Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 23: Friday night footy

 

Most of the action that counts in this weekend’s NRL Round 23 takes place at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night. The good people of Rockhampton and Toowoomba might choose to differ as they experience the all too rare honour of hosting top flight matches. Good luck to them – get out there and enjoy it while you can!

 

We start tonight with the Titans hosting the Storm with the latter looking to rack up their record-equalling 19th straight win. I can’t see the Titans being able to prevent them from reaching the milestone. Melbourne are selectively resting players ahead of the finals – this week it’s the turn of Hynes, Olam and Smith. That gives Paperhuysen his first run-on start for several months and the chance to continue his re-entry into the Storm pattern. The Titans haven’t beaten anyone above them all year and won’t change that this week. The Storm by plenty.

 

The Raiders v Sea Eagles clash on Friday evening should be a cruncher! A win puts the Raiders in the top eight while a loss risks missing finals action. For the Sea Eagles, only a win can keep them in top four contention while a loss will make them have to do it the hard way come September. Manly were irresistible last week – at full throttle from the opening whistle and still chasing tries to the very end to try to rack up 60 on the scoreboard. I’d like to see Canberra in the finals but I can’t see them going with Manly for the full 80 minutes but I am sure that there will be a lot of sore bodies at the end of this game.

 

That game is followed by the match of the round – Panthers v Rabbitohs. Penrith are regrouping after a short  slump when they were down on personnel. They’re still a bit short, especially with Fisher-Harris still missing, but the return of Cleary last week brought Luai back into form. The Bunnies know where the try line is and find it regularly. Their challenge will be their defence against a side which also has plenty of attacking options. Both sides are timing their finals run very well and should provide a great display of attacking footy. I’m tempted to tip a draw but I’ll go with Souths, just!

 

On Saturday afternoon, pretenders the Tigers and the flaky Sharks play in Rocky. Neither is in great shape and neither is likely to make the finals even though the winner of this game might sit on the edge of the eight. Frankly, I don’t much care about this game other than trying to get a point in the tipping competition. Against my better judgement, I’ll go with the Tigers.

 

Then the Bulldogs meet the Knights on the Gold Coast. The Knights are making a good run at the moment and should take this one out easily. If only they could get their best 17 on the paddock consistently! The Bulldogs are looking forward to the end of their season in a fortnight.

 

They are followed by the Eels v Cowboys game. The Eels will still have weeping wounds from last weekend’s nightmare against Manly but they should still do enough to hold off the Cowboys who, even with the benefit of home ground advantage, couldn’t beat the Tigers last week. The northerners are also looking forward to the end of Round 25 to have a break and take stock.

 

On Sunday, the Dragons take on the plucky (or should that be ‘lucky’ after the farcical penalty last week that got them into the top four?) Roosters. The Bondi Boys will want to hang onto fourth place and that should be enough for them to win. But I do have to say that I hope they experience a bit of karma sometime soon!

 

The Broncos v Warriors match-up completes the round and it’s a bit hard to get too excited about it. I support the Broncos and think they may have finally found a group of players to move forward next year, but they’re ill-disciplined and so are down on strength this week. Meanwhile, I admire the Warriors who somehow keep finding a way to roll up and compete. I expect they’ll do it again this weekend.

 

So my winners this week are the Storm, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Knights, Eels, Roosters and Warriors.

 

Thursday August 19

Titans v Storm, Cbus Super Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday August 20

Raiders v Sea Eagles, Suncorp Stadium, 6.00pm

Panthers v Rabbitohs, Suncorp Stadium, 8.05pm

Saturday August 21

Tigers v Sharks, Browne Park, Rockhampton, 3.00pm

Bulldogs v Knights, Cbus Super Stadium, 5.30pm

Eels v Cowboys, Cbus Super Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday August 22

Dragons v Roosters, Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba, 2.00pm

Broncos v Warriors, Suncorp Stadium, 4.05pm

 

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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