Before I get started on this week’s article, there are just a couple of things I want to mention here. Firstly, I am very excited to say that I have been asked to write another article for the Rugby League Almanac. I wrote one article for the inaugural Almanac. It is a great read and if you’re interested in the personal experience of watching a game of rugby league, then this is a book that you would really enjoy. To have a look at what it’s all about, go to footyalmanac.com.au. One of the editors of the Almanac, Nick Tedeschi, also writes a weekly article on rugby league. You can find his articles on makingthenut.com. I am very grateful to the opportunities that Nick has provided me.
Also, Saturday looks like it will be a very big day for the Boss family as my younger brother Matt will likely line up for Penrith in the SG Ball Grand Final, against Balmain no less. Even though it would be great to see the mighty Tigers win back to back SG Ball titles, there is no way that I will be cheering on the Tigers this weekend. Go you mighty Penny Panthers! Wow, that sounds weird.
On Sunday morning, I was feeling very confident about my tips. I was 5 from 5, got both the lock and upset of the week correct and hoping for a perfect round. The rest of the round did not go as planned and I only ended up with 5 from 8. Hopefully I can do better in Round 8.
LOCK OF THE WEEK: 6/7
UPSET OF THE WEEK: 2/5*
*: in rounds 2 and 6, there were no upsets
BRISBANE BRONCOS V SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Tip: Souths. The Bunnies proved last week that they are indeed the real deal, although it will be interesting to see how they back up after such a physical game last week. As for the Broncos, they recorded an uninspiring win against the depleted Tigers. The Broncos are a good football team, but they aren’t an elite team right now. However, Brisbane did show that they could challenge an elite team in Round 4 when they almost beat Melbourne. Souths are probably the biggest threat to competition front-runners Melbourne at the moment. I think they will be too good in this one. Both teams have named an unchanged line up and Souths has added Jeff Lima and Justin Hunt to the 6-man bench.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS V WESTS TIGERS
Tip: Bulldogs. If the Tigers were anywhere near full-strength, I would definitely tip them here. Unfortunately, they have too many players on the sideline at the moment. The Dogs were very unimpressive in victory against Cronulla last weekend. They are nowhere near the form of 2012 and don’t look like getting there anytime soon. Also, it is another clash between hooking rivals Ennis and Farah. Expect plenty of sledging between these two throughout this one. The only change to the Bulldogs team is the inclusion of James Graham to an extended bench. As for the Tigers, they have quite a few changes. Marika Koroibete returns to start on one wing, moving Joel Reddy to the centres. Reddy will partner Bodene Thompson in the centres, with Ayshford and Lawrence both out injured. Liam Fulton moves from the bench to start in the second row to accommodate Thompson’s move. Jacob Miller replaces Tim Moltzen at halfback. Tim Simona and Ava Seumanufagai both join an extended bench.
MELBOURNE STORM V CANBERRA RAIDERS
Tip: Storm. Melbourne was taken to the limit on ANZAC Day by the Warriors, yet they still were able to come away with the win. Every team that the Storm has faced over the past 4 or 5 weeks has really tested them. Surely it will eventually take its toll. The Raiders were disappointing against North Queensland last week. They have upset Melbourne on multiple occasions over the past few years, but I can’t see it happening this time as I am still yet to be given a reason why I should not tip the Storm. Melbourne have an unchanged line up, with Kenneath Bromwich named the 18th man. The Raiders have quite a few changes. Jack Wighton is named in the centres in place of Jarrod Croker, with Sandor Earl coming on to the wing. Sam Williams is out, with Josh McCrone moving to halfback and Terry Campese starting at five-eight. The other changes are on the bench with Anthony Milford, Joe Picker, Jarrad Kennedy and Shaun Berrigan named on a 6-man bench, with Joel Thompson out.
PARRAMATTA EELS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Tip: Cowboys. I simply can’t tip the Eels after last round’s disgraceful performance. There’s not much more I can add than that when mentioning Parramatta. I get the feeling that North Queensland are starting to get their act together. They have somehow managed to climb back into the top 8 after a bad start to the season. They do struggle to win in Sydney but I feel that they will be too strong for the Eels. Parramatta has named a few changes to last round’s line-up. Ryan Morgan and Api Pewhairangi are the new centre pairing, replacing Loko and Blair. Fuifui Moimoi replaces Mannah in the front row. Joseph Paulo moves into the starting team at lock, replacing Ben Smith. Ben Roberts is out, with Kaysa Pritchard and Peni Terepo being included on the bench. For the Cowboys, Dallas Johnson is named to start at lock, moving Riethmuller to the bench. Ashton Sims has also been added to the 6-man bench.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS V GOLD COAST TITANS
Tip: Warriors. This game is a very hard one to pick. The Warriors have played well over the past few weeks, but only have one win for the season to show for it. They will be eager to get off the foot of the ladder but could as easily be demoralised by the recent close losses. The Gold Coast went down to Newcastle after suffering three injuries early in the game. The Titans definitely have the size to match it with the Warriors, but it may be difficult for them to adapt to the Auckland conditions. I am really looking forward to seeing the match-up at halfback between Albert Kelly and Shaun Johnson. Both are instinctive players, who can light up the field in any given moment. Manu Vatuvei returns for the Warriors and replaces Laumape, who has been named 18th man. Ben Henry moves from the second row to the centres to make way for returning captain Simon Mannering. Hurrell has not been named in this week’s team, as Henry has taken his place in the centres. For the Titans, Kevin Gordon has been named to start on the wing for Steve Michaels, this game’s 18th man. Brad Takairangi replaces O’Dwyer in the centres, while Beau Falloon moves to starting team at hooker, replacing Srama. Luke Bailey is named to start at prop, with Nate Myles moving to lock to take Harrison’s place. The other additions to the bench are Mark Ioane and Sam Irwin.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS V CRONULLA SHARKS
Tip: Knights. Last week, Newcastle was too strong for an undermanned Gold Coast, while the Sharks were absolutely diabolical against Canterbury. The Knights did get a monkey off their back by winning their first away game of 2013. This game will be at Hunter Stadium, which is again becoming somewhat of a fortress. I can’t see a very distracted Cronulla team winning this one. In particular, it will be interesting to see how Wade Graham performs this week, following the criticism he has taken for his choice of attire at the ASADA interviews. The only change for the Knights is the addition of Neville Costigan to an extended bench. Tyrone Roberts has been named to start at halfback this week, even though he did start from the bench last week despite wearing the same number. Wayne Bennett may look to start him from the bench again. Cronulla are unchanged, aside from the naming of Sam Tagataese as the 18th man.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS V PENRITH PANTHERS
Tip: Roosters (LOCK OF THE WEEK). The Roosters were probably the most impressive team in Round 7, with their strong win over the Dragons. Penrith was also very impressive, by flogging Parramatta. Some of their younger players provided enthusiasm, which was enough to get over the hapless Eels. However, the Panthers will need more than enthusiasm to beat the Roosters this week. I get the feeling that this game will demonstrate the difference between the sides at the top of the ladder and the sides at the bottom. This is a game that Michael Jennings has had circled on his calendar, ever since he joined the Roosters after being showed the door by Penrith. Expect a big game from him. The Roosters have named an unchanged line-up, while the only addition for the Panthers is the naming of Nathan Smith as 18th man.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS V MANLY SEA EAGLES
Tip: Manly. Even though I am still yet to tip the Dragons in 2013, I give them a chance here. Manly have lost a couple of key players to suspension and are backing up from a very bruising clash against South Sydney. Also, the Dragons are at home, where they still have a good record. However, if the ANZAC Day match against the Roosters showed anything, it was that the Dragons don’t have the players to be able to compete with the elite teams. Manly should be too strong in this game. This will also more than likely be the last match-up between centres Matt Cooper and Jamie Lyon, with Cooper’s contract expiring at the end of the this season and speculation that 2013 will be his final campaign. Damien Cook and Michael Weyman are the only additions to the Dragons team, joining a 6-man bench. For Manly, Tom Symonds moves from lock to the centres to replace the suspended Matai. Glenn Stewart returns to the starting side by starting at the vacated lock position. Peta Hiku, David Gower, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Esi Tonga and George Rose all join a 6-man bench, with Richie Fa’aoso and Jason King out.
WHERE IS THE UPSET OF THE WEEK???
As I agree with the bookmakers for all 8 games this weekend, none of my tips are upsets. Hence out of these, I cannot name an upset of the week if none of these tips are upsets. Following discussions last weekend, I have decided that in this instance (and for any week where I do not tip an upset), I will name a team who I think is most likely to cause an upset. If this team does win, even though I did not tip them, I will still be successful in my upset of the week. If this team does not win and there is an upset in the round, then this will mean that I was unsuccessful. However, if this team does not win and no upsets occur, then this will mean that the ratio stays the same as it would if I was to tip that upset. Essentially, my methodology is to include the rounds where an upset occurred and to not include the rounds where no upsets did occur.
With that said, my UPSET OF THE WEEK for round 8 is the Gold Coast Titans.
‘BEAT THE BOSS’
The big upset of last week was the defeat of my Bandits to the Crackalackers 509-440. This means that P7Panthers are solely on top of the table after a third of the regular season, following their win over the Buzzing Hornets 529-417. Pearce’s Pride moved to 2nd after a 549-483 victory over the Funky Bunch and R.Lewis+Denzels’ defeated the Pit Dogs 497-274. Round 8 games are:
- Pearce’s Pride v The Crackalackers
- P7Panthers v The Funky Bunch
- Harkonnen Pit Dogs v Boggabri Bandits
- R.Lewis+Denzel’s v Buzzing Hornets