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NRL big boys all struggling

By Todd Balym 26/04/2009 06:45:33 PM Comments (0)

Reputations count for very little in the NRL with last year's top four sides all struggling for form and wins after another weekend of upsets.

Melbourne, Manly, Cronulla and the Sydney Roosters are all well down on their 2008 form and results with Brisbane the new title favourites and lone leaders with six wins from the opening seven rounds after belting Parramatta 40-8 on Friday night.

The Gold Coast can join the Broncos on top of the table on Monday night when they travel to Sydney to face Penrith at CUA Stadium.

But while the Queenslanders are flying it is the sudden fall from grace of last year's big four that is alarming as they prepare to face off with each other in round eight.

Reigning premiers Manly made it five losses from as many games without star fullback Brett Stewart in 2009 with their 26-12 defeat against North Queensland.

But skipper Matt Orford insists the absence of prolific tryscorer Stewart - scorer of five tries in two games this year - was not the reason they again failed to get across the line.

"You guys (the media) can beat it up all you want that Manly is gone without Brett Stewart but you are far from being right," said Orford.

"We need to have a good look at ourselves, we can't just keep giving two points away like that."

The only good sign for Manly is that next Friday's opponents Melbourne are also struggling ahead of the grand final re-match.

The Storm drew 14-all with the Warriors at Olympic Park on Saturday night, failing to hold onto their 14-6 lead late in the game.

The Storm have yet to post back-to-back wins in 2009 but look the most promising of last year's heavyweights with Brett Finch making a strong club debut at five-eighth against the Warriors.

"It seemed to roll on a lot more smoothly," said captain Cameron Smith.

"There were a lot of positive signs there for us, obviously it's a very empty feeling to come away with just the one point after such a brave effort but that's a result and we need to look forward to next week now."

The Sydney Roosters (fourth in 2008) have failed to score a point in 124 minutes after they were belted 29-0 by St George Illawarra in their Anzac Day clash.

The tricolours blew a 16-0 first half lead against the Warriors last weekend to lose 17-16 and are now sitting 14th on the ladder after three successive losses.

Cronulla are the biggest disappointments of 2009 after dropping their sixth straight game in the 32-26 loss to South Sydney on Friday night to sit in last place on the NRL table.

Skipper Paul Gallen could be suspended for next Saturday's home clash with the Roosters after a high tackle on Craig Wing left the Rabbitohs utility concussed.

The Bulldogs jumped to second place on the NRL table with a 30-20 win over Canberra on Sunday while the Wests Tigers leaped into seventh place with an amazing 26-24 come-from-behind win over Newcastle.

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