NRL

JT’s Meaningless NRL Preview: Round 21

It’s always great to share tips AFTER a round.

I’d just like to point out that a person who thought that Wests were playing Manly tomorrow is currently sitting in the Top 1% of all FootyTips NRL tipsters.

Just like my tipping performance, life just doesn’t make sense anymore.

Of course, this weekend kicks off with THE QUEENSLAND DERBY, and the Royal Rumble between the Top 4 actually gives the phrase Super Sunday a meaning!


Thursday

The Queensland Derby

North Queensland (13th) vs Brisbane (10th) @ 1300SMILES Stadium, 7:50pm AEST

A Derby memory- The first time the Cowboys knocked off the Broncos

The last Queensland Derby to be played at the Willows, and the collective expectation is lower than ever in the Sunshine State, as they face their worst season on record.

The Cows and Broncs come in off the worst weekend for the Banana Benders since the Broncos and Gold Coast Seagulls entered the NSWRL in 1988.

The 3 teams ended up a combined 112 points in arrears, and scored the same number of tries collectively as Brett Morris- 3.

According to the acclaimed scholar Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock, part of the reason the three Queensland teams are struggling is due to the loss of the classic Australian backyard, which has led to them failing to produce a champion playmaker THIS CENTURY, which apparently excludes Darren Lockyer, who debuted in the 90s, and JT, who was a Bulldogs junior.

If that’s the case, most of this Broncos team probably grew up on concrete slabs.

But on to the actual game, and the Cows season is pretty much done, and the only incentive they’ve got tomorrow night is revenge for the 29-10 beating the Broncs gave them in Round 2, which featured moments like Pangai Jr managing to kill Jason Taumalolo before he killed the rest of the Cowboys for 80 minutes, and Anthony Milford popping through a field goal on the siren, just to piss off the Cowboys before they hopped on the plane.

Still, if the Broncos have anything left, they’ll go close to winning.

Friday

New Zealand (12th) vs Manly (5th) @ Mt Smart Stadium, 8pm NZST

Funnily enough, this is the second time the Warriors and Sea Eagles have faced off in New Zealand this year.

Back in Round 3, they played what was the first sporting event held in Christchurch since the shootings- DCE dominated as the Sea Eagles won their first game for the season 46-12.

The Warriors were 30-0 down at the half against the Raiders and looked to have thrown in the towel, which Stephen Kearney kicked back at them in frustration.

Footage: Fox League

What’s also missed in there is the beauty of a reflex catch from Peta Hiku.

Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles continue to stick pace with the Top 4 after coasting to another good win against the Knights, and this game presents a case of simple physics for Des and his Underdogs- If the Sea Eagles win by around 12 points, and assuming Souths get flattened by the Storm, they’ll jump inside the Top 4.

Which means that they’re liable to fall down the trap door and lose.

Penrith (9th) vs Cronulla (7th) @ Panthers Stadium, 7:55pm AEST

The return of key figures has seen the Sharks not only return to form, but return to a place in the Top 8, thanks to that skinning of the Rabbits pushing their Points Differential into the positive.

Of course, those key figures I’m talking about are Wade Graham and ScoMo.

It can’t be coincidence that since the PM started showing up at Shark Park again that the team returned to form, although I can’t see him wanting to go and mingle with the Westies on Friday, as they’ll be wanting to crack his head open and feast on the goo inside.

The Panthers have had a run-in with a brick wall over the past fortnight, after the Raiders defeated them easily, and even the Dogs had no problem shutting down their attack in the 2nd Half in a very dogged contest.

Unsurprisingly, the Panthers’ biggest highlight since Round 19 is Ivan Cleary’s boxing match with Paul ‘Kenty’ Kent just the other night on 360.

Viliame Kikau is a vital inclusion, because the Panthers’ attack looked like a three-legged camel without his physical presence, and it’s still probably going to look like a three-legged camel, with James Maloney suspended.

I think the Sharkies are going to go alright.

Saturday

St George Illawarra (14th) vs Gold Coast (16th) @ Kogarah, 3pm AEST

Do I seriously have to write about this game?

I mean, those ladder positions alone should be an indicator that this game should resemble Season 9 of Scrubs.

As if things weren’t already emotionally crippling for the Titans and their supporter base, they’ve now been hit by the news that Michael ‘Flash’ Gordon will retire at the end of the season.

But on the flip side, if the Titans don’t concede 58 points and score more than 6 points, then I think they’ll be right in this contest.

Parramatta (6th) vs Newcastle (11th) @ Bankwest Stadium, 5:30pm AEST

Sure, the Eels didn’t go crazy on the scoreboard against St George (Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown still did the job), but their defense was stronger than carbon fibre for the full 80 minutes and conceded just the one try, something I haven’t heard mentioned about Parra all season, which could now be a positive.

As a result, Brad The Bald has named the exact same 17 from last Sunday, with Nathan Brown following suit, despite the Knights’ season tanking more than the Newcastle coal industry, and copping distractions left right and centre, the latest being Kalyn Ponga wanting more money.

On the bright side, the Novocastrians have a weirdly good four-game winning streak against the Eels dating back to 2017, when they won 29-10, despite later winning another wooden spoon and the Eels finishing 4th.

The Knights did beat the Eels back in Round 6,which stoked the fires of that fierce mid-season rival, which appear to have fizzled out.

With the Western Sydney factor in play, this will be Parra’s best chance of killing off that streak to beat the Knights for the first time since 2016.

Canterbury (15th) vs Wests (8th) @ ANZ Stadium, 7:35pm AEST

In the great game of snakes and ladders currently being contested by the mid-pack teams, the Tigers were one of the big winners last week, with that 28-4 win over the Cows catapulting them from 11th to 8th, and they’ve still got plenty of winnable games in the last month of the regular season in their quest to end the longest existing finals drought in the league.

Of course, I did think they were in trouble having to play Manly this week, but it turns out that’s next week.

Meanwhile, Dean Pay and his Puppies of War scalped a finals aspirant in Penrith, grinding the big cats into the ground and making them look like a pack of kittens in a 16-8 win.

They frustrated the Panthers to the point that James Maloney knocked on with 10 minutes to go and then tripped Jeremy Marshall-King for next to no reason, and got himself suspended.

Of course, back in Round 3, the Doggies went to Campbelltown and ended the Tigers’ unbeaten start to 2019 with a fairly easy 22-8 win.

See- There’s proof that the Dogs have scored more than 20 points in a game this season.

Putting it mildly, this is going to be one mighty big grind.

Sunday

Finally, a Super Sunday that actually resembles a Super Sunday.

Canberra (3rd) vs Easts (2nd) @ GIO Stadium, 2:10pm AEST

I shall maintain that Roosters-Raiders games should be a contest for the Mullins Plate, in recognition of Bill and Brett.

It’s that or the Todd Carney-Blake Ferguson Cup.

Anyway, the stage is perfectly set for the game of the round- The Green Machine continue to prove their Top 4 credentials by comfortably defeating teams they should be beating, while building a very healthy PD, and the Chooks are probably back firing on all 12 cylinders, with 3 wins on the bounce, capped off by smelting 58 points on the Titans.

On the team fronts, Nick Cotric’s suspension is up for the Raiders, and former Rooster Joey Leilua is named in the reserves in his miracle recovery from neck injury that couldve ended his career (He probably won’t play), while JWH is back for the Chooks, who still don’t have Boyd Cordner, and they’ve lost 5 games in a row in Our Nation’s Capital.

The other important development from Bondi is that the Chooks have gone to desperate lengths to move their home games away from the SCG, announcing that they’ll be playing 3 games in Perth in the coming years, to go with the Magic Round game in Brisbane and the annual Central Coast game.

It’s funny- Over here, the Eastern Suburbs are the home of the Aussie battlers… the complete antithesis of most of the Chooks’ latte sipping fanbase.

The reason this apparently relates to the Raiders is because (supposedly) the WA Government wants the two teams to face off next year, since the Green Machine and Perth are both filled with Poms.

If this game lives up to its potential, then I think Mr McGowan and his comrades are getting a very good deal.

South Sydney (4th) vs Melbourne (1st) @ Central Coast Stadium, 4:05pm AEST

Despite his best efforts to miss this week, Sam Burgess was able to have his suspension downgraded at the judiciary to a $1900 fine for concussing Matt Moylan.

Fancy that- A bloke makes what could be considered careless high contact, forces his victim off with concussion, which will see him miss this week…. and he only gets a $1900 fine.

In the AFL, Michael Christian would spin a roulette wheel and give the perpetrator somewhere between a reprieve to 6 weeks.

Still, that win at the judiciary can’t mask the brutal reality that WAYNE and the Rabbits face- For the first time all season, they’re in serious danger of dropping out of the Top 4 if they lose in Gosford, which is pretty likely, considering the team waiting for them at the other end.

The Storm are the best performed team in South East Queensland this year, as they continued their yearly tradition of mincing the Broncos at Lang Park, this time to the tune of 40-4, which resembles the scorecard for England’s top order.

As it stands, the Stormers are a fortnight away from wrapping up the JJ Giltinan Shield for the umpteenth time, and it also coincides with them recently celebrating the 2009 Premiership.

It must have been some night- Apparently Ben Johnson and Marion Jones were the MCs.

Despite the mixed form of the Bunnies, it should still be a decent contest, considering we’ve got the best Hooker in the game in Cameron Smith, versus his heir apparent in Damien Cook, and besides that there’s….. ah forget it.

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