Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 13 Preview: A couple of ‘ladder defining’ clashes in store this weekend

You can never claim that life is dull in the world of rugby league! There are the hardy perennials of The Bunker’s latest blooper, Anthony Milford, overrated and overpaid players (coming after Milford, is that tautology?), scrums and forward passes. Just to spice things up this week we have revenge porn claims, Anthony Milford, Su’A getting a bum deal at the judiciary and the latest version of the coach merry-go-round. Never a dull moment, as Rod Stewart said back in 1972!

 

By my reckoning, we could be in for some good games this weekend. ‘Ladder defining games’, even. I’d prefer to see the odd upset to keep life interesting in that mid-ladder pack, after all the top 6 and bottom 6 seem be set in concrete.

 

It’s hard to see the Dragons troubling the Roosters even though the Chooks are a bit down on personnel. The Dragons have their moments but can’t go with the Bondi boys for the full 80 minutes. Most importantly, a big ‘well done’ to Mitch Aubusson on reaching the 300-game milestone. You’ve got to hand it to him, he just keeps turning up regardless of where he plays – in the back row, out in the centres or off the bench. The type of player every club loves and, in a marginally less talented era, a representative level selection.

 

The Sea Eagles v Warriors clash could be one to watch. The Manly lads have been down on personnel and off their game lately, and are vulnerable to the hit-and-miss Warriors. Expect Daly Cherry-Evans to lead from the front as Manly have to win to stay in touch with the top eight. A loss could put them a game and percentage out of reach of the finals.

 

I expect the Rabbitohs to down the Broncos in spite of the return of David Fifita to the Brisbane side. You can’t expect him to be at his rampaging best first up. Adam Reynolds will be a bit tender but Cody Walker showed a return to form last week when called on to lead the side around the park. The Bunnies are a tad unconvincing but the Broncos can’t recall how to win.

 

The Storm will blow the Bulldogs away on the Sunshine Coast. Just how good is Tino Faasuamaleaui? (The Titans must be tingling with anticipation at the prospect of having Tino, Fifita and big Herman Ese’ese on board next year!) The Bulldogs will put up a fight but class will win out in the end.

 

The Knights v Tigers game is a ‘ladder shaper’ if ever there was one. The Tigers will be cursing their loss to the Warriors last weekend and another failure this weekend will have them two games plus percentage out of the top eight and, therefore, close to gone for the season. The Knights were brave against the Storm last time out and, with home ground advantage, should do the job to stay in the better half of the ladder.

 

Saturday night’s Panthers/Raiders clash is the match of the Round. Penrith were very good last week when they simply blew Manly away with a powerful start – perhaps they’re over a bit of a July form stutter. The Raiders aren’t quite right (yet) although the recent return of John Bateman is a big plus for them. I expect the Panthers to be too strong.

 

Michael Morgan makes his long-awaited return for the Cowboys when they meet the Titans on the Gold Coast. The Cows look good on paper but haven’t been able to produce it on the paddock while the Titans seem to be building towards something approaching form. I’ll go with the home team.

 

Finally, the Sharks v Eels game should be a beauty and deserves its time slot on Sunday afternoon free-to-air TV. The Sharks are on the improve while the Eels looked ordinary last weekend, even though they hung on to win. Do that against Cronulla and they’ll come second. Given that the Eels will be without Ryan Matterson, a very good player IMHO, I’m going for the Sharks – as long as Shaun Johnson turns up!

 

So my winners this week are the Roosters, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Storm, Knights, Panthers, Titans and Sharks.

 

Thursday August 6

Dragons v Roosters, WIN Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday August 7

Sea Eagles v Warriors, Lottoland, 6pm

Rabbitohs v Broncos, ANZ Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday August 8

Storm v Bulldogs, Sunshine Coast Stadium, 3pm

Knights v Tigers, McDonald Jones Stadium, 5.30pm

Panthers v Raiders, Panthers Stadium, 7.30pm

Sunday August 9

Titans v Cowboys, CBUS Super Stadium, 2pm

Sharks v Eels, Nestrata Jubilee 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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