Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 5: Is there more to this competition than meets the eye?

Isn’t it interesting how fearless predictions in March come back to bite you on the bum in April? Could it be that the Dragons might turn out to be the surprise packet of the season? And just how solid are the Knights? Or the Titans, for that matter.

 

Round 4 of the 2021 NRL season reinforced that the Panthers are the team to beat for the flag, the Storm can strike like lightening, the Rabbitohs will be in the running, the Raiders are a force, the Eels are thereabouts and the Roosters should never be underrated. The good news is that the Dragons finally showed us what they’re capable of – their forward pack was a revelation in the second half against the Knights. Three on the trot – but two of those were Manly and Brisbane and, the other day, they beat a busted Knights outfit. Questions marks arose over the potential of the Sharks, the capabilities of the Knights without Pearce, just where the Titans are at, and how the Warriors are travelling. Little doubt remains about the limited capabilities of the Tigers, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Broncos and Cowboys.

 

As they say, you’re only as good as your next game. We’ll find out a lot more in Round 5.

 

Tonight the Bunnies should hop away from the hapless Broncos. It’s not much fun being a Broncos’ supporter these days to the point where I find it difficult to watch them. I tuned in the other night when they were 6-0 up, just in time to see Papenhuyzen score and convert four tries in 12 minutes! I couldn’t bring myself to watch the second half.

 

Tomorrow evening, the Warriors need to win to restore belief in themselves. They looked tired the other day – is a second season living in Australia just too much? But they have a good opportunity to regain form and confidence against a Sea Eagles side that seems to have lost the plot totally. Their fans must be feeling as bad as me, possibly worse. Later, the Panthers v Raiders game is the match of the round and, possibly, of the season to date. The Panthers are solid up front and slick out the back, a great combo! The Raiders are better with Croker back in the side. The forward collisions in this one should rock the stadium. I’ll stick with Penrith but they must be getting close to a game where they don’t quite click and the opposition does. I just don’t think that it will be Raiders this weekend.

 

The Titans v Knights match-up on Saturday afternoon is the most interesting game from a ‘where are they at?’ perspective. The Titans need to win to regain credibility. If they can’t beat a mid-table team with injury concerns, then they’re still a way off. The Knights have to show that they are more than Mitchell Pearce whose lazy tackle and subsequent long-term injury is likely to hurt the Knights heaps. I’ll go with the Titans at home. The Bulldogs v Storm game is likely to be embarrassing, and that’s all I have to say about it.

 

By contrast, the Roosters v Sharks meeting holds considerable interest. The Roosters were almost back to their best against the Warriors with young Walker having a stellar debut. The Sharks showed more teeth but only against the woeful Cowboys. Here’s a chance for the men from the Shire to show what they’ve really got in them. Frankly, I don’t think it will be enough to make an impression here.

 

On Sunday afternoon, the Tigers host the Cowboys and should take the points after showing a bit of heart against the Eels on Easter Monday. And they’re at home. The Cowboys are a mess, unsettled, aimless and out of their depth. It’s a sad sight!

 

In the final match, the Eels are at home to the Dragons, for me the second most interesting game of the weekend. The Eels were a bit shaky last time out with Gutho and Fergo making a meal of things before hitting back later on. An aberration, perhaps, but Eels’ fans will be a tad nervous. The Dragons will be the team under greater pressure because they have now created expectation. Their forwards took four rounds to wake up but now need to maintain the explosive power they found in last weekend’s second half. The Eels pack will be a good measuring stick. This will be my ‘roughie’ pick of the week – I’ll back the Dragons to ‘Hook’ the Eels.

 

So my winners this week are the Rabbitohs, Warriors, Panthers, Titans, Storm, Roosters, Tigers and Dragons.

 

 

Thursday April 8

Rabbitohs v Broncos, Stadium Australia, 7.50pm

 

Friday April 9

Warriors v Sea Eagles, Central Coast Stadium, 6.00pm

Panthers v Raiders, BlueBet Stadium 7.55pm

 

Saturday April 10

Titans v Knights, Cbus Super Stadium, 3.00pm

Bulldogs v Storm, Stadium Australia, 5.30pm

Roosters v Sharks, SCG, 7.35pm

 

Sunday April 11

Tigers v Cowboys, Leichhardt Oval, 4.05pm

Eels v Dragons, Bankwest 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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