So it’s Easter time, and long gone are the days when there was no sport on Good Friday, and we had to sit around and talk to our immediate family.
Actually, it didn’t even need to be Easter for me to avoid talking to my loved ones for long periods of time.
Anyway, there’s games for me to tip, and there’s games for TikTokers to invade the pitch.
Canberra Raiders (13th) vs North Queensland Cowboys (8th) at GIO Stadium, Thursday 7:50pm AEST
In tonight’s contest we have two teams trying their best to impersonate a good footy team, but for whatever reason they routinely come up short, like Napoleon trying to grab something out of a pantry.
Actually, hang on a minute, didn’t these two play not even a month ago?
They bloody well did, and the Cowboys won 26-6, as we once again saw what happens when a club from Canberra tries to play in conditions north of 24 degrees.
They were as red as a freshly picked box of cherries.
Anyway, that game was in Townsville, and this one’s in Canberra, where it’ll be 21 in the day and about -6 in the night, so for that reason I’ll pick the Raiders at home, as Ray Charles reminds them that It’s Not Easy Being Green.
I think that’s the third different version of It’s Not Easy Being Green that I’ve used… Kermit The Frog and Frank Sinatra were the others.
South Sydney Rabbitohs (9th) vs Canterbury Bulldogs (15th) at Accor Stadium, Friday 4pm AEST
The annual Good Friday game in all but name, because with the Doggies’ recent woes, it’s been anything but Good to watch, as seen last year when the Rabbits walloped them 38-0.
Actually, I lie, Good Friday 2018 was a good game to watch.
Anyway, you don’t need to use any form of forensic science to try and pick the winner here, because the Rabbits will still be too good without Latrell Mitchell, and Josh Addo-Carr, still tryless in 2022, is going to be singing something involving a Rabbit, and that’s Eddie Rabbit, because he now realises that the Bulldogs are driving his life away:
Penrith Panthers (1st) vs Brisbane Broncos (12th) at Panthers Stadium, Friday 7:55pm AEST
The first edition of the Kurt Capewell Cup, which was formerly known as the Luke Priddis Cup during the 2000s, and the defending premiers keep playing as if they rotate on a different axis to the rest of the earth, which they probably do looking at their results since 2020, and this week’s sacrificial victims are the Broncos, who gave it a red hot crack against the Roosters and even shut them out 10-0 in the 1st Half, but ultimately Kevin Walters’ band of horses couldn’t get the 2 points as the Chooks got momentum in the 2nd Half and won.
In fact, the Broncos might struggle to get 2 points on the scoreboard with the way the Panthers are going, so you’d expect Ivan Cleary and Nathan Cleary’s team, with the fresh boost that the pair won’t be leaving via text message for another couple of years, will be taking care of business:
Manly Sea Eagles (6th) vs Gold Coast Titans (10th) at 4 Pines Park/Brookvale Oval, Saturday 5:30pm AEST
Des Hasler’s Sea Eagles looked the best they’ve looked all year with that 30-6 win in Newcastle without Tom Trbojevic, while the Titans were made to take tackling lessons from that security guard who took down that ground invader in the 2nd Half, as they lost yet another close game against Parramatta thanks to a leaky defensive line.
I felt the two games against Parramatta were a microcosm of the Justin Holbrook Titans – Their attack is more than capable of conjuring up points, but they’ll give up just as many and lose more than their fair share of close games.
So all that said they’re off to Brookvale this weekend, which for various reasons has been a very happy hunting ground for the Coasters, having won their last 3 encounters in the Northern Beaches, but right now they’re a harder team to pick than a broken nose, so I’ll stick with Manly at Brooky, and let’s stray away from the usual Eagle bullcrap and go for something different…
Neil Diamond with a tribute to the Sea Eagles’ loyal captain, who once signed for the Gold Coast then told them to piss off mid-stream!
She got the way to move me, Cherry Evans
(She got the way to groove me)
Cherry Evans, baby!
Melbourne Storm (3rd) vs Cronulla Sharks (2nd) at AAMI Park, Saturday 7:35pm AEST
As Nico Hynes and Dale Finucane return to Melbourne for the first time since their departures last year, I have to say in terms of quality, this looks like being the best Storm vs Sharks matchup since both teams were in the Top 4 back in 2018, because the Storm are the Storm, and the Sharks have won 3 consecutive games by 18+ points for the first time in 21 years.
In fact, on the subject of Easter, one of those Sharks-Storm games in 2018 was a memorable Good Friday night at Shark Park, when Matt Cecchin and Alan Shortall cracked the shits and called 33 penalties during the 80 minutes, one of which was against Cameron Smith for offside, to which Smithy gave Cecchin a bit of lip service, Cecc marched him 10 metres, Smithy kept going, so Cecc made everyone’s wet dream come true and sent Smith to the bin for the first time in his career.
Ah, one of the great moments of the modern game.
So to call a spade a shovel, this is the first proper test for the Craig Fitzgibbon coached Sharks, who have more than held their own on the defensive side of the ball, but with nothing besides home ground advantage to base myself on, I’ll take the Storm in rugby league’s Mordor.
Sydney Roosters (5th) vs New Zealand Warriors (7th) at the SCG, Sunday 2pm AEST
The Sunday afternoon clash may look a bit different on TV, for the simple reason that the Roosters and Warriors have both decided to celebrate the 2002 season, in which the Ricky Stuart-coached Easts broke a 27-year premiership drought against the Kiwis, who experienced what remains the most successful season in the club’s history, as they won the minor premiership thanks to Canterbury cooking their books so thoroughly that Gordon Ramsay was horrified, followed by that Grand Final appearance.
There was a fair band of characters in both those teams; Brad Fittler with a bandaged head, Craig Fitzgibbon won the Clive Churchill Medal, Anthony Minichello got put on a wing, Bryan Fletcher played his last game for the Roosters that night, while the great Stacey Jones scored an all-time great Grand Final try, a former Rooster in Ivan Cleary was the Warriors kicker, and Jerry Seu Seu, I see you too, Jerry Jerry.
So we’ll be seeing the Roosters in those lovely all-white uniforms, while it’s a happy coincidence for the Warriors, because Puma manufactured their uniforms back in 2002, with Vodafone still kicking on as the major sponsor after all these years.
All we need is Billy Idol to appear at the SCG on a hovercraft, and right as he’s about to perform, someone cuts the power.
On that note, I’ll go with the Roosters to do what they did 19 years and 6 months ago, and that’s defeat the Warriors.
St George-Illawarra Dragons (14th) vs Newcastle Knights (11th) at WIN Stadium, Sunday 4:05pm AEST
Do I actually have to pick something for this game?
Good lord, I want to be forgetting it’s even going ahead, not bloody talking about it.
So in what will be the Sunday free to air game on Channel 9, the Dragons have won just 2 out of 14 games since Paul Vaughan’s BBQ escapade, with ironically both of them coming against the Warriors, while the Knights have managed to fall off a cliff since Kalyn Ponga returned from injury, as they completely ignore what made them good in Rounds 1 and 2.
Fancy that, the best player on the team returns and the team gets worse… It’s almost as if something has gone wrong in the Hunter.
Anyway, the Knights cost themselves an arseload of points against Manly last Thursday, with 13 errors ruining any hope of momentum, and subsequently the Sea Eagles made them pay big time in the last 15 minutes to win 30-6, while the Dragons and their team of All-Australian Rejects were a similar tale of woe against Souths, making 17 errors in a game that was up for grabs up until deep into the 2nd Half, ultimately losing 24-12.
Quite frankly, the only team anyone at St George wants to be associated with is their NRLW team, who will be their only chance of making the finals for the next 10 years, let alone a Grand Final, which they did convincingly lose in the 2nd Half to Easts.
So with absolutely no confidence, I’ll pick the Knights in The ‘Gong, a place the Novocastrians haven’t won at since 2011, if you can believe it, and they’ll win it with Ponga delivering a cutout pass of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch:
Parramatta Eels (4th) vs Wests Tigers (16th) at CommBank Stadium, Monday 4pm AEST
The annual Easter Monday showdown between the two disappointments of the Western Suburbs, and this is yet another game that even the most simple of people could pick, because the Eels are actually playing decent footy, which they tend to do during the autumns of Brad Arthur’s reign as coach, and quite frankly with the crap on a plate the Tigers have dished up thus far in 2022, if they even get within 20 points, that should be enough to keep Madge in a job for another week.
So because I haven’t had an original thought since 1999, we’ll take the Eels and close this week’s Random Picks with the Eels Random song… Eddy Grant with Eel-ectric Avenue!
Just quietly, I reckon the Eels have long missed out on a perfect marketing opportunity – When they play their home games at Commbank Stadium, they should rename O’Connell Street to Electric Avenue, and after the game you can head down Electric Avenue to Eels Place where the Leagues Club is.
It sounded good in my head, and it sounds so stupid it’ll work in reality.