Paul previews all the action ahead of Round 8 of the 2013 NRL Premiership.
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The Craig Coleman era, the Paul Langmack era and to a lesser extent, the ‘book of feuds’ era; Well, this sketchy and unsuccessful past is now consigned to the part of your brain that also holds memories of bad relationships, embarrassing late night antics and that time you peed your pants in kindergarten – they never happened. Why? The South Sydney Football club was referred to as the ‘benchmark’ this week by their foes on Friday night, the mighty Brisbane Broncos.
Amazing. This is more than just swings and roundabouts, my friends, this is officially the resurgence of the game’s most famous club and it’s most successful club. That said, history will mean nothing to the Broncos on Friday night as they aim to protect home turf and win their 4th straight. Discipline will be the key here. They didn’t show much of it against the Tigers last week and anything similar this week will have them defending their line for 80 minutes.
My tip: South Sydney 18-16
It has been a long, long time since the Bulldogs were $1.17 favourites in a match like this but seems fair enough considering they are playing against a team of shopkeepers from Leichardt Market Town. The ‘Dogs notched up their second win of the season last week so confidence may be high, but it’s their enthusiasm in the opening exchanges that will be tested here. Friday night, under lights at ANZ Stadium against a team with nothing to lose.
So, with the Tigers website overloaded with traffic this week, let’s dispense with the introductions to some of Campbelltown’s finest and simply say that these kids will have to be broken in a bit quicker than expected. Curtis Sironen and Jacob Miller have what it takes to play 1st grade, certainly, but it’s the much improved Trent Hodkinson who will be the difference in this one. As always, Mick Ennis v Robbie Farah a highlight.
My tip: Bulldogs 22-12
A beauty from AAMI Park in Melbourne to kick off your Saturday night as the Storm host the Raiders. The story here must be Terry Campese. Two games back and he was in everything last week. Kicking well, tackling well. Under the skin of the opposition. Picking fights. Sledging Matt Scott. Canberra gave it a huge crack against the Cowboys and even though they came up short when the pressure was applied, this inspired attitude came from Campese.
So, with a big step in the right direction for the Green Machine, they now face the undefeated league leaders in a match where they are huge underdogs. Canberra put on a show last time they visited the Victorians but Bellamy and his boys will have revenge on their minds and the Raiders could suffer for it. Fingers crossed Campese has his mouth running and his game backs it up. He’ll do his best to inspire but there is simply no way past the Storm right now.
My tip: Melbourne 24-6
What an entertaining bunch these Parramatta Eels have become. Making the headlines each week for one reason or another, they seem to be a hot topic of discussion whether they win or lose. A Ricky Stuart trait. Well, coach Stuart did warn us that it could get a lot worse before it got better and by gum, he was right. Last Monday night’s performance heralded Stuart’s career as a psychic and the Eels future as bleak.
This Saturday night at Parramatta Stadium, Eels fans have another chance to either voice their displeasure, or get behind a team of misfits. Fingers crossed for the latter because Jonathan Thurston and his all-star forward pack are coming to town. The Cowboys are also capable of some bad performances, but this won’t be one of them. Parra’s 3 debutants would do well to avoid the likes of Sims, Scott and Tamou. Good luck.
My tip: North Queensland 32-18
Since the departure of Preston Campbell, the Titans seem to be missing a certain quality. Campbell was the inspirational and cultural leader of the football team. Watching them last week, one couldn’t help but think they are now in desperate need of leadership and inspiration. Nate Myles and Greg Bird should be taking the mantle from Luke Bailey. But they aren't. Injuries to Ash Harrison and others don't help, but they just don't seem inspired.
This could eventually spell disaster for any club, especially when you are about to cross the Tasman to face a slowly improving Warriors team sitting on the bottom of the table and on a 3 match losing streak. They’ll be desperate. The Titans will bring their predictable brand to Mt Smart Stadium to kick off your Sunday triple header, but it may not be enough. Shaun Johnson and Kevin Locke find some possession and find some hope.
My tip: Warriors 23-22
Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Hunter Stadium, Sunday 2:00pm - live updates click here!
The Knights looked every bit a Wayne Bennet coached football team last week. They took the home side’s best shots early – completed their sets – limited their errors – bored the crap out of us for 50 minutes and then ran away with the game when the opposition was completely broken down. The Sharks, by contrast, blew their best shots early and never recovered. Todd Carney set up a bunch of tries but the likes of Pomeroy, Stapleton, Ryan and Wright simply don’t have it.
Their forwards continue to plug away but everything else revolves around the grind. Not good enough these days and not good enough to beat the Knights at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon. They’ll no doubt be more cohesive with Carney after last week and bring a better performance to such a big game, but in the end, won’t have enough points to cover the home side. Newcastle finishes on top and beat Cronulla for the 6th straight time.
My tip: Newcastle 22-14
An inspired performance by the Panthers last Monday night may have shocked some onlookers but would have definitely made the people of Penrith a happy bunch. Me? It made me vomit in my mouth a little bit about how bad the Eels could actually play. But we digress. The Panthers have not lost any of their pride in a season where they’ve had a 5 match losing streak and about as many halves combinations over that time.
Stand by, Penrith fans; they may lose a little bit of that pride on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. The Roosters are 3rd on the ladder but more importantly are playing a very scary style of football. They aim up in defence and are not scared to take risks in attack with coach Trent Robinson seemingly imploring his superstars to do what they do best. The end result is a forward pack not afraid to throw it around and a back-line reaping the rewards.
My tip: Roosters 30-12
St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, Monday 7:00pm - live updates click here!
Round 8 of the season comes to a close with Monday Night Football from Kogarah. WIN Jubilee Oval turns its lights on for the first time this year as the Dragons host the Sea Eagles and this one will start with a bang. The Eagles will be seething from their loss at home to the Bunnies last week and even without the explosiveness of Steve Matai to set the tone, Manly won’t be gun shy and won’t be keen to lose two in a row.
They won’t. The Dragons might be refreshed from a 10 day break between games but they’ll need more than that to bust through the visitors’ league leading defence and when they can’t, it will be curtains. Jamie Lyon v Matt Cooper will be a highlight but the middle of the field is where the visitors will do some damage. Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart the standouts as the Eagles flex their muscle and get back to the winners circle.
My tip: Manly 20-12Like