2023 Run Home

When was the last time we put 74 points on someone? Have you seen the rest of our draw?

Cows have scored 193 points in the past 5 games, that's just under 40 points a game. Have let in 57, average just over 10 points a game. Won all of them: against Penrith, Storm, Bunnies, Tigpies and Manly.

In the same timeframe we've scored 124 at an average of just under 25 points a game. Have let in 90, average 18. We won against fake contenders Sharks, and bottom 9 teams of Knights, Dolphins, Bulldogs. And lost to bottom 9 team the Titans.

They are fucking flying. I don't want to meet them in the finals. Which of their remaining games do you think they'll lose?
I am sure theyre a real chance of reaching the GF but they have left their run too late to make top 4 imo
when was the last time we conceded 66

Wikipedia tells me vs the Eels in Round 25, 2007.

Settle down you lot, all I'm saying is the Cowboys could very well finish above us on the ladder with their run home vs ours. They're likely to put a score on at least a couple of those teams as well, so their F/A will likely improve significantly.

Do the ladder predictor yourself and see how it you reckon it ends up, don't shoot me for giving it a crack. 7 weeks is a long time, anything could happen.
The Cows have had to go into overdrive pretty early. They could definitely maintain this momentum for sure but I do wonder whether they are red lining too early.
Now for the teams that are 'technically' in the running but are highly unlikely to be there come September, let alone October. A few of these teams are likely spending more time preparing for their holidays rather than their matches so it's just a matter of which teams are likely to have a crack.

Let's kick it off from the bottom

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (6 Wins) 1 Loss Streak
vs. Panthers (A), Dolphins (H*), Bye, Knights (A), Raiders (A), Sea Eagles (H), Titans (A)

Injuries/Suspensions: Josh Addo-Carr (vs. Panthers/Dolphins), Karl Oloapu (vs. Dolphins), Toby Sexton (vs. Dolphins), Viliame Kikau (vs. Panthers/Dolphins), Braidon Burns (TBC), Ryan Sutton (Indefinite), Luke Thompson (Indefinite/Season)

I'm going to call it, the Bulldogs will be sitting with the Tigers and Dragons after this weekend. However do they go 0-6? On form they'll go close but with players coming back and a few players auditioning for spots I can see them snagging a few wins here and there. Especially if they come up against an opposition side that goes through the motions and leave it to late. I'm expecting them to finish with at least 8 wins.

Sydney Roosters (7 Wins) 3 Loss Streak

vs. Titans (A), Broncos (A), Sea Eagles (H), Dolphins (H), Eels (A), Tigers (H), Rabbitohs (A)

Injuries/Suspensions: Paul Momirovski (vs Broncos), Connor Watson (vs. Broncos/Indefinite), Angus Crichton (Indefinite/Season), Sitili Tupouniua (Indefinite/Season), Sam Walker (Indefinite/Season), Naufahu Whyte (Indefinite/Season)

We've been waiting all season for the Roosters to turn up and while they had a similar assignment last year, something about this seems out of reach. It's actually a pretty friendly draw and if they can go back-to-back with Tedesco, Manu, Keary etc. leading the charge anything is possible. Especially if they pick up a player before August 4th to bolster their line-up.

At this stage, I just think the injuries will sink them and while I expect them to at least make a statement, I also expect them to fall short. I'm expecting them to finish with 11 wins.

Gold Coast Titans (7 Wins) 3 Loss Streak
vs. Roosters (H), Cowboys (H), Warriors (H), Sharks (A), Panthers (H), Storm (A), Bulldogs (H)

Injuries/Suspensions: Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (vs. Sharks), Jaimin Jolliffe (vs. Sharks), Beau Fermor (Season)

That's a really tough run home for the Gold Coast and while they've produced without Tino in the past they could have used him to break this losing streak. It's just a question of whether they go 0-10 to end the season. Stranger things have happened, but surely for a team like the Gold Coast that have points in them they have a crack at beating one of these teams before the Bulldogs.

Especially when you consider how they've been in every single game this season. For that reason, they shape as a dark horse at this stage and if a couple of those contenders have key injuries or they're beginning to look ragged I wouldn't be shocked if the Titans pounced.

The concern is that they have an interim coach and the stories doing the rounds over Tino and Fifita. It'll be very easy for some of their players to pull the plug and for one and done journeyman to get picked before the new coach comes in and brings the fringe talent he wants.

As it stands, I'll say they finish with 9 wins with an upset on the horizon.

Manly Sea Eagles (7 Wins) 1 Loss Streak
vs. Sharks (A), Dragons (A), Roosters (A), Panthers (H), Warriors (A), Bulldogs (A), Tigers (H)

Injuries/Suspensions: Tom Trbojevic (Season), Ben Trbojevic (vs. Roosters), Karl Lawton (vs. Panthers)

Outside of the Panthers game, I wouldn't write off the Sea Eagles in any of those games. I'd lean towards the Sharks, Roosters and Warriors but it wouldn't shock me if Manly were the better team on the day. A lot of their success will come down to Cherry-Evans and how well he can kick his team to victory. If he can pilot his team, I can see carrying the team to victory. If Jake Trbojevic and Matt Lodge can control the middle, I can see the Sea Eagles finishing with 11 wins. Enough to call Seibold's first season an improvement, but not enough to give them a shot.

Newcastle Knights (7 Wins) 2 Win Streak

vs. Storm (H), Raiders (A), Dolphins (A), Bulldogs (H), Rabbitohs (H), Sharks (H), Dragons (A)

Injuries/Suspensions: Jayden Brailey (Season)

They play well in spurts and they figured out that playing Ponga in his natural position was the right move but can they be a giant killer? I'll never forget honorary Broncos #177 Cooper Vuna and his heroics in 2007 - the Broncos were never going to make it without his contributions against the Tigers. They have a knack for those late season upsets and I'm curious to see who they aim up for here. The Raiders and Sharks games especially seem prime.

Right now AOB seems safe, outside of Brailey they have no key injuries and if they do sign a dummy half it will only boost them. The question is who? Can they get a Jake Simpkin, Cory Paix, Jayden Berrell etc?

They have the pieces and if they can add another they could be a serious dark horse. However the Knights don't strike me as a team that will have a crack and I can see them dropping some pretty disappointing performances. I'm going to say 10 wins, with two upsets, one for and against them.

Dolphins (8 Wins) 1 Loss Streak
vs. Bye, Bulldogs (A), Knights (H), Roosters (A), Tigers (A), Cowboys (H), Warriors (H)

Injuries/Suspensions: Tom Gilbert (Season), Jeremy Marshall-King (Indefinite), Brenko Lee (Indefinite)

They have a good run home and should be competitive but this season is getting long in the tooth. The loss of Gilbert and Marshall-King has complicated matters and while JMK is still a chance it's highly doubtful he'll be able to play to his earlier standard. It would be an incredible run if they went 6-0 to qualify, but after the past month or so they're running on fumes.

We'll get a better understanding after the Bulldogs game. That's a real season defining game and if they lose that game I can see the narrative shifting to the experts being right all along.

This is usually the period where Bennett teams get found out, but even when they serve up a disappointing loss they usually jag a couple here and there. So I'm expecting 2-4 (10 wins) with a few ugly 2007 esque wins in there.

Manly - 11 Wins
Sydney - 11 Wins
Dolphins - 10 Wins
Knights - 10 Wins
Gold Coast - 9 Wins
Canterbury - 8 Wins

My ladder predictor results. I've just went the default 12 point wins, so P/D will change final positions which means we finish 2nd or 3rd.
So let's review, this was my expectation.

1. Panthers - 17 Wins
2. Warriors - 17 Wins
3. Rabbitohs - 16 Wins
4. Broncos - 16 Wins
5. Cowboys - 16 Wins
6. Storm - 15 Wins
7. Raiders - 15 Wins
8. Sharks - 14 Wins
9. Eels - 13 Wins
10. Manly - 11 Wins
11. Sydney - 11 Wins
12. Knights - 10 Wins
13. Dolphins - 10 Wins
14. Gold Coast - 9 Wins
15. Canterbury - 8 Wins

1. Panthers - 18 Wins
2. Broncos - 18 Wins
3. Storm - 16 Wins
4. Warriors - 16 Wins
5. Knights - 14 Wins
6. Sharks - 14 Wins
7. Roosters - 13 Wins
8. Raiders - 13 Wins
9. Rabbitohs - 12 Wins
10. Eels - 12 Wins
11. Cowboys - 12 Wins
12. Manly - 11 Wins
13. Dolphins - 9 Wins
14. Titans - 9 Wins
15. Bulldogs - 7 Wins

There were a few factors in play here. Coming off of State of Origin, South Sydney appeared bound for a strong run home. However before the first hurdle, Latrell pulled out at the last minute and despite leading at half-time they completely fell to pieces against the Broncos in that second half. They nearly lost to the Tigers and had to have a few things go their way against the Dragons before being outclassed.

Koloamatangi was really disappointing coming off his Origin debut and neither Lachlan Ilias or Campbell Graham played as well as they did during the opening portions of the season. However it was the form of Latrell Mitchell that was of real concern and he may as well have just pulled the pin before the Origin series. From arguably the form player in the competition, to a complete non-entity, it was really bizarre how it all fell apart for Latrell.

Then there was the Cowboys. One of the reasons why I started this thread is because I was looking at the run home like it was a multiple choice quiz where every seemed to be (c). Surely that couldn't have been right and so I turned it in hoping to see where I got it wrong. In this instance I believe the Cowboys were riding the high of Queensland's State of Origin victory and a few timely returns. They were allowed to beat some quality teams without their stars, they took that confidence but as time went on, injuries and loss of form crept in and they fell apart.

The turning point for me was half-way through the Eels game where it appeared the Cowboys couldn't wait for the game to be over and were making some really soft efforts. That lethargy crept into the Gold Coast game and while they came out a million miles an hour against the Broncos, they didn't blow them off the park like they expected to and paid the price.

Their key players struggled to get into the game and their pack was really exposed defensively.

Then on the other side of the coin is Newcastle. The Knights were one of those teams that on their day could match it with anyone but they also had a tendancy to just go completely off the boil. That's been an issue O'Brien's entire tenure and while I was expecting them to be giant killers, I wasn't expecting them to be so consistent. The wins against Melbourne and South Sydney really changed things and they've been the big story of this run home.

I wouldn't say the Roosters did better than expected or if teams like the Eels and the Rabbits did worse. I'll say it's a bit of both, with the timely return of players like Sam Walker & Angus Crichton who appeared touch and go giving them the boost they needed and now I'd consider them a genuine chance of making Week 3. Their run, along with the Knights run, has really made for an exciting finals series and it wouldn't shock me at all, if we saw the Knights qualify for a Grand Final.

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