Almanac Rugby League – 2022 NRL Round 25 and NRLW Round 3: The final reckoning for the NRL finals.

 

 

Did anyone else get 11/11 in the NRL/NRLW tipping last weekend? Just asking.

 

Alright, let’s get this weekend’s NRL Round 25 over with and get down to serious business! We still have to sort out 4th and 8th positions otherwise it’s all pretty academic. It’s a bit more dire in the NRLW with the bottom three sides fighting for survival in their short season.

 

Round 24 of the NRL confirmed the implosion of the Broncos and the Sea Eagles and the cluelessness of the Wests Tigers. On the bright side, we also saw that the Roosters will give things a shake from outside the top four and the Raiders look to be a more legitimate finalist than the Broncos. But that last spot remains up for grabs with the Raiders in the box seat.

 

We start tonight with the battle for 4th spot between the Eels and the Storm. It’s hard to gauge the level of achievement by the Eels last week given the insipid performance of the Broncos but you’d have to say that Moses is leading his tribe towards a possible promised land. The Storm lost by only four points in a game where I thought they didn’t get much of the rub of the green. The interest in this game will be whether the Storm can impose themselves physically against an Eels side that isn’t renown for handling such situations or if it will be the flowing Eels who run through and around a Melbourne side that doesn’t always cope well with flowing attacks. With a lot on the line, I’ll go with the Storm on the basis of their greater capacity to handle the big moments.

 

Tomorrow features the Bulldogs, who have gone off the boil lately, against the sad and sorry Sea Eagles who have never recovered from the disastrous rainbow weekend. Both hope to farewell the season on a note that looks towards a brighter future next year. I don’t know why but I’m going for the Dogs.

 

Then it’s the Roosters v Rabbitohs intro to the new stadium. It’s got blockbuster written all over it! The loss of Tupou and Radley will hurt the Chooks but will Cook front for the Bunnies? Will JWH play footy or the man? Will the Roosters try to suck the Rabbitohs into a purely physical battle? Will Souths fall for it? Or will they both decide to play footy? If they do we’re in for a treat. It’s more than likely that they’ll be back to face off again next week, so does it really matter? You bet it does! I’m sticking with the Roosters to continue their good run.

 

Saturday opens with the Warriors at home to the somewhat improved Titans. The Warriors were awful last week while the Titans showed glimpses (mainly Brimson) but didn’t kill the game when they should have. Perhaps that’s because they were a man down for the last 30 minutes. It’s hometown enthusiasm v an improving visitor. I’ll go with the home side looking to please their fans in their last game of the year.

 

The Dragons host the Broncos in the early evening. The Dragons fell in last week when the Tigers lost the plot; the Broncos were just awful. The Dragons feature at least 4 ex-Broncos; Carrigan, an absolute lynchpin for Brisbane, returns. The Broncos have to win to have a chance at 8th; the Dragons, underwhelming for most of the year, need one last win to move forward constructively. I think the season will end for both sides on Saturday when the Dragons record a win.

 

The Cowboys v Panthers game has been robbed of meaning by the Panthers resting basically their whole first choice team. Understandable, but it devalues the fans who paid their hard earned in good faith to see a top-of-the-table clash. I’ll go with the Cowboys.

 

On Sunday the Sharks will destroy the Knights to secure second spot, a good reward for a strong season. The Knights will be happy to hear the final whistle. Enough said! Then the Wests Tigers will show us if they’ve learned anything from last week’s collapse while the Raiders will look to run over them to wrap up 8th spot. It might earn them only a week’s reprieve but they deserve that final spot after that horrible ending against the Dragons several weeks ago. Raiders for me.

 

So my NRL winners this week are the Storm, Bulldogs, Roosters, Warriors, Dragons, Cowboys, Sharks and Raiders.

 

The NRLW has divided itself into two halves with the Roosters, Dragons and Knights almost assured of finals places and the other three battling for survival this weekend. On Friday evening, the impressive Roosters take on the unbeaten Dragons with the former displaying better form than the latter. I’m tipping the Roosters to go back-to-back – the only question is whether or not they’ll drop a single game this season.

 

On Saturday afternoon, the Broncos and Titans meet with the winner staying alive (just) while a loss will condemn the loser to ‘also ran’ status. What a calamity that would be if the Broncos come off second best!  I think that will be enough to drive them to get closer to their best and leave the honest but slightly off-the-pace Titans to look to a rebuild for 2023.

 

On Sunday the Eels will also be looking to save their season when they meet the Knights who have been the most improved side so far this season. Boyle and Upton have added experience and a winning culture to the side and I expect the Newcastle outfit to maintain their unbeaten run.

 

So my NRLW winners for this week are the Roosters, Broncos and Knights.

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.

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