I kind of liked last week’s format, so I might try to hybridise it with the typical 2018 format. Originally, I wanted to cut down on the time these took to put together but unfortunately I also like to type a lot of garbage. Instead of the Other Games paragraph that I was throwing together and didn’t add much insight, I’m going to flesh those out a bit more but at the expense of making the top three games by MVR a little shorter.
It’s amazing that I’ve been doing this for nearly two seasons and still haven’t settled on a format I really like. Might need to follow the crowd and do a reader survey post-season to help inform it.
Gold Coast at Manly
Why are we talking about this, I hear you ask? Here’s some reasons:
- It’s my blog, I’ll do what I want. If I want to talk about Queensland’s third and forgotten team or pour scorn on Manly’s pathetically small supporter base, I’ll do it.
- Due to the closeness of the two sides’ ratings (Manly 1469, Gold Coast 1452), this is supposedly going to be the best match this week.
- The spoon battle is the closest in a while and a win here for either team will probably see them move above the Knights on for and against (unless Newcastle manage a win of course) and into relative safety.
- The last time these two faced off, it was in Gladstone and we all know what happened after that.
I’m putting my money on Manly, thanks to the recent form and generally better line up, but will happily concede that the Gold Coast is perfectly capable of winning this game.
Parramatta at Melbourne
Now I hear you asking, “Really? If we’re supposed to only talk about the close contests, how is a top of the table team taking on a bottom of the table team going to be close?”
Good question. Look, I concede that it probably won’t be close and I see the Storm closing this one out easily enough but perhaps not by the margin predicted. If you’ll click on the full listing of Elo ratings and scroll down to Parramatta, you’ll see that the Eels are the seventh best in the league on form. When you think about it, Parra have won three of their last four and only missed Souths by six. That’s a significant improvement over what was dished up earlier in the year and, indeed, better than some of the top eight sides have managed recently. The Eels’ Archimedes rating of 1513 is better than the Broncos’ 1477 and a full sixty better than the Dragons’ 1453.
A bit like Newcastle’s crappiness has flown under the radar, Parramatta’s renaissance has also gone unremarked upon. They may well have enough in the tank over the last three games to avoid the spoon.
New Zealand at Canterbury
Let’s get this out there: I have zero faith in the Bulldogs. I don’t care for the club and am happy to see them get the spoon. I also have zero faith in the Warriors to deliver on any promises whatsoever. They could start the season by saying they’ll finish last and would probably go on to win the minor premiership.
Which brings us to our present quandary. Canterbury, like their fellow cellar-dwellers, have found some late season form. I would ascribe a small part of that to Lachlan Lewis. The rookie is 3-3 to start his NRL career, which doesn’t sound impressive until you calculate that the Bulldogs are 3-12 without him. Dragging a .250 team up to .500 is pretty good. Of course, that could be small sample size but it should offer some hope for the future.
What he and the Oonspays are facing down are the likes of an in-form Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Green and Johnson in the halves and Isaac Luke playing for his career. There aren’t too many spines in the NRL that is both that talented and that equally weighted across the four positions. Throw in a back line that could play in the pack at other clubs with a reasonable, if inconsistent, forward line and it should be New Zealand‘s game to lose.
South Sydney at Brisbane – Even though I have the day off and nothing better to do, I still believe my Suncorp hoodoo is in effect so will stay well away from attending the game. That said, I still think Souths will be too strong for Brisbane and are likely to blow the Broncos off the park if they can get a roll on.
Newcastle at Penrith – We’re not really talking a lot about just how bad the Knights are. Early season shock wins plus Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga are papering over a lot of cracks, especially the fact that the forward pack may as well be made of paper. Panthers will reassert some resemblance of their form (Maloney or otherwise) and take this one.
St George Illawarra at Wests – This could easily go either way. While the Tigers have a reputation as giant slayers and won this fixture five weeks ago and have the added motivation of a first finals appearance in seven years just in reach… and I forget why I was going tip the Dragons, especially with Widdop out, so I’m flipping to the Tigers.
North Queensland at Cronulla – The Sharks are at risk in this one. Given the Cowboys are in pole position for the spoon and the Sharks are fighting for a top four spot, this should be a formality and I’m tipping accordingly but there’s a risk that
Taumalolo will Fifita Cronulla and bowl over Val Holmes a la Tedesco (there’s a sentence that won’t make sense to anyone especially as he is suspended).
Sydney at Canberra – What a battle of faders. I reckon Sportsbet should be offering $1.10 on whichever team leads at half time going on to lose the game. It may come down to whoever can butcher their first half the best. But if it does turn out to be a normal game, then the Roosters are in form and more talented and should be able to put the Raiders away.
Souths Logan at Easts – We did it! Souths Logan finally made it to a TV game in the second last round of the season. It puts a huge underline under what was a really successful first two-thirds of a season before falling off a cliff and missing the finals in true little club fashion. Easts haven’t lost a game since July 21, the last time they were on TV. That form line – backed up by the presence of Drinkwater, Croft and Brandon Smith – gives me a lot of confidence to tip the Tigers.
Townsville at Burleigh – This is obviously a big game in the grand scheme of things, practically a semi final with second against third. Neither the Blackhawks nor the Bears have been dominating and I think the Greeks are giving this one to the Bears on home ground advantage. I think it’s too close to call, so I’m going with them.
Tweed Heads at Ipswich – A month or two ago, the Jury’s percentage of 77% in favour of Ipswich would be well overestimating the difference between the two clubs. Since then, the Seagulls have lost most of their Titans-level talent, either back to the Coast or to other clubs, while the Jets have gelled quite nicely. Ipswich are still too erratic to tip with any confidence against big hitters but I don’t see Tweed being able to challenge them effectively.
Norths at Mackay – The Cutters pretty much have the spoon locked up, sitting three points behind the Capras on the ladder with only four left to gain. Norths have had a good, strong run of results of later and should be too strong for Mackay.
Redcliffe at Northern Pride – First versus fourth in another semi final-like fixture. This should be an interesting match up to see if the Dolphins’ aberration against the Cutters and their edging of the Blackhawks are meaningful. The Pride have had two easy-beat games but before that, lost to the Falcons by a point. Common sense would dictate the Dolphins but probably not by much.
Sunshine Coast at Central Queensland – The Capras remain useless (but not so much as Mackay) and Sunny Coast need this win if they are to be any hope of post-season play, so Falcons.
Wynnum Manly at PNG – PNG have come from nowhere to be contenders again this season, while Wynnum Manly continue to play occasional spoiler but otherwise not much more than an inconsistent speedbump. At home, the Hunters should cruise in.