Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 12 Preview: Mid-table blancmange

Distractions seem to be a good way to keep our eyes and thoughts away from the challenges the code is going through at the moment. Each one of us can name a litany of ‘issues’ that have beset the game – on the field it’s the scrum, the plethora of forward passes, the Bunker, the lack of depth in the ranks of the referees, etc. Off the field it’s player managers, mid-season rule changes, corporatisation on steroids, broadcast deals, etc. But we don’t hear a lot about these.

 

Instead, we’re fed the David Fifita saga, who earns how much and are they worth it, 16-year-old wunderkinds, the possible return of SBW and whether or not he’ll fight Barry Hall. What crap! I can tell you this much – I had a week away from the footy last weekend and didn’t really miss it much all that much! The Melbourne Storm are playing 40 minutes down the road on Sunday afternoon but I couldn’t be bothered going even though I greatly admire the men from Melbourne.

 

I’m more interested in whether or not this week’s Indigenous Round 12 will see that fuzzy mid-table blancmange firm into something more solid. We might get an early indication after tonight’s Dragons v Rabbitohs clash. The Dragons have to win to stay in touch with the top eight; a loss will put them at least two games adrift, assuming a Wests Tigers win over the Warriors tomorrow evening. The Rabbitohs, meanwhile, will be looking to create a gap between themselves and those below them for safety as well as to stay in finals contention. A loss simply retains the blancmange. The Bunnies for me and the Tigers to confirm the split tomorrow.

 

Can anyone see the Broncos troubling the Sharks? After a solid first half last week, the Brisbane team fell apart and now, with several further injuries, they look even weaker. The Sharks are lurking and will dine out on Friday night.

 

The Roosters are below form at the moment but that will still be more than enough to account for the Titans on Saturday afternoon. The Titans are building – next year! The Cowboys have lost Josh McGuire to suspension and, with him, any hope of coping with the Raiders who are ‘on the up’. The Raiders have named Corey Harawira-Naera on the bench, a very useful addition to their squad, although some will continue to question his indiscretions off the field.

 

The highlight match of the Round is Saturday night’s Sea Eagles v Panthers game at Brookie. The Panthers were off their game last week (but still good enough to win) and a repeat effort against a dangerous Manly could cost them top spot on the ladder. Expect an exciting, full-on encounter. A pity it’s not in the Friday night or Sunday afternoon free-to-air slot. I’ll be brave and tip an upset with the home team to be in front at the end.

 

On Sunday, the stirring Bulldogs run into the pace-setting Parramatta Eels. I think it will be similar to Parra’s last match – the Dogs will go with them for 40-50 minutes but then the Eels will slip away – too skilful, too fast, too slick across the park. Finally, Melbourne Storm should overcome the Knights on the Sunshine Coast. The Knights will be brave and honest but the Storm is an impressive machine.

 

So my winners this week are the Rabbitohs, Tigers, Sharks, Roosters, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Eels and Storm.

 

Thursday July 23

Dragons v Rabbitohs, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday July 24

Tigers v Warriors, Sydney Cricket Ground, 6pm

Broncos v Sharks, Suncorp Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday July 25

Roosters v Titans, Sydney Cricket Ground, 3pm

Cowboys v Raiders, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 5.30pm

Sea Eagles v Panthers, Lottoland, 7.30pm

Sunday July 26

Bulldogs v Eels, ANZ Stadium, 2pm

Storm v Knights, Sunshine Coast Stadium, 4.05pm

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

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