Almanac Rugby League – Round 14 Preview: Clear favourites everywhere

It’s been the usual on-field/0ff-field battle for the headlines this week. I fear that ‘off-field’ won but I think I’ll follow Liam’s lead and simply stay on-field and give all the other garbage a miss. It will all play out in its own good time in either boardrooms or courtrooms.

 

On the surface, you’d have to say that Round 14 looks ever so predictable with only one significant clash in store, Roosters v Storm. But, even there, both sides are down on manpower, the Roosters by as many as 4 or 5 first choices, the Storm by 3 or 4. Consider some of those missing – Cordner, JWH and Morris B for the Bondi boys, Smith and Munster – and you’re talking serious talent on the sideline. It evens the odds somewhat but I expect the Roosters to have too much depth even though a win will see them stay in fourth spot.

 

On Friday, the very convincing Panthers will be far too strong for the much-to-be-admired Warriors, the latter straining at the seams to continue to put a credible NRL-standard team on the paddock. But they’ll give it all they’ve got; well done them! Later in the evening, their fellow strugglers, the Dragons, won’t get within cooee of the Eels. Parra did well to win in the wet last week, displaying a strength of character that hasn’t always been present in recent seasons. Let’s hope Fergo keeps his wits about him this week. And they have a very good leader in Gutherson to keep them on task.

 

Come Saturday, the Sharks will be out to go one step better after outscoring the Eels three tries to two but missing all their kicks. The Titans are on the up but not enough to reel in the Sharks. The Cowboys are going nowhere, unfortunately, and the Rabbitohs will have too much in the tank, even in far away Townsville. Their halves, Reynolds and Walker, will pull the strings for a comfortable win. In the evening, the about-to-implode Broncos will cop another hiding, this time from the Raiders. In fact, the Raiders have a great opportunity to play themselves back into form in this one. Let’s hope the Broncos club acts decisively, thoroughly and soon to give them some hope of regaining a sense of integrity, self-respect and competitiveness in 2021. (Yes, 2021.)

 

It’s just about do-or-die time for the Sea Eagles against the Knights on Sunday. Manly get a couple of injured players back but shouldn’t expect too much of them first up. They run into a Knights team that was hot enough for long enough last week to blitz the Tigers. You’d be a brave punter to back Manly on form and away from home. It’s the Knights to consolidate their place in the top half. In the final game, the Tigers and Bulldogs should enjoy their two hours on television while they can because I can’t see either of them featuring too often on free-to-air as the minor season plays out to its conclusion. Are the stories of unease in Tigerland true? Are the Dogs regrouping for better things to come next year? I’ll go for Brooks and the ageless Benji to pull out a few tricks and get the Tigers home.

 

So my winners for the week are the Roosters, Panthers, Eels, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Knights and Tigers.  Best chances of an upset – the Bulldogs and the Sea Eagles.

 

And belated recognition to 250-gamers Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall whose milestone last weekend was overshadowed by 300-gamer Mitch Aubusson. Lawrence has been a great competitor through thick and thin, and in the face of what might have been season-ending injuries for lesser combatants. And Benji was, is and always will be simply Benji doing things that only Benji can do – right across the spectrum!

 

Thursday August 13

Roosters v Storm, Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.50pm

Friday August 7

Warriors v Panthers, Central Coast Stadium, 6pm

Eels v Dragons, Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday August 8

Sharks v Titans, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 3pm

Cowboys v Rabbitohs, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 5.30pm

Raiders v Broncos, GIO Stadium, 7.30pm

Sunday August 9

Knights v Sea Eagles, McDonald Jones Stadium, 2pm

Tigers v Bulldogs, Bankwest Stadium, 4.05pm

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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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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