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IN MY OPINION: Inconsistency is system fault
CONSISTENCY and hitting top form is a problem for all Super League teams at the moment.
Leeds Rhinos, who had to hit a peak for the visit of Melbourne Storm last month, have probably managed best, but even they have been the only side to lose to Castleford Tigers so far.
Huddersfield Giants were looking pretty as the undefeated pacesetters, with impressive wins against St Helens and Wigan to their name, but they came unstuck in a surprising 43-18 home loss to Bradford at the weekend.
That was a Bradford side who had looked pretty average in a home defeat to St Helens a week earlier.
And then there’s Hull Kingston Rovers, who got over the top of Warrington on Sunday after seven days previous becoming the first team to lose to Salford since last July.
So is this the sign that teams are levelling out and we have a more competitive Super League this time round?
I am not convinced.
The muddy pitches, a tendancy for referees to allow slowing down of play-the-balls with wrestling techniques, as well as injuries are playing their part.
You can see that in the lower scoring of this season’s games compared to the past.
But I mainly blame Leeds Rhinos and the faults of a system that provide 27 practice rounds before the real business starts.
Leeds haven’t done anything wrong, merely played the system, but by finishing fifth for the past two seasons and going on to be crowned champions despite losing 22 of their 54 regular matches, it has shown to all that not every match matters as much as fans would like it to.
And with teams running out of fuel in past seasons and a World Cup to come at the end of this year, it seems more clubs have gone into this campaign with players trying to build their match fitness and form as they go along.
During that process, coaches feel they can make changes in their teams to share out the workload and to seek out the most successful combinations without fear of repercussions on the opportunity to reach the Grand Final.
It isn’t all bad. There is an unpredictability factor when turning up to watch a match.
And it is intriguing to see the process and forerunners unfold as we go along, almost like a game of chess.
But the kicker is teams not being at their best every week.