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The Rock-itt : October 2009
Newcastle Knights New coach Rick Stone did a top job to get a Knights side that were struggling for form when he was bought in into the playoffs but that's just what he did. Unfortunately for Stone and the Knights injuries to key players Isaac De Gois and Zeb Taia minimised their chance to upset the Bulldogs in the first round of the finals and they were eliminated. Although they could not progress any further this late season form gives the Knights something to build on for next season. North Queensland Cowboys Much like the NZ Warriors there was not much to cheer about for fans up north with the Cowboys producing a very poor season. To add salt to the wound news that star fullback Matt Bowen will miss 10 months with a knee injury and rumours that Australian representative Jonathan Thurston is looking for bigger dollars elsewhere has Cowboys fas and officials worried. New recruit Shannon Gallant from the West Tigers will fill the gap at fullback next season signing a 2-year deal with the Townsville based club. Parramatta Eels The Eels are the form team of the competition as they look to become the first team ever to come from 8th place on the ladder to win the competition. All aboard the 'Hayne Train' the Eels are playing attacking football which has seem them with two impressive wins against minor premiers St. George Illawarra and the Gold Coast Titans in the playoffs already they have quickly become the biggest threat in the NRL title race. With the current form Dally M winner Jarryd Hayne along with Fui Fui Moi Moi, Luke Burt and a host of others the Eels are looking to clinch their first title since 1986. St George Dragons Under the coaching of Wayne Bennett the Dragons clinched the minor premiership this year but losing 5 of their last 6 games has seen the Red V eliminated in the second round of the finals. After 3 straight loses the joint venture side looked to be back on track with an impressive 37-0 win over Parramatta in round 26. Fast forward 9 days, same venue, same team and they go down 25-12 setting up the daunting task of Brisbane at Suncorp. The Dragons again failed to register a victory going down to Bennett's former side 24-10. SouthSydney Rabbitohs This past month has seen the end to the Rabbitohs 2009 campaign with back-to-back losses against the Gold Coast and Penrith, putting the nail in the coffin. It's a disappointing end for the Rabbitohs who looked to have had the goods early in the season, winning 3 of their first 4 games, but that is as close to 1st place as they got. They'll be looking to get a stellar off-season under their belts, as next year will be trying to recapture the form that saw them break into finals action in 2007. Penrith Panthers A disappointing end to the year for the Panthers saw them fall just short of featuring in the finals but 2009 won't be seen as all doom and gloom in Sydney's West. Michael Jennings showed just how good he can be forcing his way into the NSW Blues side, and the forward pack really blossomed under the leadership of captain Petero Civoniceva who if hadn't been injured may have guided the Panthers to the playoffs. Along with a great junior rep system the Panthers are a team on the rise and will aspire for a top 8 birth in 2010. Sydney Roosters 2009 will be a year to forget for any Roosters fan as they took the dreaded wooden spoon back to Bondi. What was one of the worst seasons on and off the field in the clubs 101-year history they are another team looking for some retribution in 2010. Brian Smith will come in as the new coach and the club will welcome new faces Todd Carney, Phil Graham, Jared Warea-Hargraves, Daniel Conn, and JP du Plessis from South African Rugby Union. West Tigers Along with the Penrith Panthers the Tigers fell just short of finals football this year but have a lot to build on. It looks as though they have settled on Benji Marshall's fulltime position, after trailing Marshall in many positions five eighth seems to be the right fit for the Kiwi international. Also Tim Moltzen arrival gave the Tigers a big boost mid-season, Moltzen filled in very well and has the ability to perform at either fullback or halfback.