Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 16 preview: Correct weight!

By the time tonight’s Eels v Rabbitohs game kicks off, I think we’ll all be grateful that the focus is back on the field of play. Broncos schmonkos! Cameron Smith – give me a break already! Wooden spoon, get back in the drawer! Let’s talk footy.

 

I think Round 15 finally sorted out our finalists; Round 16 will confirm it. The Eels/Rabbitohs clash is the only top eight stoush this week and both will retain their ladder positions regardless of the result, the Eels in the top four and the Bunnies around seventh. If Souths can produce another effort like their first half last week, it could get interesting. But the Eels have shown that they’re made of pretty good stuff and will be a tougher opponent. I just hope they’ve recovered from their ‘lying down’ tactic of last week. Not a good look. The Eels for me.

 

The Dragons haven’t given up hope of a late surge to reach the finals but the gap of four points and a 50+ points differential suggests it just won’t happen. However, they’ll keep the dream alive when they take on the Titans on Friday night. Recent form suggests they’ll be too slick for the Gold Coast lads who, to their credit, have shown glimpses of what we might expect next year when their stocks are bolstered.

 

The Broncos almost looked good at times last week but their internal turmoil might look like a calm ocean when they meet the Roosters tomorrow night. It was 59-0 back in Round 4; something similar this time wouldn’t surprise me. The Roosters will want to hold on to fourth spot on the ladder; the Broncos will be looking for credibility. Yes and no, in that order.

 

The Warriors surprised last weekend and will joust with the Knights on Saturday afternoon. The Newcastle lads showed resolve against the Cowboys to grind out a win without being convincing. It wasn’t much of a game to watch but they did the job quite adequately. They’ll miss Blake Green but should still have enough to down the erratic Warriors.

 

I’m tipping the Sharks to beat the underperforming Cowboys who will be up against it away from home and without Jason Taumalolo. If the finals gate is still mathematically ajar, a strong win to the Sharks will see the probabilities blow out even further. A margin of over 12 in my book.

 

The big cats do battle on Saturday night and, for me, the rampaging Panthers will scratch the daylights out of the short-clawed Tigers. And by a good margin, I fear. The Tigers are so middle-of-the-lower-half-of-the-ladder while the Panthers look like they can and want to go all the way. Kikau’s ‘holiday’ might do him good as a refresher before a final surge through September and into October.

 

The prospect of a Storm v Sea Eagles clash isn’t what it used to be, at least not this season. The return of Cameron Smith makes the Melbourne side irresistible while the Manly crew remains beset by injuries. I expect that it will be a willing confrontation, for a while, before the Storm does what the Storm does best – grind their opposition into the turf.

 

Finally, the Raiders will have far too many guns for the can’t-get-off-the-bottom-of-the-table, forgotten-how-to-win Bulldogs. Josh Papalii – what a legend! The Raiders haven’t given up on a top four finish and that will be enough to keep them motivated.

 

So my tips this week are the Eels, Dragons, Roosters, Knights, Sharks, Panthers, Storm and Raiders.

 

Thursday August 27

Eels v Rabbitohs, Bankwest Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday August 28

Dragons v Titans, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 6pm

Roosters v Broncos, Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.55pm

Saturday August 29

Warriors v Knights, Scully Park, 3pm

Sharks v Cowboys, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 5.30pm

Panthers v Tigers, Panthers Stadium, 7.30pm

Sunday August 30

Storm v Sea Eagles, Sunshine Coast Stadium, 2pm

Raiders v Bulldogs, GIO Stadium, 4.05pm

 

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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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