A fairly average week last week. The topsy turvy nature of the 2018 season continues to elude consistent and correct tipping, with most of us putting on four correct tips and Eratosthenes stretching themselves to take five. We’re all still just above 50%, which makes for great footy to watch on TV but a very frustrating tipping experience.
Sydney at St George Illawarra
The ANZAC Day clash is a big one this year. The Roosters have struggled for form and sit about mid-table and, if we’re being totally honest, if they hadn’t won the game against the Bulldogs, it would’ve been a total disaster. Keeping an attack with no purpose at bay is as much of an achievement as breaking a Matt Moylan tackle, if he can be bothered to make one. Despite that total punish of a game, we really expect more from the Bondi boys. Specifically, more tries and fewer plaudits for keeping a completely useless offence at bay.
The Dragons have made themselves at home at the top of the ladder. They have two styles of play: good and really freaking good. They were merely good against Souths and the Warriors. They have been really freaking good against everyone else so far. They’ve got the best halves pairing in the league and a forward pack that actually gets my interest.
Unless the Dragons start to fall off a cliff like they did last year, it’s hard to see how the Roosters get on top of them. On paper, Sydney has as big, if not bigger, names but St George Illawarra are using theirs more effectively, so the Dragons for me.
Warriors at Melbourne
ANZAC Day clash II is also worthy of consideration this week. Normally, the Warriors v Storm wouldn’t excite much interest. The Melbournites are normally much better than their Kiwi counterparts. Strangely, the Storm have only won twelve times when facing the Warriors at home in twenty-one attempts. Only the Bulldogs have a better record in Melbourne (ten wins for the Storm from eighteen outings).
The Warriors, even without Shaun Johnson, seem to be more or less the complete package. They have a strong, gutsy forward pack making room for fast, exciting backs and are directed by old hand Blake Green with super prospect Mason Lino (yes, named after two types of building material) filling in the halves. They showed as much by beating the Dragons.
The Storm are back to their usual selves. Even when the Broncos got within four last week, they never really lost control of the game and seemed to be able to score at will (and sometimes, even unintentionally). The previous week against the Knights seemed much the same. When your wingers are able to set up kicks perfectly for tries, then you know the team is running like a well oiled machine.
That said and despite the Storm getting back on track, I think the Warriors are too good at the moment to bet against.
Canberra at North Queensland
Both of these teams have struggled this year but this actually should be a pretty good game. Well, it has the potential to be a good game. It is equally likely that this could be an error riddled farce of a rugby league match.
North Queensland finally shook their losing streak off with a tune-up against the Titans. They sit just above Parramatta, at the wrong end of the ladder, on just 2-5. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that at the season’s start. Then again, we didn’t expect Thurston, Scott and co to be as cooked as a British backpacker on their first visit down under in December.
The Raiders have put a couple of wins on the board after a disastrous start to the year. Canberra could be on as many as five wins – and providing a feel good story alongside the Tigers – had they not been a phenomenally useless and unbelievably lazy bunch of idiots. Yes, I’m still a little bit angry that they let the Warriors nail two field goals, uncontested, after I spent the off-season rationalising why they would come good. Interesting fact though, the Raiders have only won games at GIO so far this year. They are 0-3 on the road. For the record, this game is in Townsville, approximately 2100km north of GIO.
I’m going the Cows solely on home ground advantage here.
Souths are on a super run of form at the moment, while Brisbane still look shaky and struggling with injuries, so the Bunnies for me. This could be one of those games where Manly bounces back from off-field turmoil but Newcastle are looking better for mine. If Penrith can put in 10% more effort than the Roosters did last week, they should roll straight through Canterbury. The Sharks will account for the Titans and, while many are calling it a ‘danger game’ because of Parra’s performance last week, the Tigers have played just as well but on a more regular basis, so Wests should be all over this.
Tweed Heads at Mackay
Why Channel 9 insists on showing so many Tweed games, I’ll never know, but this is a real battle of cellar dwellers.
My reasoning for this is simple: the Seagulls have won their last two games, so their form is good. As an added bonus, Kane Elgey has been dropped from the Titans (for reasons unknown to me) and will be suiting up with the lesser of the two black-and-white teams.
The Cutters, well, yeah, they didn’t start the season 0-5 and their ratings are a bit higher and the game is in Mackay but they are the only team lower on the ladder than the Seagulls, so that seems pretty damning to me. I’m tipping Elgey will lead Tweed to another win.
I’m taking a bit of a contrarian tack this week. I’ve got the Devils to bounce back over the Tigers and the Magpies to continue their strong form in Townsville over the Blackhawks. Agreeing with the Greeks, though, I see the Dolphins beating the Jets, the Bears over the Hunters and the Pride beating the Falcons at home in Cairns. In the coin toss of the week, I was impressed by the first 40 minutes of the Seagulls last week so I have Wynnum-Manly getting over Central Queensland.