The upsets kept coming in Round 14 as the NRL navigates a typically disruptive State of Origin period. For the Panthers, it can’t end soon enough while the Eels are making the most of close to a full-strength squad.

Panthers Drop Another One

Here we go again…

It comes up every year, and every year, the State of Origin period has little to no influence on who ultimately wins the NRL premiership.

The Penrith Panthers dropping back-to-back games without six of their best players won’t be a factor in September. They’re still one of the two best teams in the competition, and it is further evidenced in the Premiership Winner market. The Panthers haven’t budged from their $2.75 favouritism after Round 13.

Titans Sink Further

While the 35-34 loss to the Sydney Roosters looks like one the Gold Coast Titans can be happy with, they shouldn’t be.

The Titans allowed the Roosters to build a 30-4 lead after 50 minutes. Comeback or not, it’s a repeat of the issues the Titans have displayed while losing four of their last five games: poor defence.

Trent Robinson will be filthy that his side fell asleep until being forced into action as the Titans took a 34-30 lead in the 74th minute. The Roosters typically keep their foot down and don’t give teams a sniff of a comeback. Matt Ikuvalu scored two minutes later and Sam Walker knocked over his first career field goal with a minute remaining to save the Chooks, but it’s a slight cause for concern moving forward. It shows a distinct lack of leadership and game management in key playmaking areas, although, they were without James Tedesco for this one.

The Roosters are still a top side in the NRL. They’re going to beat the bad once more often than not and feature in finals football. September footy is no guarantee for the Titans, though. Poor defensively and with an attack that struggles to pile up points for lengthy periods, they look a step or two behind the other Top 8 contenders right now.

Parramatta’s Premiership Push

The Parramatta Eels are working their way through the State of Origin period and inching closer to the contending teams at the top of the Premiership Winner market.

Penrith ($2.75) and Melbourne ($3.50) are head and shoulders above the rest. However, South Sydney’s defensive struggles have seen them drift out to $6.50, while Parramatta’s back-to-back wins, albeit against subpar opposition, have seen them come into $9.

Scoring 40 points in each game is what has been so encouraging. The Eels have put their foot on the gas and not stopped until the final whistle. Their middle carved up Wests Tigers before Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson linked up out the back to pile up points. Unlike previous matches against opposition they’re expected to beat, the Eels didn’t try to take the easy path on the outside early. Instead, they laid a platform in the centre-third for their weapons to strike from.

This is Parramatta at their best. While it isn’t up there with the top two teams in the NRL just yet, they’re getting there.

Bulldogs Upset Dragons

St. George-Illawarra Dragons fan Andrew Webster sums up their 80 minutes on Monday afternoon.

While the Dragons remain inside the NRL’s Top 8, they’re not a finals side, and Monday proved as much. The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, meanwhile, have given themselves a chance of handing over the wooden spoon with their 28-6 win. They’re now equal on competition points (6) and points differential (-204).

NRL Against The Spread Ladder

The Bulldogs have quietly moved to 5-8 against the spread after covering their +13.5 with ease on Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Storm and Eels continue to be the cream of a punters crop at the top of the NRL ATS ladder.

After Round 14

Top 8
Bottom 8
Storm (12-2)Panthers (7-7)
Eels (11-3)Roosters (6-7)
Sharks (8-5)Titans (6-8)
Sea Eagles (8-5)Knights (6-8)
Rabbitohs (7-6)Bulldogs (5-8)
Cowboys (7-6)Broncos (5-9)
Tigers (7-7)Warriors (3-10)
Dragons (7-7)Raiders (3-10)