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NRL Projections Update – Round 20, 2017

The Broncos kicked off round 20 by throttling the Bulldogs. Brisbane were on from the gun and Canterbury were in the contest for the first twenty minutes before conceding late tries before half time. The Broncos returned after the break firing and after securing a series of repeat sets in the third quarter, ran the Bulldogs to exhaustion and piled on the points.

The Knights are almost not worth commenting on anymore. One try came in the thirtieth minute for Newcastle but otherwise it was one-way traffic to Bondi. The Roosters accumulated tries throughout the game to run out comfortable winners. Souths were never in the contest against Cronulla. There was a whiff of upset but the Sharks showed up early, used their league-leading defence to keep the error-riddled Rabbitohs at bay and didn’t leave themselves too much work to do, to the delight of the home crowd.

Saturday saw three wins with each going the way they were expected to but with none decided by more than twelve points. The Titan succumbed to the Panthers at Pepper Stadium. Gold Coast had an early lead and went into half time near even but Penrith took control in the second half and took the win. In Canberra, the Raiders reinforced their reputation for crappy discipline with some big, late hits on Storm players. That didn’t stop Melbourne from outplaying the home team but injury concerns for the Storm now hang over their premiership chances. North Queensland played out a scrappy contest with New Zealand in Townsville. The Cowboys made fewer errors and had just enough attacking panache to outpace the Warriors and carry the two points.

In the Tips post, I suggested that despite the massively lopsided nature of this round, a couple of upsets were still on the cards. The Dragons duly obliged by obliterating the Sea Eagles. Manly were down by thirty at half time and nearly managed to drag themselves back into it before Saints re-accelerated and left them behind. At ANZ, a western Sydney derby played out in front of 30,000 people. They were treated to a close contest, albeit one with a significant number of errors. Parramatta just edged out Wests with a field goal in the final ten minutes. The Tigers were unable to respond and sank.

Round 20 Results

brisbane-sm Brisbane 42 (12-6) d canterbury-sm Canterbury 12 (6-12)

sydney city-sm Sydney City 28 (13-5) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 4 (2-16)

cronulla-sm Cronulla 26 (12-6) d souths-sm South Sydney 12 (6-12)

penrith-sm Penrith 24 (9-9) d gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 16 (7-11)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 20 (14-4) d canberra-sm Canberra 14 (7-11)

north qld-sm North Queensland 24 (12-6) d warriors-sm New Zealand 12 (7-11)

st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 52 (10-8) d manly-sm Manly 22 (11-7)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 17 (11-7) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 16 (4-14)

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NRL Projections Update – Round 19, 2017

Nathan Cleary confirmed his future superstar status by carrying the Penrith Panthers on his back, leading them to a win over the Warriors to open round 19. His elephantine performance had Penrith in control for the last sixty minutes of the game leading to only the Warriors’ second loss at Mt Smart Stadium this year. Canberra got home in golden point over St George Illawarra in a game that it looked like no one wanted to actually win. After an exchange of wayward field goal attempts, the game wrapped up 14-all at full time. The Raiders pushed on with a 40/20 from Aidan Sezer giving them the field position to set up the golden try.

The Broncos were at risk of a post-Origin loss to the Knights. It seemed like it might head that way when Newcastle led 12-6 at half time. A fired-up Broncos returned to the field and put the sword to the Knights, coming home comfortable winners. On the Gold Coast, torrential rain led to some questioning whether the game should continue. It did because they are professional football players and taking bodily risks is part of the job description. In what I would have described as the biggest upset of the season if it hadn’t already happened in round 8, the Titans dominated the Sharks, not even giving them the opportunity to claw their way back in.

Manly made their win over Wests a lot harder than expected in front of a packed Brookvale Oval. Despite the Sea Eagles scoring two tries in the first ten minutes, the Tigers managed to go into half time in front. Manly kicked it up a gear in the second half and ran in three unanswered tries to pick up the two points. The Rabbitohs took the final game of the round to Cairns and were promptly battered into submission by a rampant Cowboys side. North Queensland barely had to get into gear before building a solid lead that Souths were never able to threaten. The conclusive win for the Cowboys was not enough to lift them further up the ladder.

Round 19 Results

penrith-sm Penrith 34 (8-9) d warriors-sm New Zealand 22 (7-10)

canberra-sm Canberra 18 (7-10) d st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 14 (9-8)

brisbane-sm Brisbane 34 (11-6) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 22 (2-14)

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 30 (7-10) d cronulla-sm Cronulla 10 (11-6)

manly-sm Manly 28 (11-6) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 16 (4-13)

north qld-sm North Queensland 23 (11-6) d souths-sm South Sydney 10 (6-11)

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NRL Projections Update – Round 18, 2017

Round 18 was a round of 3.5 upsets. It opened in Sydney with the “fiercest” local derby rugby league has to offer. Souths reverted to their mean performance of the year and Easts, minus a few Origin stars, managed to keep a lid on their opponent’s dysfunctional attack. I think under normal circumstances, the Roosters would have brought it home more comfortably but the Bunnies were odds-on favourites after last week’s thrashing.

As of the time of writing, people were still complaining about the lopsided penalty count in favour of the Panthers, who hosted the Sea Eagles on Saturday. Ignoring the ‘it’s just raising revenue’-style of argument, Manly also committed more errors and missed two conversions. Ill-discipline is one thing but losing to Penrith and ending the excellent run was an unpleasant surprise, especially with His Saltiness playing. Down in Melbourne, the Eels sprinted out to an early lead over the Storm and never looked back. By halftime, they were up three tries to one. Without their stars, Melbourne were unable to get back in the contest, going down to Parramatta.

Sunday brought the most exciting game, which is surprising considering it involved the 14th placed Bulldogs against the last placed Knights. Newcastle edged out to an almost unassailable lead at Belmore with ten minutes to go but due to a mix of poor play and bad luck that is unique to the Knights, managed to fall behind with fifteen seconds remaining. A short kick-off and a wayward attempt at penalty goal sealed the defeat for Newcastle. Canterbury celebrated like they’d done something significant but really they should have won the game by half time and never lost the lead.

Round 18 Results

sydney city-sm Sydney City 14 (12-5) d souths-sm South Sydney 12 (6-10)

penrith-sm Penrith 16 (7-9) d manly-sm Manly 8 (10-6)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 22 (10-7) d melbourne-sm Melbourne 6 (13-4)

canterbury-sm Canterbury 20 (7-10) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 18 (2-14)

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NRL Projections Update – Round 17, 2017

Parramatta and Canterbury kicked off round 16 on Thursday night at ANZ. The Eels opened with a solid first half and collapsed into a terrible second half, letting the Bulldogs back in to a game they should have stitched up with twenty to go. The right team got up in the end on golden point but the Eels made it much harder on themselves than necessary.

The Titans and Dragons went head-to-head down the Coast, resulting in a semi-surprising win for the home team. St George looked like they’d forgotten how to play and the Gold Coast played their usual unvarnished but somewhat effective brand of football to bring it home. Meanwhile, I watched the Broncos get absolutely demolished by the Storm. They were never in the game and were shown up by the best in the business. The win moves Melbourne four points clear of the chasers on the ladder.

I thought that would be the biggest win of the round but then the Roosters were destroyed by the Sharks at Gosford, going down by thirty-two points. It reinforces my view that the Roosters are not consistent against top teams and the Sharks tend to thrive on a strange combination of adversity and weakness. The Warriors nearly snuck one past the Sea Eagles, racing off to an early 14-0 lead before being pegged back by half time and then overhauled in the second half. It was close but Manly seemed in control, taking the win on a wet Perth evening. As I expected, the Cowboys got the better of the Raiders in freezing conditions – as mentioned unnecessarily often on the broadcast and social media – at GIO Stadium. Canberra only looked to be in the game for the first quarter against North Queensland before being worn down to a childish, punchy tantrum of a side that may as well write 2017 off.

Just as my tips were getting good, Newcastle lost the Spoonbowl, and now they will very likely “win” the Wooden Spoon. The Tigers ran riot against a below average Knights outfit, who resume last place on the ladder with Tigers still having a bye in hand. Penrith took an early lead against Souths and looked to be in control until Sam Burgess got sent off for fighting, firing up the Rabbitohs leading them to pile on forty-plus points. The win puts the Rabbitohs back into this season’s calculations, albeit at a significant disadvantage, and returns a question mark over the Panthers.

Round 17 Results

parramatta-sm Parramatta 13 (9-7) d canterbury-sm Canterbury 12 (6-10)

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 20 (6-10) d st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 10 (9-7)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 42 (13-3) d brisbane-sm Brisbane 12 (10-6)

cronulla-sm Cronulla 44 (11-5) d sydney city-sm Sydney City 12 (11-5)

manly-sm Manly 26 (10-5) d warriors-sm New Zealand 22 (7-9)

north qld-sm North Queensland 31 (10-6) d canberra-sm Canberra 18 (6-10)

wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 33 (4-12) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 12 (2-13)

souths-sm South Sydney 42 (6-9) d penrith-sm Penrith 14 (6-9)

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NRL Projections Update – Round 16, 2017

The round kicked off on Friday with a scrappy game in Auckland between the Warriors and Bulldogs. Errors were the order of the day as the New Zealand side managed to eke out a win in a game neither side seemed to control or, for that matter, want to win. This was followed by a dismal crowd at a frosty Campbelltown to see two of the worst sides in the NRL take to the field. In lieu of the classic promised by the commentators, it was an error-ridden, poorly structured affair that no one wanted to watch. The Titans eventually came up trumps over the Tigers.

Saturday was the palate cleanser with a tight encounter between a JT-less Cowboys and a Panthers outfit looking for a finals berth. After starting in a Freaky Friday-style body swap, with North Queensland playing as Penrith and vice versa, the Cowboys re-ran the Origin encounter from earlier in the week and managed a late, spectacular try from Kyle Feldt and a sideline conversion by Ethan Lowe, cool as you like, to wrap up the game. The Broncos and Raiders traded early blows in Canberra before the halves combo of Benji Marshall (he still has it, it turns out) and Ben Hunt took control of the game and drove home a Brisbane victory. In Adelaide, a massive crowd turned up to watch the top of the ladder clash. Melbourne looked in control, despite missing their star spine, until two conceding two late tries to City, forcing golden point. Mitchell Pearce fluked a win with a field goal in the 85th minute.

On Sunday, the Dragons managed to halt their slide into mediocrity with a scrappy from behind win against, wait for it, the Knights. A team that everyone has chalked in their diaries as a win made St George Illawarra work for it, leading 28-10 at half time. Unfortunately, Newcastle faded/let Saints back in and they finished 32-28. In Cronulla, Manly handed out a belting to the Sharks, continuing their poor run at home. At first, when Cronulla went down 12-0 and then 18-12 at half time, we all figured it was the usual Sharks tactic of doing as little as possible to stay in it and then come steaming home. It was not to be as the Sea Eagles just extended their lead in the second half and a confused Sharks side never looked like getting back into the game. They might have to start trying harder, earlier if Cronulla want a top four finish.

Round 16 Results

warriors-sm New Zealand 21 (7-8) d canterbury-sm Canterbury 14 (6-9)

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 26 (5-10) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 14 (3-12)

north qld-sm North Queensland 14 (9-6) d penrith-sm Penrith 12 (6-8)

brisbane-sm Brisbane 30 (10-5) d canberra-sm Canberra 20 (6-9)

sydney city-sm Sydney City 25 (11-4) d melbourne-sm Melbourne 24 (12-3)

st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 32 (9-6) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 28 (2-12)

manly-sm Manly 35 (9-5) d cronulla-sm Cronulla 18 (10-5)

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NRL Projections Update – Round 15, 2017

A surprisingly high quality round of games. I think we all expected the Sharks to monster the Tigers and the Rabbitohs-Titans and the Eels-Dragons games to be yawnfests. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Gold Coast and Wests stormed out to early leads in their respective games. The better team overwhelmed them eventually with the lead gained at 50′ for Souths and, even for the comeback kings leaving it very late, 78′ for Cronulla.

Melbourne and North Queensland fought an excellent battle with a mix of experienced NRL hands and Intrust Super Cup replacement players in a testimony to how good Queensland football can be if we could just shut up about Origin for five bloody minutes. Some future household names will have played in that game.

Parramatta surprised me and a few others by getting an early lead and then never letting St George Illawarra back into the match. They pounced on their opponent’s mistakes like a team playing to the level of Clint Gutherson, which is in stark contrast to their heel-dragging of the last fourteen rounds, making Gutho stand out. I even saw Mitchell Moses make a couple of try line tackles.

Round 15 Results

souths-sm South Sydney 36 (5-9) d gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 20 (4-10)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 23 (12-2) d north qld-sm North Queensland 22 (8-6)

cronulla-sm Cronulla 24 (10-4) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 22 (3-11)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 24 (8-7) d st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 10 (8-6)

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NRL Projections Update – Round 14, 2017

I don’t know whether you’d agree with this statement: it was a pretty good round. We had close match-ups up and down the ladder with 1st v 2nd, 7th v 8th, 9th v 10th and 11th v 13th yielding some great games. No one saw the Panthers putting two tries past the Raiders in the last couple of minutes to take the win in Bathurst. I’d already written them off, wondering what jokes I could make about their performance. We saw an absorbing battle between the two minor premiership contenders with the final outcome only becoming clear after Kaufusi crossed the line with six to go. Newcastle were robbed of a victory by poor refereeing and I don’t often agree with the #RefsFault crowd. Souths gave the Donkeys a tense run for their money but Brisbane managed to keep them at bay.

Meanwhile, the Titans couldn’t have been further from the team that brought down the Sharks and Storm. At some point, someone will flick the lever into crisis mode, although perhaps its always been there. The “Territory” Eels didn’t seem interested in playing on a hard, crew-cut surface in Darwin, even though it was their home game and it showed in the scoreline against the Cowboys. Speaking of, the Tigers went down very hard in a scrappy game against the Roosters in Campbelltown after showing a lot of promise in the first half. The Dragons surprised everyone by not scoring a single try against a Bulldogs side recovering some dignity after last week’s flogging.

Round 14 Results

melbourne-sm Melbourne 18 (11-2) d cronulla-sm Cronulla 13 (9-4)

manly-sm Manly 18 (8-5) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 14 (2-11)

brisbane-sm Brisbane 24 (9-5) d souths-sm South Sydney 18 (4-9)

warriors-sm New Zealand 34 (6-8) d gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 12 (4-9)

penrith-sm Penrith 24 (6-7) d canberra-sm Canberra 20 (6-8)

north qld-sm North Queensland 32 (8-5) d parramatta-sm Parramatta 6 (7-7)

sydney city-sm Sydney 40 (10-4) @ wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 18 (3-10)

st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 16 (8-5) @ canterbury-sm Canterbury 2 (6-8)

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