Round 20 preview

“Ka mate Ka mate” will be the cries from our Kiwi brothers and sisters echoing out from Aussie Stadium this evening as the Kiwi's attempt their annual David and Goliath routine against the all conquering Kangaroos. Only difference is this year the Kiwi's look more like Goliath with a touch of Samson thrown in courtesy of Tony Puletua and Joe Gulavao.

I'm thinking instead of Ka mate, I'm thinking c'mon mate, smash the bloody Kiwis and send em' back to Bondi with their tail between their legs.

The Kiwis under the guidance of Aussie Daniel Anderson are a legitimate chance of denting Aussie pride with a stirring victory over their nemesis. I still think Australia will win as the Kiwi's are yet to convince me they are capable of playing past the invisible 60 minute barrier although a win for the Kiwi's would be a huge shot in the arm for the game at an international level. Blasphemy I know but I am surrounded by 100 angry ewes and I can't find my Wellies.

Back to the regular stuff now. The finals are looming and after last week only one thing has become clearer and that is Penrith are the real deal and the Broncos are in strife with their star Darren Lockyer out of action for up to eight weeks. Manly may make a game of it for sixty odd minutes but the Broncos superior firepower will ensure they notch a rare victory at home in the early Saturday treble.

Parramatta's season is on the line and Saints need this one as well. Parra have clawed their way out of the cellar and a win here will have them perilously close to the finals. Four points in fact but with a bye in hand there is reason to be optimistic about Parra making an appearance come September. Saints will be no easy beats but with Parra at home and with a home crowd to rally behind them, I think the Eels may just get home here and it could very well be a golden point thriller.

One way traffic for the next game with Melbourne up against Souths at Olympic Park. Souths last win came against Melbourne but form suggest nothing but a Storm victory. Short but sweet but there really isn't much more to say.

Sunday presents a few more challenges starting with the Bulldogs and Cowboys. Although the Cowboys probably won't win, I am not sold on the Bulldogs recent run of good form which has come against a battle weary Knights and Origin depleted Broncos and Roosters. Sure the Bulldogs are a quality side but when you look at the results, they have not beaten Canberra, Penrith, Brisbane and Newcastle on level terms and where gifted points against the Roosters and Dragons. I think they will take the Cowboys but it will be close.

The Raiders have won two on the trot and have given me heart murmurs in the process with nail biting wins against the Dragons and Tigers. They take on the Sharks who are rebuilding for next year and a victory here would surprise many but not me. I think Canberra need to put the Sharks away early in the contest to regain their confidence for what lies ahead, matches against the Roosters, Bulldogs and Knights. I will be praying to the God of good fortune but I fear my line of credit is in default after the last two weeks.

My smokey of the round is this game. The Tigers are on the way up and are playing like Penrith did at the end of last season and look where the Panthers are now. They will take more than one high profile scalp before the season is over and I think the Knights without Kennedy and a leg-weary Johns could be their next victim. The Tigers made one of the biggest comebacks in rugby league when they beat the Knights at Campbelltown last year. I think history can repeat itself here.

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo. One of the hardest games of the year to pick and with the Panthers at home against the Roosters, a side they have beaten four out of their last five times. And the Roosters, the current premiers who seem to be peaking like a thoroughbread race horse before the big race look very dangerous considering they have four players backing up from tonight's test match. I'm going against the grain here with a slim victory to the Roosters.

Writers cramp has set in after previewing a record eight matches so I will not be heard of again for the remainder of the season.


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