This is a real headscratcher of a round. Enough crap teams have recently found some form in the bottom of the barrel so they can at least go into pre-season training with a semblance of self-esteem. It also means that they are playing better than the teams whose season is actually on the line. The top teams are starting to rest players (Storm rested Cronk last week, Kahu is off this week for the Donkeys) which makes it even harder to call. As if I haven’t suffered enough this year.
Parramatta (14-8) @ Brisbane (15-7)
As the old song says “Thursday night’s a mediocre night for football.” But the game’s in Brisbane which means about four Sydney games’ worth of people will turn up.
Parramatta won this fixture not that long ago. If I do my maths correctly, it was actually only five weeks ago but 89% of people on footytips.com.au are tipping Brisbane. Why? Because even nefarious and immoral teams like the Eels get lucky against brave and honest teams like the Broncos.
I may have been reading too much of the Courier Mail lately.
The Broncos have been playing out of their skin, scoring points like no one’s business. Their defence is less solid but it won’t matter because Parra’s attack isn’t that great (6th lowest ‘for’ and only put 30 past the Titans last week) and while their defence is good enough, it’s not good enough to stop the Boyd/Milford/Nikorima/Hunt show that’s been doing the rounds the last few weeks. Broncos to take the two.
Newcastle (5-17) @ Canberra (10-12)
Tipping against the Raiders when they’re favourites has been one of the year’s more effective strategies. Then again, tipping against Newcastle has been the last three years’ most effective strategy. I’m not here to drag the Knights though. They’ve played well in the last third of this season and the Raiders continue to drag their feet.
I’m sticking with going against the market and tipping the Knights.
North Queensland (12-10) @ Wests Tigers (6-16)
Rule 1 of Twitter: Never tweet.
Just for that momentary arrogance – which is massive when you consider where they sit on the ladder and the manner in which they’ve carried themselves all year – I’m tipping the Cowboys.
Canterbury (8-14) @ Gold Coast (7-15)
The Titans have become a joke. They’re in good company because the Bulldogs have been a joke all year. With their fullback doing his best Tony Abbott impression (no wrecking, no undermining, no sniping), the Gold Coast have already managed to clear the fact that they sacked their coach off the back pages. What media managers they are!
They might find it harder to favourably manipulate the scoreline on a football field though. Canterbury put Manly to sword last week, scoring tries, multiple tries, in the first half. It was about as likely a performance as you winning the lottery. Sure you enter but you never win enough that you can take a dump on your boss’ desk. This turnaround might mean the Doggies want to win a few more games before the end of 2017 so I think Canterbury will win this.
South Sydney (9-13) @ Melbourne (18-4)
The Storm’s current level of performance is roughly rated as “Biblical”. Revelations 14:15 reads:
Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
That angel was Billy Slater and yea, the Storm did taketh their sickles and they did reap. The harvest of the NRL was-eth ripe.
Christ, imagine there was no mid-week Origin to decimate the lineups of top teams. The Storm would be 20-2. Twenty wins for two losses and at least one of those would be a freak occurrence. And while the Rabbitohs form has improved over the last few weeks, they are not a match for the Storm. Melbourne to win.
Sydney City (15-7) @ Cronulla (14-8)
Imagine the scene: you’re on a top four team, you begin the second half with a healthy lead and your opponents are slowly injuring themselves out of interchanges. That’s an invitation to run riot, no? No. If you’re the Sharks, you sit back and let your lead get whittled away to ten points in the second half and appear not to have any answers.
I’d be pretty worried if I was a fan of the blue-black-and-white. Not least because Cronulla are like a bunch of slack uni students, leaving everything to the last minute and only doing just enough. More often than not, it doesn’t matter but it will soon when they have to play consistently better sides and making it up next time is not an option.
Imagine another scene: you play for the Roosters. You have to shower every fifteen minutes because the tricolour jersey causes you to feel physically ill. Following in the illustrious footsteps of Mitchell Pearce and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, you develop an enormous substance abuse problem. You have to play in front of terrible crowds because the fanbase the club built up over 110 years died thirty years ago. It’s not a good situation and the Roosters have to overcome this every weekend. It’s a significant handicap.
I’m torn but I’m going to tip the Sharks only because they cleaned the Roosters up last time they met.
New Zealand (7-15) @ Manly (12-10)
This is the first game for the new Perth Sea Eagles after losing last week’s game. They’ll have only just moved in to nib Stadium before they have to fly off to Auckland to face the steaming pile of garbage that is the recent Warriors. How you manage to mess up this badly as a single team in a market of 4 million is beyond me. So many sponsorship dollars have gone begging.
But I’m tipping the Warriors this week. Manly have lost whatever edge it was that got them through the mid-season. They’re like a later blooming Dragons. In fact, they’re both like corpse flowers: they only bloom once very few years and they smell like crap once they’re done. The game is in Auckland, which is a massive benefit for the Kiwis, and they are in dire need of a win. Plus its so unexpected, so I think there is an upset on the cards.
St George Illawarra (11-11) @ Penrith (13-9)
Penrith are the form team in the competition despite not playing any of the top five teams since April. Some teams get all the luck and there’s literally no other way to slice the fact that the Panthers have the cushiest possible draw.
The problem is that we don’t know how they’ll fare against a top team. Fortunately for Penrith, they play St George this Sunday. We probably won’t find out how well they can really play until their semi-final against Easts/Cronulla. This, however, is one of the possible elimination final match-ups, so the result will be important.
The Dragons played well last week but not well enough to keep a lid on the Broncos. Brisbane hammered them down their wings, so there’s some tightening to be done here. Recent wins for the Dragons include the Knights, Titans and Sea Eagles. Previous losses include the Knights, Titans and not the Sea Eagles, because the Dragons convincingly won both of their matchups.
I think this is a tough one to call but I think the Panthers will win it.
Not too long until we can put this painful season behind us. The important thing is that we all cleared 50% comfortably, although I’m very close to be able to overtake Eratosthenes if the douche would just stop getting it right.
After round 24: