Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 4: The wheat and chaff are settling

Look, by my reckoning there were three upsets in Round 3. If those three had gone by the form guide, I would have had a perfect weekend of tipping! But while I might lament yet another modest weekend, isn’t it good to see the unexpected because it was looking like an all too predictable season ahead of us. And what a weekend of footy it was, but more of that in a moment.

 

Last week I posed the question as to whether or not a team’s season can be over by the end of March. Round 3 suggested that the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, it probably is for the Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Cowboys and Broncos. I expect those teams to be the bottom four. Perhaps we’ve seen enough to suggest that the next three up from there will probably be the Tigers, Dragons and Sharks. So it’s looking forward to 2022 for them as well. The Warriors, Titans and Knights will fight for positions 7-9. A season to build on leading into next year. Only the other six have any real chance of winning the premiership.

 

In spite of each side missing four first choice players, the Panthers and Storm put on a great advertisement for the code which went the whole 80 minutes and, even then, ended in a bit of controversy. The Panthers showed real character to hang on while the Storm lost no fans in spite of a second loss on the trot. Then the Dragons showed that they might escape the bottom four with a good win over the Sea Eagles. But will the loss of Ben Hunt hurt them? The Rabbitohs took the game right up to and then away from a disappointing Roosters side who face more pain with the loss of Keary for the rest of the year. It’s hard to see them featuring on the last day of the season without their key creator.

 

After both sides committed every atrocity possible in the first half, the Broncos eventually found a spark in Isaako and cantered away from the Doggies who must now be wooden spoon favourites. The Eels were slippery enough to escape and then dominate the Sharks, the latter decimated by injury but looking pretty ordinary anyway. Luke Brooks played one of his all too rare good games to spoil the Pearce party in Newcastle. But will it be another case of ‘promises, promises’ by the Tigers? Meanwhile the Knights got a kick up the Kyber and, hopefully, will learn from it. Finally, the Cowboys showed why they’ll be a bottom four side with another inept display while the Titans racked up two more competition points. We’ll find out more about the Gold Coast boys when they meet the Raiders and Knights over the next two weekends.

 

This weekend’s match-ups suggest four walkovers and four interesting contests. The Panthers should continue on their merry way at the expense of the Sea Eagles tonight. The only question is by how far? On (Good) Friday, the Rabbitohs should be untroubled by the Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm will be out to set things to right by taming the Broncos at AAMI Park.

 

Saturday might be more interesting. The Sharks meet the Cowboys at the revised location of Kogarah Oval in an inconsequential game in terms of the ladder but a very important one for each club. The Sharks showed courage under difficult circumstances last time around and will be keen to show that they can go one better with a kinder injury toll. The Cowboys will be playing for basic credibility in the competition. I expect the Sharks to prevail against the disorganised northerners. Then the Titans v Raiders game, also relocated to Kogarah as the second part of a double header, provides what is possibly the clash of the round. The Titans who, to be fair, haven’t beaten anyone of note so far, will be keen to perform well against a genuine finals side in the Raiders. Again, credibility as a possible finalist is at stake. The Raiders will be rearing to go after their courageous and somewhat controversial loss to the Warriors. ‘Sticky’ won’t need to look far for motivation! I’ll go with the Raiders.

 

On Sunday, the Knights host the Dragons in Newcastle. The Knights beat themselves last week. Surely they can’t play so poorly two weeks in a row. The Dragons will be looking to build on their recent successes but, again, they haven’t beaten anyone of note as yet. I don’t think they will this weekend either. The battered and bruised Roosters will get no respite against the physical Warriors on Sunday evening. It’s hard to tip against the Chooks but, with so many missing, I think I’ll have to go with the NZ lads – just!

 

Then, on Monday, the flaky Tigers meet the talented Eels. It’s hard to see anything but a big win for Parra unless the Tigers can somehow play out of their skin – no, that’s just dreaming, not two weeks in a row. The Eels by plenty!

 

So my winners for Round 4 are the Panthers, Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks, Raiders, Knights, Warriors and Eels.

 

Thursday April 1

Sea Eagles v Panthers, Lottoland, 7.05pm

Friday April 2

Bulldogs v Rabbitohs, Stadium Australia, 3.05pm

Storm v Broncos, AAMI Park, 7.05pm

Saturday April 3

Sharks v Cowboys, Kogarah Oval, 5.15pm

Titans v Raiders, Kogarah Oval, 6.35pm

Sunday April 4

Knights v Dragons, McDonald Jones Stadium Stadium, 4.05pm

Roosters v Warriors, SCG, 6.15pm

Monday April 5

Tigers v Eels, Stadium Australia, 4.00pm

 

Venues and times are current as this article is published. Please check as the weekend unfolds.
Also check local times due to daylight saving changeover during the weekend.

 

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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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