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The Rock-itt : April 2011
Newcastle Knights No team has looked better in 2011 than the Newcastle Knights. Despite all the off-field drama regarding Nathan Tinkler and his desire to own the side as well as whether Wayne Bennett will coach the side next year the team has put that behind them and has delivered impressive displays in their wins over the Penrith Panthers and North Queensland Cowboys. This has already seen experts call for halfback Jarred Mullen to be included in the Blues line-up in 2011. Next up are the Sea Eagles, a test that will determine their credentials this season. North Queensland Cowboys After a disastrous 2010, North Queensland are looking for Redemption this season and they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start knocking offtheir biggest rivals the Brisbane Broncosin round 1 at Suncorp Stadium. Jonathan Thurston will be happy to have Matt Bowen back in the line-up this season as the little fullback hasn’t been a regular in the squad due to injuries in the past 2 seasons. Despite falling to the Knights in round 2 many feel as long as those two are regulars in the team this year will be a big improvement. Parramatta Eels Parramatta were another team who made a coaching change in the off- season with New Zealand coach, Stephen Kearney taking the reigns from Daniel Anderson. Kearney had assisted Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm in past seasons and there was a lot of the Storm ’s relentless precision in their round 1 victory over the Warriors. That however, seemed to go out the window in round 2 has they were dominated by the Penrith Panthers. Parramatta now has the leadership, but need consistency if they are to contest for the title this season. Penrith Panthers Nothing has seemed to change at Penrith with the safety of coach Matthew Elliott changing from week to week. After being embarrassed by the Newcastle Knights in round 1 there were already rumblings that the coach was on the outer, but fast forward one week, and victory against the Parramatta Eels, and all seems good once again out west. Penrith also made the news after signing Timana Tahu for season 2011 possibly setting up the damaging centre pairing of Tahu and Michael Jennings. South Sydney Rabbitohs A disappointing start of the season has fans hitting the panic button after just two games as the Redfern based club sit 0-2. In both of their games the Rabbitohs have held a slim lead only for them to let the game slip in the final minutes. In round 1 after trailing 28-6, and coming back to hold a 29-28 advantage the Roosters grabbed two late tries against the tired looking line-up running out winners 40-29. In round 2 they went punch for punch with the Bulldogs for most of the games and had a 1 point lead with 12 minutes to go, yet fatigue go the better of them again and couldn’t hold on to their lead with the Dogs taking a 28-19 victory. St. George Illawarra Dragons In the off-season the Dragons took out the World Club Challenge defeating the Wigan Warriors in the UK before coming back to dispose of the Titans, but were shocked in round 2 as they fell to the lowly Cronulla Sharks. An injury to NSW prop Michael W eyman was the worst thing to come out of the Sharks loss. The Dragons were hoping for a big year from W eyman after losing forwards Jarrod Saffy (Rugby Union), Jeremy Smith (Cronulla Sharks), and Neville Costigan (Newcastle Knights) in the off-season. Sydney Roosters Coach Brian Smith has been far from impressed with his sides opening 2 games this season. Despite victory in round 1 the veteran coach was upset about the huge lead his side had given up and was disappointed that they needed some last minute heroics from Tom Symonds to claim victory. He’s mood didn’t improve after round 2 after a Sea Eagles team filled with first-grade newcomers “bent them ” and dominated the Bondi-based club. The inclusion of Todd Carney will only make the Roosters better as they look to go 1 better this season. West Tigers Before the action kicked off this season most of the Rugby League fraternity had the W ests Tigers pencilled for the Grand Final, yet their early form this season doesn’t warrant those predictions. The season didn’t start well for the black and golds after they were defeated by a resurgent Bulldogs outfit in round 1, and although they picked up the win in round 2, it wasn’t because they were good, just there opposition played awful, and they weren’t much better with errors a common downfall for both sides. This will need to greatly improve, and fast, before people start writing the Tigers off. See you at the games, Brody.