Saturday, 30 September 2017
The NRL Winners : 2017
8th - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. They came 6th in the league and went straight out once the finals. They looked good on paper but were unconvincing on grass. The sooner the coach gets out of his intense mentality and relaxes a bit, maybe the team will do likewise.
7th - Penrith Panthers. 7th in the league was about right for this team and winning the first finals match 22-10 against Manly was a good result. Going out in the next round wasn't a surprise but they fought gallantly. They also made the final of the Nine's tournament.
6th - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. Last year's grand final winners were not as good and ended up lower that I would have thought. The potential wasn't matched by results when they finished 5th in the league and out in the first round of finals. Losing to battling North Queensland 14-15 in extra time gave them the nod over Penrith.
5th - Brisbane Broncos. Coming 3rd in the league and being one game away from the grand final was a strong result but they didn't impress me in the finals, getting what I though was a soft run. The 0-30 thumping in the last match against the Melbourne Storm showed where they were at the season's conclusion.
4th - Parramatta Eels. A top four finish (4th) showed this side had some ticker. They only made it to the second round of the finals but losing to a deceptively good North Queensland 16-24 was no disgrace. I think they were better than Brisbane during the playoffs.
3rd - Sydney Roosters. 2nd in the league and a semi final against a 'backs to the wall' North Queensland (playing at home too), must have looked like an ideal scenario. Somehow it didn't pan out as expected. They didn't have the spark needed to put the game away and late points made the 16-29 scoreline look ugly. They also took out the Nine's tournament.
2nd - North Queensland Cowboys. Coming 8th in the league and without their star play maker looked like a recipe for disaster. The team proved the pundits and me wrong. They fought through the finals series to the grand final and impressed doing it.
1st - Melbourne Storm. What can you say about this club except it is the best run club in the sport. With a limited player pool in Victoria hasn't stopped them recruiting and preparing young players to do the business when called upon. 1st in the league and into the grand final.
Summary: I put this together before the grand final because it is how I see the year regardless of who takes the grand final trophy. No one would begrudge the Storm as the best team in the competition.
PS. The 2017 Losers article can be viewed by clicking here.