NRL Round 22 and NRLW Round 2: The Fast and the Furious

 


Image: Wikipedia

 

I realise that both competitions are now in a race to the finals in September but I thought there was supposed to be a bit of a post-Origin lull as everyone regained their breath. Last weekend’s fixtures offered a completely different picture – it looked like the accelerators were so much under pressure that they acted like afterburners!

 

In the NRL, the Raiders finished at a frenetic pace but got pipped in golden point, the Broncos had a dazzling second half to leave the Bunnies staring into the headlights, the Sea Eagles had a burst midway through the first half before the Sharks came back at them in an even more blistering fashion. In the NRLW, the speed of the game seems to have gone up a notch from last season. The Roosters looked like a well oiled sports car while the debutant Wests Tigers and Sharks came out at full throttle to score first up wins.

 

Speed thrills if you’re on the winning side but it also kills sides that just can’t hack the pace. The race to September is well and truly on!

 

NRL Round 21

The Broncos v Roosters clash tonight is but the first of several key games this weekend. Have the Roosters finally found the key to ignite a late season run? They looked a lot better last week (in the first half, anyway) but then their opponents, the Titans, seemed badly out of sorts. Meanwhile the Broncos looked the goods, especially in the second half against the Rabbitohs. Form and ladder position suggest the Broncos in this one but the Roosters have to win again (and again) to maintain any hope of September participation. I’ll go with Brisbane.

 

Both teams in the Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs game need to win. Although their season is long gone, the home side need something to give them something to look forward to in 2024. Perhaps the return of Luke Brooks might be their starting point. South Sydney are getting to the desperate stage with their leaky defence which has cost them points on the board and on the ladder. The return of Mitchell should be their gear changer and I expect them to get home this week.

 

Both the Storm and the Eels were last time losers so, again, both sides have lots to play for this week. Melbourne look a little under strength in the backs while Parra have lost Lane to a dislocated elbow, adding to their forward problems with RCG still a few weeks away from returning. Melbourne seldom lose two in a row; the Eels are desperate to get into the top eight; can Gutho and Moses be the difference yet again or is the Munster overdue for a big one? Without any great conviction, I’ll go for the Storm at home.

 

The Raiders are at home this week after a poor showing last time out while the Knights looked very strong against the lacklustre Dragons. Ladder position suggests the Raiders but recent form says Newcastle who also have the incentive of breaking into finals calculations after a good recent run. My gut feeling is that the Knights may have something going at the moment and it just might be enough to get them a win away on Saturday afternoon.

 

The Dragons made a couple of good plays last weekend but I doubt they’ll have enough points in them to fly with the Sea Eagles this time around. Manly were scintillating for 40 minutes against the Sharks – and that’s enough to snuff out the Dragons. The possibility of finals footy will also spur them on.

 

The Panthers are snarling, the more so with Cleary back to guide them around the park. But is there internal tensions with contract renewals and Luai looking like he just might be heading out the door at season’s end? The Sharks were awful for 40 minutes and electric for about 15 last weekend. Can you imagine that being enough to contain Penrith? No, me neither. Panthers easily.

 

The Bulldogs are another club with internal issues but have Kikau and Addo-Carr returning while the Dolphins will be lifted by the re-signing of Tim Gilbert. This one is a bit of a toss up, 13th v 16th, and finals out of the question. For no particular reason I’ll go with the Dolphins.

 

The Titans were just plain awful against the Roosters and the Cowboys are hot to trot at the moment. Drinkwater is the most improved player in the league and the northerners have regained their self-belief. It’s hard to see the surfside boys throwing a rope around the Cowboys, so put your money on North Queensland.

 

The Warriors have the bye.

 

So my winners this week are the Broncos, Rabbitohs, Storm, Knights, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Dolphins and Cowboys. (I got 5/8 last week.)

 

Daly Cherry-Evans

Congratulations to DCE for reaching the 300 game milestone this weekend. Say what you like, DCE is a proven big game player, inspirational captain, totally committed week-to-week team man and eloquent spokesperson for his club, State and country. Yes, he made one contractural misjudgement a number of years ago but he has more than made up for it with a highly decorated career for Manly, Queensland and Australia. Go Chez!

 


Image: Manly Sea Eagles

 

To read a summary of DCE’s career click here.

 

NRLW Round 2

If Round 1 of the competition was anything to go by, then the NRLW season will be as entertaining as the NRL has been for the past four months. Faster play, competitive new teams, stars on fire from the start, and a hot favourite for everyone to chase – it all adds up to good times.

 

The Broncos were well beaten by the competition favourites, the Roosters, while the Titans corralled the debutant Cowboys. Brisbane aren’t the force they were for the first several years of this competition while the Titans may be emerging. It’s hard to tell on the basis of one game against a newcomer. Expect this one to be hard fought and close up until the final whistle. Maybe Ali Brigginshaw will pull off a big play to settle the issue for Brisbane.

 

The Raiders have the challenge of facing the Roosters who looked so good last week. Canberra has a few top class players but the Roosters have many more. I’d go so far as to say that the only team who can beat the Roosters are themselves. Canberra, be brave but expect a pasting! The Roosters will crowing loudly.

 

The Dragons and the Eels were both last time losers and neither of them showed a lot to give one any confidence to pick them. The Dragons are long time competition heavyweights, the Eels were (lucky to be there) Grand Finalists last season. But I doubt either will go too far this time around. Toss of the coin and it comes down…Dragons.

 

The Knights looked pretty good last week while the newcomer Cowboys tried hard but seemed a bit off the pace. Newcastle will be hot favourites in this game and I think the northern girls might find the travel and the grind too much. They need to use this season as a learning experience for next year. The Knights comfortably.

 

Both the Wests Tigers and the Sharks looked the goods in their debut matches – well co-ordinated, skilful, speedy and hungry. This is the match of the round and should be an end-to-end cracker with the likes of Vette-Welsh and Tonegato vying for domination. It’s another toss of the coin and this time it comes down…Wests Tigers.

 

So my winners this week are the Broncos, Roosters, Dragons, Knights and Wests Tigers. (I think I got 3/5 last week.)

 

A great weekend in prospect; hold on to your hats because the pace will be fast and furious!

 

 

To see the full draw for Season 2023 click HERE.

To see the full draw for the 2023 NRLW season click HERE.

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.

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