You’d have to be both a well-educated and perhaps a slightly crazy supporter, to have bets on anyone currently outside of the current Top 4, to win the Premiership. The most coveted trophy in all of Rugby League.
In 1st place, you have the Penrith Panthers on 12 wins + a draw from 14 games so far. They’re being led by the deadly father-son duo of Ivan and Nathan Cleary.
In 2nd place, we’ve got the Melbourne Storm. A side that makes Grand Finals for fun and was the last team to win one, prior to the historical back-to-back Roosters side, coached by Trent Robinson. They have a PD of +206, that’s better than the next two equal best sides (Penrith and Sydney).
Then you have good ole Parramatta. The underdogs in this group of heavyweights. Yet they have suffered only 3 defeats from 14 games this campaign. And between Clint Gutherson (11 try assists), Maika Silvo (11 tries) & Co, they are badly searching for their first title since 1986.
Whilst in 4th place, you have the previously mentioned Eastern Suburbs lads. They are the only side since the Super League era, to go back-to-back. And they look absolutely on point to claim a crazy 3rd in a row this season. And they’ll just be even stronger once SBW comes into the fold. Here is why every Top 4 side has a legitimate shot at winning this year’s edition of the Telstra NRL Premiership.
1. Penrith Panthers- W12 D1 L1- They are coached by Nathan Cleary
The Panthers last Premiership came along 17 years ago, all the way back in 2003. Back then, the men from the foot of the mountains had the likes of Wesser in the FB position, Lewis as a Winger, Campbell and Gower in the Halves and tough lads such as Galuvao, Puletua and Sattler upfront.
This current side is just like the one from their Golden Days. Edwards, just like Wesser, loves to put the ball over the line. He’s got 4 tries from just 6 games this campaign, + 4 try assists. Mansour on the outside, just like Lewis was back then, can run hard (181m’s per game) and he can make some solid tackles as well.
Penrith also had their two maestros’ running the show and it’s the exact same now. Between the two of them, Cleary and Luai have 6 tries and 20 try assists so far this season. And then in the forwards, you’ve got the likes of Martin, Kikau and Yeo. Just like back then, this forward-pack is perhaps a bit underrated. But they get the job done.
And when you add in Tamou as a Prop as well, it’s safe to say that the Panthers have a high-octane level of talent for this season. With both a deep and talented team, why can’t they win the Premiership?
2. Melbourne Storm- W12 D0 L2- They are coached by Craig Bellamy
The only two games that the ever-methodical Melbourne Storm this campaign have lost was when the Raiders outclassed them 22-6 at AAMI Park and when the Panthers toppled them by 7 points in Western Sydney. Both times, those sides had massive points to prove. Hodgson led Canberra to a win, as he had a vendetta to prove that he is the game’s best Hooker over Cameron Smith. And for the Panthers, they needed a win over a classy and quality side such as Melbourne to prove their Premiership credentials.
Some of the Storm’s finer wins this season have been 18-4 vs Manly, 12-0 vs Cronulla, 22-8 vs South Sydney, 27-25 vs Sydney, 20-14 vs Canberra and 24-6 vs Sydney, all sides who participated in the finals last season. They’ve beaten the back-to-back Premiers twice already and also the Raiders once.
They are a great side that absolutely knows what they are doing.
Two games ago, the Storm thrashed Canterbury, 41 points to 10. They scored the games first 4 tries before the opposition finally got one back. And they also scored the games last 3 tries as well. From start-to-finish, the Storm are ruthless in every approach to the game.
The Storm beat the best and never fail in their ruthless approach to how they play the game, why can’t they win the Premiership?
3. Parramatta Eels W11 D0 L3- They are coached by Brad Arthur.
Including this year, it’s been 34 years since the Eels last hoisted aloft the NRL Premiership Trophy. 1986 Was when it occurred last. And this isn’t like the 2009 side that made a miraculous second half of the season recovery to make it all the way to the GF. This is a team that’s on top right now and looks ready to roar.
Gutherson is the key to it all, he has made a name for himself as one of the best players in the game, with his constant running, passing, and kicking skills. From only 14 games so far, he has 5 tries and 11 try assists.
Then Maika Silvo has 11 tries. The big Winger is killing the NRL this season, as he’s also averaging 125m’s per match.
And then MJ (Michael Jennings), has 7 tries and 4 try assists, with tonnes of speed left in his game as well. And this is only three of the guys, there’s plenty more I could list as well.
They have made the Eels a feared team this season. And their attack has plenty of teams on notice. In the opening round of the finals last season, the Eels beat the Broncos 58 points to nil! The Eels have an insane attack and it’s one that has proven that it can turn on the motors during the finals. Why can’t they win the Premiership?
4. Sydney Roosters W9 D0 L5- They are coached by Trent Robinson
They’re the back-to-back Premiership winners. Sorry, let me rephrase that, they are the back-to-back Premiership winners, that is soon to have Sonny Bill Williams in their team.
Sonny Bill has already won a Premiership with the Bulldogs back in 2004. He’s also won countless other trophies/ awards in all of NRL, Rugby Union and Boxing. If he’s in the backline, he’ll be playing with the likes of Tedesco, Manu, and the Morris brothers. While if he plays as a Forward, he’ll be making hard hits with the likes of JWH, Taukeiaho and Cordner in tow. Wherever he plays, the Roosters just automatically get crazily better by having him there.
This is a dangerous proposition to the rest of the league. They have the depth needed to win a Premiership. They have the star talented needed to win a Premiership. They’ve already won the last two Premierships. And now they’ve added Williams into the fold.
Robinson has already won 3 Premierships during his short tenure at the Roosters. So, the question has to be asked, why can’t they win the Premiership?
To the fans of clubs such as Newcastle, Canberra, Cronulla, and the likes, I do apologise, but it’s looking highly unlikely that your club will add another Premiership to their trophy cabinet for this season. But to all of the Panthers, Storm, Eels and Roosters, this will more than likely come down to a battle between you four. And your gonna have the entire NRL standing up on its hind-legs in the process because we’ll be in for a treat!