25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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Check out the full list of NRL Teams for this weekend here.
All kickoff times are listed in AEDT (NSW & VIC time).
Round 4 kicks off from Bluetongue stadium as the Eagles take another home game away from Brookvale to service the Central Coast league loving population… and boy do they love it. Gosford on a Thursday night with a public holiday next day? Look out Troppo and look out Tigers. The Easter break starts with a bang in your match of the round and Manly will be desperate to return to the winners circle.
They had the chocolates last week at Skilled Park, only to watch them melt away in the Gold Coast sun as Jamie Lyon missed conversion after conversion and the Eagles butchered try after try. This will have them better prepared to take on a much improved Wests outfit who are winners of their last two, albeit against Penrith and Parra. Not that form lines are much to go by… but I’m going by form lines and it’s Manly by enough.
The Bulldogs’ first actual home game of 2013 and what a way to welcome their rabid collection of fans to another tilt at the title. Your Good Friday match comes from ANZ stadium and the in-form Bunnies are coming to town. A huge crowd will prove once again that traditional Sydney footy is always the NRL’s best drawcard. Speaking of drawcards, there are some big names busting out of the team sheet here.
Ben Barba makes his return along with Frank Pritchard as they join a host of superstars on either side in this monumental semi-final replay. The ‘Dogs attack has stalled at times so far this year and with too much pressure on Kris Keating to make better decisions with the ball, this will be the home’s sides undoing. Souths will punish any errors and their forwards will lead the way. Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis won’t let Souths lose this one.
The Broncos return to Suncorp Stadium for Friday night footy and what better time to go back to a familiar place. By no means have Brisbane been disgraced in their two losses but criticism will always follow a team that fails to trouble the scorers. In particular, halves Peter Wallace and Scott Prince have had their play scrutinised whilst the Leagueunlimited forums have Broncos fans calling for mass sackings.
In response, Anthony Griffin has named a relatively unchanged side. Probably a smart move considering who is on their way up to Brisbane as we speak. The Melbourne Storm. Winners of 3 straight to start the year and 11 consecutive dating back to last year. The best defence in the land; the best attack in the land; the greatest spine ever assembled; and you are all invited to my wedding with Melbourne in the spring. We are releasing doves, it’ll be lovely.
Saturday night from the Shire has Sydney’s southern suburbs represented superbly as the Sharks host the Saints. From Carlton to Caringbah to Kiama, this local derby still gets the juices flowing and the locals will be out in force. The Dragons have some well publicised problems with their attack and the stats do not disagree. They scored an average of just over 16 points per game last season and are chugging along at 11’s this year.
Don’t be fooled, the Sharks aren’t exactly lighting it up either. Their outside backs are not really try scorers by nature but Cronulla are still defensive specialists whilst the Dragons are not. This gives them the edge and home ground advantage does the rest. A tough season in store for saints fans as they kick off 2013 with 4 straight losses whilst the Sharks completely ignore any dark clouds and get another win here.
Easter Sunday kicks off from the foot of the mountains as the 2 and 1 Titans take on the Panthers from Centrebet Stadium. A big win for the Gold Coast last week after struggling for the past two seasons, they outplayed Manly for most of the game and held on to win. The Panthers, meanwhile, after experiencing similar tough times, are still searching for their identity at this early stage of the season… they better hurry.
And they will. Penrith found plenty of holes in the South Sydney defence last week and will do the same here. Luke Walsh will find some good form after his forwards get over the top of the opposition. This will be the difference as Tim Grant aims up and points himself straight towards Nate Myles – sparks will fly and so will the Panthers. Walsh a standout just in front of Greg Bird’s new haircut. You won’t miss it.
Sunday Night Football from Hunter Stadium and Newcastle are odds on. A great win over the Cowboys last week has them back in form and what better opportunity to start a winning streak than playing the Raiders. So sit back, ease into the thought that Monday is a public holiday and enjoy an evening of watching Jeremy Smith and Neville Costigan teach the Raiders forwards a thing or two about wrestling.
The Knights have been readying themselves for this style for some time now and the Brookvale glitch notwithstanding, they are getting there nicely. Ty Roberts and Jarrod Mullen have the footballing nous to mess up the visitors good and proper if not on their game. This one is about field position and the Knights make the most of their time in the red zone. Darius Boyd the standout with his forwards not far behind.
The Cowboys have been spooked. Rounds 1 and 2 had them facing last year’s grand finalists and this would have had been a great motivator. They beat the dogs and played well against the Storm. Only problem there is that Melbourne still beat them by 20. Their confidence has been shaken and going into last Monday’s match at Newcastle, this doubt showed in their performance. But fear not Cowboy fans.
North Queensland simply needs to get their mojo back and what better way to do this than crossing the Tasman. Starting the season with 3 straight losses, the Warriors look frighteningly similar to other teams coached by Matt Elliott in the past. Confused, directionless and not quite sure what they are being paid to do. Thurston and Bowen have a field day and their once heralded protégés Shaun Johnson and Kevin Locke do not.
Monday Night Football comes to you from Moore Park and what a way to round out your Easter Weekend of Rugby League. The Eels have to be careful here. If they deliver anything close to those first 40 minutes at Leichardt in round 3, they’ll be in trouble against a committed and vastly improved Roosters outfit. Any errors or lapse in concentration could easily unleash a number of weapons in the chooks arsenal.
Their left side is particularly scary. Williams, Maloney and Jennings are positively lethal. So good in fact that I am breaking my SBW rule and actually mentioning his name. I feel dirty. Parra give it everything they have as per instructions from Ricky Stuart but still don’t have the numbers to win this one. Chris Sandow is improving and cohesion is building, but James Maloney has the Roosters at a different level in 2013.