Getting six from eight last week has got me back into some sort of contention. I’ve moved clear of the Jury and am closing in on Archimedes. Only two points separate us at this stage of the season that we will start referring to as “mid-season”.
Interestingly, the average error on the margin predictions has fallen a bit over the last few weeks, even as the jury slips to last place in the tipping of results. After round 7, the Jury was out by a collective average of 13.6 points per game. That number dropped to 13.3, 13.0 and now 12.9 after each round. Slight improvements as the form lines become clearer give hope for a more predictable future.
North Queensland at Wests
This is set up as an intriguing battle. The Tigers are coming off a 3 L streak while the Cows have only won two of their last five. Both teams are meant to be functional on some level. North Queensland is full of rep-quality players that have failed to fire any number of cylinders, let alone all of them. In fact, the Cowboy’s season has been more an engine leaking the blue smoke of death out the back, than meeting any basic specifications in any meaningful sense of those words.
Wests had a blisteringly hot start to the year. The question is whether that form was maintainable or a confluence of extremely unlucky events, not unlike Greg Eastwood outrunning Josh Addo-Carr to score an 80 metre try. The last few games may be more indicative of the underlying talent of the team. I prefer to be a little more optimistic about the Tigers and less so about the Cowboys. It would be surprising on both counts to go from being so shit hot to so shit cold and vice versa.
If they let me down, it will probably be the last time but I’m going for Wests.
Sydney at Warriors
The Warriors are going to own the Roosters so hard in this game, Easts will be pressed into chicken nuggets afterwards. Let’s look at the facts:
- The Roosters have barely gotten going this year. Their form is so bad that Jake Friend is getting booed by the fourteen Roosters supporters and thinks to himself, “Well, what else can I do?” How about you play better, you unbelievably lazy sack of poultry shit? Your existence is undermining the club’s purchase of 2016 Pythago Player of the Year Cooper Cronk.
- The Warriors caned the Tigers last week. It was no contest, although closer than the scoreline suggested, and it was a fair turnaround from the same team that let 50 past against Melbourne. New Zealand are legit contenders, just like when they handed the Dragons their only loss.
- The Warriors play well at home. With a crowd in excess of fifteen thousand, or a little over half capacity, the Roosters will likely be intimidated by a crowd that has not only turned up, but is actually capable of making some noise.
Yep, NZ for the win.
Cronulla at Canberra
Look, MVR may rate this an 88, which is an insanely high number, but I don’t. The Sharks aren’t going well at all. They may have some key injuries but the lineup is generally more cooked than the battered flake at the local fish and chip shop. They were one wayward Mitchell Moses conversion from going to golden point against the Eels. The Eels. The Eels started the season 0-6. The Eels are not a good rugby league team. Good teams do not let bad teams get that close.
Canberra, on the other hand, have finally come good. Sort of. Let’s look at their recent streak: Bulldogs by 16, Eels by 16, Cowboys by 10 and Titans by 14. That may be four wins from five games but that’s against four of the bottom five teams. Considering the Raiders’ start, where they lost three games by a total of five points, and you could tack on an extra two wins and Canberra is right up there in second place. The real test though was when they got belted by Souths to the tune of 20. Player form and shuffling as a result of, hasn’t appeared to have turned the potential into actual performance. Canberra are going to mill about in NRL purgatory for the foreseeable future.
That all said, I think the Raiders have a better chance at this.
Before I get in to this, I just want to draw attention to the Melbourne-Gold Coast at the Suncorp double header. The MVR of 35 is by far the lowest of the year, reflecting the massive gap between the sides. The Jury has the Storm at 87% and a margin of over 24 points. That’s the biggest gap since the Storm faced down the Knights in round 6 and before that the Tigers in round 2, which Melbourne of course lost, as they did this fixture last year. I’m obviously going the Storm but this is rugby league so nothing is certain.
The other crap fixture in the double header (MVR of 37) is the Broncos-Manly headliner. I’m definitely going Brisbane on that one. Struggling Cleary-less Penrith will be too strong for the struggling Pearce-less Newcastle, thanks primarily to Reagan Campbell-Gillard. Canterbury and Parramatta are playing the latest iteration of the Spoon Bowl and I see the Bulldogs winning that because they came within two points of winning against a much better team than the Eels did last week. The Jury is calling Souths against St George Illawarra as a close one but I think we all know the Dragons are gonna crush it.
Northern Pride at Redcliffe
I feel like the Pride win an annoying numbers of games. And yet they sit in eighth place out of fourteen, sitting on 4-4. Redcliffe are perennial contenders and sit way higher on the ladder in fifth on 5-3. So not that much better really. Even Redcliffe at home is only 2-1 compared to the 1-2 Pride away from home. Both team lists are stocked with players whose name I don’t recognise except for Jonus Pearson and Javid Bowen, neither of which are a recommendation to either side. Maybe if Thaiday’s form slump continues at NRL level, he’ll be back in a Dolphins jersey before long and can start pumping in the results.
But for now, I’m going Redcliffe just because I expected good clubs to prevail over average ones.
Is Kane Elgey playing for Tweed? Yes. Well, that’ll do me: Seagulls. Wynnum-Manly won their last game, so will be complacent, while PNG are looking for form and coming off a loss against Burleigh … and Souths … and Redcliffe … and Norths. Boy, it’s been a tough run for the Hunters but they’re due for a win, so PNG for me.
And if you’re playing along at home, there are still three teams yet to appear on Channel 9 this year: Central Queensland, Souths Logan and PNG. The former will be on TV in the next couple of weeks. Burleigh and Tweed lead the way with three appearances each.