WASH YOUR BLOODY HANDS… AND YOUR BALLS.
Well, even I can’t beat around the bush – We’re all screwed with a capital F.
The latest update from the NRL is that the players are now required to begin a self-isolation program immediately, and avoid all non-essential contact with community members.
Pokies sessions are apparently still classified as essential.
So on that note, Round 2 of the RUGBALEAGUE is on…. Minus any form of atmosphere.
Treasure it while it lasts, because bloody oath, once peak virus season hits, we’ll all be praying to Satan…. Who I think is the head of the ARL Commission.
I find it funny that because of the COVID-19 situation, we’ve now got two sets of games being played at the same stadium in Round 2, and neither one of those is Western Sydney Stadium or the Olympic Stadium.
Canterbury vs North Queensland @ ANZ Stadium, 8:05pm AEDT
Apparently we aren’t suffering enough right now, so the league had the foresight to schedule the Bulldogs in prime time again.
Make no bones about it, both teams will be lucky to pass 10 points.
The Dogs did have a few good individual moments against Parra (Lachie Lewis firing up 500 bombs that were all defused), but they were few and far between, because the overall night was a fart in an elevator for the Berries, with their attack once again falling well short.
It felt like every time they got inside the Eels 10, they deadset resembled my dog when she loses sight of the tennis ball.
YOU DON’T STAND THERE AND WAIT, DAMMIT.
In the only game with a crowd in Townsville this season – Which just happened to be the debut of North Queensland Stadium – The Cowboys got slapped sideways by the Broncos forward pack and lost 28-21.
Val Holmes had his moments, with a try and 157 metres amidst a couple of handling errors and missed tackles, and while he continues to readjust to rugbaleague, Josh ‘The Optometrist’ McGuire is all set to go for 2020, after the last of his many 2019 suspensions (This one for eye gouging David Fifita) expired.
I feel like tipping the Cows again, but you have to ask the question, if the supposedly good Eels could only score a lone try against the Dogs, what the heck are the Cowboys supposed to do.
St Merge vs Penrith @ Kogarah Oval, 6pm AEDT
If the Dragons cut out the bloody mistakes inside the Tigers 10 last Sunday, they’d be sitting on 2 competition points right now.
But, as the saying goes, if your aunty had a pair, she’d be your uncle.
After Zac Lomax had a rollercoaster night at fullback (Scoring a try and then failing to bat a kick dead, leading to a Leilua try), Mary now has the excuse he needs to shift him to the wings – Matt Dufty has returned from a busted cheek, but it’s still a hung jury as to who gets the No.1 gig long term.
As for the visitors, much like they did in a Grand Final many moons ago, the Panthers flipped the lid on the favoured Roosters in a 20 minute flurry to finish the night, set off by Josh Mansour and Steve Crichton capping off a play that began at halfway.
I still have no idea where Crichton came from…. Probably Westworld.
Given the player turnover, history probably won’t mean much, but the Panthers have given the Red V a fair old ball tearing in their last 2 meetings… 40-18 last season, 28-2 in 2018.
So that said, I’ll tip the old Chocolate Soliders.
Brisbane vs Souths @ Suncorp Stadium, 7:55pm AEDT
The Battle Of Bennett Part III at Lang Park in the feature slot of Round 2, and it appears WAYNE is absolutely relishing coaching in the fight of the jilted ex-lovers.
That was also the face WAYNE made when he found out there was no toilet paper at Woolies.
Panic buying wankers.
Of course, both teams enjoyed ‘good’ wins in Round 1 – The new Baby Broncs never trailed up in Townsville in the Queensland derby, thanks mainly to David Fifita taking the piss out of the Cowboys, and the Broncs remembered in these times to wash their hands, after getting dirty with the Northerners.
As expected, Souths (narrowly) culled the Sharks, despite Jimmy The Jet going to the bin for a professional foul in the 1st Half, Latrell playing only 50 minutes, and almost blowing a 22-8 lead in the last 20 minutes.
A last gasp forward pass spared them at least Golden Point… or worse.
The big blow for the Broncs is Tevita Pangai’s latest suspension (4 weeks), and it may have been my dodgy eyes, but the Broncos forward pack seemed to really lose their edge when TPJ was out in 2019.
Sure, they still had Fifita and Payne Haas to lay the wood on defensive lines, but TPJ turned them into a creature the Japanese would describe as a Three-Headed Hydra.
10-1-7 in the 18 games he played in 2019…. And 1-6 when he was gone.
It can’t be a coincidence!
Last season’s game at Lang Park was a ripper that finished 22-20 the way of Souths, and hopefully tomorrow can get somewhere close, despite the handicap of an empty Cauldron.
I’ll go with the Rabbits, because WAYNE probably hates the Broncos immensely.
New Zealand vs Canberra @ Cbus Super Stadium (Moved), 2pm AEST
There’s absolutely no contest in the logistical stakes as to which club has been worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
When it gets so bad that you can’t even play in your own COUNTRY just to keep the league going, you know you’re floating down that creek near Woop Woop.
Making things that little bit harder, key players Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert (Family reasons) made it across the Tasman before the Kiwi government’s international quarantine kicked in, while the team have to stay on the Central Coast, drive through Tweed Heads on Friday, and then play a home game Gold Coast, the COVID-19 capital of Queensland.
This could be the worst situation the Auckland team has ever faced, but let’s not forget there was the tragedy of Sonny Fai drowning back in 2009, and they they were declared insolvent during October of 2000, before Eric Watson saved their arses.
I won’t even bother writing about the Raiders, because bugger it, they’ll go alright.
It’d be an all-time win if the Kiwis were ahead at full-time, BUT, all the signs point to this one getting uglier than a Bulldogs Mad Monday.
Easts vs Manly @ Leichhardt Oval (Moved), 5:30pm AEDT
The major news ahead of this game was that due to the crowd restrictions (And for player health), the game was shifted from Central Coast Stadium to the 8th Wonder Of The World – Leichhardt Oval.
This shouldn’t be surprising given only Balmain/Wests Tigers have called it home, but this is the first time in history that Leichhardt has hosted 2 First Grade games on the same weekend.
It’s probably positive that Easts aren’t playing at Gosford – Even the bloody Cowboys knocked them off there last year, dropping their Gosford record to 5-10.
Still on the subject of defeat, Easts managed to lose in Round 1 again, despite leading 14-8 at Penrith with 17 minutes left, although the bigger problem was that they had no idea what to do on the last tackle, as the new halves pairing of Flanagan & Keary try and gel.
Most clubs would feel mildly miffed about losing in Round 1, but with the Roosters, it’s an omen that they’re good for a premiership.
A similar story for the Sea Eagles, who were ‘good’ against the Storm for an hour, holding a 4-2 lead (They also kept Melbourne scoreless in the 1st Half), but one crossfield kick to an unmarked Suliasu Vunivalu on the hour set off the chain reaction, and by full time, it was an 18-4 defeat.
14 points was a bit unfair on the Silvertails…. But that said, they couldn’t crack the Storm’s defensive line.
The venue change will almost certainly have an impact on the game in the Chooks’ favour, and seeing them lose 2 games in a row is as rare as hen’s teeth, so with no confidence, I’ll take them, but I have a feeling Des is going to pull something out of his arse.
It might even be 2 competition points.
Cronulla vs Melbourne @ Kogarah Oval, 7:35pm AEDT
Thanks to the rebuild of Shark Park, this is the first game of the new normal for the Sharks – Playing home games at St George’s home ground, primarily for practical reasons, as it’s the closest ground to Shark Park.
Given how much money the clubs are on track to bleed profusely because of the COVID-19 crowd regulations, the Sharks would have to be Rasputin to survive a cocktail this lethal.
It’s a shame, because Shark Park would’ve been absolutely rocking for another Sharks-Storm punch-up, which has probably lost a bit of zing without Gal there.
Free of the thought of Scott Morrison looking on in person, the Sharks were in a 22-8 hole against the Rabbits, but 10 minutes of wizardry from Shaun Johnson nearly saw them pluck out what would’ve been the win of the weekend.
They were only a forward pass away from tying the scores and having a shot at goal to win it…. alas, they lost 22-18.
Of course, this is the last game for Josh Morris in Sharks colours, before he completes his weird transfer to the Roosters.
Meanwhile, the Storm did what they always do in Round 1 – Win.
But, it wasn’t before a tough challenge from old foes Manly – Neither team scored a try until the hour mark, until Jahrome Hughes (Replacing Brodie Croft in the halves) had the light turn on in his head,
The bigger story from the game was when Cam Smith (General president of the RLPA) questioned why the NRL was still going and endangering the health of players and their families, when basically every major sporting league was shutting up shop due to COVID-19.
Having human concerns like that obviously aren’t allowed at the NRL, who simply want to hoard as much money as they can before the spectre of doom closes in and shuts down our remain sporting leagues.
The spectre of doom is also closing in on the Sharks, and I think it’s wearing various shades of purple.
Wests Tigers vs Newcastle @ Leichhardt Oval, 4pm AEDT
The only game involving the Tigers at Leichhardt this weekend, and the Novocastrians come to town, with both teams enjoying Round 1 wins.
Wests were trailing for several stretches of Sunday evening in The ‘Gong, as Josh Reynolds was beaten senseless by Tariq Sims, but Benji Marshall proved that age is only a number, turning the game in the Tigers favour with some vintage Marshall magic, scoring a vintage solo try, and providing 2 assists to pick up 3 Dally M votes to begin 2020.
A 24-14 win, and I do believe it’s been 15 bloody years since that Prelim Final, and yet, the Dragons still can’t stop Benji.
Anyway, there’s only one key change to that team – Paul Momoriovski slots on to the bench for Michael Chee Kam, and this could very well be Paul’s last game for Wests, with the player swap with Melbourne for Harry Grant apparently all set to go before Round 3.
If we even get to Round 3.
Meanwhile, the Knights are sitting up at the pointy end for the first time since at least Round 2, 2011, after their shutout 20-0 win of the downhearted Warriors on a crap Saturday in Newcastle, the perfect start to life under Adam O’Brien.
Turns out a guy who was learning in the Storm & Roosters coaching setups for several years would know how to whip a defensive performance together – He even made Kalyn Ponga look like a jet for the first time in months.
In a show of confidence, the 17 remains the same as Round 1.
It looks very even on the Head To Head with the bookies (Barely 1.88-1.92 in favour of the home team), so I’ll make the boneheaded tip and go with the Knights to pluck something out.
Gold Coast vs Parramatta @ Cbus Super Stadium, 5:15pm AEST
Fair to say Justin Holbrook won’t be remembering Round 1 anytime soon, given the Titans went in to Canberra with next to no hope, and promptly had whatever hope they thought they had dashed inside 20 minutes.
The only positive you could take from that game was that they did slow down the Raiders in the 2nd Half (Handling errors will do that) and cut the gap to 18-6 for a time, before a late try to Elliott Whitehead pushed the final score to 24-6.
The Eels came in to Round 1 full of hot air thinking they were all set to contend for a Top 4 spot in 2020, and then they only scored one try in a slobberknocker against the Doggies.
BUT, the important fact was that they won, and winning ugly sure as hell beats losing.
The other big positive for Brad Arthur was that his team only conceded a penalty goal in 80 minutes, mainly because the Dogs have no idea what a white line looks like…. Unlike a certain Eels player.
So get ready for some Sunday night boredom…. I’ll take the Eels to go 2/2.
To finish, for no reason at all, here’s John Lennon to sum up the current zeitgeist.