Just a fortnight to go in the home & away season, and there’s some big farewells ahead this week- Gal plays what looks set to be his last game in front of the Shark Park faithful, while Nathan Brown was going to get a farewell from the Knights, but he’s unfortunately now face down drifting somewhere in the Pacific at his own volition.
North Queensland vs Canterbury @ 1300Smiles Stadium, 7:50pm AEST
This is it.
The grand finale for the stadium the Cowboys have called home for the first 25 years of their tumultuous history, and of course, the NRL rigged it up so they could play their first and last games at the Willows against the Doggies.
Of course, way back in that first game in March 1995, the Boys took on the-then Sydney Bulldogs in a rather crazy outing, as Adrian Vowles was sent-off after 6 minutes for a high shot, and Damian Gibson scored the team’s first ever try.
By the end, Jarrod ‘Phil’ McCracken scored a double, and the Dogs won 32-16, although I can’t see both teams even combining for 32 points tomorrow night.
In the spirit of their last game at home, Paul Green has confirmed that the No.8 will be retired for the night, because if Matt Scott can’t be there to run out for what would be his last game in Townsville, then nobody’s wearing it.
It’s also going to be the farewell for another Cowboys stalwart in Scott Bolton, who is guaranteed to be leaving at the end of the season, and he’ll be wearing the No.16 instead of the No.8.
Of course, the Dogs have proven themselves as Team Chaos 2019, taking down Top 8 contender after Top 8 contender, by drawing them in to the vortex of suckage, and then laughing as they struggle to score.
Their age-old friends Parramatta found that out last Thursday.
It’s entirely possible that the Cowboys could win again, on the basis of the fact that they’re not a Top 8 team, which will confuse the Dogs players, and make them question their purpose.
New Zealand (13th) vs Souths (5th) @ Mt Smart Stadium, 8pm NZST
It’s the last game at Mt Smart in the Warriors’ 25th season, and a couple of weeks ago the Kiwis shuffled the deck of cards and temporarily slashed ticket prices to $9.50 (Which is probably $5 Australian), and there’s 50% off merchandise for the 35 remaining Warriors fans at the ground on Friday.
Actually, that’s nothing to do with the anniversary, the club are just having a fire sale.
Souths delivered their dying season the much needed shot of adrenaline that it had been begging for since the Origin period, going to Brisbane and holding off the Broncos in one of the games of the season.
On top of that, the Bunnies have regained Alex Johnston, Ethan Lowe, Kyle Turner and Sam Burgess, although I’m not sure why WAYNE even bothered to name them, considering Damien Cook proved last week he can play 13 positions at once.
The Warriors have just one win in New Zealand since April (Conveniently their last visit) and if their recent visits around the East Coast of Australia are any guide, they’re going to end this season on the kind of note that fans will remember it by- Not very well.
Brisbane (8th) vs Parramatta (6th) @ Suncorp Stadium, 7:55pm AEST
They may have once again lost The Battle of Bennett, but with the amount of spuddy, inconsistent teams they’re fighting against, the Broncos will pretty much make the Top 8 by the two sweetest words in the English language… De-fault! De-fault!
Off-field, the boys at Red Hill are ramping up their efforts to send Darius Boyd into retirement and make him abandon several million dollars, although it appears his wife will be making that decision, and continue forcing Darius to play against his will.
Then again, if you sign a player to a massive contract without performance incentives and soon hit a brick wall, all I can say is, ha ha haa haa haa.
The Eels were the latest victims of the Doggies’ vortex of suckage, and they were drawn in to making a grand total of 13 errors in a 12-6 defeat, and combined with Manly and Souths winning, their outside chances of finishing in the Top 4 were beheaded with a katana.
The Eels still have to win 1 more game to secure a home final at Bankwest, but these are the Eels, who thrive on doing everything right for a season, and then utterly destroying it in an instant.
A big difference this week is the return of Blake Ferguson, and of course, the last time the Eels and Broncos played was the 38-10 arse whipping in Round 14, as the Broncos put in the most utterly horrific and terrifying performance since Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were in their primes.
My prediction- Expect David Fifita to put in a big performance in front of his future employers.
Newcastle (12th) vs Gold Coast (16th) @ McDonald Jones Stadium, 3pm AEST
If Phil Green gets the arse during the inevitable Knights board coup, he could travel the world convincing people he’s Salman Rushdie.
The Knights have shown the world how to sabotage 3 painstaking years of rebuilding in the space of a week, in a fantastic show of loyalty from the club’s management, and their senior players, such as Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer, who have been at the club for a combined total of 5 minutes without ever experiencing the really shitty lows of 2015-17, and yet they were leading the push to knife Browny.
It’s probably the worst case of new guy hijacking since Homer Simpson was admitted into the Stonecutters.
At least for now, the playing group are now hungry like the Kristian Woolf… for 2 games, after which Adam O’Brien will be the next head in the guillotine when he tries giving them tough love.
It really is saying something that a Titans team that are officially Wooden Spooners and got shut out in the 2nd Half last Sunday, are having a better week than the Knights- Probably because they knew they were screwed against the Storm, and yet they still put in efforts like this.
Just watch the Knights finally show up and play to their ‘potential’, now that they can’t hide behind the bulletproof vest that was Nathan Brown.
THE BATTLE OF BROOKY- 2019
Manly (4th) vs Melbourne (1st) @ Brookvale Oval, 5:30pm AEST
As we get set for another epic meeting between the Silvertails and the Storm, and Des versus his arch nemesis The Bellyache, here’s the 8548921st replay of the original and the best Battle of Brookvale.
It quite literally was the melee to end all melees.
The Sea Eagles’ 2019 turnaround just keeps getting better, as they trekked down to the frozen capital as the underdogs, allowing Des to do what he does best, and that’s gee up his troops and inspire them to yet another win, completing a season sweep on the Raiders, which AFN duly rubbed in the face of 20,000 fans.
A convicted wife beater versus Raiders fans- A fight straight from the 8th layer of hell.
The big downside was losing the very valuable Joel Thompson with his broken arm, although Curtis Sironen returns and slots into the second row.
As for the other half of the equation wearing purple and white, Curtis Scott won’t be able to spark another punch-up with Dylan Walker as he’s been named in the reserves, while the Storm themselves are so-so of late, blowing a team record lead to Canberra, and then trailing 8-nil at the half to the Titans in the last fortnight.
But they’re still the Storm, so writing them off is as dangerous as dropping your pants and mooning a Bullmastiff, especially with them still only a win away from securing the JJ Giltinan Shield.
I’ll put this mildly- I’m toeier than a Roman sandal waiting for the rematch of Round 19.
Easts (2nd) vs Penrith (10th) @ The SCG, 7:35pm AEST
The only thing that stands between this pack of rampaging Cocks and another Top 2 finish is the most inept attack in Australian rugby league, who instill as much confidence in Roosters haters as a battalion of French soliders trying to defend the European mainland, circa 1940.
6 wins in a row to Easts, and Latrell Mitchell goes straight back into the starting lineup following his week off, and Robbo still has the luxury of keeping Boyd Cordner stocked away in the Reserves, probably to be deployed next week against Souths.
If there is a positive, the Panthers did win the previous meeting against the Roosters 19-10 in Round 13, but bear in mind, that Roosters team didn’t have Mitchell or Keary in the team.
They’ll be playing on Saturday, and they’ll be spitting acid at that Panthers defense.
Cronulla (7th) vs Canberra (3rd) @ Shark Park, 2pm AEST
I can probably say with absolute certainty that this will be Gal’s last game in front of the Shark Park faithful, an occasion so big that ET will strap on the boots for the first time since he retired a million years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott Morrison told the G7 leaders to piss off, just so he could fly home and watch the game.
It’s a big moment for the Sharks, who have definitely clicked in the last fortnight, beating the Dragons in a tense finish, and then brutally dusting off the Warriors, as it appeared the halves combination of Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend figured out what the heck they’re supposed to do, and better late than never.
They’re now in 7th, and a win away from making yet another finals appearance, and due to a weird quirk in their schedule, this is gonna be their 5th home game in 6 weeks.
The Raiders crashed back to reality after blowing an 8-4 lead and losing to the Sea Eagles at home, and after the game the 20,000 strong crowd copped it sweet from Addin Fonua-Blake, which CEO Don Furner felt the need to call “Childish”.
Amazing how a team renowned for being tough could have a CEO and a fan base full of softcocks.
Back in Round 14, the Sharks managed to score more tries (4-3) than the Raiders, and yet they still managed to lose 22-20.
Now, they come in riding a massive wave of emotion, and the Raiders having been coated in three consecutive blood-filled battles against the Top 4.
Who knows what could happen.
St George Illawarra (15th) vs Wests Tigers (9th) @ The SCG, 4:05pm AEST
Out of nowhere, a wild SCG game not involving the Roosters appears!
It is the Dragons playing the Tigers, so this is apparently where I include footage of the 2005 Prelim Final.
I can only watch that and think… Benji hasn’t aged a day.
Back to the present day, and thanks to a mauling of the most inept band of Knights since the 3rd Crusade, the Tiges are right back in the finals race, sitting in the familiar Wests position of 9th and a game outside of their 4th finals appearance in 20 years.
One of the big lessons from the 46-4 bashing was that a former Origin winner in Josh Reynolds probably is a bit too good to be left rotting in a box for an entire season.
He’s been named against as the starting hooker, but will probably start on the bench, because that’s Madge.
The Dragons were blown away in 50 minutes by the Roosters in one of the 8 most expected results of the weekend, trailing 34-nil, before ultimately losing 34-12.
Del’s boy Tristan Sailor made his debut and ran for 132 metres and scored his first try, but then again, if a debutant is one of the best players in a Bottom 4 team, that’s usually saying something about the standard of the rest of the team.
The Tigers will potentially have 8th spot to play for, and the Dragons have been waiting for Mad Monday since June, because they’ll have the chance to disgrace themselves even more than any time they’ve appeared on the field in 2019.
The Fluke Tipping Update
Getting very tense now, as it seems the universe will correct itself and rob me of a finish in the Top 1%!