Round 5: Tips.
Storm vs Knights - Can’t go past the Storm… even though you’d think they are due a loss. Not willing to stick my neck out though, so I’ll go with a tough Storm 1-12 win.
Broncos vs Dragons - Really hard to pick this one, but I see more in the Dragons than I do in the Broncos. I just get the feeling the Broncos have been overachieving so far. It’s at Suncorp though… I’m so on the fence. Broncos 1-12, even though it contradicts what I just said. I was going with the Dragons with the same margin, last minute change of heart.
Panthers vs Sharks - Another tough game to pick, hope the Sharks win it though. I remember the days I hated the Sharks, I find myself hoping they’d win very often these days; I think it’s all the former Tiger players they have. Purely because they are at home, Panthers 1-12. I often do that when I’m undecided, if you haven’t noticed.
Eels vs Manly - Ha. Eels are no chance. I expected them to lift a couple of weeks ago, nothing changed. If there’s ever a week to fire up it will be this week for them. Hindmarsh announcing his retirement and Hayne due back… they have to perform. The obvious says Manly 13+, but I still smell an upset. A crazy one.
Roosters vs Warriors - Roosters are paying good money. For some reason I’m confident of a Roosters win here. Roosters 1-12.
Titans vs Bulldogs - Too much drama at the Titans and the Bulldogs are going too good. Really can’t see the Titans winning here, even though it would be awesome. Bulldogs 13+.
Tigers vs Rabbitohs - We have to win… but I don’t know if we have the team to do it. The Rabbits scare me, especially with Inglis roaming around wherever he wants now. Our defence HAS to be on form if we have a chance of winning. Sadly, Rabbits 1-12 is what I think may happen.
Raiders vs Cowboys - Interesting game. I’d love to see the Raiders kick-on from last weeks win against us. I want to see them prove a real point and they have a chance here against a very good team in the Cowboys. Should be a really good watch this. Raiders 1-12.
Round 4: Tips.
Eels vs Panthers - You’d think the Eels have to win this one. Jarryd Hayne might play, and if he does, I’m certain the Eels will bounce back this week. Eels in a tough and tight one, 1-12.
Rabbitohs vs Broncos - This one is really tough to pick. The Broncos have been going so well and the Rabbitohs are capable of anything. On their day, the Rabbits are very hard to beat. They would have got some confidence from last week and if they can all stand up and deliver again, I’d say the Rabbits will get away with the win… 13+!
Warriors vs Titans - There is no way the Titans could win this one… which is why you’d think they can. Strangely. I can’t see the Warriors losing at home again though, impossible. All the off-field issues for the Titans might be a factor too, so I’m going to go with what you’d expect - an easy 13+ victory for the Warriors.
Dragons vs Manly - What a game this should be! Another real tough one to pick. I’m so undecided… but because of the injuries and suspensions Manly have, I’m going with a Dragons 1-12 win.
Cowboys vs Sharks - This one should be good too; and quite interesting. It’s a tough trip for the Sharks; but if they can play like they have been (despite the results) they can really challenge the Cowboys. Both teams have shown similar form I’d say, the Sharks have just been unlucky. Purely because it’s up in North QLD, I’d say a Cowboys 1-12 win.
Storm vs Roosters - Gotta be the Storm; they’re just red-hot at the moment and the Roosters won’t be able to match them. I would be very surprised if there was an upset here. Storm 13+.
Bulldogs vs Knights - The Knights better win. Seriously. I refuse to believe the Bulldogs are a real threat this season. The Knights should be desperate for a win and I hope they deliver. Knights 1-12.
Tigers vs Raiders - I’m expecting the Tigers to come out with a near-perfect performance. I don’t care what injuries/suspensions we have; that’s no excuse. You wear that jersey, you put your all into it. No half-hearted, arm-grabbing tackles. Play hard, show everyone we’re not the soft flamboyant team they think we are. Raiders are missing very good players in Dugan and Fensom, so there are absolutely no excuses. Tigers 13+.
Round 3: Review
What is it with home teams so far this season? Some crazy results this so far this season, and quite a few high-scoring games this week.
Dragons (36) vs Tigers (12) - Like I said, I predicted this with my heart this week more than my brain. I thought the Tigers could have got away with a close 1-12 win, but unfortunately we just didn’t have the team to do it. Inexperience down the middle really cost us. Dragons were clinical bouncing back from a shocker, saw this result coming to be honest. Hopefully our boys bounce back big this week.
Knights (10) vs Broncos (24) - This was a bit of a surprise; really didn’t expect the Broncos to win it, especially with a bit of a margin. The Broncos are shaping up for a pretty good season it seems.
Titans (6) vs Storm (30) - Haha, got this absolutely wrong. Not to say I’m surprised; the Storm are too classy, while the Titans continue to disappoint. What’s up with signing Dave Taylor? Get yourselves another half and/or a classy fullback or you’ll go nowhere. Don’t know how they can keep affording all these big name players; ah well, Jamal Idris and Dave Taylor are the most lazy combination at times. Good luck to them. Anyway, how good are the Storm? And I know this has been talked about a thousand times this week, but how good is Billy Slater?! He’s incredible. Love watching him, even though I despise the Storm.
Cowboys (42) vs Eels (6) - Got this one spot on. Poor Kearney. Apparently he’s safe though, so that’s good to hear. Not much he can do about that shitty roster. Not much to take out of this game. Sure the Cowboys were good, but it’s not like the Eels put up much of a fight.
Warriors (18) vs Bulldogs (32) - This result angered me. Stupid Warriors. Stupid Bulldogs. I said I’d believe the Bulldogs can go places in 2012 if they win this; but no. I refuse to. I still don’t see it happening. I put it down to a flukey start; they’ll go back down to the bottom of the ladder where they belong. Hate aside, it was a really good win for them. James Graham reminds me of a meaty Ed Sheeran. That is all.
Roosters (14) vs Raiders (8) - Thought this would be hard to pick, went with a Raiders 1-12 win, but the Roosters managed to get away with it. Raiders would have won it had Dugan and Fensom been able to stay on the field; how injury prone is Dugan though? It’s crazy. Every game. Feel sorry for the Raiders. Was good to see Shaun Kenny-Dowall back for the Roosters; made some solid runs on his return. He definitely makes the Roosters look more potent. Also happy to see Mortimer get his first try for them; he is playing well. Still don’t see the Roosters as much of a threat though.
Panthers (24) vs Rabbitohs (40) - I said 1-12, but I also said if I was braver I’d say 13+; I wasn’t brave. Like I said, Panthers don’t look all that scary this year; so far anyway. The Rabbitohs needed that win more. Inglis back to fullback was a masterstroke; I thought he’d be too big and bulky to play back there, but he had an enormous game. I really hope they keep him there when Merritt comes back. Dave Taylor’s try was awesome, but very dumb. Had that gone dead, he would have got the hook and a good spray. I agree with Gordon Tallis; I want to see him play a tougher, more direct game like Paul Gallen. He can still do the fancy stuff, but he needs to roll-up his sleeves and do the dirty stuff first; that’s his job. Hard to take much out of that, the Rabbits can be brilliant on their day but awful the next, so we’ll have to wait and see how they go next week.
Sharks (17) vs Sea Eagles (14) - Got this spot on. It was a great, tough game. Felt bad for the Sharks when Manly showed signs of doing what they did last year! Poor Shane Flanagan; must’ve been really tough watching the last few minutes. Happy with this result; even if it means we’re 15th on the table at rounds end. The Sharks deserved a win; it’ll be interesting to see how they go for the rest of the season. Jeff Robson at halfback was a good move.
Debates in league: The shoulder charge.
I love it. As a fan, I love it, and as a player, I loved it - and I was one of the smaller guys. Obviously I didn’t pull many off, I’m no Chris Sandow, but when I did… well, I loved it.
I’ve been on the other end of them too, but I still loved it.
Don’t get me wrong, I see why they are clamping down on them; there’s nothing worse than seeing a player being stretchered off, but there is just so much excitement in a good hit. And I really hope they don’t get rid of them completely.
The Frank Pritchard shoulder charge, in my opinion, was a very good shot technically. The outcome was very sad with poor David Simmons suffering a concussion; but, I really don’t know what Pritchard could have done to avoid it. Had Simmons not changed his line at the last second, it would have been a good clean hit.
Manu Vatuvei on Willie Tonga was very similar; and he got off clean. Obviously, and it has been so for a while, there is a major issue with the consistency of the judiciary.
And my problem is mainly with the punishment of these tackles; I believe the judiciary is being far too harsh. A penalty is sufficient, but a spell on the sidelines for a week or more is too much. Let me be clear, though, I am referring to those accidents we see quite often; not the really reckless ones where the shoulder/arm is swung violently.
I know often it’s hard to be able to tell what is an accident and what is intentional, but I’m sure no one can argue that either Vatuvei or Pritchard had any intent in their incidents.
Are you a fan of the shoulder charge? Have your say!
Round 2: Tips.
Tipping is a complete lottery in the NRL.
Manly vs Tigers - As a Tigers fan, I know the Tigers can win this if they played to their potential. Based on last weeks performances from each team though, you can’t go past a Manly win. Unfortunately, I think it might even be an ugly 13+.
Broncos vs Cowboys - It can’t get worse than last week for the Cowboys. The Broncos weren’t all that flash against a very poor Eels team last week either. This should be a tight one, but I’m going with a Cowboys 1-12 win.
Titans vs Raiders - Titans were my pick for the spoon to be honest, but after last week, I think I have that one wrong already. Sure, they were up against a very poor effort by the Cowboys, but they showed signs of a team that may trouble the best. I’ve never bought the Jamal Idris hype, I still think he has issues in his game that he needs to work on, but I’d love to see him do well and that was a good start for him at the Titans. Apart from Idris, I really don’t rate the Titans backline. Tough forwards though, which the Raiders also have. The Raiders were unlucky last week against the Storm; they are very similar to the Tigers. I’d like to see them go well this year, and I think they will upset the Titans, even with their very average away record. Raiders 1-12.
Bulldogs vs Dragons - Despise both teams. The Bulldogs really don’t look like a threatening team to me this season. They have a pretty light back row in Dene Halatau and David Stagg, despite their talents, and a fairly ordinary backline. It’s nice to see Halatau starting in first grade again though. James Graham, the one that got away, was fantastic last week. As a Kiwi, I’d love to see Greg Eastwood return to the form that saw him capture everyone’s attention. The Dragons on the other hand are a quality outfit; it’s hard to find a weakness in their side on paper. Young Jack De Belin was outstanding on debut last week. Matt Cooper is in some doubt, labelled a 50/50 chance of playing. He’ll be a big loss - one of my favorite centres. Ben Hornby is the most basic halfback in the game, which makes him a very good player; nothing flash, just consistency week in week out. I’ll go with Dragons 1-12.
Sharks vs Knights - Another tight one. I think this has the potential to be the upset of the round; the Sharks were obviously unlucky last week. They have recruited very well in the off-season, as have the Knights (money talks). The ‘Bennett-factor’ will be tested here; will the Knights lose two in a row? I’d personally love to see it. The Knights are lacking a quality centre, or two. I was surprised to see Wes Naiqama named ahead of Junior Sau last week, but I suppose Sau is seen to be a left centre, where Timana Tahu was playing last week. He gets his chance this week, after another ridiculous outburst from Tahu. Hope the Sharks get up in this one, for Bryce Gibbs anyway! Sharks 1-12.
Roosters vs Panthers - The Panthers are another team that doesn’t scare me; very average side. Maybe Ivan Cleary can turn things around for them, with the help of Gus Gould, but it’s a tough side to work with. The Roosters escaped last week, after being very average for most of the game. Boyd Cordner has become my favorite youngster for the year, looks like a very mature player for his age. They have some talented young forwards there. Anasta should be back, and that will add a lot for them. Roosters 1-12. Could be an ugly 13+ though; sitting on the fence, I know.
Storm vs Rabbitohs - The Storm are just too much of a class outfit to lose at home to most teams, let alone the Rabbitohs. I thought their ‘big three’ combo clicked very well last week, especially this early in the season. Dangerous things to come from the Storm, my favorites for minor premiers. Sam Burgess was brilliant last week. I’m a fan of John Sutton’s potential and I’d love to see him perform consistently on a weekly basis; he has the talent for sure. I’m not sure if 5/8th is his position, he’s probably more a lock, but I suppose the Rabbitohs don’t have options there. Isaac Luke returns, though Nathan Peats keeps his starting spot, strangely. Michael Maguire making a statement there, obviously. Should be interesting to see the few ex-Storm players going up against their old team. Matt King struggled last week, I thought. He was one of my favorites when he played for the Storm; hope he can go back to that sort of form. Storm 13+.
Eels vs Warriors - Tough one to pick; from last weeks performances, you’d have to say the Warriors. Easily. The Warriors aren’t so flash away from home at times though and they are known for inconsistent performances. I’m really not sure about this one; the Eels are still lacking direction in attack, despite the signing of Chris Sandow. I hope it comes good for them, because I’m a fan of Stephen Kearney; he has a tough roster to work with that’s for sure. Has to be the most average backline in the competition, without Jarryd Hayne it definitely is; and he looks doubtful to play again this week. Not the most amazing forwards pack either. If the Warriors turn up with the same performance as last week, despite that result, they will have this easy. Warriors 1-12, but again, can be an ugly 13+.
Mitch Brown signs with the Bulldogs.
Mitch Brown today received a release from the Wests Tigers to allow him to sign with the Bulldogs.
This has been coming for some time, Brown is too good a player to not be getting first grade time. I have been a fan of his since his days at the Sharks. He played very well for us at fullback when we needed him to cover there. With James Tedesco’s injury yesterday, I would have loved to see him given a shot; and to be honest, I much prefer him on the wing than Matt Utai.
All the best Brown, surely you will be a walk-in in that Bulldogs backline.