Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons
And so it begins – the mess that is our representative season. A perfect example of scheduling flatulence kicks off round 12 with one of the great rivalries in the NRL on Friday night. The Bulldogs host the Dragons from ANZ stadium. It should have been promoted up the ying yang of all Sydney footy fans. Speaking of ying and yang, Saints try to bounce back from a fortnight of a sublime performance followed by the ridiculous.
Growing up in Bexley North, this rivalry pitched one side of my street against the other. In fact I’ll never forget Brad Mackay (not the greatest goal kicker you’ve ever seen) nailing a sideline conversion to put Saints ahead in the final seconds at Kogarah in 1990. Final score 9-8. Brilliant. Moving on, the ‘Dogs should be too strong here with a forward pack in good nick after sorting themselves out last week.
My tip: Canterbury 22-14
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newcastle Knights
Round 12 stays at Sydney Olympic Park for Saturday night footy. Geez, they must be pretty confident of the surface out there… a few days before the biggest game of the year. Either way, the Bunnies host the Knights in a battle between two quality football teams looking to bounce back from last start disappointments. South Sydney struggled in the wet at Sharks Stadium whilst the Knights were ambushed over at Mt Smart.
Rugby League, these days, is often a battle of attrition. No longer are we entertained by exciting and gifted footballers who take risks. Now, its percentage football and limiting errors. The 4 halves in this match have certainly learnt their lessons in this regard. Now, they know what it takes to play 1st grade and you’ll see Reynolds, Sutton, Mullen and Roberts fighting for control here. Adam Reynolds a cut above behind his dominant pack.
My tip: South Sydney 21-14
Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys
The entire state of Queensland must be white-knuckling their way through the week in anticipation for this one. They’ve really got nothing else to look forward to. They’ll be champing at the bit, frothing at the mouth, itching in their pants, clawing at the gates, keen as mustard and breathless with anticipation. Ladies and Gentleman, the Titans and the Cowboys from Robina for a super dose of Sunday afternoon football.
If it’s not the amazing Cowboys spine of Greenshields, Morgan, Lui and Kostjasyn that gets the juices flowing here, then it should definitely be the atmosphere at Skilled Park. It’s Queensland’s fiercest rivalry on show in front of a rabid pack of hundreds of banana benders. Confidence will be high amongst the Titans after putting 40 on Parra last week and with their halves intact, they’ll get the biscuits. Dave Taylor gets another shot at first grade in what must be his last.
My tip: Gold Coast 24-12
Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors
Brisbane have lost 3 from their past 4 matches to move outside of the top 8 and this is definitely the wrong time of year for the Broncos to be desperate, but they are. With the exception of a few dummy half runs from Justin Hodges, they’ve struggled to chew up metres with the ball and their forwards will need to resolve this before kick-off at Suncorp on Monday night. Perhaps the return of Scott Prince is just the rocket required by the home side.
And they’ll need one, too. The visiting Warriors forward pack are anything but pushovers and the likes of Josh Maguire and Alex Glenn will have their hands full. Specifically Maguire and Glenn, because they are capable of much more than we’ve seen in 2013 so far. So, if the Warriors stick to form, whatever that is, and absolutely crap themselves on the flight over to Australia, Brisbane gets home late. Prince and Glenn the standouts.
My tip: Brisbane 24-20