Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 19: ‘How can I be sure?’

Let’s start with the easy bit. It was pretty easy to sort out the winners from last weekend. Firstly there was Belinda Sharpe, the first female to referee an NRL match in its 111 year history. I’ve been a fan of hers for a few years and was thrilled that she finally got the chance to show her abilities on the main stage. She had an absolute blinder! I think I paid as much attention to her as I did to the game itself.  She’s been widely praised for her efforts last Thursday night, so it’s not just my bias. Obviously the hierarchy thought she did well too as she has been appointed to Saturday night’s Titans v Broncos game. Her colleague Kasey Badger will run the line for the Knights v Wests Tigers game on Friday. Let’s hope she gets a go in the middle soon.

 

The other big winners were the Trbojevic brothers, Luke and Tom, who starred in the Sea Eagles’ win over the Eels on Sunday. No doubt the cheques being waved in front of them just keep getting bigger. And rightly so – they are both rare talents! Their coach, Des Hasler, has kept out of the spotlight pretty well, deflecting attention away from Manly’s steady progress to be contenders. He deserves a moment in the spotlight, too.

 

After that, I’m not too sure about anything. Back in 1967 when I was a 14-year-old schoolboy who was more interested in the Top 40 than Maths or Science, The Young Rascals had a hit with a song called “How can I be sure?’ That’s about how I’m feeling this week. Just when I thought that the 2019 finalists would be all sorted out by the end of July, along come a couple weeks of mixed results and the whole lot its back in the melting pot. How can a fellow be sure of anything? About the closest I can get is that I’m pretty sure that Melbourne Storm will be minor premiers but I still don’t think they’ll be premiers come October 6.

 

I thought the Sharks were certainties for the top eight. All of a sudden, they’re playing for their season every week from here on in! Their opponents this week, the Cowboys, are in the same boat, but then they have been there for the last month and seem to be coming good at the right time.  At least one of these two will sign out this weekend.

 

Before the season started, I didn’t give the Knights any time of the day but here they are clinging on to 8th position. They play Wests Tigers who have lived down to my expectations but, who knows, they just might rise to the occasion for Robbie Farah’s 300th game. I’m not sure.

 

I’m was pretty sure that the Rabbitohs will beat the Dragons but then I read that Gareth Widdop will be back for the latter and suddenly I’m ambivalent. Yet the South Sydney lads just keep winning, often in ugly fashion – which is how the St George boys have been going lately. It’s not likely to be pretty at ANZ Stadium.

 

I’d normally back the Eels, at home, to beat the will-they-or-won’t-they-turn-up Warriors, and the Eels should win on the law of averages. But they were awful last weekend while the Warriors (admittedly at home) beat Cronulla. A loss this weekend is likely to be the end of the season for the NZ-based lads, so maybe they’ll turn up two weeks in a row.

 

The Broncos should beat the terrible Titans but strange things have happened between these two teams in the past. It will be either the Broncos by heaps or the Titans by <4. I’d almost feel safer trying to name the next Titans coach than pick this one. If they lose, it will also be ‘bye bye Broncos’ for 2019. Surely that will be enough incentive.

 

The Bulldogs have been competitive in the last month but you can’t see them toppling the Roosters, the premiership favourites. I’m pretty sure of that.

 

The best two games of the weekend will be Storm v Sea Eagles and  Panthers v Raiders. I mentioned Manly earlier and they just might be the competition smokey but they’re a win and percentage out of the top four – a big task from there. But they’ll give the Storm a very tough time on Saturday night as they try to hang on to the possibility of a top four finish. The Storm keep winning but they aren’t really convincing. The best things in their favour are Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith – and you have to brave to bet against that duo!

 

The Panthers did a job on the Dragons last week and are a real force at home. Ricky Stuart has the Raiders sailing along pretty well, even chalking up wins away. So this could be a beauty and I’m sure I don’t know who will win. The Raiders will want to hold on to fourth spot while the Panthers, who have a poor points differential, need to keep winning to consolidate their top eight position.

 

So, given that I haven’t got much of a clue about just where things are at presently, my picks for the Round are the Sharks, Knights, Rabbitohs, Eels, Broncos, Sea Eagles (!), Roosters and Raiders.

 


 

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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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