3 Rounds in and I’m already reusing the cover from Round 1. Anyway, what else is new in League?
Brisbane vs St George Illawarra @ Suncorp Stadium
In last year’s finals series, the Dragons absolutely demolished the Broncos 48-18 and made them look like a pack of mules, and ironically, the Bennett era at Red Hill ended at the hands of that other team he took to an NRL Premiership…. until of course he miraculously leads Souths to the title.
Now as they say, the turns have tabled- The Dragons are in a world of trouble at 0-2, as Paul McGregor’s spine reshuffle has made the Red V as crooked as a politician’s back, while the Broncos found their mojo against the Cowboys, and if they show up, don’t be surprised if Channel Nine slaps an R18+ rating on this game.
Canberra vs Newcastle @ GIO Stadium
While our pollies can’t get any production in Parliament House, games between the Raiders and the Knights have always produced an abundance of one thing- Points, points, and more points.
Did I say points? Because they’ll be scoring points.
These are some of the scores from the last couple of games between the teams:
30-28 Knights, 46-28 Raiders, 34-20 Knights, 29-25 Raiders, 24-24, 36-22 Raiders, 44-22 Raiders- You probably get the picture.
Parramatta vs Sydney @ ANZ Stadium
Blake Ferguson takes on his former employers and his premiership teammates, and he’s inspired the Eels to a 2-0 start as he aims to get back into the New South Wales Origin fold, while the Roosters overcame the loss of Cronk and Friend to defeat the Sea Eagles 26-18 at Brookvale.
The Eels are extremely dangerous for the defending premiers, because they don’t have any expectations whatsoever, although their last 2 meetings have been brutal thrashings to the old Eastern Suburbs- 44-10 in Round 25 last year to get the Roosters the minor premiership, and 48-10 in Round 10, 2017.
Then again, different years, different teams.
Manly vs New Zealand @ Christchurch Stadium
This game will most likely turn into a pub trivia night question in 20 years:
“Who was the first team to play a home game in Christchurch after the mass shootings?”
“No, it was that team from Sydney, Manly-Warringah!”
In all seriousness, considering the circumstances, this is going to be a moral lock to get a bigger crowd than the Sea Eagles get at Brookie, and with the emotion involved, don’t be surprised if the Warriors get a rise and send Des and the fellas crashing to 0-3.
North Queensland vs Cronulla @ 1300SMILES Stadium
Paul Gallen will break Andrew Ettinghausen’s Sharks games record with his 329th game, and for all we know, ET (Wherever he is in the universe) will celebrate the occasion by catching some snapper for whatever fishing show he’s filming, and name it ‘Gallo’.
The Cowboys are used to losing JTs of late, and now Jason Taumalolo is out with a knee injury, which is a huge blow when you look at the stats- 286 metres in Round 1 as they blew out the Dragons, and then after his injury he only picked up 44 metres, and was it any coincedence the ‘Boys didn’t get anything going in Brisbane.
If it is any relief, they’re replacing an international quality lock starting with ‘J’, with an international quality lock starting with ‘J’- Josh McGuire.
If it makes a lick of difference, remains to be seen.
Penrith vs Melbourne @ Carrington Park, Bathurst
The Gold Crown on Friday night, the rugby league on a Saturday night- This is the biggest weekend in Bathurst outside of the 1000!
They love their Saturday Night Footy out in the Tablelands, and while they’re used to the Mountain Men travelling down the Great Western Highway (This is the 6th time), the Storm have never visited the home of Mount Panorama.
Last year the Panthers upset the Storm in Round 25 (Who were without Slater and Duffy) 22-16 and cost them the Minor Premiership, although like most teams, they’ve been utterly dominated by the Melbournians, who have won 17/19 head to head matchups, and it wouldn’t matter if this game was in Bathurst, Penrith, The Congo, Coober Pedy or on the Moon, they’ll probably win again.
Alright, is that enough historical information?
Wests Tigers vs Canterbury @ Campbelltown Stadium
For the first time since the Balmain-Wests join venture was formed, the Tigers will go into a game on top of the NRL ladder, and amazingly they’re doing it despite leaving Josh Reynolds in reserve grade- But why would Michael McGuire want to change a winning lineup.
At Canterbury, Dean Pay is swinging the axe like a medieval executioner, and amongst his some 400 changes for this week is a young man named Jayden Okunbor, who has been likened to Jamal Idris, mainly in appearance, but possibly on ability if he plays well on Sunday.
Don’t be surprised if the Fairfax editors actually put up a photo of Idris in the place of Okunbor in their match reports.
South Sydney vs Gold Coast @ ANZ Stadium
The Bennett Bunny Bus showed no mercy at Jubilee on Thursday night, as the Bunnies rampaged on to a 2-0 start, and if they win a very winnable matchup against the struggling Titans, they’re playing the Sea Eagles, Warriors and Bulldogs- They could start 6-0!
In contrast, the Titans will probably do this before the game:
“Jai, how’s your arm?”
“Good, take this note over to the referee.”
And that’s all for my latest, Useless Preview!