After a disappointing representative weekend (come on, let’s not sugar-coat this), rugby league in Australia and New Zealand returns to normality with 8 NRL games over the next week. Hopefully the week off has given me a better perspective on the NRL season, as the main page of this website states that I am currently trailing Francis in the league tips. Sure, I’m coming last in the AFL tips, but that isn’t really my game. In round 6 (which seems like an age ago), I was successful in 6 from 8 tips. The only two I didn’t get correct were the two upsets I tipped. So, there were no upsets in Rounds 6. I should have made this clear in my first article, but an upset is when a team that is the higher odds (according to gambling agencies) to win actually does win. Upsets have been very rare occurrences in 2013 so far, with 2 rounds having no upsets. On another note, my lock of the week was successful yet again.
LOCK OF THE WEEK: 5/6
UPSET OF THE WEEK: 1/4*
*: in rounds 2 and 6, there were no upsets
SYDNEY ROOSTERS V ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Tip: Roosters. In Round 6, the Roosters were very impressive in their demolition of Canterbury and the Dragons (who have quietly won 3 games in a row) just snuck over the Tigers through another game-winning Jamie Soward field goal. That image gives me too many nightmares. Even though the Dragons have won three on the trot, I just think the Roosters will be too good. That won’t mind Dragons supporters, as I am yet to tip their side in 2013. All eyes will be on apparent certain NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce. The performance of Adam Reynolds in the City-Country game has raised even more questions about Pearce’s almost certain selection. He will need a big game to quiet down those questioning his place. The Roosters have named an unchanged side, while Michael Weyman is the only addition as he joins the 5-man bench for the Dragons.
MELBOURNE STORM V NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Tip: Storm. As mentioned in my first quarter grades article, the Warriors have shown some good form over the past few weeks. Still, I’m not going against the Storm. Melbourne was thoroughly clinical in their win over Souths in Round 6. It has been a big year for Tohu Harris, as he has gone from obscurity to scoring a try in the World Club Challenge and making his debut for New Zealand, all in the space of a few months. An interesting fact is that the Warriors have only won 3 away games from their last 15, with their last win away from home in Round 18 last season. I don’t see that getting any better for the Warriors this weekend. Ryan Hinchcliffe Is out for the Storm, with Harris named to start at lock and Kevin Proctor named to start in the second row. Siosaia Vave is also out for Melbourne, with Junior Moors, Kenneath Bromwich, Slade Griffin, Maurice Blair and Justin O’Neill all additions to the 7-man bench. For the Warriors, Glenn Fisiiahi replaces Manu Vatuvei on one wing, captain Simon Mannering is out and Ben Henry has been named to start in the second row in Mannering’s place. Nielsen and Ikahihifo have been omitted, with Taylor, Lillyman, Godinet and Ropati all named on a 5-man bench.
MANLY SEA EAGLES V SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Tip: Souths (UPSET OF THE WEEK). This is by far the match of the round. I know that Manly has been very impressive so far in 2013, but I think Souths have been more impressive. The Rabbits will be looking to bounce back after the tight loss against Melbourne, while Manly will be looking to maintain their perfect 2013 home record. There is an injury concern on Greg Inglis after suffering an injury in the Test match, but he has been named to play. An intriguing contest in this game will be the battle of back-up origin halfbacks between Cherry-Evans and Reynolds. This could be a match-up that we might see more and more into the future, potentially on bigger stages. David Williams has been named to start on the wing, despite missing last game, in place of Hiku for the Sea Eagles. Souths have again gone with a 7-man bench, with Crocker, Hunt and Clark the additions. The rest of the team is unchanged from last week.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS V CANBERRA RAIDERS
Tip: Cowboys. I’ve seen enough out of the Cowboys over the last two games to give me enough confidence to tip them. While Canberra has put together very good second half performances to win their last two games, the Cowboys will be more desperate for the two points. If the Cowboys lose this one, then they will be in a bit of strife as they will almost certainly be outside the top eight when the Origin series begins. A good sight for the Raiders (and the NRL) in Round 6 was the return of Terry Campese. I wish him all the luck in the world and hope that he can just get through the rest of the season injury-free. Matt Bowen returns for the Cowboys and replaces Greenshields at fullback. Dallas Johnson is named to start at lock despite missing the Round 6 game, with Riethmuller omitted. Taumalolo has been added to the 5-man bench. Shillington and Papalii are out of the Raiders team, with Learoyd-Lahrs starting in the front row and Jake Foster starting in the second row. Paul Vaughan has been added to the bench.
WESTS TIGERS V BRISBANE BRONCOS
Tip: Broncos (LOCK OF THE WEEK). Yeah, I’m not overly optimistic about this game. I just think the Broncos will be too good in this one. It doesn’t help that some of the Tigers’ best players (Marshall, Koroibete and Galloway) are out with injury. In only the seventh game of the 2013 season, the Tigers will name a third player to start at halfback. The Broncos have a very good record against the Tigers, which includes a win in 2002 with the majority of their side out due to Origin commitments. The Tigers have lost Anasta to injury, with Moltzen moving to halfback, Tedesco moving to fullback and Matt Utai returning to start on one wing. Bodene Thompson returns to start in the second row, with Matt Bell named to start at lock. Liam Fulton is the other addition, as he is named on the 6-man bench. Conversely, the only change for Brisbane is the addition of Josh McGuire to the extended bench.
GOLD COAST TITANS V NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Tip: Titans. This is a very interesting game. Jarrod Mullen has been named to start despite an injury in Round 6, which various reports had him out for 5 or 6 weeks as a result of surgery. If Mullen does play, then it is a very impressive effort, if he has indeed had the surgery. In 2013, the Titans’ form at home has been very good, while Newcastle’s away form has been less than impressive. That is the biggest reason why I am tipping the Gold Coast. Also, Kelly and Sezer have been named to start in the halves. The Titans are a much better team with those two in the halves. The Gold Coast has a few changes with Mead out and Anthony Don taking his spot on one wing. Sezer replaces Henry at five eight and Matt Srama has been named to start at hooker. O’Dwyer is out and Mark Minichiello is named to start in the second row. Dave Taylor has been named on an extended bench, along with fellow additions Falloon and Michaels and Irwin is out of the side. For the Knights, Gagai returns to start in the centres, with McKinnon moving to the second row and Houston starting at lock for the suspended Jeremy Smith. Costigan and Korbin Sims are named on an extended bench, with Leilua omitted.
CRONULLA SHARKS V CANTERBURY BULLDOGS
Tip: Sharks. At the start of the 2013 campaign, these two sides were quite highly fancied. However, following disappointing starts to this season (for varying reasons), both teams have blown out in odds to win the premiership. In Round 6, Cronulla would have gained a great deal of confidence in the tough loss at Manly and they welcome back a key player, which will be mentioned below. As for the Doggies, they currently sit at the foot of the ladder and are clearly missing some impact in the front row, which was their strength a season ago. As mentioned above, the key return for the Sharks is Todd Carney, who replaces Townsend at five eight. Aside from that, Jonathan Wright replaces Mills in the centres and Tagataese joins the 5-man bench. The only change for the Dogs is the addition of David Klemmer to the extended bench. It will be interesting to see how these same players back up from their hiding in Round 6 to the Roosters.
PENRITH PANTHERS V PARRAMATTA EELS
Tip: Eels. In Round 6, Penrith struggled to score a point against the Knights, while the Eels were very unlucky in defeat at the Gold Coast. Over the past couple of weeks, Parra have been the far more impressive team and that is why I think they will win. The player with the most amount of pressure will be Jarryd Hayne, after the performance of various outside backs in the City-Country game (especially Uate) has put pressure on New South Wales to play specialist outside backs, rather than go with Hayne on one wing. Penrith are in desperate need of win and have named a plethora of changes (some of these forced) in order to do so. There is some uncertainty as to how the Panthers will go as a result. Matt Moylan is named to start at fullback, with Whare named in the centres replacing Wes Naiqama. Mansour is out and Travis Robinson is named to start on one wing. Tim Grant is named to start at prop, Nigel Plum is named to start at lock and Matt Robinson is named to start in the second row, with Ciraldo out. Nathan Smith is the addition to the bench. The only changes for the Eels are the omission of Moimoi to suspension, with Matt Ryan added to the bench, alongside Joesph Paulo. Paulo makes way for Tanginoa who starts in the second row, with Ben Smith named to start at lock.
‘BEAT THE BOSS’
Well, the mighty Bandits are back where they belong and that’s on top! In the match of Round 6, the Bandits defeated fellow powerhouse Pearce’s Pride 565-529. In other games, the favourites won as the Funky Bunch defeating the Buzzing Hornets 453-424, the Crackalackers beat R.Lewis+Denzel’s 520-456 and P7Panthers defeated the Pit Dogs 558-316. Round 7 games are:
- Pearce’s Pride v The Funky Bunch
- The Crackalackers v Boggabri Bandits
- P7Panthers v Buzzing Hornets
- Harkonnen Pit Dogs v R.Lewis+Denzel’s