This time last year in, MAGIC ROUND……
Who can forget it – 14 players sent to the Sin Bin, and 3 players sent off in the space of 3 days, before we went back to normal.
Unless the NRL secretly told the referees to crack down on foul play again, we might not reach that number this year, but for the time being, 2022 will mark the last Magic Round in which every club is guaranteed a game at Suncorp before the Redcliffe Dolphins enter the league, meaning one poor band of suckers is going to miss out every year until the competition goes to 18 teams in the year 2092, and let’s face it, it’s either going to be the Tigers or Bulldogs who get the shaft from the NRL every year…..
Unless the NRL decide they absolutely positively pathologically hate the New Zealand Warriors and deny them a game in a city where they’ve got a huge number of Kiwi expats.
So to kick off the Magic Round picks, here’s The Lovin’ Spoonful, with a dog, asking if you believe in Magic!
Progressive Score: 49/72 (68.05%)
All picks are underlined
All game this weekend are at Suncorp Stadium, except the Bulldogs vs Knights game, which is in the 8th Layer of Hell
Canterbury Bulldogs (16th) Newcastle Knights (15th), Friday 6pm AEST
On a weekend destined for putrid weather in Brisbane, it’s great to see that the league is getting the rubbish out of the way early, with the worst game on paper in Magic Round in the worst timeslot, and on Friday the 13th, but I believe this game can be redeemed by the Knights scoring a try and promptly performing a choreographed musical number, and I think I know just the one….
“On second thought let’s not go to Suncorp, ’tis a silly place.”
Manly Sea Eagles (7th) vs Brisbane Broncos (8th) at Suncorp Stadium, Friday 8:05pm AEST
Suddenly the NRL have got themselves a guaranteed box office game on the Channel 9 Friday slot, as Manly unleashed the Three-Headed Trbojevic Hydra against Wests last Saturday to tremendous success, and the Broncos keep taking huge strides with Adam Reynolds, as shown when they did the double on Souths in their best performance of the year last Thursday, and it vaulted them into the Top 8 off the back of a winning hat-trick, with a positive for/against for the first time since Round 2.
Of course, the other facet to this is that after one game in putrid weather, the pitch is either going to be underwater, or it’ll basically be the same conditions as the Western Front circa 1917, as players try and advance the ball through knee deep mud.
I expect Kev Walters will give Patrick Carrigan a snorkel…. same with Des Hasler for Ben Trbojevic instead of his brothers.
Anyway, this would be the hardest game to pick of the weekend – Manly the home team in the away team’s stadium, and the Broncos the away team in their own stadium, which is enough to give you a headache without even putting your tip in.
But my conundrum is this – If I tip the Broncos now, they’re going to put in a lemon of a performance and lose, and if I don’t tip them, then they’ll play well, so in that sense, every Queenslander should be glad I’m tipping the Sea Eagles, because either way, it’s going to be a Heartache Tonight… on Friday night!
South Sydney Rabbitohs (9th) vs New Zealand Warriors (10th), Saturday 3pm AEST
Fancy that – Kodi Nikorima gets an immediate release from the Warriors to join Souths, and look at who just had to be playing in Magic Round.
Yep, it’s another riveting match-up between two flailing teams, as the Rabbitohs got their pants pulled down by their former Brisvegas-loving captain for the second time in two months, as the Redfern mob’s decision not to re-sign Adam Reynolds is apparently a list management botch job, and combined with the exit of Wayne Bennett, Souths have now lost as many games in 9 rounds as they did in all of 2021.
But on the other hand, the Warriors are the biggest poisoned chalice in rugby league, as shown when they put in the most putrid performance by any team this season, only putting up 10 points against a Sharks team who played with 12 men for the best part of 65 minutes, and they couldn’t even score a point when the Sharks went down to 11 for 10 minutes in the 2nd Half…
In fact, the Sharks pretty much did a reverse Mick Fanning and punched the Warriors in the mouth during those 10 minutes.
So on account of the Warriors being a posioned chalice, which means they’ll probably respond to the barbs from the Fourth Estate, I’ll see if the Rabbitohs can pick themselves off the canvas in 2022, as they go on a psychedelic journey to Brisbane with Jefferson Airplane:
Gold Coast Titans (14th) vs St George-Illawarra Dragons (11th), Saturday 5:30pm AEST
So the Dragons’ winning streak predictably ended in brutal fashion at the hands of the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne, although it shouldn’t take away from the fact that they did win 3 games in a row before having to travel to Mordor, while the Titans are still awful, to the point that Justin Holbrook has swung the magnets around on the team board to try and draw a response, as shown by putting Jayden Campbell back in the team at fullback and moving AJ Brimson back into the halves.
We’ll see in a couple of days if it gets a response from the Titans, because they bloody well need a response and they need it now if they want to have any hope of losing another Elimination Final by 1 point…..
But for the time being, here’s Marc Hunter and the rest of Dragon with this weekend’s forecast for Brisbane!
Melbourne Storm (1st) vs Penrith Panthers (2nd), Saturday 7:35pm AEST
Another chapter in the Heavyweight Lightweight Championship of the NRL, as the Storm reclaimed top spot last week thanks to Penrith faltering at home against Parramatta while Ivan Cleary put his feet up and missed the game due a knee infection, and due to the 17th century medical standards in the mountains, his leg was promptly amptutated.
On the other hand, the Storm have scored 162 points in 3 weeks, which is more than half the league has scored in 9 games, although the big blow is the loss of Ryan Papenhuyzen, which has me thinking that the Storm are going to be suffering a bad case of Deja Vu on Saturday night when you hark back to the Preliminary Final…
BECAUSE THE PINK PANTHERS OF MOUNT DRUITT ARE GOING TO ROLL THE STORM AT SUNCORP, AGAIN
Cronulla Sharks (4th) vs Canberra Raiders (12th), Sunday 1:50pm AEST
The Sharks are still in the Top 4 after their hometown heroics, but the fact remains that they haven’t beaten the Raiders since 2018, and we must remember the Raiders won back in Round 1 to extend the streak to 800 consecutive wins to the Green Machine, who won a very forgettable game against Canterbury last Friday, in which Jarrod Croker suffered a fatal shoulder injury, and we don’t know when he’ll be back.
Although, we should note that Craig Fitzgibbon didn’t get to coach in Round 1 due to a case of spicy cough, but this is well and truly a superb chance for the Sharks to extract a pound of flesh on the Raiders, and I’d be stunned if Fitz didn’t point out that the Sharks’ last visit to Suncorp was by far their worst performance of the year two weeks back against the Broncos.
So on that note, I’ve made it my vocation to run this gag into the ground, so here we go, it’s time for a SHARK ATTACK AT SUNCORP!
Sydney Roosters (6th) vs Parramatta Eels (5th), Sunday 4:05pm AEST
Against all expectations, the Eels continue to be uphill skiers in 2022, as they completed the winning double against the twin terrors of the NRL – They defeated Melbourne in Melbourne in Round 3, and apparently because their trainer distracted Nathan Cleary during a late game conversion attempt, they defeated Penrith in Penrith.
We must remember, this is the same team that was convincingly destroyed by North Queensland, and couldn’t defeat a winless Wests Tigers team, and all these performances have come under the leadership of Brad Arthur, dodging allegations of nepotism with his son playing in the halves, and Clint ‘The Wet Bandit’ Gutherson, named as such because he’s taken over from Harry and Marv:
Apparently a young kid threw a brick at Gutho’s head last week…. Actually, that had nothing to do with Home Alone, it was just the welcome to Penrith that the Eels got from the natives.
On the other end, Easts played very well against the Titans in Mackay on Saturday night, and it was a win they needed to rack up to stay in touch with the Top 4, because their run of games until the Bye in Round 17 is borderline Murderer’s Row material:
– The Eels this week, who will be in or around the Top 4
– Penrith at the SCG on a Saturday night in Round 11
– The Sharks at Shark Park, where they’re a 2 try better team and an ex-Roosters assistant in Fitzgibbon is in charge, although the Chooks haven’t lost to the Sharks since 2017
– The Raiders in Canberra during the first Origin bye round, so there’ll definitely be no Tedesco, but it’s still probably the most winnable game of the lot with the way the Faiders are going
– The Storm at the SCG on a Saturday night in Round 14, 3 days after Origin I, which could get painful, although both teams probably won’t have their first-choice fullbacks (Tedesco with Origin and Papenhuyzen is injured)
– Rematch with Parramatta in Western Sydney on a Saturday night in Round 15
– A trip out to Penrith to play the Panthers again on a Friday night in Round 16, then the Bye just before Origin III.
Any way you look at it, that’s either a run that’ll make your season, or see it hit with an atomic bomb.
To be honest, I can’t recall tipping against the Roosters this season, but as they say in the classics, there’s a first time for everything, so I’ll go for the uphill skiers in the Eels to win on a weekend in which the weather will be more suited to water skis than snow skis, so rest assured, Clint Gutherson will quite literally be, a Wet Bandit.
Anyway, what am I saying in the midst of all this crap – Here’s Eddy Grant with EEL-ectric Avenue!
Wests Tigers (13th) vs North Queensland Cowboys (3rd), Sunday 6:25pm AEST
The 2005 Grand Final rematch to end Magic Round, and with the form the Cowboys are in, I think this is what a Tigers premiership player turned Cowboys head coach in Todd Payten is going to be saying to his former team before, and after, the game: