So it’s time for Round 23, and the moment of truth has arrived for the Melbourne Storm, as they have a straight shot at equalling the 19 consecutive wins of the 1975 Easts team, steered by Supercoach Jack Gibson and containing the likes of Big Artie Beetson, Ron Coote, Russell Fairfax, John Brass, Johnny Mayes and Bill Mullins.
Oddly enough, the 1975 Roosters started their premiership defence sitting at 1-2 after Round 3, before winning their next 19 games.
As if it were history quite literally repeating, the 2021 Storm started their premiership defence sitting at 1-2 after Round 3, before winning 18 games in a row.
Spooky stuff friends… spooky stuff.
Total Score = 126/168
Picks are Underlined
Gold Coast Titans (8th) vs Melbourne Storm (1st) at Cbus Super Stadium, Thursday 7:50pm AEST
So as mentioned off the top, the Storm have a shot at the all-time record 19 wins in a row, although Craig Bellamy appears to care more for the long term goal, given he’s given a heap of players a rest, but on the other side to that, the Titans’ record against the Top 6 this year is terrible, having lost all 6 contests so far this year, with the Souths game last Saturday pretty much being par for the course.
Given this week marks the annual commemoration of Vietnam Veteran’s Day, it seems convenient that we know at least two Vietnam-themed songs involving 19, the first of which is Paul Hardcastle’s 1985 hit 19:
“In 2021, the Melbourne Storm seemed like just another team, but it wasn’t – it was different in many ways, as were those that did the winning.”
“In 2002, the longest Melbourne Storm winning streak was 6 – In 2021, it was 19, in-in-in-in 2021 it was 19”
And our own Redgum, who brought us I Was Only 19 in 1983:
That’s what Craig Bellamy say after the game:
“God help me…. it was only 19.”
Canberra Raiders (9th) vs Manly Sea Eagles (5th) at Suncorp Stadium, Friday 6pm AEST
Sure the Raiders may have run the Storm close last Thursday, but the result of this game will entirely depend on whether or not Tom Trbojevic plays for Manly, and it’ll depend on how quickly the plastic surgeons can fit him with a prosthetic cheekbone to go alongside his prosthetic hamstrings.
A few more replacements and he’ll quite literally become a real life Steve Austin, aka The Six Million Dollar Man.
It’s worth noting Turbo also didn’t play when Canberra beat Manly 6 weeks ago at Brookvale due to the Origin break, which will be the last time either team plays in New South Wales until 2025, by which time natural selection will have dealt with more than a few big wigs.
So yeah, if Turbo plays I’ll take the Silvertails, but if he doesn’t, which is more likely than not given Des Hasler loves a good old fashioned game of foxing, then I’ll go with Ricky Stuart and his one dimensional coaching strategies to get the Raiders over the line, which I think would be Sticky’s 100th win as coach of the Raiders.
It seems I’ll need to justify my decision in the form of a song, so here’s Seal’s cover of Fly Like An Eagle from the Space Jam soundtrack, and to be honest, after hearing this, I think Manly should change their nickname to the Seal Eagles:
Penrith Panthers (2nd) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (3rd) at Suncorp Stadium, Friday 8:05pm AEST
At the current furious pace the Top 3 are running at, this is almost certain to be a Qualifying Final preview, although home field advantage means absolutely bugger all this season, but nevertheless it’s easily the matchup of the weekend.
Ever since the Panthers put a half century on the Rabbits in Dubbo and seemingly ended Souths’ premiership chances under the dreaded 50 Point Curse, the Redfern team has won 10 straight and averaged 40+ points per game over that time thanks to the superb form of their seven-headed backline, and you’d have to think that this is the game that will confirm if Bennett’s Bunnies have a legitimate shot at losing a Grand Final to the Storm, or if the 2021 season is well and truly a race in two now that Nathan Cleary is back and shoulder charging the Panthers to a chance at vengeance.
It should be noted that Souths have lost a mere 3 games this year, but the common denominator is that all 3 losses were against the Storm (x2) and the Panthers, so until Souths can right that wrong, I’ll just have to stick with the Panthers to get it done thanks to the musk of Sex Panther perfume:
Wests Tigers (13th) vs Cronulla Sharks (10th) at Browne Park in Rockhampton, Saturday 3pm AEST
Ah Rockhampton, the home of Rocket Rod Laver, and do you know who else came from Rockhampton?
1988 Olympic Gold Medalist Duncan Armstrong.
The alliterated Prime Minister Frank Forde also came from Rockhampton, and everyone knows he had a brilliant week as PM in 1945 after John Curtin decided his heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
So from potentially getting a game involving a high quality South Sydney team a few weeks ago, only to have it ripped from their grasp thanks to the Brisbane lockdown, the people of Rocky have been left with a contest between two teams who could be best described as being slightly worse than mediocre.
I can only think the crowd will get their money’s worth if Madge Maguire and Josh Hannay decide to leave their defences on the tarmac before they fly up on Saturday, and there’s every chance they will on what should be a perfect afternoon for rugbaleeg, but I think based on the quality of opposition the teams have played of late, the Sharks might just be good enough to get the 2 points and keep their flailing year alive.
So on that note, here’s a song I haven’t used for Cronulla yet, and I don’t know why, considering it’s the lead track from Split Enz’ True Colours….
Canterbury Bulldogs (16th) vs Newcastle Knights (7th) at Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday 5:30pm AEST
The Bulldogs have lost 8 straight games heading into Saturday’s visit to the Gold Coast, which is something they haven’t done since 2008, and if they lose to the Knights for the second time this year, then they’ll have achieved something else that they haven’t done since 2008….
THEY’LL HAVE WON THE WOODEN SPOON.
Yep, the Dogs are 6 points and at least 128 points in differential off the Broncos with 3 games to play, in what is the worst year the club has experienced since the 1964 team under Clive Churchill won 1 out of 18 games, and their differential of -370 is the worst since their inaugural season in 1935, when they were on -510, which makes you think that the likes of Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr must really love the smell of money to willingly join the rancid smell coming out of Belmore.
If you know your history, that 1935 Canterbury team produced the worst fortnight the sport has ever seen, as the Berries lost by a First Grade record 91-6 against St George, then a week later lost 87-7 against Easts, but hey, at least they scored a try that day, meaning that only Dave Brown and Ross McKinnon outscored them.
And, they didn’t even win the wooden spoon, because Sydney University was a hundred times worse, so the Berries got 2 cheap wins against them.
Meantime, the Knights are on a mini-run back into the Top 8 with Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce wielding the lollipops and guiding traffic, although the loss of big Dan Saifiti is a major roadblock, but they should have the soldiers to get the 2 points and move on in another low scoring contest between the teams.
Also, I need something involving a Knight to make this seem interesting, and it appears I’ve found a singing Knight….
Gladys Knight, taking a Midnight Train to Georgia!
According to Adam O’Brien, the Knights are taking the Midnight Train to Georgia because it stops at Finals station along the way.
Parramatta Eels (6th) vs North Queensland Cowboys (14th) at Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday 5:35pm AEST
Do I seriously have to say something about a game between two teams who are travelling like a Number Two down a sewer?
Okay then, take it away Eddy Grant:
St George-Illawarra Dragons (11th) vs Sydney Roosters (4th) at Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba, Sunday 2pm AEST
Ah Toowoomba, Australia’s Tidiest Town in 2008, and home of those rancid Saturday night races on Sky 1 that I won’t touch with a 500 foot pole….
Mainly because I won’t be able to lift the pole up.
So the ANZAC rivals meet in Toowomba with their seasons heading in opposite directions, with the Dragons slowly falling out of finals contention thanks to 5 consecutive defeats, with their forward pack having the strength of a termite infested drywall, while the Roosters are now somehow back in the Top 4, despite the fact that they seemingly lose at least 1 player to a serious injury or a serious indiscretion every week, the latest being Victor Radley due to his horrendous judicial record.
Last week the Chooks looked all set to lose to the Broncos on Friday night thanks to Radley diving at the legs of Albert Kelly during a field goal attenpt, before a late captain’s challenge for a missed head high hit on Sitili Tupouniua led to former Warrior Adam Kehrigan making a hero of himself with a penalty goal in the final minutes, and you know who Easts should also thank for that?
Darryl Halligan, for actually teaching Adam how to kick, which is something they should teach Sam Walker if he wants to be a goalkicking half for the future.
In fact, I reckon an appropriate song for Adam and the Roosters after that game is Fortunate Son, mainly for the fact that it mentions raising the flag (I.E kicking a goal), and the Red White And Blue:
Now to apply it in a Rugby League sense:
“Some folks are born, made to raise the flags, ooooh the Red White And Blue!”
Brisbane Broncos (15th) vs New Zealand Warriors (12th) at Suncorp Stadium, Sunday 4:05pm AEST
Well the big news out of Red Hill is that Broncos captain Alex Glenn has decided to retire at the age of 33, having played 282 NRL games (As of Round 22) and 14 internationals for New Zealand, and he deserves to be fondly remembered by Broncos fans for a well constructed career that didn’t quite result in premiership success, a luxury that most champion Broncos have been able to enjoy (Although he can thank a few Cowboys players for that void), but he deserves a big pat on the back for leading the club through it’s worst on-field period in history, even if he’ll be unable to enjoy the golden years of The Kevolution.
Amazingly enough, with Glenn and Anthony Milford gone from 2022 onwards, that means Corey Oates will be the last player remaining from the Broncos’ 2015 Grand Final team still playing for the club.
It’s only been 6 years.
So as for this game, it is deadset harder to pick than a broken nose, because you can easily mount a case for the improving Broncos to pinch a win at Lang Park, while the Warriors just keep on rocking up every week, and have now won 3 games in a row for the first time in 3 years, despite not having played a home game since the All Blacks were still 2-time defending Rugby World Cup champions.
So I’ll get back to you in 5 seconds, because I’m about to ‘Coss A Toin’ as a dyslexic person would say, heads for the Bronx and tails for the Warriors…..
AND IT’S A TAILS, which apparently never fails, so I’ll pick the team from Dave Dobbyn’s neck of the woods!