Three possible 2013 NRL finals bolters I didn’t see coming

Tim Prentice Columnist

23 Have your say

    Dane Gagai might play for an outgunned side, but he still does freakish things. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)

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    Round one of the NRL hit me with an old fashioned coat-hanger tackle and I am groggy to say the least.

    A few performances took the legs from under me – and I have already changed my tipping strategy.

    Three teams I originally thought would be merely making up the numbers in 2013 greatly impressed, and I reckon they will be serious challengers for the finals at the expense of some highly-fancied, or at least media-touted rivals.

    Gold Coast, Newcastle and Penrith were not in my ‘March’ top eight teams. Seriously, were they in yours?

    The Titans looked terrific against Cronulla team that was pumped up for obvious reasons. They could have won that game comfortably but the fate gods conspired for an emotional and popular home team result.

    I really liked the Titans’ overall structure, their unpredictable attack and their steely resolve in defence. It was a tough assignment facing a fired-up Sharks team, away, but they could easily have won.

    Sure, their halves combination of Sezer and Kelly is greener than Kermit The Frog, but they did some really clever stuff against the Sharkies that good judges cannot ignore.

    These guys can both play and when they gel – lookout NRL 2013!

    No shortage of gun players here – Idris, Mead, Srama, Myles, Taylor, Bird, Bailey and Harrison – if Carty can’t fire up this lot, he needs to get a new job.

    On Monday night Newcastle had a spectacular opening against the Wests Tigers.

    The Knights’ backs did untold damage throughout – there were several multiple try-scorers – but the Knights’ forwards were really
    exceptional. Take an early bow Messrs Mason, Houston, Smith, Waddell, Snowden and Scott.

    I like your outfit, after seeing you in action for the first time.

    Dad’s Army? No, this is the The Hunter Hurt.

    They smash you, smash you again. And then spin the ball wide. And smash you again. And score.

    The Tigers were abysmal.

    Is the wooden spoon a reality for these guys? Possibly. This team lacks authority and if Farah and Marshall aren’t effective, Wests are nothing less than sterile.

    The Penrith Panthers tackled Canberra at home and I honestly thought they’d get a hiding.

    Many big name player losses – Panther superstar Luke Lewis their biggest – but the new school of Penrith players went straight to the top of the class.

    They embarrassed the Raiders and, in my view, showed that Canberra won’t make the finals this year.

    Why? The Raiders are not hungry enough.

    If the Green Machine were serious about 2013, this game would have been dog-eat-dog, tooth and nail.

    Instead, we saw meek stuff in defence, and a lack of imagination in attack: pretty much nothing.

    Anyway, from my original top eight teams, I am including the Panthers, Titans and Knights.

    Who goes out after round one is only my guesswork, so please take this on board.

    OUT: Raiders, Broncos and Tigers. No (original) title prospects for mine.

    My top eight now?

    Cowboys, Storm, Roosters, Bulldogs, Titans, Panthers, Knights and the Rabbitohs.

    Am I on the wrong train Roarers? Did you change your assessment in any way after round one?

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • March 13th 2013 @ 7:20am
      eagleJack said | March 13th 2013 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      Manly still not in your eight? That based on fact or hope? I’m leaning towards the latter.

      Of all the wins from rd 1 beating Brisbane in Brisbane is the most significant. On par with the Cowboys getting a win in NSW. The other big wins all came from the home teams (Souths at SFS is basically home), where they are expected to come out on top.

      Early days Tim but I suspect you will be disappointed when your nemesis cracks the 8 again.

      • March 13th 2013 @ 12:15pm
        Hairy Pear said | March 13th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        I have not heard a single supposed “expert” suggest Manly can make the 8. It was a huge win by Manly in very tough circumstances with the 25th anniversary stuff the Broncos were spouting.

        • March 13th 2013 @ 2:21pm
          kid said | March 13th 2013 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          I thought the manly brisbane clash was the poorest of the round, it might have been more conservative refereeing but to me neither team showed themselves as title contenders.

      • Columnist

        March 13th 2013 @ 10:05pm
        Tim Prentice said | March 13th 2013 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

        Eaglejack, enjoy that win for weeks.
        Your team was ordinary in the first half and probably should have been down by 20 at half-time.
        They weren’t, they got a roll-on and won handsomely.
        But I saw some serious cracks in the ‘traditional’ Manly structure and I believe tough times lie ahead.
        Your guys are missing G.Stewart big-time. Especially his brother.
        Brett S is one of my favourite players – he was ineffectual. Again. Glenn was not there.
        The coming tornado frrom ASADA will be big. I hear bigger than many imagine.
        I believe there will be earthquakes in your area. Possibly 9 on the Richter.
        And try to hang onto your last premiership title . . . .
        History says they can be stripped, you know.
        Good luck in 2013. You might need some.

        • March 13th 2013 @ 10:45pm
          eagleJack said | March 13th 2013 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

          Sounds like you are hoping the ASADA “tornado” is big. Nice.

        • March 13th 2013 @ 11:13pm
          Bearfax said | March 13th 2013 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

          You may be right Tim. Manly were rusty in the first half. But having a look at the transformation that’s occurred with Cherry-Evans and Foran That was the best I’ve seen them play since 2011. And quite frankly though Brisbane could have led by 20 if the ball had gone their way, the same could have been said for Manly if the ball had gone their way in the second half. If it had Manly would have won by at least 20. And if that halves pair continue to play like that, Manly will win many more than they lose. But this weekend should tell us if the first round was an aberration for both Manly and Newcastle.

    • March 13th 2013 @ 8:44am
      PGNEWC said | March 13th 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      The Tiges were flat because of Fotuaika they will bounce back. Mullens Injured his arm again late and the Knights show that they are not much without him and Gids— early days indeed

    • March 13th 2013 @ 9:00am
      Pot Stirrer said | March 13th 2013 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      I to was impressd withthe knights but then you have to remember the possesion rate. 65% i think so whist i alsobelieve they wil make the 8 and improve all the teams that lost exept the warriors who dont lok like they want to be there looked like they needed the run.
      Stll on the knighs it concerned me that with the new ruck rules that once a team got momentum the defence couldnt keep up with the attack in the ruck area that led to that possesion rate through penalties and easy metres from dummy half.

    • March 13th 2013 @ 10:40am
      Renegade said | March 13th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      I thought the Sharks-Titans game was the match of the round….really impressed with the titans.
      I had them as potentially finishing on either side of the 8…..there halves were really impressive for their first game together. Kelly and Sezer are defnitely worth persevering with and vindicates letting Prince go.
      Taylor and Idris outwide were unreal, i thought they were going to score every single time and that right hand side is going to cause a lot of damage to other teams this year.

      I had Knights in my top 8 to begin with…..still can’t see Penrith making the 8 though. It’s only round 1 so too early to tell.

      Tim,

      Why have you left the Sharks out of your 8?

      • Columnist

        March 13th 2013 @ 10:15pm
        Tim Prentice said | March 13th 2013 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

        I left them out because humans play rugby league.
        No band, team or group of humans can thrive with so much pressure hanging over them, week, after week.
        Key people such as captain Paul Gallen are mentally spent as I write this
        I will be staggered if they win their next game. Or the one after that..
        The Sharks should have finished top six this year with their highly impressive roster (and I am a big fan of coach Flanagan).
        But the dramas that have enveloped and shrouded the Cronulla Sharks will not galvanise them.
        I believe they will destroy what should have been a wonderful season.

        • March 14th 2013 @ 7:43am
          Renegade said | March 14th 2013 @ 7:43am | ! Report

          Fair enough….i think if they come out of this relatively unscathed and Flanagan is reinstated within the next week or so it will Galvanise whichever players play out the season. Depending on the extent of the damage that ASADA cause, i still think season can be saved.

    • Roar Guru

      March 13th 2013 @ 10:43am
      Bazzio said | March 13th 2013 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      With Boyd playing as outside center/five-eigth, NoCastle indeed look sharp in attack. They looked even sharper with the ball up the middle, and played very much like Melbourne.
      Bennett-coached teams always drastically improve from the previous year’s games. Contrast this with the likes of Price coaching @ Dragons ~ same plays, same mistakes, same inadequacies, same result.

    • Roar Guru

      March 13th 2013 @ 11:24am
      DingoGray said | March 13th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

      Your quick to flick the Raiders.

      They are known slower starter. Can’t remember a season where they’ve got off to a good start.

      Taken Dugan and Ferguson situation not ideal, however Raiders did play very well last year when Dugan was out.
      Think Robinson to fullback they don’t lose much.

      • Columnist

        March 13th 2013 @ 10:18pm
        Tim Prentice said | March 13th 2013 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

        Dingo — take a deep breath.
        Dugan and Ferguson are being viewed as poison by the men that matter at Canberra.
        Bye bye to both.
        And in my view, bye bye Raiders 2013.

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