A reminder to the Eastern States, Daylight Savings end on Sunday morning… Unless you’re in Queensland, where it never started.
So on we go to Round 4, in the most even start to an NRL season in living memory, and in light of the raging inferno that is the Budget, I personally think it was smart by the NRL not to schedule Cronulla against South Sydney during election season (They don’t play until Round 20/July 30), because the media would’ve absolutely cottoned on to the fact that the game is basically Scomo’s ‘beloved’ team, versus Alliteration Albanese’s team.
Still, it’s entirely possible that Morrison will call the election for May 28, because the Sharks are playing the Roosters that night at Shark Park, and that way he can go and go and campaign like a campaigner during the afternoon, watch the game in the evening while the election is being called, then he can make his speech in the Sharks locker room.
Progressive Score = 16/24 (66.67%)
All picks are underlined… unless I forget who I’ve tipped.
Gold Coast Titans (10th) vs Wests Tigers (16th) at Cbus Super Stadium, Thursday 7:05pm AEST
So we’ve got the Titans, who can only play 1 good half of footy, against the Tigers, who can’t play any form of good footy.
On that basis I’ll pick the Titans at home, and after the game, the Tigers are certainly going to Remember The Titans:
Cronulla Sharks (3rd) vs Newcastle Knights (4th) at Shark Park, Friday 6pm AEDT
Yet another Top 4 clash involving the Knights, and their last one against Penrith was up the creek the moment Mitch Barnett elbowed Chris Smith off the ball, and young Mitchell was given a judiciary verdict that could be best described as Adam Gilchrist facing Monty Panesar…
He got hit for 6.
On the other hand, the Fitzgibbon-coached Sharks smelled blood in the water against the hated Dragons, and that’s exactly how it turned out, as they tore them to shreds by 36-12 in a convincing win at Wollongong, in the worst shark attack seen in the Illawarra region for many years.
So it’s yet another tough old game to predict, given the Knights were pretty decent against the reigning premiers until the Barnett dismissal, but the Sharks are at home, so I’d better stick with them, and in the meantime, here’s some National Geographic facts about Sharks:
Hm, that’s interesting, I thought the biggest Shark that ever existed was Andrew Ettingshausen.
Penrith Panthers (1st) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (9th) at Panthers Stadium, Friday 8:05pm AEDT
The GRAND FINAL REMATCH in the appropriate prime time slot on a Friday night, and the big lead-up news is that the Bunny hunter himself Nathan Cleary is back in the Panthers team for the first time since his Clive Churchill-winning performance in the Grand Final last October, and if the Panthers managed to go 3-0 without one of the best halves in the world, then conceivably they’re about to go back into overdrive.
Meantime, after a few teething issues with Adam Reynolds now north of Tweed Heads, Souths finally got a win under Jason Demetriou, no relation to ‘Uncle Vlad’ Andrew Demetriou, and making the night all the more sweeter for the Redfern mob, it was against their rivals to the East, in one of the more boring Souths-Easts games in recent years, with no cheap shots or serious injuries to mention.
So on that note, I’ll take the Panthers again out in the Mountains, as Souths give them another big run for their money, and after the game, Tom Jones will be wheeled out of retirement to sing What’s New Pussycat…. Woah woah woah woahhhh!
New Zealand Warriors (12th) vs Brisbane Broncos (8th) at Moreton Daily Stadium, 2pm AEST
While the Broncos have to deal with angry dogs charging on to Red Hill during training in a bid to forget about the pummeling the Cowboys gave them on Sunday afternoon:
The Warriors have a simple demand for season 2023….
That is not a made-up story, it is absolute fact from their CEO Cameron George:
“For the entire season we would like to see the Warriors playing in New Zealand, but not with home ground advantage.”
“We’d play our home games at Mt Smart and then instead of playing Canberra, for example, in Canberra, you take the game to Dunedin.”
“I think there’s a very big opportunity today for the New Zealand government to try and rebuild the economy with visitation to places like Christchurch, Wellington or Dunedin.
“People are probably skeptical about travelling long distances, but it’s only a three-hour flight to get to New Zealand and then you’re straight back to Australia.”
Obviously with how completely ungrateful the NRL head office have shown themselves to be for what the Kiwis did to keep the game ticking over in 2020 and 2021, all they’ll get is an extra pre-season home game and consideration for a State of Origin game which will go to Adelaide or Melbourne.
And to be honest, between enduring earthquakes and suffering religious-based massacres, having to watch the Wests Tigers would be just one cruel act too many on the people of Christchurch.
Anyway, when it comes to this game, I’ve got no faith in either team, so I’ll go with the Broncos again and find out if the rot has well and truly set in.
Manly Sea Eagles (15th) vs Canberra Raiders (7th) at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee, Saturday 5:30pm AEDT
The 1987 Grand Final rematch in Mudgee, and it’s a near identical scenario to 2021 for Manly:
They got their first win of the season by a score of 13-12 thanks to a late field goal by DCE, and the next week they were off to Mudgee.
That time around they got Tom Trbojevic back and absolutely walloped the Titans 36-0 in the hometown of Ken Sutcliffe, truly kicking off their great revival, and if Des Hasler’s have actually gained any sort of confidence from having a 1 instead of a 0 in the wins column, despite having no idea how to play well under the new rules, then they’ll win this game and make it 2-2.
That’s not to sell the Raiders short, because dear lord, they are so hot and cold that one week they can smacked on the road, and the next week they can go down 22-0 in the 1st Half and come back to win 24-22.
Now, on that note, let’s go the Mudgee Sea Eagles, the new kids in town.
North Queensland Cowboys (2nd) vs Sydney Roosters (13th) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Saturday 6:35pm AEST
I haven’t picked one Cowboys game correctly this year, and that’s a streak I aim to continue, as the fast starting gunslingers from Katter country take on the wayward chickens from Bondi, who haven’t started the year like the recent powerhouse they’ve been over the last 5 years, and now they have to deal with the news that Trent Robinson is a positive case, which is just about the only thing positive about the Roosters through their first 3 games.
Honestly, I would not be shocked at all if the Cowboys won this game, considering the Robbo case and given how differently the teams have performed through the opening 3 rounds, but the Roosters defensive structure might just stifle the hot Cowboys attack, and they’ll be performing the Chicken Dance come 9 o’clock on Saturday evening:
Melbourne Storm (5th) vs Canterbury Bulldogs (11th) at AAMI Park, Sunday 4:05pm AEST
Josh Addo-Carr returns to Melbourne, and putting on my Meteorologist’s hat, I can report to you the weather forecast in Melbourne for Sunday afternoon will be….
Parramatta Eels (6th) vs St George Illawarra Dragons (14th) at CommBank Stadium, Sunday 6:15pm AEST
The last game of the weekend in Western Sydney, and it’s the current owners of the Melbourne Storm in Parramatta, up against the team formerly known as St George in St George-Illawarra, and what a study in contrasts last week proved to be for the long term adverseries.
The Dragons got bashed stupid by Cronulla in The Gong, and the Eels went down to Melbourne and brought down the Storm in rugby league’s answer to the realm of Mordor, as Ray Stone tore his ACL at the exact moment he scored the winning try in Golden Point.
Without a doubt, it’s one of the most heroic season-ending injuries the game has ever seen, quite possibly the best ever.
Given the Eels recorded the best win of any team this season, this is absolutely the kind of game they’ll drop cheaply, because it’s Parramatta and that’s what they’ve done every year since 1986, while the Dragons are absolutely hopeless…
So I’ll pick the Eels to win at Eel-ectric Avenue.