NRL

Meaningless NRL Preview: Round 8, 2020

The important part in that faceplant – Foxx scored the try

Try July is in full swing, and to support the Men of League Foundation, Sportsbet stated they’d donate $5000 for every post-try celebration.

Given fans can’t sit behind the goals, there’s only one celebration I want to see.

Meanwhile, up in the still-burning tyre fire at Red Hill, the long running verbal battle between WAYNE and his former employers keeps entertaining us all, after Broncos chairman Karl Morris blamed Wayne Bennett for the supposed mess that Anthony Seibold inherited in 2019, as everyone at Brisbane blames someone or something for their current mess, but the master coach was straight on the phone to the Sydney Morning Herald to fire straight back:

It’s far from the last we’ll hear of this bitterly divorced couple.

And in other news, a month after being introduced, the Six Again rule has undergone it’s first variation after the persuasion of Pistol Pete V’Landys, with refs now allowed to blow for a set restart on markers that aren’t “square or break early at the play the ball,” lowering the bar for ruck infringements in a bid to make the game go even faster, and to crack down on the massive rise in penalties since the rule change.

The game is going to be touch footy by August.


Thursday


Sunshine Coast Storm vs Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium, 7:50pm AEST

Yep, you guessed it – The Storm WON this game.

After getting to see the Titans in person last week, the people of Brisbane get to see two more champion teams in action, as another defensive chess match between Monsieurs Bellyache and Robbo awaits.

Last year saw a few more chapters added to the budding rivalry – The Golden Point on Good Friday featuring Latrell casually nailing a 40m drop goal, the Adelaide battle featuring Bellamy storming to the back of the box to drop an F-bomb as the Storm won by 2 points, and with a chance to end Cooper Cronk’s career in the Preliminary Final and avenge 2018…. the Roosters put the Storm out on their arse.

In their first game since the Great Escape from Victoria, the Storm were presented with a dispirited and broken Warriors team with which to sacrifice to appease their demonic masters, and they abso-bloody-lutely did, with a 50-6 win, before they promptly fled the scene and went straight to the Sunshine Coast, where they will remain in hiding until the situation back in Melbourne improves in 8 months.

The only downside to the win – They did lose Cameron Munster for a month with a knee injury.

As for who was named to replace Muster, it’s Ryley Jacks who returns for another appearance.

Still, the Storm are in a situation where they can swap a Cameron for a Cameron and a Smith for a Smith, and not miss a thing.

Staying on the topic of knee injuries, the Roosters were hit hard by ACL tears against the Red V, although they were still to classy for their opposition.

First, Victor ‘The Inflictor’ Radley was gone inside of 10 minutes, leaving Kyle Flanagan without his No.1 bodyguard, then it was Sam Verrills who felt the wrath of Bankwest Stadium, leaving them praying that Jake Friend didn’t somehow suffer another injury, or else they were down their 2 best hookers.

With them being down to 2 on the bench, it left Jared Warea-Hargeaves and Siousia Taukeaiho having to put in a massive stint in the forward pack, but they rose to the occasion on a combined total of 8 minutes rest, and with Luke Keary still doing a fine job as the brains of the team, and Brett Morris apparently fit enough to run in a hat-trick, they warded off a Dragons team breathing fire and came back to win well.

It was a win that reeked of Robbo’s Midas touch.

Isaac Liu also casually played with a busted rib, so he joins Radley and Verrills on the sidelines, while the good news is that James Tedesco and Brett Josh Morris are ready to go after missing Friday night, and Poasa Faamausili gets an immediate recall from his ‘loaning’ to the Warriors and comes straight back to the Easts 17.

Having to play home games a million miles from home would be a problem for most teams, but we’re dealing with the Storm, and if any team could overcome being made refugees from their own country, I’d back them in.

Still, I’m prepared to be proven wrong here, but Munster is more important to the Storm than Radley is to the Hens, so if you wanted a tip out of me, I will have to once again go with the hot horse, aka the Roosters.


Friday


Canberra vs St George Illawarra at GIO Stadium, 6pm AEST

The Raiders are struggling to get back to their best on the field, while off-field, they’re trying to win the fight against player agents, and at the moment, they’re giving Isaac Moses the two finger salute, after beloved second rower John Bateman, who still hasn’t played this year because of shoulder injuries, announced he was leaving the Raiders a year early, which makes me think back to this little stoush about a story James Hooper wrote:

Keep rubbing that bald head of yours Jimmy, because it’s clearly brought you good luck with this story.

Ricky Stuart said the club had prepared for Bateman deciding to go, while Gus Gould on his Six Again podcast, obviously talking from experience at Penrith, declared that Bateman shouldn’t play again for the Raiders given he’s not part of the club’s future, and with this all occurring barely 18 months after the club paid Wigan somewhere in the region of six figures to get Bateman to Australia, so I’d imagine this how they’re feeling right now:

Poor Horse, hope he’s back ready to fight everyone soon enough.

Still, Wigan fans must be pissing themselves laughing watching the Raiders lose him, especially with all the players the Raiders pillaged from them.

Anyway, with the Bold And The Beautiful going on in the back room, the Canberra Milk kids are back at the old Bruce Stadium, and the great part is Raiders fans can watch their beloved Green Machine continue their current slide back to being the beloved enigma we all know and love.

Last week they looked all set for a regulation loss to the Eels with 10 minutes remaining, but 2 converted tries in the final 5 minutes got it to Golden Point, where they had chances to win, but ultimately Clint Gutherson finished them off, dropping them to 7th.

From that defeat, Corey Horsburgh is gone for the year with his Lisfranc injury, Curtis Scott got flicked to the bench for being Curtis Scott, and George Williams broke his nose, but being a typical tough bastard from Wigan, he’ll be there this week.

Joey Tapine comes back from a knee injury in place of Horsburgh, Bailey Simonsson moves up to the wing, demoting Jordan Rapana, and Michael Oldfield replaces Scott at centre.

You could use a cardboard cutout at centre in the place of Scott… you’d probably get fewer errors.

The Raiders still need 1 more win to get Sticky’s 200th win as a coach, and they’re only playing the Dragons, who have had a glaringly quiet week for a club on the verge of disintegrating, helping them forget the fact that they never win in Canberra.

Still, they did score their first-ever win as a joint venture in Canberra in Round 3 of 1999, and what a night that was.

Parramatta vs North Queensland at Bankwest Stadium, 7:55pm AEST

The Cowboys have a perfect record against Top 8 teams, and it’ll go on the line again for the trip to Sydney against the ladder leaders, on a Bankwest playing strip that should be playing like brand new carpet flooring after being replaced mid-week.

The Eels endured another tough battle against a wannabe contender, this time letting a match winning lead slip against the Raiders, but they held their nerve in sudden death, as King Gutho put on his crown and got the job done in place of an injured Mitch Moses.

You come at the King, you better not miss.

In what is, on paper, an easier game than any they had in June, the obvious problem for the Eels is that Moses isn’t there, given so much of their game is built around his partnership with Dylan Brown.

For the time being, they’ll have to make do with Dragons castoff Jai Field to partner Brown, and given Field couldn’t get a go in a Dragons team with Corey Norman in pieces, it does leave you with more questions than answers.

Still, pretty much everyone except Cameron McInnes has been dragged down a peg or two putting on the Red V of late.

In what was a long-awaited response after the horror show in Campbelltown, the Cowboys figured out a way to stop Kalyn Ponga from even getting a sniff into the game – Get Jake Clifford and Scott Drinkwater to kick for the corners & touch at every opportunity.

It also helped that the Knights had a foolproof strategy of kicking drop outs to Jason Taumalolo when the heat was on in the 1st Half… it worked so well that JT racked up a below average 297 metres, which meant he only picked up 2 Dally M votes to claim the outright lead.

The Knights got complacent after a hot start, and the Cowboys made the effort to pull the rug out, which is what Paul Green had been hoping for weeks.

Still, that was at home in front of a minority of the faithful, and this is a Willie Nelson road trip, and since the restart, none of the Queensland teams have won in New South Wales, having lost all 5 games.

Moses may be gone, but I do have to back in the Eels at Bankwest.


Saturday


Gold Coast Titans vs Cronulla at Cbus Super Stadium, 3pm AEST

Harder to pick than a broken nose who could win this one – The Titans really showed up and gave their friends up the highway a pasting on Saturday, and the Sharks are really starting to click after all their personnel upheaval, especially as Matt Moylan is now back in the No.1, and Townsend and Johnson mind melding in the halves.

For the Titans, Tyrone Peachey starts at centre for the injured Dale Copley, with Bryce ‘Needles’ Cartwright moving up to the bench, and there is a chance that Tyrone Roberts could play, given he is named in the reserves.

The Sharks haven’t changed their 17 from the Manly win, with Nene Macdonald, who was signed a couple of weeks ago, finally able to at least make it to the reserves, most likely because he’s been stuck on Magnetic Island since that hire car incident.

No idea… this might be a case where I pick the home team in front of their fans, who will be delighted to see their up and coming team sticking it out for Justin Holbrook, after years of watching teams give up on their coach:

Once Were Warriors vs Brisbane at Central Coast Stadium, 5:30pm AEST

I do believe it’s time to bring back this again:

Quality games like this are when we should be glad that Foxtel are around, willingly choosing to broadcasting games of a such low quality that not even public broadcasters would consider it.

Plus, if you had a choice between broadcasting a game between 14th vs 15th, or re-runs of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, well that plucky Belgian just seems more interesting.

The Kiwis problems are obvious on-field, which won’t improve now that Roger Tuivasa-Scheck got a week off for a shoulder charge, and off-field, they’re not too far away from simply declaring “Ah *** it” and going home, despite making a promise to stay in Australia.

The club have been working with the ARLC and the NRL on getting exemptions from the Australian Government to fly over the families of Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu’a, Agnatius Paasi, and Leivaha Pulu to join them in Terrigal, and if they can’t get it by July 19 (After the Warriors play the Sharks), then the four players are simply going to go the other way.

Unfortunately, Pulu has had to go home immediately due to his prgegnant wife being caught up in a (Thankfully minor) car crash, so it’s down to the three now.

Another team trying to escape reality is the dear old Broncos, who got booed off Lang Park at half-time as the Titans took them to the cleaners, and while the players smile and socialise with their tormentors post-game, and the blame game rages around Red Hill as to why the team has gone done the toilet, skipper Alex Glenn has given a damn through all this, and he spoke up about some of the crap his teammates have copped, namely death threats online.

Now obviously I’m not an angel when it comes to respecting the Broncos and not laughing at their misfortune, but seriously, death threats are just way too far…. even by my low standards.

In a bid to get a response, Corey Oates was dropped, then he wasn’t, after Matt Lodge was ruled out with a knee injury, which leaves Oates on the bench as Thomas Flegler is back from suspension, while Joe Ofahengaue was suspended, which was perfect timing, because Patrick Carrigan is ALSO back from suspension.

Last year featured an 18-18 draw between the teams.

It might be 0-0 this year.

Wests Tigers vs Penrith at Bankwest Stadium, 7:35pm AEST

The Big Cats of the West collide in a game was going to be at Campbelltown, but the Tigers were smart enough to realise that with the 25% capacity rule being in place, they’d be able to fit more fans into Bankwest, so back we go.

I look at the team sheets for both sides, and there’s enthralling contests just about everywhere – Josh Aloiai and Luciano Leilua in the forward pack, up against the Panthers excess of Jimmys in skipper James Tamou and James ‘Two Dads’ Fisher-Harris, Harry Grant and Api Koroisau in the biggest war of the hookers since 1970s New York City, the metre eater Josh Mansour against the try scoring sensations Tommy Talau and David Nofoaluma, and Luke Brooks/Josh Reynolds against Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary in the halves.

In his quest to again cement a spot in the NSW halves, Cleary’s form has been nothing short of superb this season, especially as Judge Frollo allows him out of Notre Dame once a weekend to play for the Mountain Men.

Go on Quasi, lead the black cats to another victory.


Sunday


Manly vs Newcastle at Brookvale Oval, 4pm AEST

When it comes to a Manly vs Newcastle contest, you obviously think of Spudd and The Chief reigning blows to each other’s temples, while I can’t not mention Gary Harley and the 2HD team going off their faces when Darren Albert scored the winner in 1997.

If there’s one thing more frightening than the thought of a second wave to COVID-19 breaking out across the country, it’s the thought of Silvertails fans being back at Brooky.

We’ve been able to adapt to living with one of those menaces to society… But adapting to life with both of them, now that’s a bit of a stretch.

The Silvertails are obviously stretched to the breaking point with injuries, and they’ve now only won 5 out of 15 games since 2018 without Tommy Turbo, but they do regain the Fortress Brookvale, and they apparently still have Mr Hasler, while the Knights showed the first signs of complacency under Adam O’Brien in Townsville, and the Cowboys made them pay for their attitude by going ahead 22-0, and from there, they were always chasing tail, and they did at least attempt a comeback in the 2nd Half to try and make it look like they’d been competitive for 80 minutes.

Still, it was a bad defeat.

On the team front, last week Brendan Elliott got torched by the Sharks in Gosford, and Des has decided that it’s now Reuben Garrick’s turn to have a go in the No.1, while Moses Suli obviously severed his finger in the time since the Broncos game because he’s good to go.

For the Knights, Bradman Best returns at centre after his COVID ban, in place of Gehamat Shibasaki, while Herman Ese’ese goes to lock with Tim Glasby sitting out this week with a concussion, and Pasami Saulo called up on the bench.

I’m going to stick my neck out and go for the SILVERTAILS to bounce back, but I wonder if Gladys will be making the drive up to Brooky to support her beloved Manly.


Canterbury vs South Sydney at Bankwest Stadium, 6:30pm AEST

The NRL should be commended putting the Doggies in the 6:30 slot week after week.

It helps put the kiddies of Sydney to sleep due to extreme boredom.

Anyway, with Will Hopoate gone, I’ve got to take WAYNE and the Bunnies, even if he has focused more on roasting his old club than actually attempting to implement a game plan to defeat the Doggies.


APOLOGIES FOR THIS BEING LATE…. MAJOR COMPUTER PROBLEMS ALL AFTERNOON.

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