Soward: NRL lottery delivers surprises

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We are 10 rounds into the 2017 NRL season this weekend and I thought for this week’s column, I’d take a look at the season so far and list my top three teams that have surprised me so far this year as well as my top three disappointments.

My top three teams that have surprised me the most so far this season:

St George-Illawarra Dragons

The Dragons are playing a real hard-nosed brand of footy and they’re not taking any prisoners. Even though they were off the pace against Melbourne before the rep round, they got themselves back into that game and gave themselves something to build on.

However, I think their talent and depth will be tested in the coming weeks with captain Gareth Widdop still sidelined plus fullback Josh Dugan also now injured.

Manly Sea Eagles

Manly’s performances this season really make you wonder where they are going to finish after the 26 rounds. While they’ve put in some real stinkers at home, they’ve been able to come together on the road and win some really big games, like the one in North Queensland back in Round 3. Consistency is the key for this team going forward.

Cronulla Sharks

Going back to back is really tough but the Sharks have been a bit like Manly this year. While they haven’t done much at home, on the road they’ve been able to go into some tough environments, play their brand of footy and get some really good wins, which currently sees them in third on the ladder. Origin time could be a challenge.

My top three teams that have disappointed me the most so far this season:

Penrith Panthers

Pre-season hype is a big thing to live up to but sometimes it can really take hold of you.
Even if you say you are not reading into the hype, it just becomes an expectation from everyone around the club that things are going to happen and sometimes they don’t.

This Saturday’s clash against the Warriors is a do or die game in regards to Penrith’s top eight chances.

New Zealand Warriors

The Kiwi spine should be doing a lot better but they are just not getting the support every week from everyone. It’s very frustrating.

While Kieran Foran is improving the Warriors, they still have some stuff to work out because they should definitely be in the top eight right now.

Canberra Raiders

The Raiders have had some mixed form to start the year and I don’t think they understand what kind of footy that they need to play to be able to get those tough wins. I watched them against the Bulldogs the other week and that was a game that they should have had in the bag but they never really looked like getting out of first gear and they got beat.

That’s something they’ll have to address if they want to push for a premiership this year.

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