Now that Origin is over and we’re in the run to the finals, it’s time to take a quick look at how the tipsters are performing. Our NRL tippers are doing comparatively well and have more or less stuck together. Eratosthenes leads for the second year in a row on 61.7% (84/136) with the Jury surprisingly bringing up the rear with 58.8%, which is only four correct tips behind the leader.
In the ISC, things have been less rosy with me lagging on 56.3% (67/119), despite pulling in a perfect round at one point, and the joint leaders are Euclid and the Jury on 63.8% (76). The spread for QCup is wider than the NRL, which is interesting and suggests some different dynamics are at work in the competitions.
Canterbury at Parramatta
It’s a pretty embarrassing indictment for the spot that this is the third most watchable game available this week. A lot of the other match ups are pretty lopsided but this one features two truly crap teams going head to head.
I don’t really want to waste any more time on this, so I think the Bulldogs are bad but they’re not as laughably bad as the Eels. Canterbury to win.
Canberra at Cronulla
This is a tough one. Both teams have gone on a tear recently. As I observed in my recap, the Raiders have improved their form rating by about 50 points since Josh Hodgson returned a few weeks ago and have started winning games. There is some cohesion on display and one wonders if Canberra have finally turned a corner (completely ignoring my derision at such a suggestion as recently as one week ago)? Using Blake Austin as a bench utility doesn’t appear to be the worst idea in the world but leaving your captain on the field with a dislocated knee is right up there for the stupidest thing that’s happened this season. With Wighton now suspended due to his assault conviction, the Raiders are looking a little lean.
The Sharks have trucked their way through their season and racked up a stack of wins. From somewhere, they’re now our second best rated team on form and third best on class. And like a big diesel engine, Cronulla show no sign of slowing down. People would argue that the Sharks have had an easy draw, and I would agree, but I think I will concede that they are in the mix for this season’s premiership. Their forward pack is still formidable, Matt Moylan is on the cusp of clicking into place with Chadwick Townsend, Val Holmes remains the metaphorical flower in a pot of dirt and Edrick Lee is having a season (on some stats). Overall, it’s looking a lot better than I had given them credit for.
It wouldn’t surprise me if it went the other way but I’m going the Sharks.
Warriors at Melbourne
The Warriors are not good. They are better than in 2017, which is a pretty low bar to hurdle over given that they finished the season with nine losses in a row. They’ve had some good games – dismantling the Broncos last week being the most recent example – but probably more average and downright bad ones. The run to the finish is not particularly challenging and I expect that New Zealand will comfortably make the eight.
The Storm are quite good. They are worse than in 2017, which as one of the all time great club teams, is a pretty high bar to hurdle over. They’ve had some awful games – being beaten twice by the Tigers and once by Manly – but they always seem to manage to find just enough points to put away their opposition, even through this Origin period. Now with their stars back in alignment, I expect the Storm to make a serious push deep into September.
While the Kiwis will put up a good fight, I don’t think they can take down the Storm.
The Warriors showed exactly where the Broncos are the laziest in defence (i.e. on their line, in the gap between the centre and the second rower) and I expect that the Panthers will also be able to exploit this on their way to victory. The only time Eratosthenes tips the Titans is when they play the Knights, and that’s what I’m tipping. The Tigers will put up a valiant fight but will go down, hard, to the momentum machine that is the Rabbitohs. The Dragons will likewise run over the Cowboys. As will the Roosters over the Sea Eagles.
Easts at Redcliffe
Country Week is a fantastic initiative and I’m super glad we get to watch this game between Redcliffe and Easts in… uh, allow me to check my notes… Goondiwndi. Cool, I’ve never been but it’s one of those semi-mythical towns in Queensland, steeped in lore. I’m sure the TV coverage will give the locality some B-roll to ensure we get a feel for it.
On the field, I’m fully expecting the Dolphins to dominate. The Opacic/Pearson wing combo may be below NRL standard but it’s more than good enough for QCup. Experienced hand, Jack Beehag, will be in fullback (he is apparently a civil engineer but we won’t hold that against him) completing the usual suspects in the Redcliffe spine.
Easts are missing ein wunderkind, a Brodus Cröft, who is the starting 7 for the Storm this week. We’ll see how long that lasts but it hasn’t necessarily been an impediment for the Tigers this season. The Tigers also boast a Walters, a Drinkwater and a Kaufusi, which is pretty good. With a finals spot on the line, that gives Easts a lot to play for after a fairly disastrous start to the year.
Redcliffe to take the win for me but it will probably be closer than we expect.
The Bears will crush the Capras, Dave Taylor or otherwise, like the locals crush the sugar cane that the Maryborough area is so well known for. In Cooktown, which I guess is Very Far North Queensland, the “local” boys in the Pride will probably beat the Jets, who have significantly more flying ahead of them. I’ve got the Devils to beat the Hunters based on form but the travel to Lae could be to PNG’s advantage. I had to look up several times where Normanton is (Gulf country) but the Magpies should handily account for Wynnum Manly here. Lachlan Coote suits up for the Cutters for what I can only assume is the first time in a while and I doubt he is enough of a game changer to stop the Sunshine Coast from taking a win in Bowen. Just down the road in Hughenden, Tweed will probably get steamrolled by one of the comp favourites in Townsville.