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The Rock-itt : August 2010
injured in the pre-season All-Star game, a rookie coach, and star players such as Mullen, De Gois, and Simpson having a poor season to their standards. This has added up to a disappointing season for Newcastle, which hasn't improved throughout the last month, their poor paradigm of play, was on display against the Raiders in round 19. They have already begun planning for next season with the signing of Queensland representative, Neville Costigan. Cowboys North Queensland are another side that promised so much at the beginning of 2010 yet delivered very little. When Willie Mason signed at the beginning of the year he joined Jonathan Thurston, Matt Bowen, Matt Scott, Carl Webb, Willie Tonga, and Luke O'Donnell in a side that was tipped to fight for a spot in the top 4. They now linger on the bottom quarter of the table with immense pressure on coach, Neil Henry with reports the former Maroons assistant coach has lost touch with his side. Eels All aboard the Hayne train. It was this same time last year that the Parramatta Eels, and in particular, Jarryd Hayne began their extraordinary run that ended on Grand Final day. And the Eels form these past few weeks indicate they're ready to do it again. It all begun with their round 18 clash with the Cowboys when the Eels produced a composed 36-24 victory. Then in round 19 Parra shocked the NRL coming back from a huge deficit to defeat the second placed Panthers at Penrith. Jarryd Hayne produced arguably the most dominant 15 minutes any individual has played in round 20 against the Bulldogs, the star fullback scored twice in the opening quarter of the match including the game's first try after 50 seconds. Panthers Penrith remain in the top 4 but have been a little shaky in the past few weeks with coach, Matt Elliott publicly venting his frustration in round 20 against the Storm walking out of the coaches' box before the fulltime siren. In order to hold on to their home semi-final, the Panthers will have to drastically improve as some tough away encounters against Canberra, Wests and Souths face them on the road to the semi-finals. Winger, Michael Gordon recently turned down an offer from the Cronulla Sharks to re-sign with Penrith for 2 seasons. Dragons St. George sit atop the competition table but there are still major question marks over the ladder leader's attack as well as their ability to perform in the finals. The Dragons have built the unwanted tag of 'Chokers' throughout the years and while they're still managing to consistently win their form, isn't wowing enough people to have that tag dropped. Coach Wayne Bennett will look to Jamie Soward to step up in the later stages of the season, as the young five-eighth was criticised last season for disappearing in September. Rabbitohs South Sydney's finals campaign hit a major hurdle with Queensland forward David Taylor breaking his collarbone against the Warriors during their round 20 clash. The loss was somewhat made a little less major when the news that Isaac Luke would come back into the line-up earlier than expected and was announced to line up against the Bulldogs in round 21. Without Dave Taylor even more pressure will be shifted on the shoulders of Sam Burgess who has been nothing but phenomenal in his first year in Australia. The English representative played so well against the Dragons in round 18 that despite the loss, was named man of the match. Roosters The Roosters underwent a major facelift at the beginning of the season bringing in a new coach, Brian Smith and new players, Todd Carney, Jason Ryles, and Phil Graham. It took a while for the Chooks to start playing as a team but now that they have they are looking very hard to stop. Easts recent form has them primed for a top 4 finish on the back of some outstanding play from Carney, Anasta, and Mitchell Pearce. They thoroughly impressed rival clubs in round 20 as they withstood a fast finishing Broncos 34-30 at Suncorp Stadium. Tigers Tigers' coach' Tim Sheens has complained this season about his players being left out of the origin sides but in reality it has really buoyed the Wests/Balmain merger side. They are sitting just inside the top 4, but wouldn't be in that position if players such as Robbie Farah and Chris Heighington were selected to represent New South Wales. They have a tough stretch heading into the finals and could very well slip out of the top 8 if they're not careful. They're going to need their forwards to fire. Their backs are capable of scoring 30 points a game but it's up the middle where they have been criticised.