We saw the cream rise to the top in Round 21 while the pretenders continued to flounder.
Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters showed why they are one-two on the NRL premiership ladder following their performances on the weekend.
Both lifted to another level when required with the former giving Cam Smith a memorable moment for his 350th NRL match.
As for the Sydney Roosters they overturned a 16-6 deficit at the break and showed why many are considering them the biggest threat to Storm’s premiership chances.
In Round 21 there were also feel good results for the Newcastle Knights and Wests Tigers while the Panthers continued their finals push with a solid victory last Thursday night.
The Knights pulled off one of the upsets of the season when beating Stgeorge Illawarra 21-14 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Beginning brilliantly, Newcastle then benefitted from several contentious calls throughout the match before hanging on grimly in the second half to record just their third win of the 2017 season.
Wests Tigers also gave their fans something to cheer about with a 22-point win over the Gold Coast in the final match of the round.
James Tedesco was on fire for the visitors and it will be hard to see him playing in a Roosters jersey from next season, however, the Tigers have some promising types already in the team such as Esan Masters which will give coach Ivan Cleary plenty to work with going forward.
From a betting perspective the Knights and Tigers dominate the Most Losses market as they occupy the bottom two placings. Sportsbet has Newcastle at $1.03 while the Tigers are $12 with five rounds remaining. Nathan Brown’s men are two wins adrift of the merged entity.
After going up 12-nil the visitors eventually got rolled 28-14 with the defeat putting them in a three-way tussle with the Cowboys and Eels for a top four spot.
Making things worse was that Wayne Bennett’s side is that they will be without Andrew McCullough for the rest of the season after going down with a knee injury.
The hooker is one of the hard nuts in the side and goes through a mountain of tackling each and every week. They are going to sorely miss his contributions heading into the back end of the season.
Bet365 and Luxbet has Brisbane @ $11 to win the Grand Final if you think they can overcome such a big loss at this stage of the campaign.
The Sea Eagles were flying high going into Round 20’s game with the Dragons, winning eight of their previous 10 but have been pulverized in consecutive games since.
They conceded 52 points against the Red V and then had the Storm put 40 on them in Round 21 to be outscored 92-28 in the past fortnight.
Manly were looking good for a top four spot just a few weeks ago and now they sit in seventh spot just one win above the spluttering Dragons and the surging Panthers.
The Northern Beaches outfit has to face a flying Sydney Roosters side this week before games against the improving Tigers, Bulldogs, Warriors and a Round 26 showdown against the Panthers.
Depending on how results fall between now and the final round, that match against Penrith could well decide who makes the top eight and who doesn’t.