Round 9 - Fridays Preview

The game everyone has been waiting for is here. Alan Bond is taking particular interest in this match as it involves two of his kindred spirits, the Roosters and the Bulldogs. Skase would too if he was still with us but word has it Nick Leeson will have the match beamed live into his villa courtesy of Nick Politis and George Peponis.

Seriously though, this should be one hell of a match. The Premiers playing the team that should have been.

All week we have been told both sides are treating this match just like any other and they are only interested in the two competition points on offer. Yeah right! I have it on good authority that the cash registers at the Ticketek outlets will be patrolled by armed security guards, such is the lust for $$$ from both clubs.

I am predicting the Roosters to take the money here (pardon the pun) and keep the Bulldogs out of the top eight for another week. I think the contract issues at the Bulldogs are playing a major role in the teams mediocre results and even the best attempts by the Shuffleboard King (Steve Mortimer) to put it in the background will be of little solace to the Bulldogs come the final siren or hooter. Yes, it's more of a hooter than a siren at Telstra Stadium.

We move across the Tasman next where the Parramatta Eels water torture continues unabated. I expect the Warriors to inflict another heavy loss upon the Eels as their season lurches from the ridiculous to absolutely criminal. Another big defeat will see the diminishing Parramatta Eels lynch mob waiting at Sydney Airport with pitchforks and lanterns, ready to drag Brain Smith by horse back to Parramatta Stadium.

Off to Olympic Park now where the unbeaten Raiders will be sporting their brand new sponsor, Fone Zone. The mighty Raiders held out for the big $$$ and rightly so with the club now the envy of the Bulldogs and Roosters. They have the stars and are legally under the salary cap but me thinks Politis and Peponis will lobby the NRL to have the Raiders fined for fair play and shrewd management and in a fit of sheer lunacy, will ask David Gallop for a reduction in the salary cap to combat the Raiders retention and junior development policy. Shortly thereafter, a Homer Simpson like Doh! will be heard bellowing out from the Belmore area.

Canberra will be too strong for the Storm and extend their unbeaten run to eight matches with Clinton Schifcofske again the star of the night, scoring six tries and converting 13 goals for a personal tally of 50 points.

Moving right along, we visit the most consistent team in the league, the Sharks. They play Manly at Shark Park and will be looking to put their teeth back in, even though they are dentures and put the bite on Manly, who have been one of the surprises of the year. This game is a toss of a coin with the Sharks to win one sooner or later and while their form points to much later, I have a feeling they will pull out all stops to discard their consistent title and hand it to the unbeaten Raiders. Manly lost in a heartbreaker to Penrith last week and while their will be evidence of bird droppings on the field, I feel they will finish up the night as lame ducks.

We awake on Mothers Day to watch the all Queensland derby between the Broncos and the Cowboys. This should go according to the script although the Broncos have been slightly off the boil, they should have too much firepower for the improving Cowboys, who are yet to break their duck against the Broncos and are long odds of pulling off the upset this week.

Souths play the Knights at Newcastle and while this may look to be a one sided affair, I think an upset is on the cards here. Newcastle are without Johns and Souths are still competetive so don't discount the Bunnies. They have nothing to lose and another loss for the Knights would confirm the Knights are a textbook definition of a one-man band. However, no team knows how to lose a game like Souths so stay glued to the tv because in the blink of an eye, the Bunnies could throw it all away and probably will.

Last but certainly not least, the Panthers host the Dragons and with both teams playing some scintillating footy, come in spinner. Toss a coin if you are a neutral fan, sit back and enjoy the ride as both teams look to make it four on the trot. This game could be the first one decided by the dreaded golden point but with Saints missing Bailey and the Panthers welcoming back former Dragon, Ben Ross, I am leaning towards the Panthers purely on home ground advantage and the Saints can't possibly play well for four consecutive weeks can they? I hope not but a bit of slap and tickle from Coach Brown may get the boys in the right frame of mind for some footy.

So there you have it, another great weekend of lounge chair coaching is upon us and if you can tip the perfect round, well, I don't care. I'm leading the tipping comp so eat my dust!