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Week 3 Preview
If you can pick a perfect round this week, you are in the wrong business my friend. You should be working for NASA and trying to figure out if there actually was life on mars.
Every game could go either way and it really is a tipsters nightmare. Injuries are playing their part moreso than form at the moment and look no further than tonight's game between the Bulldogs and Roosters at Aussie Stadium. The Bulldogs are in crisis mode but no team plays better when under the hammer than the Bulldogs. The Roosters are yet to prove they are the same team from the past two seasons and with five topline players on the sidelines (Wing, Cayless, Hegarty, Cross and Crocker), I think they will be hard pressed to knock over the tenacious Bulldogs but ricky Stuart can't use injuries as an excuse as he has the deepest playing roster at his disposal. Bulldogs by 10.
Two teams not expected to figure in the finals square for the first game of 'Super Saturday'. Manly travel to Toyota Park to try and break a hoodoo that stretches all the way back to 1986 and with Manly giving up 42 to the Roosters last week, the hoodoo looks set to continue. Cronulla tested the Bulldogs but came up short when it mattered most but should get the points here. However the absence of a recognised goalkicker could cost Cronulla dearly and is certain to play a part in their efforts to reach the finals after such a horrid season in 2003. Sharks by 14.
The Knights have won only one of their past eight against Parramatta at Parramatta but in 2004 the Knights are 2-0 on the road and should be too strong for a Parramatta side who bought themselves some breathing space against the Broncos last week. Parramatta will need to muscle up for the full eighty minutes against a pack that takes no prisoners and then try and deal with Andrew Johns. Parramatta can win this game but they need to rattle Johns cage and put him off his game. Can they do it, not this time unfortunately. It will be close though. Knights by 6.
Canberra travel to North Queensland and the Raiders are the best travelling team in the NRL these days and their forward power shoudl be enough to overcome the underachieving Cowboys, who at home, fail to put the visiting side away even when they are there for the taking. Canberra are still smarting after their loss to the Panthers last week and for seventy minutes, they were the better team but playing well for seventy minutes doesn't win you football games these days. Somin Woolford is out suspended and that sees Brad Drew take the hooking role while Graham Murray's men will be keen to get register their first win in 2004 and give their long suffering fans something to cheer about. Raiders by 8.
Who would have though the Warriors woudl be staring down the barrel of an 0-3 start to the premiership? Certainly not me as the Warriors have one of the best squads on paper but have started the year in first gear and dropped two very winnable matces agains opposing sides not completely on top of their game. Now they face the premiers who have an outstanding record against the Warriors on either side of the Tasman and I can't see that changing this weekend although you never really know which Warriors side willl turn up. Daniel Anderson will be feeling the pressure and if they lose, it's an extremely large mountain to climb to finish in the top four. Panthers by 12.
The Wests Tigers drew their first ever game agains the Broncos at Campbelltown and the Broncos are not the team they once were. They lack the mongrel to dominate like they used to but the Tigers are as enigmatic as ever after their last ditch loss to the Bunnies at Aussies Stadium last weekend. Tim Sheens will be pulling out all the stops to ensure the Tigers don't let season 2004 become an insurmountable task after such a promising off-season and first up victory over the Sharks. Like the Cowboys, people want to see results from the Tigers and they aren't prepared to wait forever to get them. I think they may have to wait another week however. Broncos by 4.
A repeat of the 1999 grand final but the animosity isn't there after such a controversial finish but the battle between Scott Hill and Trent Barrett should be a beauty. A very hard game to pick as both sides have no real form to speak of but the Dragons young guns stood tall in the line of fire last weekend against the Warriors while the Storm wnet down fighting to the Knights in a high scoring affair. It really is a flip of the coin game and could go to golden point. Let's just hope the officials get it right.