Well, what an eventful week leading up to the resumption of club footy.
The plagued refugees from New South Wales wrapped up the most lopsided Origin series to be entirely played in Queensland as the Maroons suffered their first ever Lang Park shutout, Penrith’s season is sitting in the toilet waiting to be flushed after Nathan Cleary injured his shoulder in the same game to put him out for at least 3 games, the New South Wales lockdowns resulting in the return to Project Apollo conditions and NO CROWDS, the Cowboys had to cancel training on Wednesday after Todd Payten got locked in isolation due to being a close contact, Josh Dugan was fined an entire night’s pokies budget for his bubble breach after going to a restaurant when every player got told to stay at home….
And Canterbury, the club who single handedly ended Mad Mondays everywhere back in 2018, are still slightly idiotic.
For the folks who don’t follow rugbaleeg, let me describe Canterbury-Bankstown to you, in the form of this Simpsons joke:
Total Score = 85/116
Picks are underlined
Sydney Roosters (5th) vs Melbourne Storm (1st) at McDonald Jones Stadium, Thursday 7:50pm AEST
No guesses for this one, the now top of the ladder Storm have escaped back to the free state of Victoria, and they’re immediately flying over chicken pox riddled Sydney to get the points in Newcastle, simply because the Roosters have too many good players on the sidelines to challenge the cream of the crop, even though they’ll have the crowd on their side, and now for something that’ll probably be a bit more entertaining than the rugbaleeg clinic than the Storm will put on Easts….
An artist’s depiction of Craig Bellamy vs Trent Robinson, in the form of Peter Griffin vs Ernie The Giant Chicken from Family Guy.
New Zealand Warriors (11th) vs St George-Illawarra Dragons (7th) at Central Coast Stadium, Friday 6pm AEST
In addition to the return of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the Warriors have picked up some solid mid-season signings in the form of Chad Townsend, Matt Lodge and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, but you can’t expect them to instantly fit in the team.
If I could use a metaphor, think of the signings as being like a size 11 foot trying to immediately fit in a size 12 shoe…
Chances are the Warriors might be going back to the store to get a refund or to go a size down.
Anyway, the Warriors have already knocked off the Red V in 2021, during a game in Round 6 in which the Mighty Maoris completed 40 out of 41 sets, after they performed a similar feat last year, so it was understandable that Dragons fans felt a tad paranoid after losing 20-14.
It was also utterly hilarious, because the Bulldogs later did the same thing to the Red V on the Queen’s Birthday.
So this game looks a genuine 50/50 contest, but to give my pick, here’s the band Scandal, featuring Patty Smyth in makeup, singing a song that used to be in an iPod commerical!
Penrith Panthers (2nd) vs Parramatta Eels (3rd) at Panthers Stadium, Friday 7:55pm AEST
Great move scheduling the Western Sydney Derby a full 5 days after Origin, because it’s apparently affected the game to such a degree that even the New South Wales government had to tell fans to stay home.
Anyway, the Panthers have got 5 players backing up from Sunday, even with Cleary being sidelined, with the decision not to offload Matt Burton to the Bulldogs paying dividends as he gets a rare start in the halves, and I would think the Chocolate Soldiers would still have enough talent to claim the 2 points against an Eels team who will be nothing but suspect unless they actually knock off the Panthers.
So on that note, here’s a random Panther narrating a National Geographic documentary about him eviscerating a fawn from the shadows of the jungle.
Canterbury Bullodgs (15th) vs Manly Sea Eagles (6th) at Bankwest Stadium, Saturday 3pm AEST
Despite the thought of giving Tommy Turbo and an emotional Daly Cherry-Evans a rest, given it’s just 6 days after Origin II and they’re playing against
The Bye the worst team in the league, Des Hasler apparently decided the Silvertails aren’t in a position to take anyone lightly, given they’re only 2 games clear of 9th, so to don my Captain Obvious cape, it appears Trent Barrett will be in for a tough time against his former club, given the Dogs losing 5 players to COVID breaches and Nick Cotric to a season ending toe injury, so based on the way their season has gone, Saturday against the Sea Eagles will be….
ONE OF THESE NIGHTS.
You’ll also notice that the Bulldogs, despite having the fewest wins of anyone, have somehow found their way off the bottom of the ladder on points differential, and the obvious answer for that is they got the 2 points from the bye, whereas the Broncos have theirs coming up in a few weeks.
Canberra Raiders (10th) vs Gold Coast Titans (13th) at GIO Stadium, Saturday 5:30pm AEST
The game between the two of the clubhouse leaders for the 2021 “Most Disappoint Award”, an award the Titans and Raiders are competing for alongside Australia’s vaccine rollout.
To give you an idea as to how crap the Raiders are going, their only wins in the last 3 months are against noted lightweights the Bulldogs and Broncos (Thanks in part to an incorrect sending off), while the Titans have a worst defensive structure than a slab of butter trying to defend itself from a knife, conceding 30 points in 8 out of their last 10 games, capped off by their almighty 2nd Half capitulation against Manly, conceding 48 POINTS IN 40 MINUTES, including 40 in the last half hour alone.
There’s half a chance the Raiders could crack 30 points in the 1st Half on Saturday night, before they promptly perform their 2nd Half Houdini act and the Titans turn the tables on them, but it probably won’t be enough, because I’ll pick the Green Machine to splutter along at home, and to serenade Ricky Stuart and his team for their 2021 performances, here’s Frank Sinatra singing Kermit The Frog’s ‘Bein’ Green’.
That’s right, Frank Sinatra covering Jim Henson/Kermit the Frog.
Newcastle Knights (12th) vs North Queensland Cowboys (9th) at McDonald Jones Stadium, Saturday 7:35pm AEST
The Cowboys copped a cruel blow this week with Todd Payten being forced into isolation due to being a close contact of a positive case in Townsville, which means Dean Young once again coaches an NRL team after his stint as the St George Illawarra interim, which ended so successfully that he got to leave New South Wales, which is turning into a superb move with the current dystopic state they’re in.
Meantime, Kalyn Ponga has been named in the No.1 jersey once again for the Novocastrians, which is all setting up perfectly for him to once again be withdrawn by the Knights on Friday evening, but if he does play, I think the Knights will get the 2 points at home against a Cowboys team that have a phobia for travelling, as they dance like the Knights of the Round Table:
Brisbane Broncos (16th) vs Cronulla Sharks (8th) at Suncorp Stadium, Sunday 2pm AEST
A very rare Sunday afternoon game at Lang Park, a harrowing sign of how far the Broncos have plummeted down the pecking order, although following the carnage after Souths shut them out in Round 15, I reckon we saw a very promising sign from the Red Hill crew this week, which wasn’t Matt Lodge leaving to the Warriors, rather that for the first time in yonks, THEY ACTUALLY SIGNED A TOP QUALITY PLAYER.
Yep, Kurt Capewell, the Charleville Charger, the only Queenslander with enough talent to score a try against New South Wales during this Origin series, is willingly leaving Penrith to return to the Sunshine State.
He’s obviously seen the direction that the Kevolution at Red Hill is heading and thought “Yep, I fancy this with a side of cash.”
Good on them.
Meantime, the Greg Norman Sharks have been models of consistency this year, losing 6 games in a row earlier in the year as John Morris walked off the plank, but they’re resuming on a 4 game winning streak, which included knocking off the Panthers at the death to claim a spot in the 8, defying their recent trend of being torn to shreds by Top 8 teams.
It should be noted that if the Sharks do lose, they’ll achieve the coveted double of losing to both Bottom 2 teams, but right now, just like their mascot, they’re swimming forward with no ability to turn back, and we could see scenes similar to when a Megalodon attacked beachgoers in 2018:
However, if the Broncos won, it’ll probably look more like this:
Wests Tigers (14th) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (4th) at Leichhardt Oval, Sunday 4:05pm AEST
The Tigers went into their break by being given a taste of the power of the Antichrist by the Melbourne Storm on the Sunshine Coast, as they went 30-0 down before they’d even played 20 minutes, 40-0 down at Half Time, 60-0 down after 50 minutes, before they were finally slaughtered 66-16, which means that if you only count the final 25 minutes, the Tigers actually won 16-6.
See, there’s a positive out of giving up 12 tries!
Unfortunately for Madge Maguire, he now has to face his former employers from Redfern with their four headed Hydra of a backline once again, and if the piss poor performance from Round 15 proves too tough to reverse, poor old Wests are going to be hard pressed to replicate that huge performance against the Rabbits from Round 6, when they were half a fingernail away from winning in Golden Point, as Tom Burgess somehow grounded the ball down for the walk-off try before Luke Brooks ran 100 metres the other way.
Mitchell, Johnston, Gagai, Graham, Walker….
There’s only one Rabbit that’s ever been happier than Russell Crowe, and that’s Eddie Rabbitt on a rainy night.