Lang on League: Round 5

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Troy Dodds has already previewed the big clash between the Panthers and Gold Coast on Friday night, now Peter Lang looks at the other seven NRL matches this weekend…

Brisbane Broncos v Wests Tigers
Both teams struggled to score tries in their last games with only 12 points between them, this despite having plenty of attacking arsenal in their ranks. So is this game going to be won on defence? Hell no! Brisbane leaked 36 points against the Roosters while the Tigers let in seven points in as many minutes to go down to the Panthers. Broncos coach Anthony Siebold needs to turn things around and quickly or he’ll start looking like a one-trick pony. Is there such a thing as a ‘second-year syndrome’ for a coach? If there is then Siebold has a case of it. Think I’m being harsh? Well in this comp, you’re only as good as your last game and both sides, weren’t very good in that department. I give Brisbane a slight edge in this clash however…but boy I wouldn’t bet my house on it. Tip: Brisbane by 4

North Queensland Cowboys v Melbourne Storm
The Cowboys’ chief playmaker Michael Morgan must be playing injured because he hasn’t gone close to replicating the scintillating form he displayed in 2017 while hooker Jake Granville is failing to fire from dummy half therefore giving his side no forward momentum. North Queensland just look old and tired while young guns Te Marie Martin and Jake Clifford have failed to fire a shot in anger so far this year. Meanwhile the Storm spluttered a little against the Dogs before winning their fourth game on the trot and are the only unbeaten side in the NRL. You would think the Storm are close to a loss and the Cowboys are close to a win…you would think…but you’d be wrong. Tip: Storm by 12

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Warriors
The way Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett spoke after his side’s loss against Manly last Saturday you’d think he was accusing them of being complacent, reading their own press, believing their own hype if you will. So complacency won’t be an excuse this weekend. The Warriors meanwhile were a much improved side at home against the winless Titans. They started strong and finished the same way. So can the men from New Zealand produce an upset against the ‘pride of the league’? – no chance. The Rabbitohs won’t drop this one but it may just be a lot closer than most people think. Beware Bunnies take the Warriors lightly at your own peril.  Tip: South Sydney by 8

Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles
What started as a year filled with promise is slowly turning into a season of disappointment for the Knights but it’s not too late to turn things around and if Newcastle are any hope of making the Top 8 they must win this weekend against a soaring Sea Eagles side, god I love a cliche’ …but on a serious note another loss at home for the Knights will not only put untold pressure on the team but on their coach Nathan Brown who is already being touted as the first coach to be sacked in 2019. Personally I think it will be Garth Brennan if he can’t find a win this weekend but I digress. Given the last two weeks a smart man would pick Manly to beat a disjointed and shaky Knights side…but then …I never said I was smart. Tip: Newcastle by 4

Cronulla Sharks v Sydney Roosters
A week in rugby league is a long time, the Sharks looked the goods this season until they put in a somewhat inept effort against the Eels last weekend. Or is that just being unfair to Parramatta? We’ll get a better handle on that question when we see how Cronulla bounce back against the best team in the competition at the moment. Sure having Shaun Johnson back will help but it won’t help enough. Stating the blatant obvious the Roosters are playing inspired football, most of the time without some of their biggest guns in the team. The Chooks play an up tempo game and then ask their opponents to keep up with them. I don’t think Cronulla can. So that just leaves the question, who will be out this week for the Roosters? Who cares, they’re going to win anyway. Tip: Roosters by 6

St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury Bulldogs
So Corey Norman can kick a field goal, who knew, he certainly didn’t display that attribute, along with many others we can see this year, last season for the Eels. The Dragons are a funny side, just when they look down and out and ready to get rolled they pull a rabbit out of a hat and find a way to win. The Bulldogs could have used such luck last Sunday against the Storm. They were clearly the better side for the majority of the game but a wayward sideline conversion by the normally reliable Rhyse Martin saw them fall agonisingly short of what would have been a wonderful victory. I’m not convinced St George Illawarra are Top 8 side but without Dylan Napa and Kieran Foran I don’t think Canterbury have the troops to trouble the Dragons at home. Tip: Dragons by 10

Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels
When the Eels are doing well, rugby league is too. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Well two of the more entertaining teams with the ball square up in what is shaping up to be a mouth watering encounter down in the nation’s capitol. Both teams play a fast paced style of football and both teams are coming off two great wins over their opposition last start. I’m starting to think Parramatta’s strong start to the season is no fluke while the Raiders are also back to the form which saw them make the preliminary final only two seasons ago. If the Green Machine has one weakness however it is their half Sam Williams, who while being a competent player is not really a match winner. Punters ask yourself this, if the game gets close and someone needs to step up to win it for the Raiders, will Sam be the man? Tip: Eels by 6

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