Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 18: Welcome to Queensland!

 

The relocation of teams to Queensland for the next month or so adds an interesting dimension to the last (and most important) third of the season. A new question emerges – how will each club survive having their full squad and officials living in close quarters for an extended period? Are there any hairline fractures or internal player friction points that might erupt and threaten a premiership push?

 

Some say that the move favours Melbourne Storm who have been there and done that for an extended period last year (when they won the premiership) and a shorter time already this year. New Zealand Warriors players will be asking, ‘What’s all the fuss about? We’ve been doing this for the past season and a half!’

 

Interesting times ahead!

 

Writing without knowing the injury/suspension fallout from Origin 3 makes predictions for Round 18 a bit of a guessing game but here goes.

 

We start tomorrow night when the Titans (11th and coming off a win) host the Eels (4th and coming off a loss) on the Gold Coast. You’d have to favour the Eels given their power forward pack and speedy back five over a talented but inconsistent Titans outfit.  I’ll take Parramatta by a comfortable margin. In the later game, Manly (5th) take on the scandal-plagued and very understrength Dragons. There can only be one winner here. The only question is the margin!

 

On Saturday, the Raiders (13th) meet the Sharks (8th). Canberra had an unexpected win last time out and may well have rediscovered their rhythm; Cronulla have been a bit up and down and just can’t seem to string a series of wins together. I’ll go with the Raiders because I think ‘Sticky’ Stuart may have found the elusive key to unlock his charges – humour! Imagine that – Ricky Stuart and humour in the same sentence – ironic. The Cowboys host the Roosters in Townsville, a difficult choice given their last results. I just cannot get enthused about the Cowboys but the Roosters have hardly been impressive. Now two games and a huge differential outside the top four, the Roosters simply cannot afford to lose. The Cowboys, theoretically equal 8th, are pretenders. The Roosters for me. Later on, the Storm play the Knights, seemingly a one way affair but we’ll see who fronts for the Storm after their heavy Origin commitment. I think they’ll still be too good. They have the depth to cover.

 

Come Sunday, the Warriors play the Panthers, again a seemingly one-sided affair. But the Origin period has not been all that kind to Penrith and, depending on the wash-up from Wednesday night, they may still be a bit sore and sorry. On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me if they quickly regain their mojo and run away with it. Bravo, Warriors, but that’s not enough, I’m afraid. The Broncos (15th and coming off a win) host the Tigers (14th and coming off a loss) in the Battle of Who Cares at Suncorp Stadium. Have the Broncos finally found something that works? Which version of the Tigers will roll up? I’ll let the heart rule and go with Brisbane. Finally, the very dangerous looking Rabbitohs will be the latest outfit to maul the Dogs. “That’s all,” she wrote.

 

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

 

Friday July 16

Titans v Eels, Cbus Super Stadium, 6.00pm

Sea Eagles v Dragons, Cbus Super Stadium, 8.05pm

Saturday July 17

Raiders v Sharks, Cbus Super Stadium, 3.00pm

Cowboys v Roosters, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 5.30pm

Storm v Knights, AAMI Park, 7.35pm

Sunday July 18

Warriors v Panthers, Suncorp Stadium, 1.50pm

Broncos v Tigers, Suncorp Stadium, 4.05pm

Rabbitohs v Bulldogs, Cbus Super Stadium, 6.15pm

 

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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