Which teams will suffer the dreaded Post-Magic Round hangover?
Time will only tell. In the meantime, I’d best sift through the mess.
Melbourne (3rd, 7-2) vs Wests Tigers (6th, 5-4) @ AAMI Park, 7:50pm AEST
Apparently Craig Bellamy signed NASA to help him launch a rocket up the Storm playing group last week, and they responded by committing something bordering on a war crime on the Eels.
A scoreline of 64-10, which would’ve been enough to beat either the Suns or Demons in the game at Carrara a few hours earlier.
It was like watching the Death Star firing on Alderaan- Sure, the Empire could’ve just harmlessly annihilated a few cities, but Governor Tarkin (Aka Bellamy) sent a terrifying message that nobody was safe in the universe, and destroyed the entire planet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Integrity Unit investigates that NASA deal for breaching some kind of third-party agreement.
And staying on the subject of crushing wins at Suncorp, Wests beat the finals chances out of the Panthers inside 20 minutes to regain the Cleary Cup.
The Tiges hadn’t scored a try in the opening 20 minutes of any game this season.. that was until they played the Panthers again, and scored 4.
Then again, beating up Penrith this season is like scoring a double century against Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2006.
Which is an incorrect analogy, since only one bloke hit a double century that Test.
The reason I can see Wests losing is because they follow the Consistently Inconsistent form model- Ever Since Round 4, it’s been Win-Loss-Win-Loss-Win, which must mean by process of elimination, this will be a loss.
Penrith (15th, 2-7) vs New Zealand (12th, 3-6) @ Panthers Stadium, 6pm AEST
To think, it was only last September that the Panthers and Warriors were locked in an Elimination Final- Now, it’s just tragedy, misery, and sadness.
And keeping up the sadness, Ivan The Terrible dropped the Sauce.
Yes, Josh Mansour has been dropped to reserve grade, a victim of the Cleary Cup wipeout at the ends of the Wests Tigers.
As if getting his face broken and tearing his ACL wasn’t painful enough.
There are also whispers about that captain James Maloney will be shipped to the UK via crate to play in the Super League a year in advance, only to be lost somewhere around the Suez Canal, right next to the Panther’s finals hopes.
In short, they’re a complete rabble, only just above the 16th placed Dogs on the ladder by a solitary point, -93 to -94.
On the other hand, who knows which Warriors team will cross the ditch on Friday evening- The team that have started 3-6 and come out flat in most games, or the team that came back from 18-6 down against the Dragons and flattened them like they were a cane toad standing on an outback highway.
This could be a classic case of two below-average teams keeping each other close.
Brisbane (11th, 3-6) vs Sydney (1st, 8-1) @ Suncorp Stadium, 7:55pm AEST
It truly was Magic Round last week, because somebody pulled a voodoo trick and got the Broncos to come from behind to beat Manly!
It appears it took some form of human sacrifice to make it happen, because Jack Bird tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season, while James Roberts apparently still hates Anthony Seibold and won’t be making an appearance, despite Bird’s injury.
This means that James is on course to play more games for New South Wales than he is for the Broncos this season.
The Roosters rocketed out to a 30-6 lead over the Raiders in the matchup of the Magic Round, but in the process they lost their only remaining skipper Boyd Corner to concussion (Won’t play Friday), Daniel Tupou went off the field in a neck brace on the cart, but is still apparently half a chance of playing, and scarily for the whole of the Blue state, Latrell Mitchell scored a try just before the half, and then clutched his groin in agony, but the Docs rubbed some Deep Heat on his crotch, sent him back out there, and Latrell was as good as new.
Still, that 30-6 lead was enough of a cushion to hold off the Green Machine’s 2nd Half fightback to win 30-24.
With Cordner out, the former ‘Mega Mullet’ Lindsay Collins comes back into the Chooks team.
He shaved off that mullet last year and donated it to a good cause.
It was barely even six weeks ago that the Roosters smashed the Broncos into 2020 with a 36-4 win, and on the basis of that, the boys from Brisvegas will have to pray the Integrity Unit somehow investigates Easts for Salary Cap irregularities.
Hahahaha, we know that won’t happen.
Gold Coast (14th, 2-7) vs Canterbury (16th, 2-7) @ Cbus Shuper Shtadium, 3pm AEST
Boy, what a riveting matchup here.
One of the worst performed teams of the season, and the Titans.
In fairness, the Titans did stick it right up to the Sharks and led 18-10 at the half, but a couple of silly errors in the 2nd Half proved fatal, and Tyrone Peachey copped the brunt of the abuse, after conceding the penalty which put the Sharks in front, and then inexplicably kicked early in the Titans’ final set, and finished things off with another penalty.
Me thinks The Peach was rotten.
Furthermore, Michael Gordon hurt his leg, so in comes AJ Brimson at fullback.
Meanwhile, the Dogs had yet another defeat, this time falling behind 16-0 to the Knights early in the game, as they couldn’t stop Kalyn Ponga, although they did fight back to trail 16-10, but a few things went against the Berries late in the piece, such as missing out on a 50/50 knock-on call against Mitchell Pearce, which led to Ponga’s sealing try late in the game.
Once again, their attack struggled and scored only 10 points, as if the script were writing itself.
It’s weird that the Dogs rank first in set completion (81%) and commit the fewest errors (8.4) per game, but their ladder position is perfectly explainable by the fact that they’re dead last in points per game (12.7).
I’m excited in anticipation of the first Spoonbowl of the season, with the winner assured of not sitting last on the bottom!
Unless the Warriors smack the Panthers and promote the Dogs even if they lose.
North Queensland (13th, 3-6) vs Parramatta (8th, 5-4) @ 1300Smiles Stadium, 5:30pm AEST
The Cowboys were at the very least competitive against Souths, and sure, they ended up losing 32-16, but did they concede 64 points and get completely arse-whipped in the process?
So on that process, they’re looking far better than an Eels team that just five days ago went up to Brisbane with a 5-3 record and a PD of +52, but has now had their horrible form outside of the Sydney city limits exposed, yet again.
The only way I can see the Eels winning this game is if Brad Arthur uses some of his new contract money to hire a hypnotist to convince the team that they’re playing in Western Sydney Stadium.
Canberra (4th, 6-3) vs South Sydney (2nd, 8-1) @ GIO Stadium, 7:35pm AEST
Another weekend, and another Top 4 battle for the Raiders.
The Green Machine got absolutely poleaxed by the Roosters for the first 50 minutes, trailing 30-6 as the Chooks’ injuries piled up, but it was too much for the Raiders to overcome, as they fell a rank forward pass short of sending the game into Golden Point and lost 30-24.
The Raiders also had another bad injury blow- Jordy Rapana went down with what turned out to be a PCL strain, sending him to the sidelines for a month, meaning the ‘Leipana’ combination are yet again both off the park- Joey Leilua’s neck problem has put him out for the season.
Bailey Simonssen slots in for Jordy.
Meanwhile, Souths just keep on chugging along with Wayne Bennett driving the Bunny Bus, making it 8/9 wins as they dealt with the Cowboys 32-16 thanks to Damien Cook’s quality work (A try + 3 assists), while Cody Walker racked up his 10th try for the year.
And speaking of one month knee injuries, that’s exactly what also happened to Souths fullback Alex Johnston, who gets replaced by Corey Allen.
I was looking forward to watching two of Australia’s most loved Poms- Sam Burgess and John Bateman- go at it, with Freddie Flintoff flying in to referee the game, but my dreams were shattered in Wagga a fortnight ago, just like Johnny’s eye socket.
St George Illawarra (10th, 4-5) vs Newcastle (4-5, 9th) @ Glen Willow Stadium, Mudgee, 2pm AEST
When I see the word Mudgee, I instantly think of one man.
The Male Model from Mudgee, Kenny Sutcliffe.
I still remember hearing about how Max Walker abducted Kenny and stuffed him in a closet in the Channel Nine studios before an episode of Wide World of Sports went to air.
Anyway, the Dragons and Knights are headed to Mudgee in preparation for the finale of Game of Thrones on Monday, and if the events of last episode are anything to go by, the Dragons will start a hot favourite, which wouldn’t be the case if the market was based on form.
The Red V has lost three in a row, blowing half-time leads in their past two games against the Eels and the lowly Warriors, which means they should probably change the nickname to the ‘Drag’.
You get it? Because they don’t have a 2nd Half!
In an odd coincidence, the Knights have won three in a row, thanks to the big names like Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Pearce and David Klemmer all hitting their straps, and with the New South Wales backs all suffering various crippling injuries, Jesse Ramien could be a shock inclusion for Origin I.
And adding to the odd coincidence, the Knights are on 8 competition points, and have a PD of +8!
Just a few short weeks ago in Round 4, the two teams met in the Hunter, and it was Corey Norman who settled proceedings with a field goal in Golden Point- Of course, Corey won’t be out there on Sunday.
If the Knights want to be taken seriously in 2019, this is a game they can & must win.
Cronulla (7th, 5-4) vs Manly (5th, 5-4) @ Shark Park, 4:05pm AEST
The Sharks’ efforts to stop Paul Gallen from suffering record loss No.167 are really ramping up and driving the team back into the Top 8, after coming from behind to beat the Titans (With a pair of doubles to Aaron Gray and Josh Morris) and denying the Queenslanders the satisfaction of Gal racking up one final loss at Lang Park.
For Manly, Dylan Walker’s stand-down from the game has come to an end after being found not guilty of domestic violence in court, and he’ll be the target of plenty of jeers from Sharks fans, one of them being Scott Morrison, since he won’t have anything to do after Saturday night.
Ultimately, the injuries finally seemed to bite the Sea Eagles hard on the arse against the Broncos, even though they scored first, the Broncos ran over the top, and Des could only create so many makeshift halves pairings, plus the Broncos forwards physically belted the Manly defence, as Payne Haas finally turned Lang Park into a Haas of Payne, with his 202 metres from 20 runs.
The Sea Eagles have tended to dominate the Sharks, especially at Shark Park, winning 8 of their last 10 games at the ground, including a Golden Point win in Round 21 of last season 33-32, when they had nothing to play for, and were about to give Trent Barrett the arse.
And lastly, these are the unofficial efficiency rankings up to Round 9, from /u/cookedcowboys on the NRL Reddit.
In some remarkable coincidence, the Top 4 are all miles out in the top right corner and playing good football, while the Bottom 4 are all the outliers in the bottom left!