NRL

JT’s Useless Previews: The NRL, Round 9

The venue for the weekend’s entertainment… before it got redeveloped (Suncorp Stadium)

This week, for the first time in history, every team converges on Brisvegas for the MAGIC ROUND, and every fan of the game can watch on in amazement at the Broncos’ famous ‘Disappearing Act’, which left David Copperfield stunned!


IF YOU DIDN’T GET THE MEMO, EVERY GAME IS AT LANG PARK


THURSDAY

Gold Coast vs Cronulla @ 7:50pm AEST

Two months into the season and we’re getting a rematch to kick off Magic Round.

The Sharks’ 20-6 win over the Titans back in Round 2 was a weird one, because the Coasters had 57% of possession and seven extra sets, and yet ended up trailing 20-nil and were comfortably beaten in John Morris’ first win as a coach.

Last week, the Titans stuck with the Cowboys for most of the night up in Katter Country, but got run over late and lost 28-14, while the Sharks pulled off a solid upset against the Storm 20-18, filled with a team of youngsters, Paul Gallen, Josh Dugan and Andrew Fifita.

Not even a fortnight ago, the Sharks rocked up to Suncorp and got smashed by the Broncos, which tied Gal with Scotty Prince on 166 First Grade losses, and I’m sure the Queenslanders will rock on down yet again to Lang Park full of hope, that they can witness Gal’s 167th loss.

Wouldn’t that be odd, managing to both equal and pass the record on the same ground against different teams.

FRIDAY

West Tigers vs Penrith @ 6:00pm AEST

Not even five weeks after they last played, we’re getting a rematch of the Cleary Cup, and both teams come in having been licked on the cheek last week.

The last edition of the Cleary Cup back in Round 4 was one of the more thrilling ugly games of the season, with the Panthers scoring a converted try with no time remaining tying the scores at 8, followed by Nathan Cleary kicking the winning field goal, and never being heard from again.

Since then, it’s been misery for the Panthers, who watched their finals chances burn to the ground in Wagga against the Raiders, as several players went down with injuries (Apparently Isaah Yeo is not out for the season), although Captain James Maloney went to the judiciary yesterday and managed to succeed in getting his two-game suspension wiped out.

Apparently having to captain this Panthers team was punishment enough.

Meanwhile, Wests were right in it against the Roosters at the SCG, trailing 18-12 with half-an-hour to go, until Latrell Mitchell roared to life and annihilated the Tigers’ defence like the three-headed Hydra, and the Chooks blasted four tries in the final 30 minutes.

The Panthers haven’t won since that weird night in Penrith, and Wests have gone win-loss-win-loss, which by process of elimination, means they will win on Friday.

Manly vs Brisbane @ 8:05pm AEST

Darius Boyd launched to his own defence on Tuesday, which is the best defensive effort he’s put in all season, defending himself and his team by declaring he was “Pretty happy” with his form, and that the Broncos are “making too many tackles”.

I wasn’t aware that making zero tackles per game was ‘too many’.

As the losses pile up for the Bronx, Anthony Seibold swings the axe like a medieval executioner, dropping James Roberts and Jamayne Isaako to the reserves, Tevita Pangai Jnr starts on the pine, and then there was that business of Andrew McCullough’s MCL injury at training.

Meanwhile, the only thing Manly are losing is key players, scoring two wins in a row (Canberra & Canterbury) despite losing Daly Cherry-Evans, Addin Fonua-Blake, Lachie Croker and a host of other players, with the likes of Kane Elgey and Reuben Garrick stepping up and making an impact- Garrick scored every Sea Eagles point and averaged some 10.6 metres per run against the Doggies.

Managing to win without DCE and Tommy Turbo also highlights the value having a madman like Des Hasler calling the shots and keeping the ‘Backs to the wall mentality’ going, and it should be easy to keep that going this week, with the Suncorp

One way or another, this should be the highlight of the Magic weekend.

SATURDAY

Canterbury vs Newcastle @ 3:00pm AEST

The young Pups are anchored on the bottom of the ladder after their latest outing, losing 18-10 to the undermanned Sea Eagles, who put in a huge running performance as the Dogs yet again struggled with inconsistency, somewhat of a reoccurring theme in 2019.

In a big boost, and throwing in some very valuable experience, Kieran Foran is back from his major ankle injury well ahead of schedule, showing a set of healing powers usually only available to members of the Latter Day Saints.

After losing five straight games, the Knights found Austin Powers’ mojo against the high scoring Eels and beat them easily 28-14 to ease the squeeze on Nathan Brown, and then flew across the ditch and ‘upset’ the Warriors 36-18, on the back of Kailyn Ponga’s 20 points, rocketing from 15th to 10th.

The Dogs will be reacquainted with a former member of the Kennel- David Klemmer, who racked up 207 metres (Team high) against the Warriors, as he prepares to take in his former team for the first time.

It should be noted, the last time the Knights chalked up a win against the Dogs was way back in the 2013 Elimination Final, with the Dogs winning the past six encounters- On paper, it looks like that streak ends.

New Zealand vs St George @ 5:30pm AEST

It was nice of the league to schedule the Warriors in for another home game.

Not that home ground mattered last weekend against the Knights, who beat them easily despite the return of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, although top tryscorer David Fusitu’a comes back, and fresh signing Kodi Nikorima is all set to go at 5/8th, displacing Chanel Harris-Tevita for absolutely no reason.

Fancy that, Kodi leaves the Broncos and he still ends up playing a home game at Suncorp.

It wasn’t much prettier for the Dragons, who led 14-nil in the 1st half against the Eels, before copping a 2nd half mauling to lose 32-18, and adding insult to injury, Tyson Frizell copped a poke in the eye from teammate Blake Lawrie, and lasted just 23 minutes.

Well, that’s a step up from literally busting a nut.

More importantly, Corey Norman fractured his eye socket, so Jai Field comes on to the ground (Cracking joke that) to start in the halves.

The Warriors this season are like a box of chocolates.. you never know what you’re gonna get, and they usually leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Melbourne vs Parramatta @ 7:35pm AEST

Bad news for the Storm, because their major sponsor Purplebricks have given up on the Australian real estate market.

Just like millions of Australians.

On the field, it hasn’t been any better for the Storm, who have been ENGULFED by the on-field feud between Cam Munster and Cam Smith, which is apparently so heated that they’ve agreed to fight in a Hell in a Cell match during the Origin break.

(Copyright: World Wrestling Entertainment)

Craig Bellamy was apparently so angry with his team’s performance in the loss against the Sharks, that when he was asked about their execution, Bellamy said he was “In favour of it.”

Okay, that may not have happened.

Meanwhile, the Eels have already embraced the Jekyll & Hyde act when they play at Westbank Stadium, scoring big wins as Jekyll against Wests and that 14-nil comeback against St George last Sunday, in between they adopted the Hyde personality and got belted around on the road by the Knights.

There was some remarkable revelation from Fox Sports’ James Hooper, that Eels winger Maika Sivo is on a mere $72,500 for the season, apparently the same wage as a bricky’s labourer.

If there was an NRL Antiques Roadshow, that would win some sort of value for money trophy.

On a historical note, this year marks a decade since the Storm denied the Cinderella Eels the 2009 Premiership, and I’m sure all the members of that fantastic team will be on hand to-

Ah, that’s right.

SUNDAY

Sydney vs Canberra @ 2:00pm AEST

1st takes on 3rd in a massive battle between the Roosters’ only living Premiership coaches, as they fight off in the Todd Carney Cup.

I’d prefer it if they honoured a father & son who have made an impact on both teams- Bill and Brett Mullins.

Dan Pain, he collects Rugby League cards. (Photo of Brett by David Gray)

The Green Machine has a good record against the Chooks, recording three straight victories, all in Canberra, with the final margin being no fewer than 8 points each time, including a 2 point win last season, and that 1 point win back in 2016, which means about as much as the title of ‘Prime Minister’.

But throw them and any games in Sydney out the window, as this game is a touch further North.

Latrell Mitchell was deadset terrifying against Wests on Saturday, and if they remake Godzilla: King of the Monsters, he’ll be edited in, destroying the Earth alongside the big fella, Mothra and King Ghidorah.

Although, the only thing more terrifying than Latrell fighting Godzilla for Roosters fans is the thought of him and Cooper Cronk not being in the Tricolours next season.

The Raiders returned to the winner’s circle in Wagga Wagga, the town so nice they named it twice, beating the Panthers despite only having 44% of posession, but it did come at a price.

While Jordy Rapana should return, Joey Leilua will have to wait another week for game #200 with his sore neck, and John Bateman starts his recovery from a fractured eye socket and a chicken winging from Panther skipper James Maloney, who described Bateman as “Finger lickin’ good”.

On paper, this clash is the best game of the weekend.

Souths vs North Queensland @ 4:05pm AEST

Also known as the Ethan Lowe Revenge Game.

Wayne Bennett is used to coaching the home team at Suncorp Stadium with people throwing food at the coaches box, so he should feel right at home again, taking on the team that ruined his perfect Grand Final record.

The Rabbits destruction of the Broncos last Thursday was apparently so great, that the Bunnies are now playing home games at Suncorp.

Yikes.

Surprisingly enough, the Rabbits are ranked 15th in tackles, which can be explained by the fact that they’re ranked 1st in possession (53%), 1st in runs (1,518) and 2nd in points scored, which has all contributed to their super start under the Master Coach.

The human wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo returned for the ‘Boys last weekend, and his impact was immediate, as they handled the Titans and won their first game at home since Round 1, dispelling talk of a player rebellion against Paul Green, with John Asiata proving the most unlikely of halves partners with Michael Morgan.

The Cowboys may have improved, but taking on Walker, Reynolds and the Burgess boys is a different beast than a lagging Titans team.


FOR NO REASON, HERE’S MY TIPPING PERFORMANCE.

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