Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
Well Origin is over, the draw debate may live on for weeks to come, but the series is well and truly over. Which means it's time to get back to the premiership rounds. After this weekends games, only 10 rounds will be left for teams to make the top 8. So time is running out, and every game is important, so lets see how the rate this week.
This will be a closely fought battle between two of the top sides in the NRL. They both have a few players backing up from origin three, so neither team can use it as an excuse for a below par performance. The Bulldogs are chasing their twelfth win on the trot, and will be looking to remain undefeated since their first round loss to the Tigers, and are easily one of the form teams this year. The Eels will be a mystery until 20 minutes into the game, as that's when they seem to either fire or fizz. Lets hope it's fire, as this game is one of the traditional rivalries in the NRL that we still have, it'd be a shame if it was a one sided affair.
Steven Williams - Eels by 13 Ali Nolan - Bulldogs by 10 Michael Edgar - Bulldogs by 4 Ian Nelson - Eels by 8
This will be a game that could make or break either teams year. Both clubs have struggled all year, yet both clubs still find themselves within striking distance of a finals spot. A win here could see a either team gain some momentum and gain a break on the chasing pack, all be it a small break. The Eagles have played all their best football at Brookvale, and their fans have turned out to support them at their traditional home. The Storm have had a up and down year, most of their wins have been impressive, but then so have their losses. This game could go down to the wire with so much on the line for both teams as they fight to beat off the pack in the race for the last few finals spots.
Steven Williams - Eagles by 10 Ali Nolan - N. Eagles by 6 Michael Edgar - Eagles by 12 Ian Nelson - Storm by 2
St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium
This wont be the one sided Cowboy spanking many might think. The Cowboys have been very poor at times this year, getting thumped on several occasions, but they have also been brilliant at times. They almost beat the Eels, and handed out a hiding to the Dragons in their previous encounter earlier in the year. The Dragons may have turned the corner though, they beat the Warriors at Ericsson in round 15, without any of their origin players. Could this be the end of the wood the Cowboys have over the Dragons? Or will this be another Cowboys victory over the Dragons?
Steven Williams - Dragons by 40 Ali Nolan - Dragons by 8 Michael Edgar - Dragons by 26 Ian Nelson - Cowboys by 12
It's hard to see this as anything less than a training run for the Knights who will get their origin stars back for the match, all unscathed physically. The Knights are a lean mean attacking machine, they break the line more than any other club, and can tear a defensive line apart from anywhere on the field. The Rabbits on the other hand have struggled in attack all year, and their defense is much worse, they get thumped by 40 points on what seems to be a weekly basis, and it's looks as if the spoon is calling unless they can produce a huge form reversal in the closing rounds, which is highly unlikely. If the Rabbits win, I'll not only eat my hat, I'll do so without sauce.
Steven Williams - Knights by 6 Ali Nolan - Knights by 22 Michael Edgar - Knights by 32 Ian Nelson - Knights by 40
Have the Tigers turned the corner? Lets hope so, or this could be a cricket score as they face the in form Roosters. The Tigers started the season on fire, knocking off the Bulldogs and Eels in the opening two rounds, but have done very little since. That was until last round, when they toppled the Knights, minus their origin stars, but a win against a top team. They will need to carry that form into this match. The Rooster are the complete opposite, they started the year slowly with only a big win in round one, and a whole lot of injuries their only achievements. The last 8 rounds have seen a huge form reversal and change of luck, as they have played as well as they did in 2000 when they made the grand final. It'll either be a close match or a walk over, either way the rooster look the team to come away with the two points.
Steven Williams - Roosters by 16 Ali Nolan - Roosters by 4 Michael Edgar - Tigers by 8 Ian Nelson - Roosters by 22
A bottom of the table clash, and yet both clubs could still make the finals. The Panthers have had a year of mixed fortunes, all their matches bar one have been close. Many have gone against them and they have lost by a few points, some have even been on the back of poor ref decisions, others due to lapses in concentration. At one stage they even had one hand on the spoon whilst they used the other to try and calm their own fans who looked set to lynch them after countless losses. The Raiders have followed a poor year up with another one, the seem to lose games they should win, most when they are leading, and they seem to only click and fire when they have their backs against the wall, lets hope they don't have to lose their coach like the Tigers before they get their act together. Either team can win this one.
Steven Williams - Panthers by 8 Ali Nolan - Raiders by 10 Michael Edgar - Raiders by 6 Ian Nelson - Raiders by 2
The mouth waters at the prospect of this encounter, two of the biggest meanest forward packs in the world going head to head. The Warrior broke their duck against the Broncos last year, and could beat the Broncos in this game, such is their skill and form. It's a far cry from their away form last year when they would have been long odds to topple the Broncos at ANZ. The Broncos will welcome back Harrison, Devere and possibly even Webb for the match, which will take the heat off the forwards backing up from origin three. As a Broncos fan I can't wait for this match, it'll be a dead set ripper, and no matter who loses, League will be the real winner if this lives up to all the hype and it's match of the round billing.
Steven Williams - Warriors by 18 Ali Nolan - Broncos by 12 Michael Edgar - Broncos by 10 Ian Nelson - Broncos by 2