Round 3 is only thirty-six hours or so away and it’s time to tip. Unlike last week, where both Greeks completely agreed, there is a fair bit of disagreement for the upcoming fixtures. Last year, you would’ve been well advised to listen to Eratosthenes but Archimedes is off to a great start in 2018, having nailed eleven from sixteen NRL tips. Very Tigers/Knights/Warriors-like. I’m no help, as my week of disagreements with the Greeks in round 2 meant I only got four from eight.
Brisbane at Wests
According to my records, the Tigers have graciously hosted the Broncos on no less than twelve occasions in the NRL. Of those times, being the perfect hosts, they let the visitors win eleven of them. In fact, the Tigers have the third worst home record (48.8%) in NRL history with only Souths (47.4%) and the Titans (48.6%) worse and that is not company you want to be keeping. The other thirteen clubs have managed to maintain a minimum 54% record at home.
On the other hand, I almost tipped the Tigers. There’s an air of invincibility about them at the moment that only comes from good coaching and a unified team spirit. There are seventeen guys all pulling in the same direction and it works. They’ve upset two of the three of the premiership troika and could easily continue taking names and kicking asses, especially as the Broncos have yet to really find their stride and will be susceptible to the same game plan the Tigers deployed last week. Brisbane showed they had improved against the Cowboys but we’re really only talking about them positively because the fourteenth man, otherwise known as the goalposts, saved them.
I’m tipping the Broncos but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.
Warriors at Canberra
You might’ve thought the grand final rematch was worthy of comment but this is far more precariously balanced. The facts:
- Warriors are surprisingly 2-0
- Raiders are less surprisingly 0-2 but only -4 on points difference
- Warriors usually play badly away from home (37% for Warriors away vs 58% for Raiders home)
On form, both are almost identically rated with Canberra on the downswing and the Warriors coming up. It’s a tough game to call but my faith that Canberra can shake off the bad luck/incompetence that causes so many close losses is rapidly ebbing and the way that the New Zealanders play is unpredictable, making it a lot of fun to watch.
Even though I’m starting to come around on Jordan Rapana, despite his 90s IT guy facial hair, I’m going against both Greeks and tipping the Warriors to go 3-0.
Cronulla at Parramatta
The second game of the double header at ANZ has been dubbed by some wags as the Desperation Cup. Two teams we expected a lot more from this year and one will leave having started their season 0-3.
The Eels come off a 54-0 pasting at the hands of Manly, which is hilarious for a range of reasons, not least of which is that Manly are supposed to be crap. Halfback Mitch Moses has been sent off twice in two games now and if he’s going to act like a petulant brat every game, then it seems likely that Parra will regress to the state they were in before he arrived last year – rudderless and useless. I don’t know where Clint Gutherson is but the team could use him right now.
The Sharks at least have the excuse that they were beaten by some of the competition’s better teams, having been edged by the Dragons last week and beaten by the Cowboys the week before. They played as close to perfect a game of football in the first half at Kogarah and then completely collapsed in the second. On balance, the game was slightly below average. While the starting line up is getting on, it should at least mean they have the experience to get on top of their issues.
I’m going with Cronulla to win the Desperation Cup.
I’m going for Melbourne over North Queensland because, based on history, that’s what happens but Thurston’s side played a lot better than Smith’s last week. I think Melbourne will shake it out and get on top of it. Penrith will probably be up 14-0 at half time, so bad are Canterbury at the moment, and then steam roll the Dogs in the second half. Manly might be coming into form, showing a resilient winning attitude in the heat against the Eels, while Souths look lost, so the Sea Eagles for mine. The Dragons will crush the Titans in Toowoomba and the Roosters will play bad guys and put an end to the Knights’ fairy tale start.
Burleigh at Tweed Heads
It’s the XXXX Rivalry Round where everyone gets to pair off more or less geographically, except for the Sunshine Coast and PNG. The game on TV is down the coast, as it was last year, where we will watch a fully formed, firing Burleigh Bears put the Tweed Heads Seagulls to bed. I was at Davies Park last week and Souths strolled in for three tries in twenty minutes. I probably could’ve scooted past that defence. Even though the televised games tend to involve lots of second half comebacks, Burleigh should wrap this up in the first forty.
I think the Tigers, Cutters, Blackhawks and Dolphins will be too strong for their opponents and the Greeks mostly agree with me. Souths have had a great start to the season and should end Norths’ unbeaten run. The hardest one to call is the replay of last year’s QCup grand final between the Falcons and Hunters. Between them, they have all of one win this year. I’m just edging the Hunters to break their drought.