Ouch. Following the form is one thing but what happens when the form doesn’t mean spit? Zero out of eight is what happens. Last week, Crikey’s NRL Hot Form Chart managed to tip exactly no winners after every “form” team failed to get over the line. Oh well. As every punter knows, sometimes the system lets you down.
Heading a radically changed Hot Form Chart after round two is Cronulla. The Sharks have taken out the top two teams from last year with tough away wins. This week, they hit the road again but will make the Gold Coast trek without prop Ben Ross who invoked rugby league’s history in its centenary year by flattening Cooper Cronk with a late forearm to the head. The clenched fist retaliation by the Storm’s Brett White was equally nostalgic. Perhaps the NRL should feature the incidents in their advertising campaign?
Newcastle and the Tigers are also big Hot Form Chart movers. The teams went into the season without many plaudits but have strung together two impressive victories and now sit in the top four with both Crikey and the NRL.
Brisbane is 2008’s other undefeated team and have the chance to darken North Queensland’s dreary season opening more by inflicting the Cowboys’ third straight loss. And it’s not only the players and coach feeling the pinch. Members of the Cowboy’s cheer squad have been labeled “anorexic blonde bimbos” by a text message campaign. Who said network coverage was poor in rural Australia?
Hot Form Chart free-fallers Souths and Penrith meet this weekend, so at least one club will arrest their slide, but the real early season surprise has been Manly. The Sea Eagles have delighted pretty much everyone except their own supporters with back-to-back losses and must now defeat a pretty handy Warriors outfit if they are to get on the board in ’08.
God help the defender who tries to “tunnel” Jonathan Brown. The big Brisbane forward was at his destructive best in the West, single handedly hauling his team back into a contest that threatened to be over half way through the first quarter. The Lions lost in the end but not before Brown had underlined why most consider him the best player in the competition.
For that other best player in the competition the season did not start as planned. Chris Judd showed glimpses of his brilliance but, by and large, Carlton’s off-season bubble was burst by Richmond and a vintage turn by the ever demonstrative Matthew Richardson. Thanks to the Hot Form Chart’s count-back system, the Tigers have rocketed to third on the table, shading Collingwood and blow-out round one winners Hawthorn.
The Hawks’ demolition of Melbourne was ultra-impressive but shellackings of that scale often say more about the vanquished than the victors. Melbourne, and their capacity to bounce back from such a heavy loss, will be the subject of much scrutiny this weekend.
Their opponent is the Bulldogs who prevailed in thrilling circumstances on the back of heroics by 300th gamer Brad Johnson. The match was played in stark contrast to the other nail-biter of the round. St Kilda scored only 51 points and still won … which means their opponent must have been Sydney. The Swans are back at the SCG on Sunday to take on fellow round one losers Port Adelaide. One can only hope Sydney produces a more dynamic brand of football.
And in a week that saw huge fluctuations on Crikey’s AFL Hot Form Chart, the constant was the form of Geelong. It’s early days but already the premiers seem peerless. Their match against the suddenly young, fast and exuberant Bombers should be a highlight and just pips the Crows against West Coast for Crikey’s match of the round.
- West Coast
- St Kilda
- Port Adelaide