In the weeks and days leading up to March 8th many fans made their predictions for the way the season would go. Debates were heated over who would make the top eight, who would win the premiership, who would get the spoon or who would win the Dally M. These debates are inevitable and now we are nearing the halfway mark in the season, the debates have not died in the slightest.
I, like the many I spoke of, made a prediction for my top eight. I look at it now and can't help but chuckle. Oh how wrong I was. In the art of good entertainment, let's break down my pre-season prediction for the top eight and compare it to the current ladder placements.
If you look quickly, then look away immediately, it doesn't look that bad but once you start staring for too long you start to see just how bad my predictions really were.
They're in the top eight, I can applaud myself on that at least. How long they will stay in the top eight however is very uncertain. I was adamant that the Roosters were going all the way this year. The names Cronk, Tedesco, Keary, Cornder and Mitchell were echoed in my mind. With a pack that good, how could they not? This is the question everyone has been asking this year. After a completed nine rounds the Roosters sit on sixth place with five wins and four losses and they definitely do not look too comfortable. I don't know what to expect with them now. They could end up in the top four or could drop out of the top eight, either way I won't be surprised.
The placement of two spots is definitely nothing to dwell over. The Storm are happy and merry in fourth place right now knowing that they could easily take over the Panthers any week now. The Warriors and Dragons will definitely be hard to catch up to however, especially the Dragons who handled them easily last weekend. Storm could very well end up second place this year but they also could end up third for fourth. I'm still calling for a top four finish though.
I knew the dragons would be good this year but my goodness I did not expect them to be this good. I knew Widdop and Hunt would be a powerful halves combination but I had predicted a slower start to the season with the two still gelling. I had predicted a powerful second half of the season, just leaving them out of the top two positions. Boy, was I wrong. The only thing I can see stopping them from marching home with the minor premiership is injuries. If the Dragons are lucky enough to scrape through fairly unharmed, they could definitely win the premiership this year. The only second question I must ask however, is how much will Origin affect them?
The only explanation I have for picking the Raiders in my top 4 is insanity. I wish I had a valid argument or some statistics to back myself up but really, it was a wild prediction. It was the assumption that someone would have to shock everyone this year and I thought it would be the boys from Canberra.
I predicted the Raiders would make the top 4 with the argument that someone had to shock everyone but what I didn't know was that the team to shock the competition would be the Eels - and not in a good way. Fans are still left shaking their heads and throwing their arms up in confusion asking that same old, God awful saying "what's the matta Parramatta?" They looked as though they were getting their stuff together and were going to rope in their third win in a row but instead, the Parramatta Eels we saw in round nine for the first 70 minutes was the same team that lost their first six games. It's a long season for the blue and gold army and the top eight is looking more and more far away as the weeks tick by.
A top eight without Wayne Bennett's Broncos is an interesting one. It seemed like for years it was inevitable, they were always going to be there. With the boys up north sitting on ninth place right now, this is still very likely but I can't help but wonder if the only reason the Broncos have a chance still is because other teams are just so bad? If the Broncos avoid the top eight this year, I won't be gobsmacked but personally, I think they'll scrape in. I'm seeing a seventh or eighth place finish for them.
2017 Grand finalists. 2017 under dog and dark knight. What happened this season? The Cowboys are another team that has left the fans shaken and confused. Twelfth place is definitely not the darkest corner in the world but JT and his men still have a very long way to go if they're going to make the top eight especially with the difficult challenge of the Wests Tigers (at home at Leichhardt) tonight. Any team sitting on six points or less is still in major trouble. Those bottom five positions on the ladder can fluctuate with one loss or win. Anything could happen but all I know is the Cowboys seriously need to get their act together.
There's always got to be one disastrous club for the season. The club where everything off the field goes wrong and everything on the field goes even worse. The Sea Eagles are that team this season. I had them just scraping in to play finals football with the eighth spot but now it's looking like they're going to take home the wooden spoon, what a perfect way to top a horrible season.
I had five teams in my top eight who currently sit in the bottom half of the ladder and are replaced with five teams who I had in my bottom half. It's a humbling experience showing that it's almost impossible to pick what is going to happen in the season. I could not have been more wrong about the Warriors and Tigers. I had tipped the Warriors as my 2018 wooden spooners but with the performances they're putting out week after week, I'm contemplating dipping into my pocket to fly over and publicly apologise to every player. The Tigers need an apology too so I might as well make a stop over in Balmain on my way to the airport. The Panthers were in and out of my top eight. I just couldn't decide what would happen for this team but now I'm seriously kicking myself for not adding them in. Now if only the footy Gods could stop cursing them with injuries. The Rabbitohs have been hot and cold this season but when they are on, they're very exciting to watch. Whether they can keep it up I'm not too sure but I hope for their sake my gut feeling is wrong when I expect them to drop out. Finally, I believe the Sharks are lucky to still be in the top eight. The most adamant prediction I have made for this season is that I believe the Sharks will not make the top eight and I am standing by that. If I could, I'd tell them to enjoy it right now while it lasts.
The season is nowhere near finished and I have no idea what really will happen but hey, no harm in having a go right?