You can read Troy Dodds’ preview of Panthers v Dragons here, but here’s the rest of Round 18…
It was pointed out to me that some of my previews were getting a bit long winded …well folks…this week I’m going to do a 100 word challenge. That’s right, every preview in 100 words or less. Let’s do it!
Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
There’s life in the old dog and that horse is not ready to go out to stud yet either. Yep both the Broncos and Bulldogs showed plenty of fight in their respective round 17 matches and now face each other in what should be another ball-tearing beauty. For Brisbane, Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd will again be the key, while for the Dogs DWZ and CHN, two former Penrith boys, will be instrumental in any win they can conjure. I’m expecting a very entertaining affair as both sides like to throw the ball around like a hand grenade. TIP: BRONCOS
New Zealand Warriors v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
The Warriors are back, well almost, if they win this one they certainly will be. They showed a lot of fight against the Broncos with RTS and Kodi Nikorima both playing starring roles. Cronulla on the other hand are simply running out of star players at the wrong end of the season. They showed some real spirit against the Storm but lacked the fire power to come home with the chocolates. Former Warrior Shaun Johnson is a shadow of his former self and is finding it hard to fit in at the Sharks as their No.1 playmaker. TIP: WARRIORS
Sydney Roosters v Newcastle Knights
Is this the same Roosters side which looked unstoppable only six weeks ago? Yes but they’re not playing as ‘cocky’ as they once did. Their attack is not gelling, Cronk looks lost and their strike players all look out of sorts. The Knights are in the same boat. They look tired, frazzled and players who were killing it only a month ago are now horribly out-of-form. One side will win this encounter and it could just be the jump start they need to fire up their run towards the finals. Unless it’s a &^%$ draw. TIP: ROOSTERS
Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers
The Raiders go into this match as clear favourites after their 34-16 demolition of the Dragons last weekend. It’s hard to tell if Canberra were that good or the Dragons were that bad, maybe it was a bit of both. The Tigers weren’t diabolical against the Eels last week but they’ll need to improve their goal kicking if they are any chance of beating the Raiders. In the modern game, four points needs to turn into six more times than not. So in the cold of winter, in our nation’s capital, there can only be one winner. TIP: RAIDERS
North Queensland Cowboys v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Only one team will be ‘1 300smiles’ in Townsville after fulltime and the locals will be hoping it’s the Cowboys. It’s an even money bet following a minor resurgence from North Queensland over the last couple of weeks. The Souths pack looks less ferocious without the likes of the Burgess brothers in it, so in this department I’d have to give the edge to the Cowboys, especially with players like Taumalolo, McGuire, McLean and Cooper in it. In the halves the Bunnies are stronger while the backline cancels each other out. Only six words to go. TIP: COWBOYS
Gold Coast Titans v Melbourne Storm
Former GC coach Garth Brennan almost looked relieved after the match against the Panthers. The poor bugger knew he was gone but the silver lining was he wouldn’t have to travel to Melbourne and witness another flogging under his guidance. The Titans players try hard but they have no real shape in defence or attack and they just don’t look like a cohesive unit. I’m not sure sacking Brennan is going to make much of a difference, at least, not against the Storm who are shooting for a ninth straight victory and you know what, they’ll get it. TIP: STORM
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels
The Sea Eagles will be happy to play at home when they host the Eels on Sunday. They were unlucky to lose by a field goal against the Bunnies while the Eels slithered all over the Tigers last weekend. For Manly the return of ‘Turbo’ Trbojevic at fullback is a massive one and they missed his thrust from the back last week (what?). Parra doesn’t have a bad fullback themselves and Gutherson will be out to spoil the Sea Eagles party with some quality runs of his own. Harder to pick than a broken nose this one. TIP: SEA EAGLES
Rumours of the Week
It seems that a certain western Sydney club isn’t finished its recruitment drive for 2020 and is eyeing off a former representative prop from a neighbouring club. The asking price is high so it remains to be seen whether a deal can be done.
It seems the Bulldogs are looking around for a new hooker next season with players such as Jacob Liddle, Jayden Brailey and even Danny Levi all in the mix. Not bad for a club which supposedly had no money to spend for the 2020 season.
The drums are beating loudly that there will be even more personal changes at the Broncos at the end of the season. No one, including Darius Boyd is safe from the chopping block despite having two more years to run on his contract. There are a few nervous outside backs running around at the moment as well with plenty of clubs just waiting for the fire sale to begin. As for the all important hooking spot, well three into two just won’t go, so who won’t be there out of Jake Turpin, Andrew McCullough and James Segeyaro. My money is on McCullough.
Peter Lang is an experienced writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades.