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The Rock-itt : July 2010
display against the Titans on the Gold Coast has rejuvenated the Knights as they sit just outside the top 8. Captain Kurt Gidley has gained a lot of criticism for his performances in the sky blue jersey, but continues to silence his critics on a week to week basis carrying a Newcastle side that find themselves a few top-line players to have a shot at the premiership. Cowboys If there is any club that will benefit from the Melbourne Storm being anchored to the bottom of the table it's the Cowboys who would otherwise surely be frontrunners for the wooden spoon. Currently the Townsville side are in a shambles from news of player revolt against the coach, or simply players leaving mid-season. The club who had promised so much at the beginning of the season with the Willie Mason signing, Matt Bowen returning, and Thurston looking to claim another Dally M medal, it looked as though they were primed for the final 8, but it's not to be. Eels If the Cowboys have been the biggest letdown this year, Parramatta closely follow. After being 80 minutes away from being crowned champions last season things haven't gone to plan all season and in past weeks it has gone from bad to worse. The coach, Daniel Anderson and marquee player, Jarryd Hayne are at loggerheads after Anderson publicly displayed his dissatisfaction with the standard of play the NSW, Fiji, and Australian representatives have been offering. On top of that, CEO Paul Osbourne has had to deal with a prickly situation of his own after he walked out of a supermarket without paying. They will need to string together some wins a la 2009 if they are to play in September. Panthers Everyone out there just kept waiting until the Panthers dropped their form and faded mid-season before ultimately missing the top 8. Well guess what, the team from Sydney's West is still firing and is less than a handful of wins from reserving their place in the top 8. Currently second on the ladder, Penrith overcame the absence of captain Petero Civoniceva to continue their good form which included a runaway victory over the Manly Sea Eagles. Led by the young brigade of Jennings, Coote, Walsh, Grant, and Gordon the Panthers in 2010 are awfully reminiscant of the West Tigers in 2005. Dragons The Dragons sit atop of the NRL ladder failing to take home the 2 points just 3 times this season, and they just got better. St. George have recently confirmed rugby league's worst kept secret that Mark Gasnier will once again wear the Red V despite a seemingly feeble attempt from the Newcastle Knights. Gasnier is scheduled to make his NRL return in round 17's top of the table clash against the Panthers where both sides will be without their origin reps. With the Gasnier return it is expected that Beau Scott will return to his preferred position of second-rower. Rabbitohs Some solid performances has the Rabbitohs continuing to steadily move towards the top of the NRL competition but a dislocated shoulder to New Zealand international Isaac Luke may put a halt to that. Luke, who is contention for this season's Dally M Medal for the game's best player, injured his shoulder in a training mishap and will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks. In a competition as tight as the NRL 6- 8 weeks can make or break a side, so coach John Lang will have to look to Sam Burgess and halves John Sutton and Chris Sandow to fill the void left by Luke. Roosters Things were always going to get better for the Roosters after finishing last in 2009, but with the team they have on paper with the likes of Pearce, Carney, Anasta, Minichello, Ryles, Myles and co. They should realty be performing at a higher level than what they are. There goal of a top-8 birth is dwindling especially after a heart-breaking loss to the NZ Warriors in Auckland during round 16 where Kevin Locke scored with 20 seconds to go to steal victory. It's an uphill battle but if they fire, the Roosters are capable of knocking Tigers The West Tigers sit in thetop4at the moment, but have yet to really step up and stamp themselves as premiership contenders. They seem to do what they have to, and that is to dispose of the lesser teams but when it comes to a blockbuster against a fellow competition heavyweight, they just don't turn up. This may be good enough to make the top 8 but it won't do the merger side much good when they reach the finals. They do, however get the chance to prove themselves in the coming weeks with matches against the Broncos, and the Sea Eagles.