Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
It?s round 15, we are starting to get into the business end of the season, the time when teams have to put up or shut up. Origin III is coming up, so all teams this week will be without their origin players, and to make things all that more interesting, those most effected ( except the Broncos who have the Bye ) line up against top sides who are almost unaffected by Origin.
Lets run through the games and see how they stack up.
Well this game will be some what interesting, last time these two teams met this year, the Roosters dominated the Eels and never let them into the game, and that was when both teams were at full strength. The Eels will be without Nathan Hindmarsh, Jason Moodie, Brent Hodgson and Michael Vella, and even if they had those players, only a form reversal would see the Eels win. The Roosters on the other hand, after a slow start to the year, and some serious injuries are looking like serious title contenders and playing great footy. It?s hard to go past the Roosters, which means two things. The Eels need to take chicken tonight off their menu and run cause the Roosters are liking the sound of smoked Eel.
Michael Edgar ? Roosters by 12 Steven Williams ? Easts by 2 Ali Nolan ? Eels by 1 Ian Nelson ? Roosters by 16
The Bunnies should form as certain spoon favorites after this game, on paper the Storm will skin them. The Bunnies have played some shocking games this year, and their form warrants the spoon, instead of playing to their strengths with the forwards, they seem more interested in a flashy style of play. This will be a huge mistake against the Storm who have a mean mother of a pack of forwards. Not only that the Storm can mix it with any team in terms of flair on their day, unfortunately for the Storm though, their day hasn?t come once all year. All that aside, the Storm should be on them like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat. This is the Storms last chance to turn the year around and push for the top 8, if they don?t take it, Storm fans have every right to drag them out back and beat them.
Michael Edgar ? Storm by 18 Steven Williams ? Souths by 6 Ali Nolan ? Storm by 6 Ian Nelson ? Storm by 30
Canterbury Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders at Sydney Showground?s
This will be one of the matches of the round, Bulldogs are in fine form, sitting a top the NRL Ladder. Sherwin is on fire, playing well above some other halves higher reputations. Young Braith Anasta is the key for the Doggies here, he has had a quiet year to date, not having to do much because of Sherwin, Norton, Smith and Price all playing so well, leaving him to inject himself when ever he desires. With the last three of those players on rep duty, Anasta will need to fire, come out all guns blazing and playing to his ability, otherwise the Doggies could struggle minus three of their four form players this year. The loss of those three players could also be the sniff the Raiders needed, like the Warriors did last year against the Broncos when Tallis was ruled out, The Raiders could use this to build some confidence in themselves and a belief they can win this game, lets hope so, cause they have the ability to win this game if they?re in the right frame of mind.
Michael Edgar ? Raiders by 8 Steven Williams ? Bulldogs by 24 Ali Nolan ? Bulldogs by 20 Ian Nelson ? Raiders by 6
North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks at Dairy Farmers Stadium
Have the Sharks turned the corner, and found some form. After 2 wins on the trot the Sharks will be looking to build some sort of form, and with players like Stevens back they could build up to it. The big factor is Peachey, will he play or wont he, will he be on rep duty. The Sharks will be hoping he plays against the Cowboys, their record without him is far from one to brag about. Even if Peachey is running on 90%, which it looks as if he is, he is still the most valuable player in the Sharks ranks. The Cowboys got flogged by the Broncos in round 14, and after making a promise to their fans that it would never happen again earlier in the year, they?ll be some what angry with their performance, and out to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Cowboys fans. All goes to plan, and this?ll be one hell of a game, if it doesn?t, one team is getting flogged, and it could be either one.
Michael Edgar ? Cowboys by 4 Steven Williams ? Cowboys by 16 Ali Nolan ? Sharks by 2 Ian Nelson ? Cowboys by 10
New Zealand Warriors v St George Illawarra Dragons and Ericsson Stadium
Some body doesn?t like the Dragons, not only are they with out Willie Peters due to injury, they minus Barrett, Ryles and Bailey who are on rep duty. What could be worse than having both your front rowers out against one of the meanest pack of forwards in comp, they have to travel to Ericsson as well whilst being in very poor form. The Warriors on the other hand could be looking any better, they have very few injuries, and every member of the team is in fine form. They are bashing opponents with their tough forwards and dazzling them with their flashy backs. The Dragons could be in for a really long night, I don?t even think the Warriors bible brigade will need to ask the big fella up stairs for any help in this game. I just hope the Auckland Hospital has some spare beds ready in the ICU wing.
This will be a close game. The Panthers are a bit of a mystery of late, they have gone from losing games by a few points, some to bad ref decisions, to winning a few by similar margins and by similar means. At times they have been brilliant, but have also been spoon material at times. So which Panthers team will turn up for this game? The brilliant one, or the ordinary one? The Eagles will be hoping it?s the latter, as their away from home form has been some what ordinary this year to date. The Eagles will be without inspirational skipper Steve Menzies who is rep duty, who despite playing in a well beaten side in round 14, still played like a champion and will be missed in this match. If the Panthers brilliant side manage to show up for this game they should win it quite comfortably, if the other side shows up, the ordinary one, it?ll be a close game.
Six weeks ago, every man, his wife, girlfriend, mistress, and dog would have been putting money on the Tigers at home to beat the Knights without Johns, Tahu, O?Davis, Kennedy, Simpson, Gidley and MacDougall. The last two rounds have shown though, that six rounds is a long time in the world of rugby league. In that time they have lost to and ordinary Panthers and the Broncos minus 16 regular first graders and several players that were inline to replace them. In a word the Tigers form has been nothing but ?Shocking?. The Knights however have been playing great, with a few slip ups along the way, and a tough encounter with the Broncos at ANZ. Even without a lot of their players they should win this game, even the Johns hang over they have when he?s not playing shouldn?t stop them from beating the Tigers.