NRL MID-SEASON REPORT CARD
Ladder: 1st (22 points)
What’s working: Off momentum from their big forwards they’ve dominated possession in all but three matches and their scintillating backs do the rest.
What’s not: Despite top spot, Cronulla have made the third-most errors.
Key: James Maloney has taken teams to four finals series and three minor premierships but won just one title. That needs to change for the Sharks to break their 50-year title duck.
Ladder: 2nd (22pts)
What’s working: Defence. Craig Bellamy’s men have conceded the fewest points and are yet to let in 20-plus in a game.
What’s not: Not much. Big wins over the Warriors and Titans highlight what Melbourne’s attack can do when it clicks. They just need to find that balance consistently.
Key: With Billy Slater gone for 2016, keeping Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk fit.
NORTH QUEENSLAND (A)
Ladder: 3rd (18pts)
What’s working: The premiers are turning Townsville into a graveyard for visitors, winning all seven at home.
What’s not: Very little. Four losses on the road is some concern but the margins were just 4, 1, 1 and 4.
Key: Keeping momentum despite Origin commitments for key men Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou.
Ladder: 4th (16pts)
What’s working: Followed their golden-point grand final loss with a solid start as Anthony Milford, Darius Boyd and Josh McGuire shone in a well-balanced team.
What’s not: A mid-season slump around Origin and star recruit James Roberts has yet to really fire.
Key: Surviving Origin still in the top-four mix will leave coach Wayne Bennett confident they can erase 2015’s heartbreak.
Ladder: 5th* (16pts)
What’s working: Corey Norman is in career-best form, while teams still can’t figure out how to stop Semi Radradra.
What’s not: The salary cap scandal led to mid-season exits of Nathan Peats and Junior Paulo, while Kieran Foran (shoulder) is gone for the season.
Key: To keep fighting in a season that’s all but over for them.
* Facing breach notice that includes losing 12 competition points.
Ladder: 6th (15pts)
What’s working: The Raiders have the second-best attacking record. Josh Hodgson and Jordan Rapana have been immense.
What’s not: The best teams close out matches, but Canberra missed chances to put away Newcastle before collapsing against the Titans and Dragons.
Key: Have one of the best runs home and, if Junior Paulo reaches his destructive best, they could be top-four bolters.
Ladder: 7th (14pts)
What’s working: Their monster forward pack creates momentum and makes metres without errors.
What’s not: Despite dominance in the middle and danger out wide, Des Hasler’s men have made the second-least tackle breaks this season.
Key: Consistency. The Dogs have only twice posted back-to-back wins.
GOLD COAST (A-)
Ladder: 8th (14pts)
What’s working: Young playmaker Ashley Taylor has been a revelation easing concerns in the halves.
What’s not: They have the worst defensive record in the eight.
Key: How quickly Konrad Hurrell and Nathan Peats settle in.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA (B)
Ladder: 9th (14pts)
What’s working: One of only three teams undefeated at home, thanks largely to defence.
What’s not: Scoring at a league-low 12 points a game, leaves questions on whether their spine can engineer a working attack.
Key: Finding ways to score more points.
SOUTH SYDNEY (B-)
Ladder: 10th (12pts)
What’s working: One of the elite attacking teams, with only Brisbane holding a better strike rate inside opposition red zones.
What’s not: Haven’t dominated the middle and run over teams like before, while they’ve often turned over ball.
Key: Finding the best way to utilise a re-shuffled spine with Greg Inglis at No.6, Cody Walker at fullback and Luke Keary on the bench.
Ladder: 11th (12pts)
What’s working: Penrith were renowned for staying in the fight, but a poor past fortnight has cast doubt.
What’s not: Have missed the second most tackles, while the decline of James Segeyaro is a concern.
Key: Finding a healthy halves combination that can fire when it matters.
Ladder: 12th (12pts)
What’s working: When they get it right, they’re unstoppable. Shaun Johnson is showing signs of his best form again.
What’s not: Big-name recruits Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (injured) and Issac Luke (form) haven’t delivered and doubts remain over coach Andrew McFadden’s control.
Key: As always, consistency.
Ladder: 13th (10pts)
What’s working: The emergence of Tom Trbojevic (six try assists, eight line breaks) and brother Jake (36 tackles per game) gives hope for the future.
What’s not: Injuries and the failed Dylan Walker playmaker experiment has club on track for their worst attacking record since 1992.
Key: It’s a long road to recovery, but it starts with how Apisai Koroisau performs as fill-in halfback.
WESTS TIGERS (C)
Ladder: 14th (10pts)
What’s working: Star fullback James Tedesco is almost single-handedly keeping them in games.
What’s not: Coach Jason Taylor’s decision to “rest” ex-skipper Robbie Farah only fuels the long-running saga dragging on the club.
Key: Young halves Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks finally fulfilling their potential now they’ve secured their futures for 2017.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS (C-)
Ladder: 15th (8pts)
What’s working: Jake Friend’s performances have been gallant in a team that missed Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner over the first third of season.
What’s not: Even the best will struggle when the departure of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney and Michael Jennings is coupled with key injuries and suspensions.
Key: There’s still some slight hope but they’ll need to stay injury-free.
Ladder: 16th (3pts)
What’s working: With an extremely inexperienced squad, not much was expected this season.
What’s not: The presence of former Origin player in the reserves isn’t a ringing endorsement for Akuila Uate.
Key: More displays like their draw with Canberra and the narrow loss to Melbourne, less like the hidings by Brisbane and Cronulla.