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That's My Voice - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Tue, 10 Jul 2007 10:41:00 GMT
Monday night’s point-scoring hurricane in favour of Newcastle over Parramatta confirmed some important suspicions. That squeezing inside the top four this season may count for very little in the finals.

That is a big statement to make. But it’s not without it’s merits. The facts are that Melbourne, Manly, North Queensland and Parramatta have all suffered comprehensive losses at least once this season.

Back in May, Melbourne’s first defeat of the year was an 18-point thrashing at the hands of the Wests Tigers. Seemingly impervious to the pain inflicted that night, they took some lessons away and then dished out a walloping of their own the following week against the Bulldogs.

The Storm currently sit on top of the competition ladder with only 8 weeks to go in the regular season and unless they are either hit by a slump meteor or they lose more irreplaceable foot soldiers to injury then they should win the minor premiership back to back.

But as they proved in last year’s Grand Final, your position at the end of the season counts for very little if you can’t replicate your form in the one game of the year where the nerves are greater and there is a higher propensity for things to go wrong.

Manly’s 56-0 thrashing of the Roosters in round 17 proved they are reliable enough to win by big margins against underperforming teams. But it was only three weeks ago they were beaten 27-8 at Brookvale Oval by the then 13th placed Bulldogs.

Only one person in the Big League guide that week tipped Canterbury to beat Manly and it was former Canberra Raiders star Laurie Daley who as a former player is probably the best person to trust when it comes to reading trends in the game.

The Sea Eagles have improved every year since Des Hasler took over as coach by making the finals twice in the last three seasons while gradually finishing higher up on the ladder.

But questions remain about their ability to win ‘big’ games. They have lost all finals encounters they’ve appeared in since 2005 and didn’t fare much better last season when they went down 28-0 to the Dragons in week 2.

North Queensland moved back into 3rd spot this week after the Eels handed the Knights a 24-point win at Parramatta Stadium but would you seriously put your money on a side that got beaten 64-30 by the 15th placed Roosters in round 13 and then almost went one better the following week care of a 58-12 hiding at the hands of Melbourne?

The hiding by Melbourne was always a possibility given they hadn’t scored a half-century win all year and they’ve been averaging at least one of those each season since 2004. But for the Cowboys to concede 64-points to the Roosters, you have to ask yourselves what happened there?

Don’t say it couldn’t happen again in the finals because that’s exactly what happened in week 1 of the 2005 finals series when the Tigers beat them 50-6. Their turn-around to make it into the Grand Final was significant but history shows they still lost that game.

Had they won in week 1, could the extra momentum and confidence have helped them put up a greater fight against the Tigers on October 2, 2005 at Telstra Stadium? Perhaps.

The Eels on Monday night were tipped by most pundits to beat Newcastle with the GRL Phantom predicting the blue and gold would beat Brian Smith’s new team by 7-points. Wrong!

Team 12 beat Team 3 and had the game almost over with a 20-0 lead at half-time.

That makes it four times this season the Eels have been beaten by a margin of more then 20-points yet Hagan’s Heroes were only a few weeks ago being talked up by some in the media as a late contender for the title.

Have we not learn’t anything from the headlines of 2005 which suggested we would all see a Dragons-Eels Grand Final?

Well, we should this year with three former premiership winning teams sitting in 5th (Tigers), 6th (Brisbane) and 7th (Bulldogs) spot on the ladder.

If the current top four sides glue themselves to their spots for the remainder of the year and have to contend with such quality below them, we could very well see two teams outside the top four meet in October.
Looks like the only thing we all might be writing off are our tickets on Ebay. - Read More, Here