TRANS-TASMAN PREVIEWS | We've got a look over and made our picks for the opening night of the rep ro...
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An improved performance last week from our intrepid previewer - four from eight and some pretty accurate margins to boot. Can Paul back up his claims in week three?
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Check out the Round 3 NRL Teamlists HERE.
Below, Paul runs the rule over Round 3, which kicks off at ANZ Stadium on Friday night:
What a pity we don't get to enjoy this match with the added bonus of something like, say, atmosphere. Plenty written this week about where teams should play and plenty of offal from the talking heads of rugby league about what's best for clubs regarding big grounds v small grounds. Unfortunately for all footy fans, we won't get to see the Tigers and the Bunnies from Leichhardt but here's an idea, perhaps these clubs play in the area they are named after?
Speaking of crazy ideas, the Tigers are a chance here. Last week, we witnessed the coming out party of Luke Brooks and James Tedesco. They were downright dangerous and eviscerated the Titans on the road last week. Robbie Farah must have had a ball watching them share the load. This week....they face the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs as very heavy outsiders but if they can bust the bunnies open early, anything is possible. Possibly.
Who do the Broncos know at Rugby league headquarters to get this kind of preferential treatment? Who did they grease up to get another Friday game at home in prime time? Why are they part owned by the same media company that paid for the TV rights to the game? And while you're ignoring silly questions, ignore this one, why in the blue hell is the one they call ‘Hadley' still invading my lounge room on a Friday night?
An absolute belter comes to you as round 3 kicks into gear with the premiers travelling north to the unholy lands to face the undefeated Broncos. The Roosters found their step last week, putting 50 on the Eels whilst the home side somehow managed to beat JT and the Cowboys. All signs point to a couple of very confident teams happy to throw the ball around and defend like they mean it. Once the Chooks get over the advantage line though, they'll be too hot to handle.
Saturday afternoon from the foot of the mountains as the mighty Panthers host the ‘Dogs and this one could be special. Penrith gave everything they had in Melbourne last Saturday night and with any luck, or any attention paid to the ruck tactics of Cameron Smith in the last 10 minutes - they would have walked away with two points. But we don't hold grudges in rugby league, especially against Queenslanders.
Moving on, Penrith have clicked over into the elite. They play a rampaging style that does not stop for 80 minutes and they'll be too much for the visitors here. Canterbury will travel west with a spring in their step after dropping 40 points on the Engadine Dragons but this confidence will be short lived. They have the firepower but their cohesion in attack won't be fluid enough to trouble the Panthers when the game is on the line. Matt Moylan the standout.
Put your hand up if you're also 0-2 tipping Dragons games. Just me again? Great. Saints have found a way. Last year, they chewed up and spat out enough temporary halves to make any recruit think twice about signing with the famous red v. Now, somehow, this is where they shine the brightest. Gareth Widdop seems to have broken free from the creative shackles put upon him in Melbourne to become downright flashy.
This week, we get a taste of rivalry round a little early and it tastes like fish. The Sharks are in trouble. They've scored 3 tries in two games this year and two of them were lucky. In fact, their attack seems to have inherited the Dragons woes from 2013 and we all hope, for Rugby League's short term future in the Shire, that things turn around soon. This Saturday night, Todd Carney has been named again but either way the visitors keep their roll going.
Saturday night from a wet and steamy Townsville sees the struggling Warriors travel across the globe to North Queensland. It certainly is a long trip to make and if these pilgrims aren't ready for a fight, they'll be in trouble. New Zealand are winless and according to their coach, somewhat gutless. Matt Elliott has taken a shot at his players mid-week and we assume it's a challenge he hopes will ignite them.
Unfortunately for Elliott, he has the likes of Dane Nielsen, Jerome Ropati and Chad Townsend sitting in front of him, looking for inspiration. These are not names that will trouble the home side but there are even bigger problems facing the Warriors. Have a geez at the Cowboys back row, would you? If they are close to their best, this is an all-world forward pack that could absolutely tear shreds of anyone in the NRL. Sit tight, NZ fans and try a whisky before kick-off.
Take note, rugby league critics. This is the kind of fixture footy fans love; Two traditional Sydney clubs on a Sunday afternoon with kick off set for 3pm at a suburban ground that is about to be upgraded for political reasons. Aaah… the tradition. Manly v Parra at Brookvale Oval and we just can't wait for this one. Pity these two teams are headed in opposite directions right now with Manly coming off a brilliant win and Parra having given up 50, but it won't matter.
Keep an eye on Will Hopoate as he faces up to former mentor, Jamie Lyon and while you're at it, let's keep an eye on Parra and see what they're made of. Has Brad Arthur changed anything? Has Jarryd Hayne assumed the leadership role he's been groomed for and inspired his teammates at training mid-week? Eels fans hope for a resounding yes because if not, the Sea Eagles could do some serious damage to an already fragile blue and gold psyche.
Sunday night from the nation's capital and I couldn't be more excited. The Raiders have been tremendous in both starts so far this year, especially in attack, which is unlike the Ricky Stuart coached teams we've seen in the past. The young, fresh legs of Jack Wighton and Anthony Milford have sparked some of the older, more jaded footballers wearing lime green into action. This week, they begin their home season against the visiting Titans.
The Gold Coast were quite the farce last week but judging by the experience in their roster, they'll be ready to turn things around here and will start with plenty of fury. But it won't sustain them for 80 minutes. Terry Campese finds his legs and the Raiders find some more holes in the visitors defence. Milford again the destroyer. Keep an eye on Nate Myles v Brett White in the middle of GIO Stadium, things could get physical.
So it's time to lay off the Knights, I guess. Superstars dropping like flies and their once heralded powerhouse forward pack now going down without so much as a chicken wing or a prowler. But perhaps they weren't heralded, perhaps it was only this ‘column' that said they were the toughest forward pack in the league? Perhaps it was said last week? Well, pity they don't keep any records on the Leagueunlimited website so no point checking. No point at all.
The Storm will enjoy the 9 day turnaround and be ready for anything Wayne Bennett can throw at them here. In fact, we wonder what these two coaches will throw at each other, now that the wrestle seems to be moving towards the obsolete. Bellamy and Bennett have spent plenty of years finding loopholes in the rules so you should keep an eye on Monday night football for something creative and slightly dubious. Melbourne outlasts a brave Newcastle squad.