NRL

JT’s Meaningless NRL Preview: Round 20

The scenes if Robbie had held his retirement announcement from the Leichardt scoreboard. (Photo: Paul Miller/AAP)

Phil Gould said the refereeing in the Eels-Warriors game last week made him feel sick, despite not supporting the Warriors.

What a pile of excrement Gus, you want to know a sporting moment that would properly make anyone want to chunder?

Rainier getting beaten in the Poseidon at Flemington on Turnbull Stakes day last year.

WHY COULDN’T YOU PEEL OUT SOONER HUGHIE?


THURSDAY

Wests Tigers (11th) vs North Queensland (13th) @ Leichardt Oval, 7:50pm AEST

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or in some part of South Australia (What’s the difference?), Robbie Farah has unsurprisingly called it a day after notching up 300 games, quite fittingly before the Tigers play the very same team they knocked off in that highly entertaining 2005 Grand Final.

I too, would call time on my career after my team came back and derailed the Knights’ season in front of their own fans- It’s a funny high to go out on.

As a result, the Tigers are still right in play for 8th spot, just a point off the Broncos, with plenty of winnable games to come- Looking ahead, they’ve got a Round 25 game against the Sharks at Leichardt, which could potentially be a career-finisher for Robbie or Paul Gallen.

Meanwhile, the Cows’ season is lying on the floor riddled with bullets, after they coughed up a lead for the second game running, this time losing 16-14 after being 14-4 up on the Sharks in front of ‘SchmoMo’ and it looked like the Cows just simply ran out of gas, thanks to the Sharks circling them in their own half for the best part of half an hour.

If they had held on in both of those games, they’d be in 8th spot right now.

On the plus side, Michael Morgan is back after his Origin concussion issues, but if it’s going to be enough, I might just say no.

FRIDAY

New Zealand (12th) vs Canberra (4th) @ Mt Smart Stadium, 8pm NZST

After last week’s eventful loss to the Eels which ended their season, Warriors CEO Cameron ‘Two Names’ George has encouraged fans to bring their whistles and dress up as referees, in what I can only assume is a show of solidarity with rugby league’s under-fire whistle blowers.

Imagine the reception the refs are going to get when the Warriors win the penalty count 12-2… It’ll be like the All-Blacks winning another World Cup.

But, unless those fans can make an impact and find a few cheap penalties for the Warriors, they’re going to have their pants down and their backs to the wall against a quality team like the Green Machine.

Sticky Ricky’s chargers touched up the Panthers with relative ease, and assuming there’s no injuries between now and Friday, the Raiders will have gone three games running without making a change to the 17, which could be the longest streak of any team this season.

Whinging Kiwis aside, this game is significant as it’s the first time Charnze Nicoll-Klonstad will face the Warriors since he left as a complete unknown for our nation’s capital back in February.

Thanks to his teammates, CNK is probably going to gain some measure of revenge.

Brisbane (8th) vs Melbourne (1st) @ Suncorp Stadium, 7:55pm AEST

Here’s a trivia question that I probably mentioned back at the Magic Round.

Which team has recorded the most wins against the Storm at Suncorp in the 2010s?

If you answered the ‘Gold Coast Titans‘, congratulations, you’re a winner!

That fact really does highlight the squirrel grip that the Storm have placed on the Broncs for the best part of a decade- The head to head since 2010 is a mere 16-3 the way of the Melbournians, who are the only current team with a winning record against Brisbane (32-1-13).

But in more positive news for the Banana Benders, the Broncos are really starting to click under Anthony Seibold, reeling off several big wins to return to the Top 8, but of course, the big downside is Tevita Pangai Junior once again tried beheading an opposition player, which the judiciary didn’t seem to enjoy as much as Mr Seibold- Alas, TPJ is suspended for this game.

The Storm’s winning streak was finally ended thanks to Des and his Underdogs pulling off one of the best full-game defensive efforts seen this year.

Still, Melbourne have lost only three games this year, and they could easily have won them all- The Golden Point loss on Saturday, the Golden Point loss back on Good Friday against the Chooks, and the 2 point loss to the Sharks over two months ago.

Still, this game is at Lang Park, so it was nice of the NRL to give Bellyache’s boys another home game to kick start another winning streak.

SATURDAY

Manly (5th) vs Newcastle (9th) @ Brookvale Oval, 3pm AEST

Back in late June, both of these teams sat at 7-6, with the Knights 5th and the Sea Eagles 6th on the ladder.

Fast forward to the start of August, and one of them is still 5th, and the other doesn’t even have a winning record anymore.

It’s funny how the two Origin halfbacks have gone at club level since Game III- Mitchell Pearce finally played in a winning Origin series, and now the Knights haven’t won a game since, while Daly Cherry-Evans has matched his team, and gone from strength to strength.

Aided by Des running the Underdog mentality into the ground, plus the magic of Tommy Turbo’s unbeaten streak, the Sea Eagles heroically destroyed the Storm down in Rugby League Mordor, as DCE reaffirmed himself as the Golden Point King, with his record sixth game-winner keeping the Sea Eagles within range of the Top 4.

As a result of Jake Turbo managing to escape suspension for his dangerous throw that finished off Jahrome Hughes, Des has been able to maintain his starting 17.

On the flip side, Nathan Brown was royally pissed off by the Knights losing to Wests in the Hunter on Friday evening in front of Mark Hughes and the Beanie for Brain Caner crew, and many of his players have payed for it in blood.

Jesse Ramien, Herman Ese’ese, Danny Levi and Jamie Buhrer were all banished from space and time, and into the team come the likes of Aiden Guerra, Mason Lino and Lachie Fitzgibbon, in the last desperate attempt to save the Knights’ season, which isn’t even back at square one anymore… it’s closer to square negative one.

If this Knights team somehow turn things around and knock off the flying Underdogs, then I’ll literally do something dramatic, like walk out of the house for 5 minutes, before walking back inside.

Canterbury (16th) vs Penrith (7th) @ Bankwest Stadium, 5:30pm AEST

Ah yes, the thrilling battle between the two worst attacks in the NRL.

Ivan Cleary’s half-time battle with the referees should prove more entertaining.

Cronulla (10th) vs Souths (2nd) @ Shark Park, 7:35pm AEST

Glory be, the returning big boys are screaming off the team sheets for this clash of the round.

Slammin’ Sam has recovered from his botched surgery and has reappeared in the No.12 for the Rabbits, and as for the Sharkies Matt Moylan and Wade Graham are straight back into the starting lineup after a pair of hamstring injuries, and Andrew Fifta starts on the bench after his suspension.

If that wasn’t big enough, there was also a wild Goanna sighting at Redfern this morning, for the first time since he retired back in April!

Both teams looked beaten at various points in time last weekend (The Sharks from 14-4 down and the Bunnies trailing 16-14 with 60 seconds left), before they threw caution to the wind and stuck their hands in the boiling hot fat, pulling out two priceless competition points.

In more positives for the Sharkies, Paul Gallen looked like Paul Gallen with a game high 236m, and Shaun Johnson looked (and played) like a high price recruit, setting up 2 tries and kicking above 50%- Which proved the difference between a win and a sixth consecutive loss.

Hell, the way I’m carrying on, the Sharks are half a chance of beating an ordinary looking Bunnies team.

SUNDAY

Easts (3rd) vs Gold Coast (16th) @ The SCG, 2pm AEST

Apparently this is the most lopsided game of the round on paper, which is strange, considering the Chooks don’t have any of their 14 captains on the park, and they’re not exactly lighting the universe on fire.

The only interesting fact from this game appears to be the number 150- Joseph Liu plays game 150, and Brett Morris needs just one try to become the 12th player to sit in the coveted ‘150 Try Club’, joining some of the greatest players the game has ever seen, and Billy Slater.

Meanwhile the Titans’ coaching search is just about done and dusted, as they’re all set to announce St Helens coach Justin Holbrook as their boss for 2020, although the esteemed Paul ‘Kenty’ Kent isn’t happy with the club’s perceived selection process, probably because one of his mates (Possibly Kevvy) didn’t get the gig.

“They sat down, got onto Holbrook nice and early and they went after him. Which is fine.”

“If you identify your man and you go out and you get him, that’s fine. Don’t try and bulls**t with all the we’re going to go through an exhaustive process, and we’ve got this guy, and we’ve got that guy”.

“Nobody got a phone call. Nobody else got a phone call. I spoke to several coaches who were mentioned today, didn’t get the courtesy of a phone call.”

But on the flip side to not getting a phone call, they don’t have the pleasure of getting sucked into the black hole of suckage that is Gold Coast sports.

Still, it’d be right on par with the 2019 Roosters to somehow lose to this Titans team.

St George-Illawarra (14th) vs Parramatta (6th) @ Jubilee Stadium, 4:05pm AEST

If I’ve done the maths correctly, this game is James Graham’s 400th First Grade Rugby League game– He played 225 Super League games for St Helens +135 for Canterbury + 39 for the Dragons= 399 so far.

To use a racing parlance, Jimmy is without a doubt a ‘Colourful Character’- Especially as he’s now predicting Robot Referees will enslave rugby league in the future.

I can’t remember the last time an NRL game was played at Jubilee… it was probably around the same time that the Red V last won a game.

Friday night against Souths was just another wild ride- It went from “How the heck are the Dragons still in this?” at 14-2 down, to 10 minutes later being “How the heck are the Dragons leading?” after Widdop’s superb penalty goal to put them up 16-14, and then a minute later, the final question was “How the heck did the Dragons lose?”, after they fumbled the short kick-off, which allowed the Bunnies to bag the winner on the final play.

The Eels used the most of their four-player advantage to defeat the Warriors 24-22, keeping them comfortably entrenched in the Top 8, and Brad Arthur’s chargers travel down the highway seeking their first win at the ground formerly known as Kogarah since that utterly memorable 1st vs 8th Qualifying Final in 2009.

What did they lose by the week before… 37-nil?

Anyway, the Dragons are statistically the worst-performed defence in the league (23.6 PPG), and the Eels are the 4th worst, conceding 22.1 PPG, which is covered by their decent attacking efforts, mainly at Bankwest.

If there’s not many points scored, I’ll be writing an angry letter complaining the quality of the game is slipping.

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