Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round24: How long can this keep going on?

 

Back in late July I thought that the final eight would be decided before August rolled around. That turned out to be about as accurate as many of my other predictions. So here we are at the end of August with two rounds to play and there are still at least 10 teams in contention. Perhaps we’ll get greater clarity this weekend after we know the outcome of four particular matches.

 

On Friday night the precariously placed Broncos host the safely-in-the-eight Eels. Brisbane showed some good signs against the Rabbitohs last week and went oh so close to pulling it off in a frantic finish. They can’t be discounted. The Eels, on the other hand, will want to get back into the winner’s circle after their surprise last start defeat. This could turn into a beauty. I’ll stick my neck out and go with the home team.

 

The Panthers cannot afford to lose to the Roosters on Saturday night but, frankly, I can’t see them winning. The Roosters are coming back to near full strength and that’s enough to beat just about everybody. Consequently, it’ll be ‘mad Monday’ in Penrith on September 9th.

 

The Sharks will likely hold on to a top eight spot regardless of the outcome of their game against the Raiders but a win would secure their place in the finals. With Paul Gallen playing at home for the last time, expect a big game from the Shire lads. They’ll need to be at their best against Canberra who will be keen to retain their top four spot. What are the odds on a draw? I’ll go with Canberra.

 

Wests Tigers play the Dragons on Sunday and should come away with a win to keep alive Robbie Farah’s hope of one last finals match, in the process setting up a classic last round encounter with the Sharks next weekend.

 

In other games, the frustrating Cowboys seem to have internal issues but had a good win last weekend while their opponents the Bulldogs have had a strong run of late. This one could be quite entertaining and I expect a high scoring result, in which case I’ll go with the Northerners.

 

The Rabbitohs want a top four spot and that should be enough incentive for them to overcome the Warriors. But if the ‘good’ Warriors roll up, it’ll be finals elimination territory for the Bunnies. Potentially another great game!

 

The Knights and Titans on Saturday afternoon will be little more than going through the motions and planning for end of season break-up parties. The Knights have disintegrated of late, both on and off the field, while the Gold Coast boys are trying to look ahead to a fresh start. Maybe the Titans can win this one.

 

But the match of the round is the much-anticipated return clash between Manly and the Melbourne Storm at Brookie. Mouthwatering indeed! Manly gets under the skin of the Storm but I can’t see Bellamy allowing the Sea Eagles to do the double on him. This game will be massive!

 

So I’m going with, in order played, Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Broncos, Titans, Storm, Roosters, Raiders and Tigers. (I don’t think the three Queensland teams have all won on the same weekend all year, so this is a brave/foolish/courageous call.)

 

PS I’ve been in Melbourne for the past week staying in a South Yarra apartment overlooking the Botanical Gardens in the immediate foreground, then AAMI Park/the ‘G’/Melbourne Park behind that, and then the city skyline in the background. Wonderful evening light show with AAMI Park particularly beautiful. Choice!

 

 

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About Ian Hauser

A happy, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV - although I do share the never-to-be-beaten record for the tenth wicket for the long-defunct Unley Lutheran Cricket Club - a partnership of 62 with Craig Hartmann in 1973! A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I'm a firm believer in the notion that there is a fine line between winning and losing in sport. 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 footyalmanac.com.au's online editors, I offer a comprehensive editing service for both new and experienced writers. Check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au Queenslander!

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