NRL

JT’s Meaningless NRL Preview: The Finals, Week One

THE EAR MASSAGE, PART II- THIS SATURDAY.

Here we are.

The Finals.

Or, as it’s known in the NRL era, when the defending premiers inevitably don’t defend their title.


Friday


Qualifying Final

Easts (2nd) vs Souths (3rd) @ The SCG, 7:50pm

Just think, for 76 years we couldn’t get a Roosters-Rabbits final… and then we get 3 in the span of 5 years.

Of course, keeping up this historic rivalry, this is the first final played at the SCG since the 1987 Grand Final, which can only indicate that the Chooks have been terrible for the last 32 years.

From the battle last Thursday, Slammin’ Sam Burgess is the big out, with his prior convictions meaning something as simple as hair pulling became a suspension, and he was due to be replaced by at least one of his brothers, however due to a mix-up, Baby John Burgess will now be pulling on the green and red.

Jimmy the Jet also returns from a suspension of his own, a straight swap for the injured Dane Gagai, who would’ve struggled in such a big game unless he was wearing something maroon.

The news is a tad better at Bondi, as Jared Warea-Hargreaves had a successful dinner date with the Judiciary, getting to second base off his ban for concussing Liam Martin, when Kane Evans ended up having his challenge dismissed for something that was pretty much the same.

Apparently it’s yet another case of the National Roosters League at work.

As well as that, Luke Keary, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Brett Morris and Mitch Aubusson are all coming back.

That’s 3 starters right there, and Mitch Aubusson.

The momentous battle ahead has led to Rusty returning to Redfern, dressed in full Gladiator costume, to read the playing group a few sermons from the Book of Feuds about the evils committed by Easts against the folk of Redfern.

Forcing Souths to sign Bryan Fletcher will probably get a mention, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rusty has personally revised the sacred text to include an entire chapter dedicated to Luke Keary, which is simply an entire page looking like one of Bart Simpson’s chalkboard gags, reading “Keary is a wanker”.

I suspect the Fourth Estate will be jumping all over the Tricolours for justifiable reasons, even though just last week the Rabbits knocked them off, and they’re the only team to beat them at the SCG this year.

Make no mistake, there will be bloodshed.


Saturday


Melbourne (1st) vs Canberra (4th) @ AAMI Park, 5:40pm AEST

The potential for dirtiness is limitless.

The Storm giving Raiders players nipple cripples in the ruck, the Raiders kneeing and eye gouging Storm players in tackles…

I’m tipping the steel chairs go flying after the half.

Of course, the last time the Storm and Raiders met was the fabled 18-0 comeback by the Raiders in Round 22, but looking at their performances since, I’m left thinking that game was just Bellamy planting the seed of false hope in the processing core of the Green Machine, given the Storm were locked in to the minor premiership.

He did the exact same thing to the Sharks last year.

Both teams rested key players against bottom-feeders last week, but the difference was the Storm actually won, and the Raiders had their confidence rocked by blowing a lead and losing to the Warriors, as Sticky cracked the sads that people dared criticise twice convicted eye gouger Hudson Young for eye gouging.

Anyway, Cam Munster returns to shore up the halves and ‘The Pap’ goes to Full Back for the Storm, while the likes of Bateman and Nicoll-Klokstad return fresh for the Raiders, and Joey Leilua returns from his suspension, and fair to say he’s very unrepentant for kneeing a defenseless Reuben Garrick.

A lot of teams try to intimidate people, and if you don’t bring intimidation, then nobody is going to fear you, so that’s why you’ve got to take it out there sometimes.

Yes, BJ said this.

Since you seem to be confused BJ, I’ll give you a rough idea of what ‘Intimidation’ is.

Intimidation is growing four sets of eyes trying to figure out where Jorge Taufua is on the field and what he’s going to do to you, rather than scoring a try and waiting for a dumb thug to drop his knees into your back.

Then again, if he tries the same thing on Cameron Smith, people are going to start singing from a very different hymn book.

Manly (6th) vs Cronulla (7th) @ Asbestosvale Oval

The Battle of the Beaches.

Cronulla don’t like Manly, and Manly don’t even think about Cronulla at all.

In between all this talk of the Brookvale hill trying to give patrons cancer (Nothing to see here move along) and Marty Taupau being rubbed out, here’s current scenes at the NRL, as Des successfully managed to revive an old fan favourite.

Yep, the forward injury crisis at the Silvertails is so bloody bad, that TONY WILLIAMS has been named in the reserves, having played for the Blacktown Workers in 2019, and last playing for Manly in First Grade way back in 2012.

Scenes not seen since WAYNE recalled Alfie Langer for Game III in 2001.

It’s a move so left field that NRL.com don’t even have his picture anymore, so I’ve found one for them.

Bang a gong and get it on, NRL.com.

While the Silvertails figure out who isn’t dead, the Sharks got some experience playing a knockout final in a hostile environment, venturing to Leichardt and running all over Wests through sheer class, to the point that Paul Gallen danced on their graves with a first career drop goal when the game was done.

Only took you 18 years, Gal.

It’s been well documented that the Northern Beaches are where Sharks go to die- In their 53 seasons, the Sharks have played 41 times at Brooky, for an inglorious record of 6 wins, 1 draw… and 34 losses.

The Sharks have also won only once in 9 finals against the Sea Eagles, and rather unsurprisingly, their worst all-time record against any team is… the Sea Eagles.

The only place more dangerous than Brookvale for Sharks is a sinking Orca off the coast of Amity Island.

Despite all that, the Sharks will start favourites and probably win, because Manly still need TV, even though they’ve got T-Rex.

Get that kids? It’s a Mott the Hoople joke.


Sunday


Elimination Final

Parramatta (5th) vs Brisbane (8th) @ Bankwest Stadium, 4:05pm AEST

After a superb turnaround year compared to their 2018 wooden spoon, the Eels have a home final in Week One for the first time since 2005, and the Blue & Gold faithful are clinging to the hope that they can come from the clouds and win the premiership in their first year at Bankwest, just as they did back in their first year at Parramatta Stadium in ’86.

At first glance, it looks like the Fruitpickers are going to decisively gain revenge for the Golden Point loss a fortnight ago and win their first final in a decade, but I’m very hesitant to jump in, because this is the time of year where the Eels find a way to slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard and have a promising season go to waste.

Then again, I couldn’t pick the Broncos either, especially after what the Dogs did to them with next to no resistance last week, and especially after what the Eels did to them in their last visit to Bankwest in Round 14.

My only memory of that game was Jamayne Isaako taking a penalty shot at the half when the Broncos were down 26-0.

He missed.

Last week seemed to be more evidence that despite their forward pack being good enough to carry the Titanic from the bottom of the Atlantic, the Broncos away from Lang Park just don’t look threatening at all to the other Finals teams.

Some would argue that they hardly looked threatening at Lang Park as well.

But of course, having just spent an entire segment bagging the Broncos, I should remember that just like Mad Monday sessions, Finals do weird things to player’s minds.

As for the teams, the forward packs are being beefed up, as Nathan Brown comes back from suspension to replace the suspended Kane Evans, and as if Brisbane’s forward pack didn’t have enough Clydesdales in it, Joe Ofahengaue returns from injury.

Unless the Broncs show up early, this might get a tad ugly.


Finals Tipping Update

Apparently the split for the Tigers-Sharks game last week was 56/44 to the home team… Probably explains how I got back into the Top 1000.

Make no mistake about it, this will be remembered as a Bradbury on par with Bradbury if I finish in the Top 1%.

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