Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 16: Top of the pile battles

 

After the hurricane of Origin II, let’s get back to the NRL this week and, let me tell you, there’s lot to salivate about in Round 16! Here’s how I see the games unfolding.

 

We kick off tonight with the Roosters hosting the Storm – what a start to the Round. Already two games out of the top four and well into the second half of the season, the Roosters have all the incentive they need in that simple fact. If that gap become three, it will be a long way back for the boys from Bondi. The Storm head the table on points differential and I’m sure coach Bellamy will be keen to maintain whatever advantage he can over his chief adversaries, the Panthers. Expect a clash of the titans – no, not those Titans, real titans.

 

I can’t believe that the Dragons are 7th in the comp with 7 wins and 8 losses! How can a top half team be in the negative? Methinks they flatter to deceive. And yet the Warriors, with 5 wins and 9 losses, are just one game out of the top eight. Go figure. The bottom line is that both have something to play for even though neither is likely to do anything more than make up the numbers come September. I’ll go with the Dragons but only because young Walsh from the Warriors is unlikely to play this week after his hamstring injury in Origin camp.

 

Tomorrow night we have the second big clash of the Round, the Panthers v the Eels. Only a brave man would bet against the mountain men and even though they have half the team backing up from Origin, I think they’ll be able to play from memory and still be too good for the Eels. But, if Parra can win this one, it would be a big boost to their credentials. I just can’t see it happening, however.

 

Come Saturday and the Bulldogs will be the next team to feel the surge of the Sea Eagles. Manly’s second half against the Titans was something to behold, especially when compared with the very modest form of the Doggies. Manly have a good draw for another month or so and will look to lurk just outside the top four as they wait for any of the big five to falter. At least Daly Cherry-Evans won’t have to wonder how to combat Tom Trbojevic this week!

 

In the late afternoon, the Raiders, the disappointment of the season, take on the Titans. Technically speaking, Canberra isn’t a write-off just yet – but they will be if they don’t win this one! The Titans have been of a slippery dip for the past month or so and it’s hard to see them arresting their slide this weekend. They just are not getting enough out of their pack which looks so good on paper. The Raisers, with more to play for, will take this one.

 

The Knights and Cowboys will also be fighting for relevance on Saturday night. The Knights have more to lose and I expect that will be enough for them to win at home. Technically, they’re only one game out of the top eight but their points differential is horrible, effectively placing them two games below the cut. The Cowboys don’t travel well but a win will see them hang on to a share of eighth spot, so there’s incentive for them, too. Neither side inspires confidence so I’ll go with the home team.

 

On Sunday, the Broncos and Sharks meet in Brisbane, 8th v 16th. And that just about sums it up. The Sharks (on 6 wins, 8 loses) have had at least a few good games this season and have had some recent form; the Broncos were beyond bad against the Rabbitohs and seem bereft of ideas. Another loss and the wooden spoon is just about theirs. I’ll go with the Sharks to put the bite on Brisbane.

 

Finally, the Tigers host the Rabbitohs in Sunday’s TV match. The Rabbitohs hardly got out of second gear to beat the Broncos. They may need to get into third to put the Tigers away but, regardless, they’ll win comfortably and hang on to their top four spot. If Reynolds can stay fit, the Rabbitohs will get to the Preliminary final yet again. Then we’ll find out what they’ve got in the locker.

 

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

 

Thursday July 1

Roosters v Storm, McDonald Jones Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday July 2

Warriors v Dragons, Central Coast Stadium, 6.00pm

Panthers v Eels, BlueBet Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday July 3

Bulldogs v Sea Eagles, Bankwest Stadium, 3.00pm

Raiders v Titans, GIO Stadium, 5.30pm

Knights v Cowboys, McDonald Jones Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday July 4

Broncos v Sharks, Suncorp Stadium, 2.00pm

Tigers v Rabbitohs, Leichhardt Oval, 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

Comments

  1. Since writing this I note that Cleary has been ruled out for several weeks. We’ll see how the Panthers cope. With Matt Burton there to fill the gap, I think it will be a case of ‘normal service will be maintained’.

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