The number of rounds remaining is now into single digits as we close in on the final third of the season and the run to the finals. Here’s how round 17 is shaping up.
Canterbury (6-9) @ Parramatta (8-7)
At no point in their last game did Canterbury look like they actually wanted to win the game. They had checked-in, boarded the flight and turned up to the ground and then seemed quite content to let the Warriors walk away with two points. The Doggies even committed a bunch of basic errors to help them get there.
Parramatta had a lazy weekend off while they contemplated whether they were actually good enough to play in September. Clint Gutherson is trying to drag the team along like a tugboat with a stranded oil tanker but its slow and hard work and no one, not even Mitchell Moses, is helping him.
In a battle of the west, the Bulldogs don’t even have a tugboat, so I’m going for the Eels.
St George Illawarra (9-6) @ Gold Coast (5-10)
Last weekend’s game might be the wake-up the Dragons need to get them out of their slump. I think it’s far more likely that they’ve hit the snooze button and rolled over for five more minutes.
Jarryd Hayne and his Titan companions decided to turn up for their last fixture in Campbelltown. Hayne continued his run of scoring tries against minnows while going missing in action against top eight teams. Seriously, check Rugby League Project. I’ll wait. See? Multiple tries against the Tigers and Knights, nothing when they beat the Storm and Sharks. He’s like your friend when you’re a kid who can’t just win, he only has fun when he’s destroying you. So Hayne is basically every rugby league fan, which is probably why he’s unpopular. They don’t like seeing themselves in him.
Dozy Dragons against the Typical Titans? I think I’m going to go on form and pay the home ground advantage and tip the Gold Coast.
Melbourne (12-3) @ Brisbane (10-5)
An actual game worth watching! The Donkeys are now down Darius Boyd and Tony Milford and, at the time of writing, Ben Hunt was starting on the bench. Presumably der Supercoach will leave Kodi Nikorima on the field until it becomes apparent he’s not as good as the Hunt/Benji Marshall combo were against the Raiders and make the obvious choice.
Melbourne will be getting back to their typical line up with Slater, Cronk, Smith, Munster, Addo-Carr, Vunivalu, Glasby, Kaufusi and Chambers all on the team card. While there’s a question mark over Smith, to put that into context, recent Origin cap Nate Myles will be playing for Easts Tigers in Queensland Cup on the weekend. That’s how deep the roster is. Unbelievable.
More importantly, I’ll be there to see Melbourne show the Broncos how to play rugby league and go 13-3.
Cronulla (10-5) @ Sydney City (11-4)
Yeah, it’s a potentially pretty good game too. I guess. If you like watching the NSW equivalent of Brisbane-Melbourne.
Cronulla had a shocker last week against Manly. We all thought they’d fire up the diesel engine and run over the Sea Eagles but they didn’t and were left floundering by their northern beachy cousins. The Roosters managed to do something only the Titans and Sharks have managed this season and won a game against the Storm. A Mitchell Pearce golden point secured them the win, which they should probably be less proud of considering that the Storm didn’t field their superstars and it was golden point. And Mitchell Pearce.
The game is away from Remondis Stadium so the Sharks should be fine if they get going a bit earlier and actually try to take the lead in the first half.
New Zealand (7-8) @ Manly (9-5)
Hey we’re back in Perth again. Adelaide showed the western capital how its done. 21,000-plus turned up for the Storm-Roosters clash and were rewarded with a battle worthy of the top of the table. Perth’s last game, featuring Melbourne and Souths, only had 11,000. But I think attendances have been discussed to death this week. As a bonus, I won’t even suggest that the Tigers should be eliminated from the competition, not least because they’re the obvious candidate to be relocated to Perth.
Until then, the Sea Eagles should crush the Warriors, mostly because Manly tend to play like they have actually played as a team before.
North Queensland (9-6) @ Canberra (6-9)
I don’t really get betting markets. Canberra are the favourites for this game. Things I see going well for the Raiders:
- Game is in Canberra
- No JT
Here’s what I see going well for the Cowboys:
- They’ve been without JT for most of the season
- The Greeks all tip North Queensland
- They’re playing the Raiders
Then again, Canberra were favourites last week against Brisbane and look how that turned out. Obviously, betting markets have a pro-Canberra, anti-Queensland bias. It’s called Southern Syndrome. In the real world, Canberra have shown no sign of being up to the challenge of taking on top eight sides for more than twenty minutes at a time. Cowboys will take the win.
Wests Tigers (3-12) @ Newcastle (2-12)
We’ve been treated to some fantastic games recently from the bottom half of the ladder: Tigers vs Titans, Bulldogs vs Warriors, Rabbitohs vs Titans… wait, they all sucked. What you won’t find is a Knights game that sucks because they actually try. Their season isn’t going anywhere but they still try. Recent losses to the Dragons and Sea Eagles have been close, which must be encouraging.
Meanwhile, Wests can’t seem to hold it together for a whole game, even against the Gold Coast, and a big chunk of the roster is thinking about something else. Like what it would be like to play for another club or whether the NRL easing the salary cap as an incentive to move to Perth would result in a better pay deal.
For the first time in a long time, the Knights actually start favourites. They clearly have a bit more fire in the belly than the Tigers and so Newcastle are my tip to win.
Penrith (6-8) @ South Sydney (5-9)
The Panthers come into this back, baby!, even if the Cowboys got past them in the dying minutes of the game last Saturday in Townsville. And they’ve only won six games. And had both their byes. But they look good on paper and seem to be in form.
Meanwhile, Souths’ season is over, which is funny because there’s only one win difference between the two teams. In fact, a win for the Rabbitohs today would see them finish the weekend on the same number of points as the Panthers.
I don’t see it happening though and Burgess and his Bunnies should prepare for a training run, maybe try and get one of those set pieces moves working that seem so popular right now. You know, without dropping the ball. Panthers for the win.
Things are slowly improving for the tipsters. It was roughly a 50-50 round for everyone. Eratosthenes had a rubbish round with the classier teams falling to less classy teams.
After round 16: