banter so if you are on twitter or facebook feel free to heckle the boys.

Brendan Smith

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