Troy Dodds has already previewed tonight’s clash between Penrith and Manly, now it’s time for Peter Lang to check out the rest of the round…
Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs
This is without a doubt the best chance the Eels will have to beat an NRL heavyweight and if they lose this one, my prediction is they won’t make the Top 8 this season. Parramatta are in free-fall following their 16-10 loss to a gritty Panthers outfit which actually played with some courage and conviction for a change. It was the Eels third loss in a row and coach Brad Arthur will want to stop the rot with a win in this match. The Bunnies will be missing all their major playmakers including Origin stars Cody Walker, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai and Cameron Murray while Parramatta will contribute…well…no one! The case for an Eels victory is a compelling one indeed. They’re playing at home, their virtually at full-strength and the Bunnies have won so many games that they’re definitely due to drop one soon. Will it be this one. I’m betting for a second week in a row it is. Tip: Eels by 8
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders
Another match were one side is decimated by Origin withdrawals and the other is barely affected. The Doggies are only missing prop Dylan Napa while the Raiders will be minus Nick Cotric, Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii. Ok so ‘decimated’ is a strong word but the Raiders will miss their trio more than the Dogs will miss Napa who hasn’t really been as affective for his new side as many thought he would be. Not that many really thought that, this whole preview is just a waste or words really, it’s like I’m coming up with crap just to fill the word-count. To put it simply, Canterbury should win and the Green Machine , who have shown some signs of ‘breaking down’ over the last few weeks, shouldn’t! That’s not how it always works in rugby league though. I have a feeling it won’t this time either. Tip: Raiders by 8
Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys
Sorry league fans but this game wouldn’t be a thrill-fest even if all the stars were available. The fact that both teams will contribute a combined total of three quality Origin players will make it even more of a snooze-fest. The Cowboys will miss their major playmaker Michael Morgan and forward leader Josh Maguire while the Titans will have their biggest metre eating forward Jai Arrow absent from their lineup. On a more positive note, Gold Coast finally showed some fight and knocked out a rather lethargic looking Sea Eagles side 36-18 last start while North Queensland continued their mid-season resurgence with a gritty 22-16 victory over the Raiders. Now if these two teams can put in a similar effort this weekend, this game may yet keep even the most ardent rugby league insomniac awake! Tip: Titans by….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
New South Wales v Queensland
It’s state against state, mate against mate…it’s hyperbole to the max as two talented teams go up against each other in three of the quickest, most brutal matches of rugby league you’re likely to see this season. It’s true that without players of the calibre of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston the Maroons are finally beatable but that doesn’t mean that relative new kids on the block DCE, Kalyn Ponga and Ben Hunt will just lie down and let NSW run roughshod over them. It’s not like the Blues team is filled with future immortals either, coach Freddy will go into the game with a number of debutants including Cody Walker and Nick Cotric. NSW will rely heavily on their forwards to trample over the top of the Maroons with Klemmer, Vaughan and “I’m going to deliver some PAYNE” Hass leading the way. Every Origin features some surprise selections and this one is no different. Queensland coach ‘Kevvie’ Walters raised more than a few eyebrows with the selection of Moses Mbye on the bench. It’s a curious choice since Mbye has hardly set the world on fire with the Tigers this season. He’ll either end up playing most of the game or get a five minute cameo at the end. For the Blues it would have to be Cameron Murray, a capable player but one of the best 17 players in NSW….I don’t think so. Still the theatre of Origin is back and before the final curtain falls in about two months time, they’ll be more shocks and surprises than you can poke a stick at! (what?) One thing is for certain, the winner of game one will be largely determined by the halfback. Queensland have picked an experienced player in Daly Cherry-Evans but one who hasn’t played in weeks due to a serious injury. NSW on the other hand have picked an out-of-sorts 21 year-old who is hardly setting the world on fire at the moment. As I finish writing this rather long-winded preview, one quote ‘Cleary’ comes to mind. Cometh the hour..cometh the man….Blues supporters will hoping that man is Nathan Cleary. Tip: NSW by 12
Rumour of the Week: Which NRL club is on the lookout for a new centre and winger not just for 2020 but possibly by June 30 THIS YEAR!
Peter Lang is an experienced writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades.