At last, a regular season full of Jorge Taufua claiming souls, Josh McGuire rearranging peoples eyesight and Darius Boyd trying too hard in tackles has reached it’s end.
Which means most the league is getting ready to peak in the most spectacular time of the year for Australian sport….
Souths (4th) vs Easts (2nd) @ ANZ Stadium, 7:55pm AEST
The latest edition of the oldest rivalry in First Grade, and yet another chapter for Rusty to write into the Book of Feuds.
The stakes aren’t as high as previous clashes, with only Souths having to win to secure a Top 4 spot, while Easts have nothing to do except survive without losing anymore key personnel… and try and beat Souths in the process, because Uncle Nick will never let him hear the end of it.
Speaking of key personnel, the Roosters have a few of them back- Captain Boyd Cordner is finally back from his old man’s injury, and Cooper Cronk is straight back in, after his son got excited during story time and hit him in the eye with the corner of a book.
Yes, that happened.
Fair to say Tara will be handling story time duties in the Cronk household from now on.
If this could be equated to a game of Uno, then expect WAYNE and Robbo to hold a few Draw Fours and Wild Cards in their hands for future use in the likely event of another Roosters-Rabbits final.
Parramatta (6th) vs Manly (5th) @ Bankwest Stadium, 6pm AEST
With 20,000 expected for a game starting at 6pm (Since Westies are apparently all unemployed), the Eels and Silvertails are guaranteed a home final regardless of the result, but the equation is pretty simple- If the Eels win by at least 12 points, they’ll finish 5th.
Anything less, and it’s as you were, gents.
In what could be cause for concern for Brad the Bald, Parra’s attack has dried up like the Simpson Desert, scoring a mere 6 points against the Doggies, and then fighting along to 16 against the Broncos, which was enough to force Golden Point- Which they lost without touching the ball, because David Fifita exists.
The Sea Eagles suffered the most catastrophic loss of the season, as they not only got belted by the Storm and fell out of that miracle Top 4 spot, but they lost any hope they had of doing anything with September, with Tommy Turbo’s pec injury finishing off his injury-riddled ride this season.
Des probably cared more about Tom missing the tackle and allowing Josh Addo-Carr to score, than seriously hurting himself.
To state the bleeding obvious, the Sea Eagles just aren’t the same without Tom; 10-2 in games he played, and 4-7 without him.
On the flip side to such a brutal evening, they did have the genuine highlight of Jorge Taufua landing THAT hit, which apparently sent the Seppos wild, because they don’t see hits like that without someone being added to a multi-billion dollar concussion lawsuit.
He’s like an evolved Steve Matai.
Melbourne (1st) vs North Queensland (12th) @ AAMI Park, 7:55pm AEST
The Storm officially wrapped up yet another minor premiership by dining on Sea Eagle with a side of lemon, and Craig Bellamy’s first act on Tuesday was to rest Cameron Munster, as the team still search for the pieces of his shoulder that were scattered over Brookvale Oval by Jorge.
Joining him are Brandon Smith and Josh Addo-Carr, who is now surplus to requirements, having been replaced by Justin ‘Juzzy Wuzzy Angel’ Olam, who could very well be the new ruler of Papua New Guinea if the Storm win the Premiership.
In fact, he could very well be the leader of PNG right now.
The Cowboys get ready for their season finale with Josh McGuire back from suspension, although with Munster having a rest, he won’t get the chance to finish off his facial from Round 5.
Cameron didn’t lodge a complaint, so he obviously enjoyed it.
Given the only thing at stake is the Storm trying to win 20 games in a season, there’s an event starting at the exact same time just over the tracks that just might be getting my attention.
Canberra (3rd) vs New Zillund (14th) @ GIO Stadium, 3pm AEST
The Nicoll-Klokstad Cup (Speaking of which, he’s not even playing) sees the Raiders have the chance to lock up 3rd place and a trip up the highway to play the Roosters, while Elliott Whitehead can also lock up the new electric scooter that he got for his 30th birthday.
Given he had his last one stolen because he didn’t lock it up, I can only think of a line from Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket.
“If it wasn’t for dickheads like you, there wouldn’t be any thievery in this world, would there!“
The Warriors have lost their last 3 games by 20+ points, and unless Fox Footy fixate a camera on someone resembling Jacinda Ardern, it’s going to be another 20+ point hiding.
Canterbury (13th) vs Brisbane (7th) @ ANZ Stadium, 5:30pm AEST
The Doggies playing a Top 8 team, you say?
Of course, the Dogs Of Destruction were slaying many finals contenders in their late season bid for a miracle finals spot, before they were fitted with the cone of shame by the Cowboys in a game that was the perfect representation of the Cowboys- Low scoring, and somewhat ugly.
The Broncos are going to fall in to yet another finals series in Anthony Seibold’s somewhat underwhelming first season as coach, which has been highlighted by them shuffling the deck and throwing David Fifita and Payne Haas into the starting forward pack, despite them being teenagers, a move which has got them set for the immediate future.
Fifita in particular was superb against the Eels in another superhuman effort, in which he did everything short of kick the winning field goal on the opening set in Golden Point.
Darius Boyd also did something completely unexpected- Play well enough to earn the Man of the Match award.
But of course, there exists a crazy situation where if the Broncos fall into the Dogs’ Vortex of Suckage and lose, then a draw on Sunday would see both Wests and Cronulla make the Top 8, because all 3 teams would finish on 25 points, yet the Broncos lose out with their points differential.
Although, it’s about as likely as Darius willingly giving up a million dollars and retiring early.
Gold Coast Titans (16th) vs St George Illawarra (15th) @ Cbus Super Stadium, 7:35pm AEST
Here’s a positive for the two worst teams in the game.
The season will be over after 9:30 on Saturday evening.
This is the farewell for Michael ‘Flash’ Gordon, in a career that saw him start at the foot of the mountains, venture over to the shire, go to the place where the eels dwell, dine with the cocks of Bondi, and finally, the mythological creatures that reside on the Retiree Coast.
He’ll finish at No.13 on the all-time points scorers list (1726), and finish with the unique record of winning a wooden spoon with 3 different teams.
This will also be Gareth Widdop’s 195th and final NRL game before he gets deported back to the UK, which included the high of the 2012 premiership when he was at the Storm, and the endless low of having to be associated with this Dragons team, which he will soon be free of.
What an amazingly terrible conundrum we have- Tip a team that have lost 11 consecutive games and are wooden spooners… or tip this St George team.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the game was so terrible, that the referees just walked off the field after half an hour, and refused to come back on.
Wests Tigers (9th) vs Cronulla (8th) @ Leichardt Oval, 2pm AEST
Channel 9: We are weighing up killing the Sharks and sending them to Brisbane, but at the same time, we want to broadcast them.
Leichardt sold out a week in advance for the season finale, as the thought of ending Paul Gallen’s career was more than enough to get the Tigers faithful roaring back through the gates.
Apparently they’re also celebrating Robbie Farah’s second farewell to Leichardt, and by hook or by crook, he’ll be leading that Wests team out three weeks off a broken leg, in an inspirational effort not seen since the Castilians propped the armoured corpse of El Cid on his steed Babieca to scare the Moorish forces besieging Valenica in 1099.
Long story short, the Spaniards charged the invaders and won the battle…. and then eventually lost Valencia for the next 125 years.
It makes Cooper Cronk’s effort in last year’s Grand Final look like a flesh wound.
The Sharks had the motivation to get it done for Gal last week in his Shark Park farewell, but of course, with Shaun Johnson gone, their goalkicking killed them again, and they were culled by Aidan Sezer hitting 3 field goals in a Golden Point loss.
That’s bloody unlucky if you ask me… Aidan Seizer hitting 3 field goals without missing has to be rarer than losing 30 consecutive odds & evens bets… which I managed a few years ago.
As for Wests… history indicates that they’ll lose this horrifically and finish 9th for the 3rd time in 4 years.
Honestly, what is it with Tigers and finishing 9th?
Penrith (11th) vs Newcastle (10th) @ Panthers Stadium, 4:05pm AEST
An amazing high stakes game to finish off James Maloney’s career in Australia, with the winner guaranteed to finish in 10th.
No wonder Channel 9 were so desperate to scrap this lemon and upgrade to the McLaren Senna that is Wests vs Cronulla.
The Panthers are in a race to the bottom with the Dragons to be 2019’s biggest disaster, with the Mountain Men’s problems spanning back to when Gus decided to behead Anthony Griffin a month out from the 2018 Finals, completely destroying any progress the team had made since 2016.
They then sold the farm to bring in Ivan Cleary, promptly failed to adequately replace any of the talent that left the club, which has since told big time on the field, as they’ll miss the finals for the first time since 2015, and of course, Gus didn’t make it past April.
Just watching them try and string an attacking set of 6 all damn season has been mind numbingly bad, as even with two Origin winning halves, they look like the biggest collection of headless chickens outside of your local KFC.
Only one of them looks finger lickin’ good, and it ain’t the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Knights may have Adam O’Brien locked in for 2020, but in the process, this complete piss-up of a finish to the season has alienated a huge chunk of their ever-loyal Novocastrian fanbase, something that they couldn’t manage when they reeled off a hat-trick of wooden spoons.
Then again, the 8,274 people that randomly turned up to watch them play the Titans got lucky for two reasons- They actually managed to see a competent performance (Against the league’s resident kid in a wheelchair), and, they were the only people in Newcastle that survived the great flood that hit the area last weekend.
FLUKE TIPPING UPDATE- THE FLUKE IS BACK ON
8/8 in Round 24… what the hell happened.