Round 4 kicked off last night with the Sydney Roosters overcoming traditional rivals South Sydney Ra...
21 hours ago
After a rip-snorting first round, we now turn our focus to the second chapter of the minor premiership, where sometimes things don't go exactly to plan? Cowboys v Bulldogs at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Friday 7.30pm
I think the Bulldogs are the team to beat this year and they looked very well drilled last week, but what on earth were they up against? An absolute rabble, that's what.
By contrast, the Cowboys got a pretty good work-over against the Broncos and although they were a bit off key in the execution stakes, they will benefit from a quality hit-out. Plus, this is their first ever Friday night game at home and they will be looking to impress.
The Doggies will be without O'Meley, travelling away from home and face a few of their former players in Thurston, Rauhihi and Norton, so I think all these factors point towards an early season boilover to the Cowboys. This will, however, be a rare exception.
Raiders v Knights at Canberra Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm
It's a bit of a lottery this one, last week the Knights were nothing short of woeful and have had their loss compounded through injuries to Adam Woolnough and Riley Brown. They lacked any sort of cohesion and were constantly at sixes and sevens in defence. I'm sure they've worked on all that throughout the week, but you can only do so much.
By contrast, Canberra has been preparing for this game for a while now. Their last trial match against the Tigers was a bit hit and miss and they do have a relatively new backline that could take some time to click. But I like the look of their forwards in comparison to the Knights and they are at Bruce Stadium during the twilight hours. I'm leaning towards the Raiders here, but it could be one of the world's ugliest games of footy.
Dragons v Storm at WIN Stadium, Saturday 7.30pm
Well, what can you say about the Dragons? Admittedly they played well in the second half and showed some resolve to fight back against an insurmountable deficit. It's just the bloodbath in the first 40 minutes that was the problem.
Looking across the line-ups, Melbourne has an incredibly dynamic backline, with Orford, Hill and Slater in scintillating touch. The Dragons have a few stars also in Cooper and Hornby but their halves are unaccustomed to one another and they have a new centre in Torrens who hasn't played a game since last year thanks to suspension.
The packs are difficult to split, but if anything Saints possibly have an edge here. Starting Sims is an interesting move, which I think has been done to try to get them off to a better start. It leaves their bench a bit lacking, but might result in them still being in the game at halftime.
But I can't see anything but a Storm victory here. The conditions at WIN won't affect the visitors as much as other teams and I think Billy Slater is going to be too hard to contain. Look for an improved effort by the Dragons though.
Broncos v Warriors at Suncorp Stadium, Saturday 8.30pm (AEDST)
This should be a good 'un. The Warriors made plenty of errors last week and disappointed many, but I don't think that will be the case this time around. I hear Price and Wiki had a few choice words to say after the loss and you won't recognise them on Saturday, 'eh bro?
The Broncos were strong against the Cowboys and look to be a much different Brisbane team than the past few years. They're spreading the ball and being a bit crafty - they certainly have players who can make things happen in the backline. Not to mention the forwards who are hulking and seem to be readily available up north. My theory is Benny has a packet of those ACME foot soldiers from the Road Runner cartoon?you just add water and bang - instant prop!
Although I'd like to see the Warriors have a great year and recapture the form displayed in 2002-03, I don't think they will this weekend. The Broncos will have a fight on their hands, but should walk away with two points.
Sea Eagles v Sharks at Brookvale Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
It's a shame the Sharks have been nobbled by the judiciary, as it was shaping as a good contest. With Kimmorley and Nutley out for Cronulla it really does hand a big advantage to Manly.
Cronulla played exceptionally well to contain Penrith last week in a game most pundits, including me, thought the Panthers would win (although I did use the caveat of "Shark Park in the Dark").
But the Sharkies weren't the only ones who performed well, with Manly beating the more favoured Warriors in a difficult assignment at Ericcson Stadium. Terry Hill showed that he's still the best sledger in the game, with his opposite number still wiping the spray off his face. Then John Hopoate reminded us all that he's still the biggest grub in the game following his verbal at a ballboy who actually did the right thing.
That aside though, it's the Sea Eagles to win at home for me, they're always tough at Brooky. Their pack will be too strong and I think the Sharks will feel a bit disrupted with the absence of two of their strike players.
Panthers v Roosters at Penrith Stadium, Sunday 3.00pm
A great match up here in what should be game of the day out west on Sunday.
Penrith will be very disappointed with their showing last week. Their pack is big enough to match it with any team and I think they underestimated Cronulla. With a great looking backline and halves pairing, again the Panthers really should take the points here.
I wasn't overly impressed with the Roosters against Souths. They didn't show a whole lot of enthusiasm and only gained the upper hand when injuries set in for the Bunnies. A lot of talk has been about the five-eighth situation and how long it will take for them to gel, but normally their pack will dominate and last week they failed to.
The Panthers will be too strong but it should be an entertaining game.
Rabbitohs v Eels at Aussie Stadium, Sunday 3.00pm
Well, Brian Smith got that new car out of the garage and gave it a nice spin. The Eels should conquer the Rabbitohs in this one too, which has me thinking. If Parra can put together a solid performance here they have two home games against Cronulla and the Panthers, which may well setup an early season roll.
You've got to admit, although they had some help from the Tige's last week, they looked good. If they succeed here against Souths, they take plenty of confidence with them and might actually shape up to be the genuine contender that they're threatening to be.
Souths on the other hand aren't doing too bad either. I thought they were very enthusiastic last week against the Roosters and if they keep putting in like that they will win more than a few games this season. But not this weekend.
The Tigers have the bye. They're looking to get Benji back on the park for the Bulldogs in round three and probably still licking their wounds as we speak. But like coach Sheen says, Marshall is not the saviour, and they first need to work their way up the middle of the field before he gets out that step of his.