Origin III Preview & NRL Predictions – Round 18

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NRL Predictions are back for another week! Don’t forget the the State of Origin Decider is on next week as well. We’ll take a look forward to the biggest game of the year so far!

Don’t forget to check out our AFL Predictions for Round 16 or take a look at the AFL Dream Team News from The Fantasy Front!

Origin Preview

For the decider next week, Queensland has named an unchanged line-up. Jacob Lillyman and Will Chambers have been brought into the side as cover. New South Wales have a far more uncertain line-up, with injuries placing skipper Paul Gallen and Greg Bird in doubt for game 3. While they have been named to start at prop and lock respectively, there have been other changes to the side that played in Game 2. James McManus has been named on one wing to replace Nathan Merritt, who had an origin debut to forget. James Tamou returns to start at prop for Aaron Woods. Woods and Boyd Cordner have been named as cover for Gallen and Bird. Before Game 2, I mentioned that Queensland’s lack of size in the forward pack might be a factor. It was obvious that the increased mobility that the Queensland team had in Game 2 was a huge factor. However, that was at Suncorp Stadium. ANZ Stadium is renowned for being having a greasy, slippery surface. Queensland’s lack of size may be a factor in this game, yet they will go into this game as clear favourites.

As for the Blues, they will be without Jarryd Hayne for the second straight game. This is a massive blow as he was one of NSW’s best in Game 1. They have again named Josh Reynolds on the bench, despite the fact that he has averaged 7 minutes in the first two games. As mentioned in my previous previews, this is a very conservative selection. This may be biased, as I am a Tigers supporter, but Woods was very hard done by in being relegated to 19th man. I think he has been in better form than Tamou all season and could not do too much aside from tackle in his debut. I think it’s a mistake to bring back Tamou, as I think that Woods could offer more in attack on the greasy ANZ Stadium surface.

In regards to the referees, Ashley Klein has been dropped which has seen a cheer in the ‘sunshine’ state. Ben Cummins is named as his replacement. Although, some people north of the border aren’t happy with the selection as Shayne Hayne and Cummins were the referees in the Manly-North Queensland game in last year’s final series. Apparently, Queensland has no chance as the referees will favour the home side. I guess being adjudicated for not being back 10 metres is called biased officiating…

Ok, this has been coming. For this next part, I will not try to be unbiased in any way but it is my true opinion. I nearly fell off my chair in laughter when I read an article about some comments that Cameron Smith made today. He claimed that Queensland were “humble” and built their success on respect of their opposition. What a bunch of garbage! This Queensland Origin team is one of the most smug and arrogant sports teams that I have ever come across. The fact that they would use the Queensland victory song (the yippee-yippee-yi-yi crap) to celebrate a win for the Australian side is the epitome of this arrogance. It’s not only this team but players from the past. If you have ever heard Paul Vautin after a Queensland win or just even looked at Wally Lewis’ face, these are perfect examples of the smug Queensland attitude. It’s this arrogance and smugness that makes you want to knock it off them. Yet, in this more PC world, being able to knock the arrogance out of someone is frowned upon. This has led to the acceptance of arrogance and smugness in society, but that is a debate for another day. What is worse is the arrogance and smugness of the Queensland supporters, with a fair majority of these not even being from the state. After Game 2, many Queensland supporters told me that the Blues shouldn’t even show up for Game 3.

Another point from the article I wanted to comment on was Smith saying that New South Wales don’t show Queensland any respect. Well, why should they? Sure, they’re a great football team but if NSW shows Queensland respect in Game 3, they will lose. In my opinion, if New South Wales show respect, they will be too much in awe of the opposition on will be ‘psyched out’ before the game begins. It really annoys me that Queensland still believe that they have a sense of entitlement. This mixed in with the hypocrisy mentioned in the previous paragraph, makes me really despise this Queensland team. For me, I’m going for New South Wales as I want to see Queensland lose, in comparison to seeing the Blues win. I will get more satisfaction by ending this streak of arrogance.

Ok, enough of Origin. Last week, I was successful in tipping 6 of the 8 games. I was able to pick the lock of the week, but the upset of the week was not successful. It might have been if the Tigers had woken up for the first half of their game against Cronulla.

Lock of the week: 14/17

Upset of the week: 3/14*

*: in rounds 2, 6 and 12 there were no upsets

Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla Sharks

Tip: Sharks. Last round, the Broncos were thoroughly beaten by Melbourne, but created 5 or 6 chances in attack without success. Cronulla on the other hand, returned to form with a win over the Tigers. If Brisbane are to do anything this season, they need to win this game. However, they are without their origin stars and I expect Cronulla to win and consolidate a spot in the top 8 as a result. They will be hoping to play for the full 80 minutes, unlike last week when they let the Tigers back into the game early in the second half. For the Broncos, Hoffman and Oates are named to start in the centres for Reed and Hodges. Jordan Kahu is named on the vacated wing spot. Ben Hannant returns to start at prop for Thaiday, while David Stagg (who returns from injury) and Dodds are named to start in the back row for Gillett and Parker. The additions to the 7-man bench are Dunamis Lui, Lama Tasi, Jarrod Wallace, Nick Slyney and Scott Anderson. Cronulla have a few changes. Michael Gordon is named to start at fullback, while Mills is named to start in the centres for Lewis. Mark Taufua, Ben Ross and Ben Pomeroy are named on the bench, while Fifita and Tupou are out.

Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers

Tip: Panthers (Lock of the week). The Eels were very poor last week against Manly, as back-to-back wooden spoons loom ever nearer for them. I am struggling to see how they will win another game. Penrith have climbed back into the top 8 and will need a win here to remain in the top 8. This is a must-win for the Panthers if they are to play finals football and I think they will win comfortably, even though I expect Parramatta to lift for the local derby. Both sides are unaffected by withdrawals to Origin 3. Willie Tonga replaces Loko in the centres for the Eels, who also possess a new halves pairing of Roberts and Luke Kelly. They replace Paulo, who is named on the bench, and Sandow, who is out of the team altogether. Moimoi moves from the bench to start at prop for the suspended Allgood. The additions to the bench are Kaysa Pritchard and Matt Ryan, while O’Hanlon has been omitted. The only addition for Penrith is Lewis Brown to the starting second row, with Newton moved to the 5-man bench.

Canterbury Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm

Tip: Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have stumbled a little over the past few weeks. They will be looking to regain some confidence over a Melbourne side that is without the big three. Melbourne still has a solid team without their stars and is a chance to win this game. As a result, all of the pressure in this game is on Canterbury. They must win this game. In the Bulldogs’ backline, Tim Lafai and Joel Romelo come in for Morris and Reynolds at centre and five-eight respectively. Sam Kasiano (who missed last week’s game) and Williams are named to start at prop and second row respectively, while Graham and Jackson are named on the bench. Greg Eastwood returns to start at lock, which means that Finucane is named on the bench. For Melbourne, O’Neill moves from wing to fullback for Slater, while Mahe Fonua comes onto the wing. Ben Hampton replaces Cronk at halfback, while Hinchcliffe moves from lock to hooker for Smith. Harris and Griffin move from the bench to start in the back row for Hinchcliffe and Hoffman. The Storm has named 4 additions to the bench, which are Junior Moors, Mitch Garbutt, Junior Sa’u and Tim Glasby.

North Queensland Cowboys v Manly Sea Eagles

Tip: Manly. Just like the Broncos, the Cowboys need to win this game if they are any chance this season. However, they are without their five-eight and starting props, which is a blow. In fact, Manly is less affected by Origin than North Queensland as they are only without 2 players. Manly have a good record against the Cowboys, especially in important games as they have eliminated the Cowboys in the last 3 finals series that the Cowboys have participated in. Although, many in North Queensland (rightfully, in my opinion) claim that they weren’t given a fair shake in last year’s game. For the Cowboys, Winterstein moves from the wing to replace Tate in the centres, while Faifai Loa moves into the vacated wing spot. Thompson moves from hooker to five-eight for Thurston, while Anthony Mitchell is named to start at hooker. Ricky Thorby returns to the side and Hall moves from the bench, to start at prop for Scott and Tamou. The back row is completely difference, as Ethan Lowe, Taumalolo and Joel Reithmuller are named in the starting back row. Tariq Sims and Cooper are named on the bench, while Johnson is out. Michael Morgan is named as the 18th man. Peta Hiku replaces Cherry-Evans at halfback, while Buhrer moves from the bench to start in the second row for Watmough. Symonds is out, while the additions to the bench for Manly are Richie Fa’aoso and Ligi Sao.

Upset of the week

I am very confident in selecting all of the favourites this week. With that said, I have not been overly impressed by the Bulldogs recently. As a result my Upset of the week is the Melbourne Storm. I like the look of their team despite the fact that they are without Smith, Slater, Cronk, Hoffman and the injured Widdop. However, given my form in the upset of the week this year, you may want to put the house on the Bulldogs.

‘Beat the Boss’

All of the top 3 sides won last round, with my Bandits beating the Funky Bunch 487-304, Pearce’s Pride defeating the Pit Dogs 523-401 and P7Panthers beating 612-507. There was an upset in the other game as the Buzzing Hornets beat the Crackalackers 538-469. Next round’s games include:

  • Pearce’s Pride v R.Lewis+Denzel’s
  • Buzzing Hornets v Harkonnen Pit Dogs
  • Boggabri Bandits v P7Panthers
  • The Funky Bunch v The Crackalackers
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