NRL Round 18 – You gotta love footy!




State of Origin Tour – Melbourne

10 am Virgin Lounge – Uncle Gilbo and myself

10.55 supposed boarding

Multiple delays in the morning – blood pressure rising

Finally, 1:30 pm boarding

Arrive Melbourne at 3.50

Taxi direct to hotel

Call from JTH. Let’s meet at Stalactites – great food, atmosphere and company

On the tram and into the game.

Magnificent venue, although I’m not sure it’s suited to rugby league

7.58 in our seats – I could sing with the anthem (after last game, great relief)

Generally relieved given the delays on the flight that morning

Mum of DCE, Kelly and family sitting beside us – friends from Mackay DCE‘s dad Troy unfortunately stuck at work

We were anticipating the start.

Cotter flattened from behind by Moses from kick off – no penalty

7th minute – on the fifth tackle, a penalty was given against Collins for what, in the context of the game, was very soft

18th minute – no Qld ball To’o scores

Kick off mistake 24th minute Lomax try -real hurt play

3 sets in 26 minutes, that will do me

I asked Kelly if she would like a drink – she declined – I chose a beer over further reporting

10.25pm back to the Imperial Hotel – dissected the game

Home to the Dorset hotel just before 2am

My feet were screaming at me to get out of shoes which I hadn’t been in for a long time

Uncle Gilbo’s snoring was certainly in the Olympic class

10:30 am Thursday – met nephews for breakfast at trendy Melbourne eatery

12 noon MCG library with JTH and RITV- magnificent library

1 pm lunch at the MCG with above. I had the club sandwich and a can of beer – well worth it

2 pm Young and Jacksons where we met friends Wal and Kerri – I had a few beers there and great conversation

5.15 straight to the casino- 45-minute window- hit and run where we both had a nice little win.

8.30 at the airport in the lounge about to board.

Finally, home at 11.20 – that’s origin.

I’ve said this before, but I can’t wait for Suncorp. I’ll be there.


Round 17 games start off with a match between the Bulldogs and the Sharks. Why did I think the Sharks would be too strong for the Bulldogs? Well, as I keep saying, I cannot pick the Sharks. Rudolph gives away a penalty that basically costs the Sharks the game.  Once again, I have tipped the wrong way but credit to the Bulldogs for hanging in. But, as I keep saying, I think they are too small to worry the top sides. On Saturday the Broncos were very disappointing against the Warriors and the loss of their three Origin players had a significant effect. Actually I went to the Gold Coast races on Saturday so I missed a fair chunk of the football. The bits and pieces I saw were not enough to give a really deep analysis but the Knights had a real crack at the Eels. At 28-26 the game could have gone either way but a Bradman Best try sealed it. In the final game the Raiders were trying to match it with the Storm. But the Storm have the ability to just keep sides behind them. Ricky was back to his best bagging of the officialdom.

Sunday matches were interesting. I watched the Dolphins and the Dragons and it was quite a good game. It is worrying for the Dolphins as they start to slip down the ladder but injury certainly impacted upon that match. In the final game, Penrith put in possibly their worst performance in years when they lost to the Cowboys. It was a good win for the Cowboys and was desperately needed. Their young player Purdue looks like he is a player for the future, although his trip was not for his highlight reel. The final game, as predicted, went the way of the Roosters who were too strong for the Tigers who, unsurprisingly, were unable to match it with them. Generally, my tipping was very poor.

Round 18: The Thursday night game sees the Eels up against the Rabbitohs and whilst the Eels lost last week in Newcastle, they do have some players back. However I think the Rabbits will be too strong as they get closer to their best side. It will be interesting to see what they do with Grey as he has been very good on his appearances this season.

Friday night’s first game is the Sharks versus the Titans, What can I do?? My Sharks record at Coffs Harbour has been very good and, given my form, I can’t do anything but tip Cronulla. Sorry, Cronulla fans! The second Friday night game is the Broncos/Panthers grand final rematch. It is desperation time for the Broncos who really need to win this game.  Barring Reynolds, they are getting back close to full strength although they have lost Staggs. On the other hand, Penrith are still without halfback Cleary and I think after last week’s performances the Panthers will prevail.

Saturday starts with a game that is difficult to pick. I have had no luck with either the Bulldogs or the Warriors in this competition. I don’t think the Bulldogs are big enough in the middle so, on that basis, I have to take the Warriors without any conviction. In the second game on Saturday, the Tigers are up against the Storm and that will be a cake walk for the Storm. They will be too strong. The Oracle contacted me to say ‘get on Melbourne now!’ I’m not sure, Oracle, but you have sone form. The final game has the Cowboys at home to the Sea Eagles with Turbo back for the Sea Eagles and that might just give them the edge. Toula is at fullback with Hopoate on the bench. Interesting! However, the Cowboys defeated a depleted Panthers last week but this will be a much bigger test.

That leaves the two Sunday games. The first one has the Roosters up against the Dragons.  Even though the Dragons have shown something over recent weeks, I think the Roosters are a genuine grand final competitor so I have to stick with them against the Dragons for this match. The final game of the round is also very interesting as the Raiders are up against the Knights. The Raiders lost last week and went straight to officialdom for the loss. The Knights were big winners last week and the big issue is that Ponga is back for this match. All Queenslanders hope he will be right for the night and what a difference he will make as he pushes for State of Origin selection.

I am at Port Macquarie and then Coffs Harbour for the School Boys and Girls Competitions which is a great show of our sport.

Congratulations to the Qld Women’s team on their win!

So, my selections are Rabbits, Sharks ????, Panthers, Warriors, Storm, Sea Eagles, Roosters, and the Knights. Dolphins have the bye

My season prediction positions after Round 12:  Penrith 2nd, Broncos 10th, Melbourne 1st, Souths 14th, Roosters 4th, Cowboys 7th, Newcastle 15th and St George 8th.

Odd Rugby League fact: A Test match between England and France was played last week as a curtain raiser to a Toulouse v Featherstone game. That is not good enough for a Test match which England won – but please! I was bought up on stories from my Dad about the great Puig Aubert.

You gotta love footy!


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  1. Ian Hauser says

    A suitably full agenda for your trip, Matt! I suggested to RITV that it might be the forerunner of an annual Almanac on Tour (rugby league) trip to wherever the ‘not in Brisbane or Sydney’ venue is for that year.

  2. Cheers ? ?

  3. Geoff Orman says

    Interesting to see that you and Mr Gilbo were let loose in Melbourne without someone to keep you both on the straight and narrow. I think Qld need to have at 1 and Fifita in 11 or 12, plus shift Holmes to the wing and bring Gobb into the centre to mark Mitchell. We also need a bit more grunt up front to to match the NSW forwards in defence and attack. Only change to your tips is Dragons to beat Roosters.

  4. Paul Neale says

    Grubby half backer marker of 8.5 Prop…..Races over the footy dished up was a good choice. Melbourne great for a trip and we needed the QLD girls to have played 1st half Wednesday night. Enjoy schoolboys and look for our future origin stars, looking forward to your report. Pongs for #1 game 3

  5. Matt O'Hanlon says

    Thanks boys- I’m on the tour idea Ian – set up an itinerary and away we go! Gus may join us as well. I agree with Geoff and Grubby
    Re Ponga and Fifita so this round is essential- start preparing for the tour boys- grubby can you organise a prop tour t shirt and jacket design and maybe a cap and backpack. send me a design and I’ll post it next week-props almanac away from home origin tour! I’ll mark you out of 10.

  6. Peter Gikbert says

    Prop in the Cane Fields sure did a job on Uncle Gilbo – 36 hours in Melbourne 22,000 steps completed.

  7. Matt O'Hanlon says

    Ahh uncle gilbo – as Confucius say “ it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop! He also say if you scratch backside don’t bite fingernails!

  8. Paul Neale says

    Grubby half back has Struddys head graphics onto some tour design ideas and I would like to b a tourists thanks Prop, love a trip away as u know and we all may b getting a little older but with age comes experience……. Apparently lol

  9. Andrew Smith says

    Oh the great Puig Arbert, not exactly the poster boy for the “Quit for Good” campaign

  10. Vegas baby. Grub your in charge of entertainment.

  11. Matt O'Hanlon says

    Grubby half back in charge would be some tour BamBam! Would need a solid prep for that- rat junior has contacted me to complain that GHB didn’t pass the link on! Come on GBH and Puig would fail the political correct test today!

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