NRL Tips – Round 9, 2018
Finding a form line on teams is proving to be a tricky task in 2018. This not only makes it difficult to tip but also to make jokes at the expense of teams. If a team is good one week and crap another, which do you make fun of?
Last week was pretty average in the NRL but very good in the ISC. 5 from 7 is as good as I’ve done this season. We – the Greeks and I – are still slightly over 50% now, so it’s not downright embarrassing but it still ain’t great. I keep hoping this week will be different but we will see.
Canterbury at Brisbane
The fact that we’re talking about this game is probably more a reflection of how poorly the Broncos have been travelling than any expectation that this will be a blockbuster. The Doggies come into this on some reasonable form (by their standards), beating the Cowboys, holding the Roosters to six and showing signs of competitiveness against the Panthers. The problem is that their defence can hold somewhat but their attack is still pushing rope. If you look closely at the teams they’ve played recently, you’ve got the cooked Cowboys (although we didn’t know it at the time), a Sydney attack that has lacked any real forward momentum for a few weeks now and the Panthers are missing key players to injury, including their star half, and still managed to stamp out any chance of a Bulldogs victory in about fifty minutes.
The Broncos seemed to have turned a corner, coincidentally right about the time that Kevin Walters left. Brisbane inflicted New Zealand’s first loss of the season (in Auckland no less), got steamrolled by the Storm and managed to contain a Burgess-less Rabbitohs last week. By the standards we Brisbanites set for the Broncos, these are not superb results but there are signs that the ship is righting and will start moving in the right direction, moving quickly away from the wreck that was the Titans game. The defence has always been reasonably strong but the attack is now starting to show the same signs of life we saw when Milford and Hunt were at their best last year. It’s not the best in the comp but it’ll be enough for Thursday night.
Brisbane for mine.
Wests at Warriors
How does a team go from two wins over the Storm, something which hasn’t happened in the regular season since Manly got the deuce in rounds 2 and 8 of 2015, to losing to the Knights and Eels in consecutive weeks? Well, I’ll tell you. Come closer, I’ll whisper it to you.
IT’S BECAUSE THEY GOT LUCKY
Ahem, but that’s actually somewhat true. The Tigers got to play the Storm before they really got going and their style of play lends itself to frequent, but not necessarily automatic, wins. Something like Penrith circa last year.
After a flying start, the last few weeks has seen some of the old Warriors habits come back. Still, being 6-2 and those 2 coming against the Storm and the Broncos, is a really good sign, even if last week’s L came with a deficit of forty points. It was a tough loss but it is unlikely that any team in rugby league history would have stopped the Storm on Anzac Day 2018.
I still think the Warriors are the goods and with the bandwagon is full flight, should take care of the Tigers.
Melbourne at St George Illawarra
This will be probably be one of the clashes of the year. Melbourne have shown that they are back and back with a vengeance. I don’t want to read too much in the timing of the return to form coinciding with Brodie Croft being replaced by Ryley Jacks but it’s there, stinking up his chances of ever returning to the NRL. Since then, the Storm have dispensed with the Warriors (50-10), the Broncos (34-20) and the Knights (40-14). It’s an impressive run of results and scorelines demonstrating that Melbourne can more or less score at will when they’re on.
The Dragons were the last undefeated team in the comp this year. Even then, their last three results read 40-20 over the Sharks, 12-20 to the Warriors in Auckland and 24-8 over the Roosters. From the first set when the Dragons scored in the corner off a Blake Ferguson fumble, until the final whistle, St George Illawarra were in control. Keeping the Roosters to only eight is an underrated achievement, even if we ignore the struggles their million dollar marquee names have been having.
I’m going to tip the Dragons in this one because they have the capability to take it to the Storm. When that happens, Melbourne start making mistakes and losing games. St George Illawarra are far more resilient, excellent in defence and attack and will have a home crowd behind them.
Rabbitohs to bounce back after a good start but a couple of tough rounds by defeating the Knights. The Panthers, despite their injury woes, will make the Cowboys’ season worse, inflicting another loss. The Raiders will be all over the Titans, who lack the defence to keep Canberra at bay and their attack went completely missing last week. I’m tipping a sneaky victory for the Eels as they’ve been in red hot form over the last two weeks and the Sharks are a bit so-so still. The Roosters will put another nail in the Sea Eagles’ season.
Mackay at Norths
This is not going to be much of a contest. You have the Cutters, coming off a 50-plus point pasting courtesy of the Tweed Seagulls, a team that started the season 0-5. Mackay’s form rating is now lower than Central Queensland’s. On the other hand, you have Norths, the second placed team in the comp, who have beaten Burleigh, PNG and Souths, and look to be in some serious form. Knowing my luck, it will be 48-0 to Mackay but I’m tipping the Devils all the way.
Short round this week. I expect Burleigh to continue their winning ways over Townsville in Townsville. Souths to rebound and start to make a march to securing a finals position with a win over Easts at home. The Falcons will give the Capras the briefest of looks before shutting them out.