Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 3: The big boys to throw their weight around

I suppose the best I can hope for is that you didn’t take too much notice of my tips for Round 2 – just 4/8 – and only one result that could have been regarded as a minor ‘upset’, the Dragons’ win over the Cowboys.

 

Here’s what I took out of the weekend’s matches: the Storm will continue to be vulnerable until they can sort out their right side defence. Everyone knows it. Also, they miss C Smith to ice games and so, if you’re still with them after 70 minutes, you’re now an even chance of taking them out. But what a cracker of a match in atrocious conditions! Liam reminded me that Sivo’s winning try was similar to Steve Gearin’s match winner in the 1980 Grand Final. The Eels showed plenty of spirit and were deserved winners.

 

The Knights also showed character to come back at the end to edge the Warriors. I’ll keep an open mind about the Knights for now but I remain a fan of the lads from across the way. The Broncos were rudderless again when it counted, but at least they did play for 80 minutes. One step at a time? I agree with Peter Badel’s comment in The Courier Mail on Monday – Fifita will get the headlines but Fa’asuamaleaui is the key to the Titans’ forward pack which is developing a certain menace. The Panthers marched on, as expected, and the Dogs showed more than last week but were still a long way short.

 

The Rabbitohs didn’t have it all their own way against Manly but, at the risk of repeating myself, the latter will struggle to win without ‘Turbo’ Tom. Good luck to the Dragons who held firm against a wasteful Cowboys outfit. Can they make it two in a row against the Sea Eagles this week? The Roosters got wet only because it rained during their game against the toothless Tigers. They didn’t have to raise a sweat otherwise.  The Raiders were unconvincing against the Sharks but the latter still couldn’t pinch the points. What does that tell us?

 

On to this weekend and we have a few interesting tussles to look forward to. I expect the Panthers to continue their roll against the Storm tonight. Without their most consistent forward to date, Kaufusi, the Storm will lose punch and defensive sting; the Panthers have more strike power up front and out wide and will zero in on that left side in attack. It’s unusual for the Storm to lose two in a row but it may just happen this time. But, with Cleary out, it might well be a different game without his tactical kicking. On the other hand, Storm will miss Papenhuysen’s energy and incisive attack.

 

On Friday, the Dragons host the Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium. I fancy the Dragons who will have taken some self-belief out of their win in the north. The Sea Eagles are down on talent and confidence as well as playing away. I can see only one result here.  Later, the Rabbitohs v Roosters match-up looks good on paper but I doubt the Bunnies have the defence and resilience to hold out the rampaging Chooks. If Reynolds doesn’t play, they’re pretty much gone. Keary looked very good last week and has the likes of Morris (x2), Manu, Tedesco and Tupou lurking to take advantage of his creativity. How good is Lindsay Collins? He could well be a 10 year Origin player for the Maroons.

 

Come Saturday, the Raiders host the Warriors and will need to get their act together against this keen Kiwi outfit. I think Canberra will be revved up enough at home to take the points but anyone who takes the Warriors lightly will pay big time. The Broncos and Bulldogs will play for early favouritism for the wooden spoon. Neither has shown much so far and 0-3 after three rounds will be close to a season death knell. I’ll go with the Broncos at home, although I’m not at all confident. Shaft Milford, play Croft at 6 and Dearden at 7, Kevvie. Later on, the Eels are at home to the Sharks and should be too good. The question is whether or not the Eels are just early season front runners. We won’t know the answer to that for another 5 months but I’m sure they’ll rack up their share of wins between now and then – including this one. They’ve done well to sign up big Sivo for another two years. I haven’t seen enough from the Sharks yet to get excited about them.

 

On Sunday, the Knights should make light of the hapless Tigers who seem to have little to no system in attack and appear disorganised in defence. Promises, promises! All talk, no walk. Meanwhile, the Knights will be keen to rack up competition points early in the season to shore up top eight residency. Finally, the Cowboys will host the Titans in Townsville. It’s the Titans for me because they have that forward unit going from strength to strength and seem to have a better structure than the Cowboys who seemed disjointed last time around. They’ll also lose attacking sting with the suspension of Feldt.

 

So my winners this week (I hope), are the Panthers, Dragons, Roosters, Raiders, Broncos, Eels, Knights and Titans.

 

 

Thursday March 25

Panthers v Storm, Panthers Stadium, 7.05pm

Friday March 26

Dragons v Sea Eagles, WIN Stadium, 5.00pm

Rabbitohs v Roosters, Stadium Australia, 7.05pm

Saturday March 27

Raiders v Warriors, GIO Stadium, 2.00pm

Broncos v Bulldogs, Suncorp Stadium, 4.30pm

Eels v Sharks, Bankwest Stadium, 6.35pm

Sunday March 28

Knights v Tigers, McDonald Jones Stadium Stadium, 3.05pm

Cowboys v Titans, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 5.15pm

 

Check local times due to daylight saving.

 

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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. Brian The Ruminator says

    That famous Gearin try is always a touchstone isn’t it, Ian. I can remember cheering the Doggies on that year coz I grew up in the area and hated Easts. The previous year was a classic too. Little was I to know that the 79 flag was the last my beloved Dragons would ever win. Rocket, Lord Ted and the burly copper Craig Young would be consigned to the dustbin. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone

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