While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Brisbane Broncos
ANZ Stadium, Friday 7:35pm
Round 11 kicks off from ANZ Stadium with the 13th placed Bulldogs hosting the 6th placed Brisbane Broncos. A danger game for the ‘Dogs with the origin period coming up and the likeliness of losing their two best attacking players high. Their offensive record this year is not good to start with, so losing Josh Morris and Ben Barba for the rep season could make matters worse. They’ll also be desperate here after last week’s shellacking.
Speaking of shellackings, the Broncos took the Titan’s best shots last week and then dished out some punishment of their own. They can be classy on their day and also grind their way to a win. It’s anyone’s guess what they’ll offer in this match but since I’m the one trying to put words together here, I’ll guess the ‘Dogs can handle whatever comes their way on Friday night. Keep an eye on Mick Ennis sledging best mate Corey Parker for 80 beautiful minutes.
My tip: Bulldogs 18-16
The Tigers have had their troubles recently (you’re welcome), but one way to get out of the muddy, filthy, stinky and disgusting mire they find themselves in right now is to go home to Leichhardt. Another way is to name Benji Marshall at 6, as opposed to the bench. Even another way is to offer your loyal fans a ticket, sausage sandwich and drink for $25. Take a bow Tigers – good karma coming your way. Not to mention a few players back from injury.
Their opponents this Friday night are the boys from Townsville. 4 wins and 6 losses and worse than this, rumours that their most favourite son and most famous footballer, Matthew Bowen, is keen to leave. One way to find light at the end of this tunnel is to play against the team coming last but it won’t be easy. Leichhardt Oval will be heaving with fans hoping for a miracle. The Tigers side will respond with fire but their attack just does not have it in them.
My tip: North Queensland 24-12
The Saturday game at 5.30 is not a favourite of league fans and certainly not a favourite of many NRL clubs. This one is different. Kogarah’s WIN Jubilee Oval loves a Satdi arvo game and with the Dragons looking good in Wollongong last week, fans should turn up in droves. They’ll start at the Leagues club across the road – perhaps a pint at the Presidents bar and then wander over to welcome Josh Dugan to the spiritual home of the red V.
So, with the atmosphere well lubricated and the scene set, Penrith make the trip from the foot of the mountains with 2 very impressive victories behind them. A defensive win over the mighty Melbourne Storm followed by a romp through the fields of football fantasy when they put 60 on the Warriors. You wouldn’t normally have 10th v 12th on the ladder getting the juices flowing but this will be a beauty. Home ground advantage the difference here.
My tip: Dragons 23-16
Saturday night from Allianz and fingers crossed that Roosters fans will realise how good their club is this year and turn up. This match deserves more than a measly 7k crowd. With rain during the week and with Melbourne notoriously drawing small crowds, the good folk of the Eastern Suburbs may not be able to lure themselves away from some ridiculous boutique restaurant that charges $60 for a 100g scotch fillet and a sliced mushroom.
Moving on. It’s been an impressive year for the chooks and an even more impressive fortnight. After coming away from Brookvale and Townsville with 2 victories, the Roosters are now either exhausted after tackling everything that moved, or simply battle hardened. Let’s go with the latter and tip them again to win at home against the Storm whose attack is not looking good. They may not be able to dress it up in time for this one.
My tip: Roosters 18-16
A tough one for the Eagles last week. Their attack surely does miss Brett Stewart and even though Kieran Foran seems to be doing everything in is power to get them home, they just don’t seem to have the points in them. The Raiders coming to town might be good for what ails them, but more so, pride is on the line here for Manly. They’ve lost their last two matches at Brookvale and won’t want to lose another here on Saturday night.
The Raiders can test Manly from all over the park. They can put points on easily; and when you least expect it. The danger for the home side here is if they simply go through the motions of completing their sets, chasing their kicks and winning the wrestle. You have to mean it against the boys from our nation’s capital or Campese and Co will get a sniff and leave you wondering what happened. But not this week. Manly refuse to stink up the joint again.
My tip: Sea Eagles 30-12
If only a Sydney club could lose by 60 – then we’d have something to read about via the media in this damn town except for the billions of pages and air space dedicated to gambling. The advertising doesn’t really work on people anyway so why all the complaining. Moving on, the Warriors are $2.30 outsiders mid-week and with the 3.5 start, you’d hope their defence improves against a Knights team who are hot favourites.
Newcastle were impressive last Sunday against the Bulldogs and will need to weather an early onslaught from the home side before they run away with this one. Any club worth their salt will bounce back from what the Warriors delivered so we will see what the New Zealanders are made of here. Either way, tough to picture Wayne Bennett not preparing his side well enough for this. Aku Uate plays his 100th first grade game and the Knights win again.
My tip: Newcastle 26-16
An inspiring piece of scheduling brilliance from the NRL. If their promotion of the City v Country fixture in Coffs Harbour this year was not enough to capture the minds of regional NSW, this one surely will. Send the wooden-spooners from the past two years to promote the greatest game of all in beautiful Mudgee and watch the game grow. Where the hell is the sarcasm button on this damn keyboard? Wait, here it is.
Sunday afternoon footy comes to you from the jewel of New South Wales’ central west. Now famous for its fast growing popularity with wine lovers and even more famous as the home of Henry Lawson, Mudgee Can Do No Wrong here as the Eels face the Titans. A May afternoon in The Mountains will have the Titans trying to overcome losing 3 from their past 4. The Eels have also been performing like a Child in the Dark and will not be good enough here. Titans by a nose.
My tip: Gold Coast 19-18
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Sharks Stadium, Monday 7:00pm
Monday night football comes to you from the wintery wonderland that is Sharks Stadium and make sure you’re not distracted by the announcement of origin teams for this beauty. South Sydney sit atop the table as winners of 9 from 10 and the Sharks have turned a corner and won their past 3 to sit 7th. Two clubs with pride in their defensive line and a host of superstars on their team sheet, they’ll play out a ripper here.
Adam Reynolds will be tested again as the Cronulla pack picks him out as often as they can while the monsters in the middle for Souths will do the same to Todd Carney. They won’t have much left for attack and their won’t be much space for it anyway. A defensive struggle for 80 minutes with Souths pulling away late. Sam Burgess v Paul Gallen a highlight but it will be Issac Luke and Greg Inglis who are once again a cut above.
My tip: Souths 16-8