NRL

Meaningless NRL Preview: Round 18, 2020

On this R U OK day, I have to ask a two-way question:

R U OK.

Especially you, Broncos fans, and I genuinely mean that… It can’t be any good for your mental state getting turned into everyone’s favourite punching bag after 30 years of cock-a-hoop.


Wests Tigers (9th) vs South Sydney (7th) at Bankwest Stadium, Thursday, 7:55pm AEST

Ah, who can forget that earlier meeting in 2020 between the Rabbits and Tigers, when Josh Reynolds mistook Campbell Graham’s head for the ball:

Good to see Madge is teaching his players to actually follow through in kicking drills.

The follow-up to the kick heard ’round the world was Latrell Mitchell subsequently mistaking Grub’s head for a boxing bag.

Sadly we won’t get a repeat of that, because Latrell can’t even walk two metres with the state of his hamstring, and Grub’s form is so sub standard that Madge won’t play him, and further to it, he managed to piss off quite a few folks at Wests by buggering off from Brookvale with Russell Packer at Half Time, completely missing the Tigers’ epic comeback in the final 10 minutes.

If you ask me, getting to miss out on the sheer jubilation that followed was enough of a punishment, because letting them leave the club for being crap teammates is a reward.

The other brilliant part of The Great Escape, besides Steve McQueen’s portrayal of Benji Marshall, was Adam Doueihi copping an all-time great heckle on that 1st Half sideline attempt.

COMPENSATE ADAM, COMPENSATE.

And compensate he did.

Another facet to that grub-filled Friday evening of entertainment was that Dane Gagai scored a hat trick, and coincidentally, Dane Gagai is back tonight.

I think the Rabbits have the quality to poach the Tigers again and put their 9th place in serious jepoardy.


Canterbury (16th) vs Manly-Warringah (12th) at ANZ Stadium, Friday 6pm AEST

Another magnificent Friday 6pm Cripple Fight coming up.

One of the rare cases of perfect scheduling.

The Bulldogs are vast running out of chances to pull themselves out of pole position for the wooden spoon, and summing up their own on-field problems, Steve Georgalis is planting square pegs in round holes by continually playing key players out of position, which partly explains why they can’t win games, Dylan Napa is now gone, and Kieran Foran’s Belmore tenure has likely ended on a reasonably merciful note…

That note being a pectoral injury that requires surgery, which could also threaten his career.

On this R U OK day, Is say god speed, Kieran, god speed.

Meantime, the Sea Eagles had their disaster season brought to a merciful end by the Tigers after blowing that 32-18 lead, and Des Hasler has had his playing stocks so seriously depleted, that he now has to contact the siblings of his players just to fill the 21-player team sheet on Tuesday.

Case in point this week – BEN TRBOJEVIC WAS NAMED IN THE RESERVES.

I imagine when young Ben does makes his debut and makes a mistake, opposition players will ask if he was the adopted Turbo brother.

Two more injuries and the Silvertails might have to ask John Hopoate if he’s fathered any more children.

Manly might win this on class alone with the 11 players they still have, but the Dogs are eventually going to figure out how to win another game at some point in the future.

However, that some point will probably be at least 6 months from now.


Penrith (1st) vs Parramatta (3rd) at Panthers Stadium, Friday 7:55pm AEST

After 53 years of First Grade action, the moment has arrived.

THE 100TH WESTERN DERBY, AND THE BIGGEST IN SOME 20 YEARS.

Where do you start through the previous 99 – Well, the one I really remember was that 2010 game where Penrith led 22-0 at home on their quest for 2nd on the ladder, only for the Hayne Train to leave the station and steam the Eels to a 34-28 win.

Several years later, the Hayne Train was converted into a Hayne Plane, which crashed somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle after a foray to the NFL.

The only reason I remember it that well was because I randomly tipped the Eels, but that was also the round where I tipped Souths against the Dragons the previous day and cost myself a perfect round.

Of course, the Blue & Golds are the only team to inflict the pain of defeat on the 2020 Panthers, who have reeled off 12 consecutive wins since that Round 5 defeat, while the Eels have looked so bloody ordinary of late, even when they win, that I can’t see them doing it again on Friday, an assumption made on the basis that the Panthers will want to extract a pound of flesh for that defeat, and they’ll probably want to literally extract a pound of flesh on Regan Campbell-Gillard for leaving them.

While the Panthers keep getting the job done, to the point that they’re only 2 wins away from a first minor premiership since 2003, it’s now reaching the stage in the win streak where they’re apparently due for a Paul Keating “Loss we had to have”, just to keep them grounded before the finals, but with the opposition remaining on their fixture, unless Ivan The Not So Terrible decides to randomly rest the entire starting 13 at any point between now and the end of September, they’re just going to keep laughing at everyone.

Panthers in a dour prime time brawl.


St George-Illawarra (11th) vs Canberra (5th) at WIN Stadium, Saturday 3pm AEST

In light of the latest coaching appointment for 2020, Andrew Webster in the Sydney Morning Herald asked the question “Can Anthony Griffin Lead The Dragons To The Promised Land?”

Judging by his Twitter activity, the only Promised Land that Griffin wants to lead anyone to is White Australia.

As for the Dean Young Dragons, Zac Lomax and Mikaele Ravalawa led them into Golden Point last Sunday night….

Where they succeeded in giving Josh Hannay his long-awaited first win as Cowboys coach, ending the Red V’s minute chances of a finals spot.

Meanwhile, the Raiders weren’t terrible against the Roosters, but the obvious problem was they were playing the Roosters, and Josh Papalii going down was a savage blow that the Green Machine never recovered from.

So the Top 4 spot is out of their hands, but on the bright side, big Papa somehow avoided a major shoulder injury, and he’s making an appearance on Saturday afternoon.

The other big bit of news for the Raiders was that Curtis Scott (Who won’t play due to exiting the bubble) was cleared of his police assault charges after a memorable Australia Day Invasion Day 26th of January rollick through Moore Park, which were shown up as a pile of bullshit thanks to bodycam footage.

I have to say, that footage, which was published by Channel 9 and the SMH, was an absolute laugh, for the simple fact that Scotty, even when he was sloshed beyond belief, managed to find a damn good tree to sleep on.

There are 4-figure beds that don’t even offer that kind of head & neck support.

So to cut a long story short the counter lawsuit for an unlawful arrest is brewing away.

The Green Machine to win this one, given they still have everything to play for, including Jarrod Croker needing 2 goals to become the 10th player to kick 800 career goals.


Gold Coast (13th) vs Brisbane Broncos (15th) at Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday 5:30pm AEST

Here’s a big positive for everyone at Red Hill.

It’s only 3 more weeks until they can leave the bubble and start interacting with the rest of society again.

I’m not entirely sure that mindset will help them against the Titans, who already dusted off at Suncorp once this year….

But then again, the Broncs have won the last 5 meetings between the rivals at Robina, which does make me think that they’ll randomly show up and give 110%, but with the way the Titans are going on an upward trajectory, they’ll match them and possibly win again, which would also be the first time they’ve ever completed a sweep of the Broncos.


Sydney Roosters (4th) vs Newcastle (6th) at the SCG, Saturday 7:35pm AEST

In what once looked a semi-decent contest, the Roosters need a mere 2 wins from the final 3 games to lock up a double chance, and I’d think they’ll get one of those wins on Saturday, considering the Knights have rested Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Barnett and Hymel Hunt after 17 long weeks or war and famine, filled with repeated attacks towards Ponga’s head.

If you ask me, those repeated attacks to the head, especially from the Sharks last Friday, are a perfect explanation as to why Ponga’s goalkicking is so abhorrent this season.

Anyway, the latest victims of a Roosters crowing were the dear old Raiders, who came into that Grand Final rematch full of Sticky’s pent up rage about the 6 Again, but the Chooks were 3 steps ahead in that 2nd Half, and I’d say that was their best performance since the Eels win.

Obviously you could point out that Sonny Bill Williams did nothing despite the lavish praise he received from those in the Fourth Estate, but I’d point out the Raiders didn’t score a point when he was on the field.

In much the same manner, I also have a rock that can keep tigers away.

In last year’s meeting between the teams at the SCG, the Roosters held a narrow 12-10 lead with 25 minutes left.

They won 48-10.

In fact, Latrell Mitchell won 20-10.

Adam O’Brien probably knew the Knights were up against it against his old club even if they had their best available team, so resting players after 17 merciless weeks of game time isn’t the dumbest idea ever.


Sunshine Coast Storm (2nd) vs North Queensland (14th) at Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunday, 4pm AEST

In the second of the Queensland Derbies this weekend, I will simply make mention of the fact that the Cowboys have not defeated the Storm since the 2015 Preliminary Final.

Based on what I’ve seen in recent weeks, that will not be changing anytime soon.


Cronulla (8th) vs Once Were Warriors (10th) at Kogarah Oval, Sunday 6:30pm AEST

You want to have a laugh?

I tipped Cronulla last Friday night, thinking they’d finally come good against a Top 8 team.

I spent the rest of the evening wishing they’d stopped the game after the opening try. … especially after Chad Townsend sent Kalyn Ponga back to Port Headland.

From the Fox League Twitter

Somehow, the Sharks only need to win 1 more game to pretty much guarantee 8th spot, where they will promptly be bundled out of the Finals.

The Warriors finals chances took a massive hit to the sternum after the loss to the Eels in Gosford, featuring everything from an inconsistent sin bin that helped the Eels go up 16-0, to Chanel Harris-Tevita’s 2 utterly superb tries short of half-time to get the Warriors back in it, but no matter how hard the Tamworth terrors came back, they just couldn’t get ahead of the Blue & Golds, leaving them 4 points and a mountain of differential behind the Sharks.

Apparently Todd Payten was so annoyed that he asked the NRL to drop Grant Atkins, a request that was denied (Probably because he’s a Kiwi), and to be honest, I think the treatment the Warriors have received from the referees this season has been nothing short of a farce to the team who saved the Australasian game, but nobody cares on this side of the Tasman, because the Warriors are just a bunch of sheep rooters.

Surely the NRL could have shown a little bit of sympathy to the Warriors and ‘fixed’ a couple of games for them, just as a big thankyou present.

And if they cite integrity, I’ll point out how they got Sonny Bill Williams back into the NRL.

Anyway, Shaun Johnson is back, the Warriors are outside the Top 8, so I see a Sharkies bounceback.

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