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The Rock-itt : June 2011
There are some big changes to the ladder board this month with the Dragons bolting to number one spot on 18 points. They have been playing some magnificent football with their attack as good as it gets and their defence impeccable. If you look at the “for and against” on the ladder board, the results there tell the reason why. Any team with a low “against” like the Dragons, are playing the game as it should be played and that is putting defence up front knowing the tries will come. Mr Bennett has certainly got the wood on the other coach’s with this aspect and that’s why he’s the best in the business. Next come the Storm on 14 points. Their attack is excellent but defence is letting them down and coach Craig Bellamy will have to pick the team up on this or they will have Buckley’s if they want to get their hands on the Grail come October. The Storm have a lot of pieces to pick up as we all know and have lost a few of their nucleus players which made them almost unstoppable in seasons past. Yet with the Dragons breathing fire and brimstone, the Storm can’t stop to take a breath. The Sea Eagles are in third place on 14 points after a narrow loss to the Cowboys and back to back wins against the Raiders and Titans last month. Coach Des Hasler has the team in a good position at this tim e in the season and if injuries are minimal the Eagles could be the stumbling block for the Storm and the Dragons and could easily be running out on the paddock in October. With resurgence now evident, the Cowboys are looking comfortable in fourth position and with 14 points to their tally they are certainly up there with the high flyers. But the concern is, can they sustain the vigorous pace put on by the front runners. Everyone knows what the Cowboys are capable of especially at Dairy Farmers Stadium, but their “against” aggregate is a bit frightening and if they are to stay with the pace then coach Neil Henry will have to address this rather average defence figure without delay. With the likes of Dragons centres, Gasnier and Cooper, running riot as well as opportunists, Darius Boyd and Brett Morris, ready to launch at the opposition line given any opportunity, the backs alone could dem olish the Cowboys easily. Representative selection and injury is certainly taking its toll on the Broncos as their position on the ladder board shows. Last month they were sitting top of the ladder but now have dropped to 5 th place and are 4 points behind the number one spot. It’s as though they sprinted out early and are gradually running out of puff the longer the season progresses. Their little general, Darren Lockyer, is a virtual automatic selection for the rep sides because of his ongoing brilliance. But injuries are also stopping them from fielding their strongest team . Their defensive aggregate isn’t too bad although could show some improvement, but their attack is down on points owing to a shortage of finishers on the park. They might reverse this position once Origin is over and they get their point scorers back from injury. The Warriors seem to be showing good signs of hanging in there at 6th position in the competition and with 12 points on the NRL ladder board. They knocked over the Storm in April which shows what they’re capable of and have had 5 wins on the trot. These warriors are a hardy breed and teams respect them greatly especially over in their own territory. Coach Ivan Cleary is gradually stitching together a winning formula with his team and if things continue to keep heading the way they are at this point in time then everyone watch out ! Those Bulldogs are showing a bit of patchy form sitting in 7 th position in the competition and have notched up 10 competition points. Despite winning their last 2 outings the Doggies are the mister average of the competition with 180 points for and 166 against which is not all that impressive. It appears that it is still bump and grind for the Dogs as they slowly rebuild after a massive exodus from the club by most of their elite regular players over the past few seasons. It may take another couple of seasons before we see the Bulldogs as they used to be but they seem to be holding steady at the moment and if they can retain the same side, things should look a lot more positive. Everyone who follows the game knows that eventually the Tigers will click and come home like a Bondi tram. Their attitude of never say die was born in the roots of the grass of Leichhardt Oval many years ago and that attitude seems to infect any player who pulls on the Tigers’ jersey and seems to be as perennial as the grass that grows there. The Tigers arein8 th position in the competition with a tally of 10 points and have kicked on to win their last 3 games in succession. With coach Tim sheens at the helm, the Tigers are in safe hands, although their “for and against” aggregate is not all too impressive. They need to work hard on their defence before they attempt anything else and if they do, the beautiful hands of Benji Marshall will make sure the points come their way. The Knights have won their last 2 games but are still just outside the 8 on differential points andarein9 th position in the competition with 10 points on the ladder board. But it’s not hard to see where their problems lie and here is another team that needs to go back to the basic fundamentals of the game and get their defence back in order. They have had more points scored against them so far than they have scored for them which means they are both mediocre in attack as well as defence. W ith Wayne Bennett heading their way next season, heads will roll if players don’t measure up to the man. So it might pay some of the players who are not giving 100% to get moving before the death knell begins to sound.