In light of recent episodes of ear pulling, the NRL have announced the following actions will no longer be permitted in tackles:
The Wet Willy
The Chinese Burn
The Nipple Cripple
And The Wedgie.
Parramatta (6th) vs Canterbury (13th) @ Bankwest Stadium, 7:50pm AEST
For the first time in a long time, we’ve got an Eels-Dogs game where both teams come in on sustained winning streaks.
And speaking of a long time, this is the first time since Round 6, 2007 that an Eels-Dogs game hasn’t been played at ANZ Stadium.
The Eels have won 4 in a row, and 8 of their last 10 games to plant themselves right in the three-way tie for 4th spot with Manly and Souths, and the Doggies have won 3 in a row, all against teams vying for Top 8 spots, and having jumped up to a season-high of 13th, all they need now is a ‘possimpible’ 14 results to go their way, between now and the end of the season to make the 8.
I could dare shift the goalposts and say that the Dogs only beat a Souths team that are spiraling out of form, but for all we know, they’ll do the exact same thing they’ve done these past 3 weeks to a red hot Eels team.
North Queensland (15th) vs Penrith (9th) @ 1300SMILES Stadium, 6pm AEST
It’s one problem after the other for the Cowboys- They were pitiful against Newcastle, they’re now 15th, the season is over, Paul Green has the red dot hanging over his forehead, and then things took a really dark turn on Tuesday, when it was revealed that retiring club legend Matt Scott had suffered a stroke on the weekend, denying him the chance at a proper farewell game.
It’s going to sound cruel, but I hope Scotty doesn’t play again… strokes aren’t sporting injuries.
The Panthers have dropped back into the Bottom 8 after they lost the crucial 50/50 game against the Broncos 24-12, and they certainly had their chances, but their attack let them down again.
Still, and it is worth noting that the Panthers at the least will farewell the Willows with a winning record (10-8) even if they lose,
BENNETT BOWL II
Brisbane (7th) vs Souths (5th) @ Suncorp Stadium, 7:55pm AEST
The Bronx forward pack has powered them into 7th spot, but their season copped a mega blow with Tevita Pangai’s crusher tackle suspension being upheld by the Judiciary , which would usually bring a stock standard 1-2 week suspension, but with TPJ’s indiscretion list, it was buffed up to 5 games, which at this stage, will finish off his season, and have him miss out on playing for Tonga in the World Nines.
He’s out, and so too are Splatt Lawyers, for displaying a worse defence than anything Darius Boyd produced mid-season… and there were some doozies.
It’s a very small sample size (That will get significantly bigger), but without TPJ’s offloading abilities, the Broncos haven’t won a game, even with Payne Haas trampling all who stand in his way.
But on the bright side, they’re only playing Souths, whose form and injures have reached the point where they’ve been tipped out of the Top 4 for the first time since way back in Round 1.
And my goodness, isn’t WAYNE excited for his latest stoush against his former long-term employers, after the previous matchup ended 38-6 his way back in Round 8.
Both teams combining to score 38 points would be a genuine miracle.
The Johnson Tug
Cronulla (8th) vs New Zealand (12th) @ Shark Park, 3pm AEST
Shaun Johnson finally faces off against the Warriors, and the Sharks wild ride for a season hit another rise again, after they got away with a slightly fortunate win against Saints, which has sent them back into the Top 8, and into a position to play finals again.
Matt Moylan’s brief return lasted one week, although the flip side is that Andrew Fifita is back from his knee injury, ready for Round 2 against the Warriors, after one of his numerous brain farts got him sin binned, and climaxed in the Sharks losing to the Warriors by a point back in Round 18.
The Warriors are just about done for the year, and they looked good for about 10 minutes last Sunday, after scoring the first try and leading 6-0, but that was the only scoreboard impact they made for the day, as the Roosters routed them 42-6 as things got really ugly, especially after Gerard Beale dislocated his kneecap so severely, that it was “Snapped in half” and “Popping out of the skin”.
All 42 consecutive points were scored after Beale’s knee injury, which is saying something about his importance.
This will be their first meeting at Shark Park since 2016, which much like that Round 18 meeting, finished at 19-18 after being decided by a late field goal, the only difference being that the Sharks got the job done.
I reckon they’ll stay in the 8 this week, and get the win against the stragglers from across the ditch.
Wests Tigers (11th) vs Newcastle (10th) @ Campbelltown, 5:30pm AEST
Robbie Farah hasn’t quite given up hope on playing one last game with his broken leg, but just like the Tigers’ chances of playing finals, it’s at best a pipe dream.
After Jacob Liddle became the latest Tiger to go down with a serious injury, Madge has now been forced to play his 3rd hooker in the past 3 games, dragging Josh Reynolds out of whichever hole he was stuffed in for his long awaited Wests return, before he promptly resumes looking for another club next year.
Of course, the Knights pulled one of the great shocks of the season, when Nathan Brown confirmed he’s leaving the club after the season, having never taken the team to the finals, despite his good work in helping turn the club around after Wayne Bennett left it resembling the fallout of Hiroshima.
The bright side is that Browny is going to keep giving us all more debuts to talented players with some names you’d have to double check were true, and the latest is none other than this boom 18-year-old, Bradman Best.
Kohli good, Smith great, Bradman Best.
St George Illawarra (14th) vs Sydney (2nd) @ Kogarah, 7:35pm AEST
Let’s play a simple game of “Connect Supposed Good Stat to Big Problem.”
The Dragons are ranked 1st in tackles made.
They’re ranked 15th in time of possession.
They’re also now 14th on the ladder after yet another loss (To the hated Sharks), although one of the few positives from their latest defeat was Jackson Ford coming off the bench to score a try.
A Ford and a Saab in the same team… Don’t be surprised if the Dragons recruit McLaren, Volvo, and Holden to give them a boost in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Roosters still have their gremlins with handling the ball, but in what could be a scary thought, they’re still winning games in a track gallop, especially at the SCG, where they’ve just about slaughtered everyone (With the exception of Souths) who have dared drive a bus anywhere near Moore Park.
The Warriors were the latest poor bastards to suffer that fate.
In the wash-up, Latrell Mitchell has now put himself in position 1A for a shot at history, scoring a double to take the lead of the try scorers race at 17, and he’s still a comfy 49 points ahead of Jarrod Croker, although as a result of kicking 5/9, his goalkicking percentage dropped below 80% for the first time all year.
This weekend doesn’t look much different for the Tricolours, although it is interesting that since St Merge was formed in 1999, they’ve only played the Dragons at Kogarah twice (Probably due to ANZAC Day)- The last time was in 2013, which ended in a 30-nil win to the visitors.
There’s an outside chance that could happen again this weekend.
Melbourne (1st) vs Gold Coast (16th) @ AAMI Park, 2pm AEST
It had been brewing for weeks, possibly months, and possibly even decades, but after blowing a club record 18-0 lead and losing again at home to a top team (This time Canberra), the Storm have been piled on by the Sydney press, eager to expose their league-leading grubbiness in the ruck… despite them only ranking 6th in slowing the play the ball.
Supposedly, to expose a pack of grubs, you must think like a pack of grubs.
Until they cripple someone in a tackle, the NRL are just happy to sit on their hands and watch the world burn.
Anyway, the Titans are so terrible right now, that the line for the game is a mere -20.5 points, even though the Storm didn’t quite cover that in their last matchup only a month ago on the Gold Coast (It was 38-18 that day).
Meanwhile, the Cameron Smith ear massage line is currently -25.5, which he should have covered by the hour mark, as the Storm win easily, because they’re not playing a contender at home.
Canberra (3rd) vs Manly (4th) @ GIO Stadium, 4:05pm AEST
A rare case of competent fixturing sees the match of the round bookend the weekend in the national TV slot, in the most important Raiders-Sea Eagles match since the ’87 Grand Final.
The Raiders finally racked up the win which says to EVERYONE, “We demand to be taken seriously!”, doing what nobody had ever done before, and coming back from a 3 try deficit to knock over the Storm… in Melbourne to boot.
They haven’t had many great wins since the 1994 Premiership, but that had to be #1.
Of course, for the 3rd weekend in a row, they’ve got to face a Top 4 team… which nobody saw coming at the start of the year.
The year-long battle for Des Hasler to get these Silvertail underdogs to a position of respect has reached a new high, as they displaced Souths to move to 4th spot, and now, the Mad Scientist that is Des has the perfect chance to reignite that underdog mentality in his boys, because they are at least the betting market underdogs against the Raiders, despite having won 4 of their last 5 matchups against the Green Machine.
And, it’s worth noting they did knock off the Raiders back in Round 7, which was also the same game where DCE had that bad ankle injury.
Like most of the other Top 4 games this month, this one should be wilder than sharing a hotel room with Billy Idol back in the day.
Updated: Fluke 2019 Tipping Performance
This is like if Stephen Bradbury maintained a performance for 6 months.