Three things The Thinker learned in round eleven
- You can still get sent off in the NRL.
- I'm serious...you really can.
- But you have to really earn it.
Brisbane Broncos vs Parramatta Eels – Thursday night – Suncorp Stadium
The NRL are cracking down in time-wasting in round 12 so I'll try be brief. Once again the Broncos have put in a spirited display after I (gently) put the boot into them last week. They've lost another forward with Korbin Sims nursing a jaw for a while. They can't afford to lose too many more. The casualty list would concern me but the Eels unavailables is just as long. Beau Scott joins Mannah, Hayne, Brown and Evans in rehab, while Kenny Edwards won't be playing while he spends some time at traffic school (Kenny...Thinker shakes head). Broncos at home, with a few in their side trying to get noticed before the State of Origin teams are selected.
Verdict – Broncos by 4
Result – Broncos 18 defeated Eels 10
Canberra Raiders vs Manly Sea Eagles – Friday night – GIO Stadium
The arrival of Trent Hodkinson at Manly is well-timed given the swollen nature of Dylan Walkers' face. These sides met in round four where Manly prevailed 32-16 at Lottoland. A couple of things to note about that game – Manly battled a heavy injury toll and had just 14 men left at full time...and Canberra were awful. They'll be better this time but not good enough. Since Trent Barrett told the team he wasn't going anywhere the Sea Eagles have taken their game to another level.
Verdict – Sea Eagles by 4
Result – Raiders 21 defeated Sea Eagles 20
North Queensland Cowboys vs Melbourne Storm – Friday night – 1300SMILES Stadium
Signs of life from the Cowboys last weekend but the injury to Matt Scott is quite a blow. Francis Molo is the likely replacement but he's no Matt Scott. Michael Morgan looked good at fullback and I expect he'll be there for at least one more week. The Storm were about as awful as they get last weekend and they usually bounce back to form after a poor showing. Given the return of Cameron Smith it's almost a certainty. Note that Kasiano will return also, and there's some chance Jesse Bromwich could be back too. The visitors look too big and too strong. If they can hold the ball they'll rack up a score.
Verdict – Storm by 10
Result – Storm 7 defeated Cowboys 6
Sydney Roosters vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday afternoon – Central Coast Stadium
No injury concerns for the Roosters as they look to bounce back after a spirited loss to the Broncos in Brisbane. Dylan Napa used his head (for a change) and escaped suspension – upstairs is for thinking Dylan. The Titans have found another promising playmaker in AJ Brimson – if they can resolve some of their off-field issues they are starting to build a very competitive team. I'm with the Roosters who were good without winning last weekend, and quite a few of these chickens (Tedesco, Keary, Ferguson, Mitchell) get one last chance to push for NSW selection.
Verdict – Roosters by 7
Result – Roosters 34 defeated Titans 14
New Zealand Warriors vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Saturday night – Mt Smart Stadium
By sheer coincedence I found myself at the Townsvile airport with the Rabbitohs on Sunday after their win over the Cowboys, and a shortage of seating meant that Angus Crichton, Sam Burgess and Adam Reynolds sat down with ye olde thinker in the cafe for half an hour or so...so that was cool. Anyhoo...the Rabbitohs back up from the trip to Townsville with a trip to Auckland, and I think the travel will wear down those big big Bunnies. I felt like the Cowboys forwards were getting the upper hand late in the game last week, and the Warriors might be facing the Bunnies at a very good time. Tuivasa-Sheck returns for the home side, and there's a fair chance Shaun Johnson will be back too. With those inclusions, and a tiring Bunnies pack, I'll take the home side in this one. Keep your eyes on Issac Luke – I expect a big game against his former club.
Verdict – Warriors by 4
Result – Rabbitohs 30 defeated Warriors 10
Penrith Panthers vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Saturday night – Panthers Stadium
First plays second in the game of the round, and once again you'll need a subrciption television package to watch it (Thinker shakes head). The Panthers in 2018 are what many of us expected the Panthers to be in 2017. This is their sternest test thus far, and I think they'll fall short. There's some chance James Graham is rested for this game with a minor back complaint, but every other starting forward for the Dragons is in contention for a NSW Blues jumper. Providing the Dragons back three can handle those impossible bombs from Nathan Cleary the Dragons will prevail. I'm unusually confident for some reason.
Verdict – Dragons by 8
Result – Panthers 28 defeated Dragons 2
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks – Sunday afternoon – McDonald Jones Stadium
Two teams whose prospects appear to be heading in opposite directions – the Knights have drifted out of the top eight while the Sharks have won five in a row and sit on the cusp of the top four. No doubt a big home crowd will be on hand to give the Knights a boost, but it won't be enough.
Verdict – Sharks by 8
Result – Sharks 48 defeated Knights 10
Wests Tigers vs Canterbury Bulldogs – Sunday afternoon – ANZ Stadium
The Bulldogs have two prop forwards with Kangaroos jerseys in their closets, but they'll need to put on a show on Sunday if they want to play for NSW this season. While the selectors will be watching those two closely, most eyes will be on Josh Reyndlds if he returns in this game (and you know he wants to). The Tigers defence is still holding firm, but its their attack that needs to improve. The good news for the Tigers is that the only team to score less points than them this season is the Bulldogs. Hardly the best choice for the Sunday afternoon timeslot on Channel Nine I would have thought (Thinker shakes head again).
Verdict – Tigers by 4
Result – Tigers 14 defeated Bulldogs 10
Wally Lewis - round twelve selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- BRONCOS vs Eels
- RAIDERS vs Sea Eagles
- Cowboys vs STORM
- ROOSTERS vs Titans
- WARRIORS vs Rabbitohs
- Panthers vs DRAGONS
- Knights vs SHARKS
- TIGERS vs Bulldogs