Mutley’s mid-season assessment

Panthers
I was started this season thinking there might be a bit of a premiership hangover. With the loss of Burton, Capewell & Momirovski, plus Cleary missing the start of the season, I thought the Panthers might have been a bit slow out of the blocks. Add on early injuries to To’o & Leota, and the Panthers had plenty of excuses to start slow. They have proven me wrong, and barely missed a beat over the opening half of the season, with several young players stepping up & filling the void. Their only loss seems to have awakened the beast, with Panthers thumping 3 other top sides since. The scary thing is that while their defence is about as good as it can be, their attack can get better. An ominous warning for the rest of the competition.

Original prediction: 3rd/Premiers
Current position: 1st
Revised prediction: 1st/Premiers

Storm
The Storm looked impressive early on, with blistering attack. Injuries to Papenhuyzen & Hughes brought them back to the pack, but make no mistake, at full strength they are still the most dangerous team in the competition.

Original prediction: 4th/Preliminary finalists
Current position: 2nd
Revised prediction: 3rd/Runners Up

Cowboys
Probably the biggest surprise of the season. I had them battling for the spoon before the season started, and even a month or so ago I was still questioning their credentials. They are playing a good brand of footy, and will be there at the business end of the season

Original prediction: 15th
Current position: 3rd
Revised prediction: 4th/Semi Finalists

Broncos
I predicted big improvement from the Broncos this year, but they have already exceeded my expectations. The way they have been playing the last 4-6 weeks is where I was expecting them to be at the back end of the season.

Original prediction: 8th/Qualifying Finalists
Current position: 4th
Revised prediction: 7th/Semi Finalists

Eels
The Eels finished last year strong, and talked a big game in the off season. They have been brilliant in some games, but woeful in others. If they can find some consistency they can challenge for the premiership.

Original prediction: 1st/Runners Up
Current position: 5th
Revised prediction: 2nd/Preliminary Finalists

Roosters
The Roosters have been inconsistent so far, but have the players & experience to mount a serious challenge in the back end of the season. Write them off at your own peril.

Original prediction: 2nd/Preliminary Finalists
Current position: 6th
Revised prediction: 5th/Preliminary Finalists

Sharks
I said before the season began that the Sharks had the players to make the finals, but how far they go would depend on their coach. I stand by that statement. The addition of Hynes & Finucane has given them the direction & leadership they lacked at times last year, and they are plodding along nicely. Probably a year away from seriously challenging.

Original prediction: 6th/Semi Finalists
Current position: 7th
Revised prediction: 6th/Qualifying Finalists

Rabbitohs
The loss of Bennett & Reynolds was always going to be a big challenge for them to overcome. They have looked good at times, but lose their way at times too.

Original prediction: 7th/Qualifying Finalists
Current position: 8th
Revised prediction: 8th/Qualifying Finalists

Dragons
The Dragons have shown considerable improvement so far, but still seem to be a step behind the top sides. May challenge for finals, but will probably make a quick exit if they do make it.

Original prediction: 13th
Current position: 9th
Revised prediction: 10th

Raiders
It’s hard to know what to make of the Raiders. On their day the are hard to beat, but sometimes they are ordinary. I started the year saying they were the most likely of my predicted bottom 8 to prove me wrong & make the finals, and it is probably how I would still rate them.

Original prediction: 9th
Current position: 10th
Revised prediction: 9th

Sea Eagles
Manly are probably the biggest disappointment of the season for me. I had them on the verge of a top 4 finish again, and have been ordinary so far. The loss of Tom Trbojevic for the season pretty much snuffs out any chance of them making the finals from here.

Original prediction: 5th/Semi Finalists
Current position: 11th
Revised prediction: 12th

Warriors
I didn’t hold high hopes for the Warriors before the season started, and they haven’t even been performing to those low standards. I get the feeling there are problems behind closed doors, and they are on the edge of the precipice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them freefall to the bottom from here.

Original prediction: 10th
Current position: 12th
Revised prediction: 13th

Knights
Before losing Pearce in the off season, I had them just outside the 8. After losing Pearce I had them collecting the spoon. They have had some good games, but are generally ordinary. They have probably done enough to avoid the spoon, but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

Original prediction: 16th
Current position: 13th
Revised prediction: 15th

Titans
The Titans are a finals side when they play to their ability. Unfortunately they can’t do it for 80 minutes week in/week out. They will win their share of games from here, and may sneak in if results go their way.

Original prediction: 11th
Current position: 14th
Revised prediction: 11th

Tigers
The Tigers are pretty much doing what I expected of them. They can spring an upset when it suits them, but then have games where they do nothing. 2023 probably can’t come quick enough for them.

Original prediction: 14th
Current position: 15th
Revised prediction: 16th

Bulldogs
I wasn’t expecting big things from the Dogs this year, but was expecting better than what they have shown so far. A few off field distractions are a part of the problem. May still improve in the back end of the season.

Original prediction: 12th
Current position: 16th
Revised prediction: 14th

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SOO is our biggest threat, closely followed by our bogey side the Eels.

Seriously, it’s Melbourne and Bellamy!

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