Analysing JT’s Random NRL Picks: Round 23, 2021

No fullbacks were harmed in the making of this video

Well, by anyone’s standards, it was another successful edition of the Random Picks with 7/8.

At one stage I was on a streak of 19 consecutive correct tips going back to Round 21, but when it came down to the last game of the round, with a chance to make it consecutive perfect rounds, I zigged on the Warriors when I could’ve zagged on the Broncos, in what was a genuine 50/50 game that had a margin to match….

That said, the 2 point margin was mainly thanks to Henry Perenara giving Euan Aitken and the Warriors that try 2 minutes from time, when one angle seemed to show that Xavier Coates had definitely got his hand on the ball first, which would’ve backed up the on-field call of no try, while another could’ve been a case for simultaneous grounding and a try to the Warriors.

It was so unexpected that the Fox League commentators were absolutely certain a red light would appear on the screen, and were thus totally flabbergasted.

Good thing for the Broncos that a former Bronco in Reece Walsh couldn’t hit the side of a barn door as he went 1/5 in front of the sticks (Plus being forced to kick the 2-point field goal attempt against his will) to arguably cost the Warriors the 2 points, despite scoring 5 tries to 4, sparing the league office from another ball-tearing from the Courier Mail for yet another questionable decision against the Broncos.

Melbourne Storm 34 defeated Gold Coast Titans 20 – Correct

All those who remember the Storm
They won’t forget what they’ve seen
Destruction, of teams in their prime
Their winning streak was 19

What a superb accomplishment, and for the most amazing part is that out of those 19 consecutive wins, 17 of them have been by double figures – The only exceptions was the 20-14 win against the Titans in Round 13 when Origin was on, and the 20-16 win in Round 19 against the Cowboys.

Manly Sea Eagles 19 defeated Canberra Raiders 18 – Correct

As it turned out, I never got the chance to change my tip to the Raiders with Tom Trbojevic not playing, and when the Raiders went 12-0 up in the 1st Half in memory of Sia Soliola’s mother, I was annoyed with myself…

Then I couldn’t check the scores for 2 hours as I was attending to work related matters, and when I did, let’s just say I laughed at the return of the Canberra Faders, who couldn’t even be bothered taking advantage of the golden untimed play Josh Schuster gave them right on the siren, because Jordan Rapana’s 2-point field goal attempt wouldn’t have cleared 1 metre in a high jump competition.

So in the context of Manly’s season that’s a huge win, especially without the big Serbian chess piece in the back, because they’ve now got the wooden spoon winning Bulldogs and the Cowboys (Who have lost 10 consecutive games) to end the home & away season, whereas the Roosters directly ahead of them have to cop a game with Souths next week (Souths have only lost to the Storm and Panthers this year), and the Eels have to play the Storm this coming Saturday, with the Storm having the chance to become the first team in history to win 20 consecutive games.

As for the Raiders… Well who knows, they’ll let you down at the end of it all no matter what happens, and they won’t be doing it with Curtis Scott, don’t you worry about that:


Penrith Panthers 25 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 – Correct

Nobody’s seen this many mentions of downtown since Petula Clark released Downtown in 1964.

So in case you missed it, with the score at 12-12 with 20 minutes to go in a game to decide 2nd place, the referee Grant Atkins went to The Bunker decided to drag up the rarely used ‘downtown’ rule on Souths prop Mark Nicholls after he made a significant impact on the play by getting within 10 metres and recovering the ball following a strip.

Obviously there was an arseload of people up in arms because a downtown is such a random call, it undeniably had a huge impact on the momentum of the game, and because forwards are regularly ahead of the kicker on the last play and pretty much never get pulled up on it, but for some reason Atkins and The Bunker decided to call this one, and in fairness they had every excuse in the book:

At the end of the day, Souths can only blame themselves for letting the game slip away, Max Merritt style – They were up 12-0 before the Panthers tied the game on the half, they committed 11 errors and gave up 11 penalties to 2.

Questionable refereeing aside, you’d be hard pressed beating any Top 8 team on those numbers, let alone the team that are the clear 2nd best in the competition.

Cronulla Sharks 50 defeated Wests Tigers 20 – Correct

Boy, this is going to make a great episode of Tales from Tiger Town….

“The Shark Attack”

In a scoreline that may have stunned a few people, the Sharks were too good for a Wests team that has now lost all hope of finishing 9th, although it remains to be seen what impact the loss of Ronaldo Mulitalo with a broken jaw will have in the Sharks’ push for that sacrificial 8th place on the ladder.

That was a bloody shame to see Ronaldo go down, considering he willingly gave up scoring a hat-trick to give Luke Metcalf his first career try….

Unfortunately Mulitalo didn’t reap the good karma from that act.

Newcastle Knights 22 defeated Canterbury Bulldogs 16 – Correct

You wouldn’t even know it by looking at that scoreboard and checking those highlights from a fairly average game, but the Knights have now won 4 on the bounce and 6 out of their last 8 games, which is good enough for the second-best active winning streak in the league behind the Storm’s record 19 wins.

The flip side to it is that Bulldogs have won their first wooden spoon since 2008, a milestone that had been coming from as far back as 2017 with the sacking of Des Hasler and the salary cap mess through the Dean Pay era, and the Knights, despite looking barely better than mediocre since April, have pretty much locked up a finals appearance with their 2-game break back to the Sharks in 8th, which would be the Novocastrians’ first consecutive appearances in the finals since the Andrew Johns era, when they featured in the finals in every year between 1997 (If you include the ARL year) to 2003, which included the two premierships in ’97 and 2001.

Still, the Dogs may have lost once again, but they’ll get a genuine highlight at the club awards night, because Jayden Okunbor scored one of the best tries of the entire year in the final minute out of absolutely nothing:

And the great irony being that he’s had an utterly terrible year, much like most of his teammates.

Parramatta Eels 32 defeated North Queensland Cowboys 16 – Correct

This game was everything it promised to be, and absolutely nothing else.

The Eels managed to halt their extremely worrying slide out of Top 4 contention, at least for 7 days, and apparently the Cowboys are now on the verge of becoming the first team since the 1942 North Sydney Bears to sit in a finals position halfway through the season and subsequently lose all of their remaining games.

Back then, the Bears were in 3rd out of 8 teams after Round 7 of the 14-game 1942 season, before they did what the Bears tended to do in the 20th century and collapsed horrifically, and in case you lost track of this year, the Cowboys were 7th after the Round 13 bye, level on points with Manly, and the North Queenslanders have since lost 10 in a row.

That’s impressive from the Cowboys – Doing what no club has done since the days of wartime rationing.

Sydney Roosters 40 defeated St George-Illawarra Dragons 22 – Correct

What a funny old game in Toowoomba.

The Dragons managed to keep themselves alive in the 1st Half despite James Tedesco playing his best footy of the entire year and leading the Roosters to a 14-0 lead that could easily have been greater, even as they swapped Sam Walker for Lachie Lam to start in the halves, before the Dragons, having weathered the brunt of the storm, got the momentum back and took the lead 16-14 early into the 2nd Half, and at that moment it looked like the fried wings had finally been ripped off the Roosters after a year marred by injuries.

It should also be noted that Easts had another key injury with Nat Butcher going down with half an hour to play, and the Chooks were lucky not to lose a few more star players, considering Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had his legs folded like a piece of salami and somehow avoided a serious injury, and Teddy was lucky not to get kung-fu kicked in the kidneys by an ambitious Mikaele Ravalawa:

Your ambition outweighs your talent

You can’t tell me life doesn’t come around, because 5 minutes after that hair-brained play, Ravalawa got an accidental knee in the guts trying to out-leap Daniel Tupou as the flying Rooster touched down for his second try, and it just cascaded from there for Easts, who, after trailing with 25 minutes to play, had put the game to bed with a lazy 10 minutes still to play with 4 unanswered tries, and after the Dragons scored a consolation try, Tupou got his hat-trick just before the siren.

Tedesco finished up with 316 meters, 12 tackle breaks and 4 try assists – When he’s on, it’s just fascinating to see…. akin to a wedge tailed eagle ripping a kangaroo to pieces.

Brisbane Broncos 24 defeated New Zealand Warriors 22 – Incorrect

Welp, for the second time in 3 weeks I missed out on a perfect round in a game involving the Warriors that was decided by 2 points, all because Reece Walsh couldn’t hit the side of a barn door, and I think the reason Walsh kicked so poorly was nothing to do with the Warriors giving him terrible angles to work with, it’s because he wanted to give the Broncos a present in exchange for letting him out of his contract one year early so he could sign with the Warriors back in April.

Still, I have no regrets about picking the Kiwis, it was a genuine 50/50 game, both teams gave themselves enough chances to win the game, but the ultimate difference wasn’t Anthony Milford coming back into the Broncos team, it was the one and only Albert Kelly with one of the best pick-ups of the entire season to put the Broncos back ahead 16-14 after giving up they’d given up the lead:

No wonder the Broncos gave him another contract, that was sensational.

So at the end of the round, the Broncos are out of the Bottom 2 for the first time since Round 9, and it’s a fair reward for the genuine improvement they’ve shown under Kevin Walters, who will still be undermined for absolutely no reason.

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