Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 14: A mid-table muddle

 

 

 

 

First of all, let’s formally salute Brett Morris who announced his retirement earlier this week. One of the very best wingers of all time, Morris scored 176 tries to finish behind only Ken Irvine, Billy Slater and Steve Menzies on the all-time list. You can see his full career statistics here. Eighteen Tests, fifteen Origins and 276 NRL games for St George, Canterbury and the Sydney Roosters, plus a couple of premierships – not a bad CV! To read the NRL’s tribute to Morris click here.

 

There’s hardly time to draw breath after last night’s State of Origin clash before we’re straight into this weekend’s NRL Round 14. The fallout from last night in terms of suspensions, injuries and who is given a rest makes it a bit of a tipping lottery. Technically speaking, we’re now into the second half of the season with individual results taking on an increasingly important dimension. This weekend’s fixture offers a few significant clashes for teams in the middle of the pack.

 

The Sea Eagles v Cowboys match is one of those with lots riding on it. They are two of the seven teams currently vying for only five finals positions, so every game is a mini-final in itself. I favour Manly at home but only if at least a couple of their Origin players back up.

 

The Sharks v Panthers game may well be decided by how many of the latter’s Origin players back up just 48 hours after such a big game. That’s an unknown at the time of writing. But my gut tells me that Penrith is so well-oiled at the moment that even half of them will be enough to take this one out. The Sharks can’t be discounted after a much improved effort last time around but I can’t see them getting on top here.

 

The somewhat understrength Titans pushed the very understrength Storm last weekend but still couldn’t win. That suggests to me that they’ll find the Roosters too much this time around. Besides, a loss by the Bondi boys would leave them two games out of the top four, a situation that Trent Robinson simply will not allow.

 

The Rabbitohs usually account for teams below them quite comfortably and the Knights fall into that category. The Newcastle lads need the win to stay in touch with the top eight but seem to be dropping off the pace at the wrong time. They had a shocker against the eels on Sunday. As I’ve said before, they just have to have Pearce and Ponga on the paddock to prosper.

 

We’ll find out just how poorly the Raiders are travelling when they host the easybeat Broncos on Saturday night. It’s absolute do or die for Canberra who are already two games and differential outside of the top eight. The Broncos should persevere with a couple of their promising youngsters to get some experience into them ahead of a fresh start in 2022. Perhaps home ground advantage will be enough to see the Raiders home.

 

The Warriors host the Storm with a history of achieving the odd upset in their clashes over the years. Can I see that happening again this weekend? Frankly, no. Melbourne just has too much depth. End of story.

 

The Eels v Tigers is an interesting one. The Eels have been unconvincing of late but burst back into life last weekend while the Tigers have shown a bit of form of late. I’ll stick with the Eels who want to defend their top four status.

 

The Bulldogs and Dragons complete the Round on Monday afternoon. The Dragons, somehow, sit 6th on the ladder. That flatters them no end, IMHO. But they do have enough going for them to overcome the spluttering Dogs who have one hand on the wooden spoon at the beginning of June!

 

So my winners this weekend are the Sea Eagles, Panthers, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Eels and Dragons.

 

Friday June 11

Sea Eagles v Cowboys, Lottoland, 6.00pm

Sharks v Panthers, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday June 12

Titans v Roosters, Cbus Super Stadium, 3.00pm

Rabbitohs v Knights, Stadium Australia, 5.30pm

Raiders v Broncos, GIO Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday June 13

Warriors v Storm, Central Coast Stadium, 2.00pm

Eels v Tigers, Bankwest Stadium Stadium, 4.05pm

Monday June 14

Bulldogs v Dragons, Stadium Australia, 4.00pm

 

Venues and times are current at the time of publication but please check for late changes.

 

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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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