Three things The Thinker learned in round twelve
- It's taken almost half a season, but I've finally put a line through eight of the sixteen teams...from a premiership point of view.
- If Tevita Pangai Junior wanted to represent Tonga (his country of birth) they would be a seriously serious football team.
- Game one of State of Origin 2018 will be a very different game one to what we have seen in recent years.
Manly Sea Eagles vs North Queensland Cowboys – Thursday night – Lottoland
First and foremost let's list the players that are packing their sleeping bags and heading off to Origin camp – the Sea Eagles lose the Turbo brothers while the Cowboys lose two important back-rowers in Hess and Cooper and their current fullback in Micnael Morgan. The Sea Eagles should have beaten the Raiders in round 12 but let the game slip. The absence of the brothers Trbojevic is massive, but the return of Koroisau in the number 9 will add some spark. I'm assuming Matt Scott will be suspended. His absence, and the absence of Hess and Cooper, give Manly a significant edge in the forwards. Cherry-Evans didn't get an Origin call-up, but I expect he'll put up a good show in case Queensland have to make changes for game two.
Verdict – Sea Eagles by 4
Result – Cowboys 26 defeated Sea Eagles 12
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Cronulla Sharks – Friday night – ANZ Stadium
Three teams are in red hot form at the minute, and here are two of them. The Rabbits lose Inglis, Cook, Crichton and Gagai to Origin camp while the Sharks, six wins in a row, lose just one winger in Valentine Holmes. I have no doubt that Souths have been better than the Sharks over the past month, but with the line-up changes listed the Sharks couldn't have timed this clash better and will prevail.
Verdict – Sharks by 4
Result – Rabbitohs 22 defeated Sharks 14
Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights – Saturday night – ANZ Stadium
The Eels are at the bottom of the ladder but it's starting to feel like the Knights are heading in that direction. Note that their points differential is the worst in the competition and their season appears to have come to a grinding halt after such a promising start. No Origin players from either squad which is no surprise. Nathan Brown (the coach) would have put the wind up his troops after their effort last start but I still think the Eels will want this more. There's some chance that Nathan Brown (the player) and/or Jarryd Hayne could be back this weekend too.
Verdict – Eels by 8
Result – Knights 30 defeated Eels 4
Sydney Roosters vs Wests Tigers – Sunday afternoon – Allianz Stadium
The Roosters have been up and down like an elevator technician this season, and last week they were down in the first half and up in the second half. At their best they can still challenge for the premiership, but premiership challengers are consistent. This weekend they take to the field without Mitchell and Tedesco (their two most potent attacking weapons) and without Cordnor and Napa (their two best forwards). Meanwhile the Tigers go into this game without any changes. Scoring points has been an issue for the Tigers this season, but with the Roosters down on attacking firepower I'm tipping the Tigers in a low-scoring arm wrestle.
Verdict – Tigers by 4
Result – Roosters 16 defeated Tigers 14
Wally Lewis - round thirteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- SEA EAGLES vs Cowboys
- Rabbitohs vs SHARKS
- EELS vs Knights
- Roosters vs TIGERS