I had a bit of a shocker last week, which hasn’t helped my run in the work tipping comp. I knew I was taking a few outside chances, which was clear when I picked a bunch of away teams, but four from eight is not really an acceptable outcome when you’re at the top. It especially hurts when Eratosthenes got two right out of the four I got wrong.
But enough of that, let’s gone rugby league tips.
Newcastle at North Queensland
Knights in Townsville is not quite the slaughterhouse we perhaps would’ve expected at the season’s start. In fact, with the return of one young Kalyn Ponga (or at least he’s named at fullback) and despite Mitchell Pearce looking like the only first grader at the Knights, I’m somewhat favouring Newcastle in this one.
North Queensland have been busted for a while now. Johnathan Thurston looks like he’s still injured but bearing it because there’s not really anyone to take his place. That said, Te Maire Martin and Jake Clifford probably couldn’t do any worse than what Michael Morgan and the next Immortal were able to deliver earlier in the year. I’d even be thinking about bringing Carlin Anderson up from the Blackhawks to fill-in at fullback. The Cowboys only real motivation is to avoid the spoon in JT’s last season. Given they – with the notable exception of the Pacific Dally Messenger, Jason Taumalolo – haven’t lifted so far, it’s hard to imagine why they would start now.
I’m going the Knights.
Canberra at Melbourne
I’m getting sick of writing about the Raiders. I wrote a bit about the controversy surrounding their last game yesterday. The real story of their season is not that they got dudded in a game against the Sharks (or even in another game or two) but they consistently failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Here’s a list of their losses: Titans, Knights, Warriors, Manly (by a lot), Souths (convincingly), Sharks (convincingly), Dragons (convincingly), Manly (again), Panthers, Broncos and Sharks (less convincingly). That’s more than enough chances to get into the top eight and they’re not there and probably won’t be.
The Raiders’ form rating, a quirk of their consistently narrow losses, mean that they are considered to be in the same league as the Storm, which we know they aren’t. That’s why we’re talking about this instead of Sharks-Broncos.
I also have nothing much of interest to add on the topic of the Storm. Melbourne have taken top spot on the ladder, which is a pretty boring outcome considering last season but they have hardly felt like the best team at a given team. Then again, every top team has had their stumbles this season and I guess the Storm have had the least. That and the depth that they offer – their reserves would be walk-ups at some of the lesser Sydney clubs – mean that Melbourne are a contender.
Storms to win, Raiders to get shitty about it like they did last year.
St George Illawarra at Sydney
Now here, we have a game. Two teams, one on the slide down from their early season form and one getting it together to finish strong. Their two graphs from my 3/4 season review tell the story pretty well if you tack on another win for last weekend.
What we’ve seen so far this season when two top teams go head-to-head, however, is a different story. The Dragons-Warriors game from round seven and the Broncos-Roosters game from round eleven aside, most of them have been bludgers or blow-outs or both. More importantly, they are rarely fun.
I don’t really know which way this game will go. I’m inclined to tip the Roosters. That’s really only based on the idea that they’re generally getting stronger and the Dragons are getting weaker. The Greeks have this as a solid Roosters’ win but we could see a complete form reversal if Hunt hits his stride, Widdop keeps his teeth in place and the forwards have recovered from their Origin duties. The magic of rugby league.
I know the Broncos got flogged by the Warriors and then flogged the Panthers (who had flogged the Warriors) but I think they’re generally better than the Sharks, with a bit more flair and less likely to get into the grind (if they do, they will likely crumple), so Brisbane for me. Wests are clearly a good team based on their results and if they want to be there in September, they really need to win this game so I’m hoping that’s motivation enough for the Tigers to win. The Panthers need to get their season back on by flogging Manly, so I’m going Penrith, not only because I think they will win but also because it’ll be funny. Parramatta may as well not turn up against Souths. Remember when the Rabbitohs scored three times off the same play? The Warriors always do well at C-Bus and I don’t expect this year to be any different. If the Warriors game at Suncorp was anything to go by, it will be basically a New Zealand home game.
Also, go Broncos in both the mens and womens grand finals against the Tigers of the inaugural NRL Touch Premiership.
Ipswich at Redcliffe
This is the third week running that Channel 9 are showing the Dolphins game. I kind of understand last week, with Goondiwindi being relatively close to Brisbane, but Jesus Channel 9, there are other teams. Souths Logan and PNG are yet to appear on Aussie TV at all.
Redcliffe are playing very well and are easily one of the Queensland Cup’s contenders for the premiership. Ipswich haven’t been playing all that well. Their short kickoffs and dropouts lead to too many errors that undermine their unconventional strategy. Michael Purcell is fun to watch but he can’t drag the whole team along with him. Not helping is the fact that the a couple of Broncos will suit up for the Phins but none for the Jets. Long gone are the days of Ben Hunt leading a trouncing.
Redcliffe for mine.
I’m tipping the Pride over the Falcons but we would need to start asking questions about their finals credentials if they lose this one. The Melbourne clubs are finishing fast and I fully expect that Easts will beat the now cooked Norths. Both of these results, along with an incoming shellacking for Souths at the hands of Townsville, will be instrumental in forming the top six. I’m tipping Burleigh to take a road win in Port Moresby and an easy win for the bayside Seagulls over the Capras.