Three things The Thinker learned in round six
- Now that the NRL Commissioner has finished with the Commonwealth Games it might be a good idea to do a crash course on who is who in the NRL.
- Six teams have conceded less than 100 points this season, and they sit in the top six spots on the ladder.
- I was right last week when I said the Tigers would make the top eight this year – I should probably start tipping them.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Sydney Roosters – Thursday night – ANZ Stadium
Rugby league forwards may be a simple people, but they are a proud people. The Roosters pack wouldn't be pleased with what they delivered against the Bunnies in round five, and their coach wouldn't have been pleased either. They'll be focused on rectifying that this week, and I expect a better performance as a result. If that eventuates, I expect the Chooks backline can outscore the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs performance against the Cowboys was clearly their best this season, but just about everyone is beating the Cowboys in 2018. I can't tip the Bulldogs on the back of one good performance.
Verdict – Roosters by 8
Result – Roosters 6 defeated Bulldogs 0
New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Friday night – Mt Smart Stadium
Undefeated in 2018, the Dragons have the second best defence in the NRL and their attack has scored 50+ points more than the second best attack in the NRIL. The second best attack in the NRL is the Warriors, who lost their first game of the year last weekend. The Dragons overall record against the Warriors is hard to ignore, although the ledget evens up considerably at this venue. That said, I see no reason to disembark the Dragons train at this point. The Rabbitohs got close to them two weeks ago and they came out and blitzed a more-fancied rival. The Dragons then went out and racked up 40 against the Sharks. Easily the game of the round – it's the Red V for me.
Verdict – Dragons by 8
Result – Warriors 20 defeated Draqons 12
Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm – Friday night – Suncorp Stadium
Two of the genuine heavyweights of the NRL, and both have won just half of their games this season (amazingly just four teams have won more than half their games this year). Both teams have been spluttering along in 2018 but we had better performances from both last weekend. Jack Bird in the halves looks like a playmaking solution for the Broncos, and the Storm were better with Ryley Jacks in the halves too. One would assume that the Broncos beating the Warriors in Auckland is more impressive than the Storm beating the Knights in Melbourne...and it is. But I'm finding it hard to ignore the record of the purple machine at Suncorp – 12 wins from 15 games is an extraordinary away record against an NRL powerhouse.
Verdict – Storm by 4
Result – Storm 34 defeated Broncos 20
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canberra Raiders – Saturday afternoon – Central Coast Stadium
The Bunnies ran right through the Roosters last week, and they get Sam Burgess back this weekend. It took a while for the points to come, but they came eventually. I think they can carry that momentum into this game, and there was a glimmer of the old Greg Inglis last weekend too. There's nothing at all wrong with what the Raiders have dished up over the last fortnight either. Points everywhere on Saturday afternoon folks – you could do a lot worse than park your eyeballs in front of this contest.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 4
Result – Rabbitohs 42 defeated Raiders 22
Wests Tigers vs Newcastle Knights – Saturday night – Scully Park
Scully Park, for those that don't know, is in Tamworth (I didn't know either...I cheated...but it looks a picture). The Tigers are having a season to remember – their only loss has been to a team that couldn't score a try. I don't know if conditioner Ronnie Palmer has any more energy boxes in his bag of tricks, but the Tigers will just win again. I just have to tip them. FInally...I have to tip them. Benji Marshall could win the Dally M if he keeps it up.
Verdict – Tigers by 14
Result – Knights 22 defeated Tigers 20
North Queensland Cowboys vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday night – 1300SMILES Stadium
Paul Green has extended his tenure at the Cowboys for another three years, and the locals will be hoping it doesn't take that long to turn this ship around. The Cowboys haven't won since they scraped home in JT's 300th game way back in round one. On form you could hardly tip the Cowboys against anyone, but the Titans have injury concerns (Peats and Copley are out...Arrow is a maybe). Home ground advantage is about all I have to go with here. Not remotely confident.
Verdict – Cowboys by 2
Result – Cowboys 26 defeated Titans 14
Parramatta Eels vs Manly Sea Eagles – Sunday afternoon – ANZ Stadium
The salary cap penalty is starting to hit home for Manly as they start looking behind the couches for any footballers they may have forgotten about. Darcy Lussick has been shipped off to Toronto to ease the strain, and it looks like they are hoping to get Jackson Hastings off their books too. They have enough players for this weekend, but they're getting dangerously close to the bottom of the well. The Eels just need a win, and while the loss to the Raiders didn't suggest a win was close, I have a hunch things might fall their way this weekend. Jarryd Hayne returns on the wing which should be okay (most of his better Origin performances have been as a winger). The Sea Eagles have conceded plenty of points in recent weeks and they aren't renowned travellers. I've surprised myself a little here but...
Verdict – Eels by 8
Result – Eels 44 defeated Sea Eagles 10
Cronulla Sharks vs Penrith Panthers – Sunday afternoon – Southern Cross Group Stadium
Gallen is out. Graham is out. Lewis and Fifita have been named but even if they line up you'd have to wonder if they can finish the game. Whatever forwards remain for the Sharks will be fully tested by the Panthers who are showing the sort of form many of us thought we would see last season. Maloney will relish the opportunity to take on his most recent former club. That halves pairing of Peachey and Maloney have the pace to run riot on Sunday. There are no good things in the NRL, but they look good to me.
Verdict – Panthers by 20
Result – Sharks 26 defeated Panthers 22
Wally Lewis - round seven selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- Bulldogs vs ROOSTERS
- Warriors vs DRAGONS
- Broncos vs STORM
- RABBITOHS vs Raiders
- TIGERS vs Knights
- CQWBOYS vs Titans
- Eels vs SEA EAGLES
- SHARKS vs Panthers