Meaningless NRL Preview: Round 14, 2020

Another coach has fallen to the ravages of 2020…

Paul McGregor, We Hardly Knew Ye.

Sydney Roosters (4th) vs Slightly North (2nd) of Melbourne Storm at the SCG, Thursday 7:50pm AEST

Here we go – After going 12 rounds in the Lang Park ring back at the beginning of July, which will be impossible to top for Game Of The Season, the injury-depleted Roosters take on a Storm team suddenly devoid of playmaking Camerons, but still containing a Smith.

The Roosters were probably hoping to get Boyd Cordner, Brett Morris, and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves back, but instead, all they’ve got is Josh Morris and Jake Friend throwing forward passes, with Kyle Flanagan not even making the squad of 19 once again.

Apparently Shane Flanagan was so irked at Kyle’s continued exclusion from the Chooks team, that he called up Trent Robinson as an aggrieved parent.

Imagine the bind Robbo is in – He drops Kyle Flanagan and he gets a call from Shane, and if he drops Lachlan Lam, he’s probably going to get a threatening call from Adrian Lam.

Of course, the Storm are now on a 7-game winning run, but how they’ll go without Smith and Munster remains to be seen, given Smith was Player of the Match back in the Round 8 Hell in a Cell contest.

On the bright side, The Pap is back at fullback, so if the Storm need someone to plonk over a field goal against the Roosters, we know he’s capable.

I was wrong to doubt that the Storm could defeat the Roosters without Munster back in Round 9, so not having learned my lesson as per usual, I’ll doubt if a team still full of quality players can defeat the Roosters (Injuries or not) in Sydney without Smith and Munster.

Once Were Road Warriors (11th) vs Penrith (1st) at Central Coast Stadium, Friday 6pm AEST

The only team standing between Penrith and a new club record for consecutive wins is the mighty Road Warriors of Tamworth, who already got stomped by the Panthers 28-0 at Campbelltown in Round 4, which feels like a space age ago, considering that was when next to nobody could play in their home ground, and we all thought the Warriors were going to be (Rather understandably) a pile of arse.

In the age since, the Panthers still haven’t lost, the Warriors have sacked Steve Kearney, had a remarkable revival under Todd Payten, and also managed to hire Nathan Brown to coach them in 2021, aided by Gus Gould.

The Warriors and Panthers had an agreement that Jack Hetherington wouldn’t play for the Warriors against his ‘parent’ club, but Jack made sure of it by putting a high shot on Martin Taupau, which the Match Review crew rather happily decided was worth a 4 game suspension.

I can’t see this being any different to Round 4 – The Warriors will show more true grit than Rooster Cogburn, but the Panthers have turned grinding out wins into an art form.

Parramatta (3rd) vs St George-Illawarra (12th) at Bankwest Stadium, 7:55pm AEST

In unsurprising news, the Dragons board have informed Paul McGregor that they can’t guarantee they’ll be saying their Hail Marys post-2020, and with his position not secure for 2021, Mary decided to resign after 6 years at the helm of the Red V, so he could at least say he wasn’t sacked, and he gets a farewell game against the Eels tomorrow night.

The fourth coach of 2020 has experienced the stinging sensation of a guillotine falling on their tenure…. Apparently it isn’t COVID the NRL’s mentors should be looking out for.

Given the NRL won’t be allowing Shane Flanagan’s head coaching ban to end anytime soon, the next poor bastard to go to onto the Dragons frying pan from Round 15 is beloved Premiership-winning forward Dean Young, who technically joins his dad Craig in playing and coaching the Dragons.

Obviously I say technically, because Craig did it for St George, and now Dean will do it for ‘St Merge.’

While Flanno has returned the Dragons attack to semi-competency, their defence is what routinely lets them down, and has left their finals chances all but toast for another year, and ultimately led to the end of Mary’s tenure.

Meantime, the Eels still don’t look that flash, but they are winning in sunshine, in the dead of night, and underwater against the Sharks.

I reckon the Eels will offload their way to another win.

Cronulla (8th) vs Gold Coast (13th) at Kogarah Oval, Saturday 3pm AEST

Were it not for Shaun Johnson’s bad day with the kicking tee on Sunday, the Sharks could have finished Round 13 in 5th place, but if your Aunty had privates, despite scoring more tries than the Eels, the Sharks’ big problem was that they were scored out wide, on a day where conditions were so bad that a submarine’s torpedo tube would’ve struggled with accuracy.

Parramatta scored both of theirs next to the posts, and Mitch Moses got a penalty dead in front – There’s your ballgame.

So instead they’re in 8th place, and in the meantime, the John Morris-coached Sharks now face the great threat of the Titans, officially the best team permanently based in Queensland after flooring the Cowboys for the first time in 6 years, and now more confident with the knowledge that Justin Holbrook won’t be going anywhere in the coaching musical chairs, they won’t be winning the 2020 wooden spoon, and there’s the fleet of big name recruits on the way.

Apparently the weather in Sydney for Saturday might be a tad better than 2 hours of persistent heavy rain, which should conceivably favour the Sharks and their frenzied attack, which tore the Tits to shreds a mere 6 weeks ago on the Gold Coast, winning 40-10.

Plus, the Titans, while being much improved, aren’t exactly a Top 8 team, which is something of a mental hurdle for the Sharks.

North Queensland (14th) vs South Sydney (7th) at North Queensland Stadium, Saturday 5:35pm AEST

With WAYNE locked away and communicating with the team via telegram for another week, the Rabbits are off and away under Jason Demetriou, and after the fairly easy 28-10 win against the Broncos, they get the chance to complete the Queensland Quinella against the Cowboys in Townsville, with a win cementing them in the Top 8.

That’s really all I can think right now, because the Cowboys looked very bloody ordinary against the Titans, and unless Scott Drinkwater becomes the greatest thinker since Aristotle, they’ll be holidaying in their favourite holiday spot in France.


Canberra (5th) vs Brisbane (15th) at GIO Stadium, Saturday 7:35pm AEST

It’s been dead silent in our nation’s capital after what the Panthers did to the Raiders last Saturday evening, while the Broncos are rather publicly experiencing the phrase “Hold my beer” over and over again.

Allan Langer, Ryan Whitley and Blake Duncan get stood down for going to the Claxton.

“Hold my beer.”

Anthony Seibold has a family emergency and can’t coach the Broncos for 2 weeks, leaving Peter Gentle to get migranes instead.

“Hold my beer.”

Darius Boyd quits the Broncos leadership group, a leadership group which was made up of eight players and had been fractured into 2 groups.

“Hold my beer.”

Tevita Pangai Jnr attends the opening of a Mongols bikie barber shop when it was getting raided by the Queensland Police, getting himself fined $30,000, stood down indefinitely, and bordering on sacked from a $650,000 contract.

“Hold my beer.”

Anthony Seibold has to get the lawyers and the QLD Police cyber crime unit involved after unfounded rumours about his personal life do the rounds on social media.

“Hold my beer.”

10 Broncos players get investigated (And cleared by Police) for going to the Everton Park Hotel for a lunch and pokies session on August 1st.

“Hold my beer.”

Matt Lodge and Xavier Coates are injured and won’t play this week.

So all that said, yes, I think the Raiders will win well.

Newcastle (6th) vs Manly (9th) at McDonald Jones Stadium, Sunday 2pm AEST

Based on the performances of both teams last week, the Knights are right in the box seat, given they took down the Sea Eagles at Brookvale only 6 weeks ago, in a game that ended rather memorably, for all the wrong reasons.

Fortunately we won’t be seeing a repeat of that comment, given Addin Fonua-Blake won’t be featuring for the Sea Eagles due to injury.

Of course, I like incessantly mentioning the 1997 Grand Final, and as many of you know, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is a Manly supporter, and we have definitive proof that a young Gladys was at the old Football Stadium that day:

What you see there is a young lady excited for the immediate future.

Then Darren Albert came along, and 23 years later, the people of New South Wales are still feeling the bitter after effects.

Wests Tigers (10th) vs Canterbury (16th) at Bankwest Stadium, Sunday 4:05pm AEST

Who cares, Wests will probably win, Madge will get angry, threaten to drop players and probably kick a chair in anger, and the Bulldogs will try hard but barely score.

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