Friday, July 31, 2015

NRL 2015 Round 21: Fire all the coaches!

What a glorious week of football – it all began with the fallout of the Fifita twins being suspended for abusing a referee at a junior league game, Geoff Toovey was fired, Mick Stone was even more fired, and the Cowboys were accused of cheating the salary cap, but it just turns out that they were given “bonuses” by their club’s sponsor, in the form of extra houses.  Nothing suss there, especially since their chairman is a property developer. 

On the field, there have been more cricket scores than the current Ashes tour (fucking Australians), with the Bunnies, Brisbane and Cowboys putting on some big points.  The Sharks managed to snag another win against a Bulldogs team who have promised fans that they will “probably consider turning up to think about playing well” in their game this week.  James Segeyaro tried to sneak a win against the Raiders by attempting a chip-kick over an 8-foot giant in Edrick Lee, while Shaun Johnson broke our hearts when he broke his ankle against Manly. 

Geoff Toovey announced that he has been sacked as coach by the club for the 2016 season and will be replaced by St George numpty Trent Barrett next year.  Mick Stone was released immediately by the Newcastle Knights, with Danny Buderus given the reins to finish off a fuck-up of a year for the Novocastrians. 
You can't argue with Wikipedia

There’s a current NRL trend for defending teams to give up a penalty in their own 30-metre zone in order to slow the play down – giving the opposition an easy 2-point kick, which a lot of teams are opting for.  Instead, they should line up to kick the ball from right in front, but deliberately spray it short and wide for a winger or centre to race onto to score while the opposition are not expecting it.  I always thought the Raiders used to do this in the mid-90s for Noa Nadruku and Ken Nagas to score buckets of tries from, but then I realised that the Canberra kickers were just a bit shit.  Sorry Dave Furner. 

Round 21:

Sydney Roosters vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Fucking hell.  Games like this are proof that God exists and he hates the world.  Both teams have some giant fucking units in their forward pack, and some speccy runners in their backlines, but always seems to be completely underwhelming in all aspects of the game.  The Dogs would want to turn around last week’s fucking embarrassment of a game and actually turn up to this one, but I’m tipping the Chooks, mainly because they’ll be dressed as Captain America.  And if there’s one thing that epitomises the NRL, it’s a man wearing the Star Spangled Banner as a shirt.    

Wests Tigers vs Melbourne Storm
The Tigers have been putting up the equivalent effort of the bye this year, and I don’t see anything different happening this week.  The Tigers have been dealt another blow by having their captain Robbie Farah returning from injury, so they’ll have to deal with his incompetence as well as the clinical (read: boring) style of footy that the Storm have been producing of late. If anyone can stay awake through this one, they'll probably see Melbourne up by 20-odd.

New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks
The Warriors lost sex machine excitement machine Shaun Johnson to a broken ankle last week and capitulated (as you would) against a resurgent Manly outfit, and look fairly lost without him.  The Sharks are looking pretty decent without being spectacular, and will grind out a win against our Kiwi cousins this weekend.  Mick Ennis is playing out of his headgear this year; if the Warriors can’t find a counter for his kicking game, they’ll be on the end of a shellacking.  And fuck the Fifitas; without them, Cronulla will probably have about thirty less penalties and eighty fewer dropped balls than normal.

Nth Queensland Cowboys vs Canberra Raiders
Raiders will have to tag the absolute bejesus out of Thurston to have a chance in this one – someone with the agility to match him (Croker) or the strength to flog him (Papalli).  Unfortunately, that would leave an even bigger gap on Canberra’s left edge if Crokes takes him, or Papalli will spend the next six weeks on the sideline for trying to kill JT.  Thursty could probably sit out the next six weeks and still waltz it in for the Dally M.  While I think the Cowbs will run away winners in this game, it won't be an easy game.  The Canberra forwards have been flogging the piss out of teams lately, and if they can just get a smidge more support from the backline, they'll push any team for 80 minutes.  And Vaughan is my new Canberra man-crush.  

Manly Sea Eagles vs Brisbane Broncos
A lot of punters are saying that Brissy are “due for a loss”, but if they keep playing the way they have been, there's no reason why they won't keep smashing it all the way into the finals.  This week, they're up against Manly, who have been showing some good form of late and are rumoured to be “digging deep” to give “110%” for their departing coach, Geoff “Tooves” Toovey.  Also keep an eye on a young bloke called Jake “I just mashed my face on the keyboard” Trbojevic, who has the official “next NRL superstar” label tattooed across his forehead.  Donk a tenner on Lyon to score a try against Jack Reed (donk a tenner on fucking anyone to score against Jack Reed, just quietly), but in the end, the Broncs will take this one by 10 or so. 

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Newcastle Knights
Desperate to get a win, the Knights have dumped their coach, hoping that the league mythology will prevail and they’ll get up in a battle of “who gives a fuck” in the Gong.  The Dragons have lost seven games on the trot, and will be hoping to keep a fingernail grip on the top eight, despite the fact that they probably don’t deserve to.  This game will answer the age-old question:  Who would win in a fight between Iron Man and Spider-Man if Iron Man and Spider-Man were two under-performing rugby league teams? 

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Penrith Panthers
Three more players have been moved into the Panthers' morgue recovery ward, with Peter Wallace, Dean Whare and Nigel Plum joining about 30 other boofheads on the Struggle Street sidelines.  The Bunnies should probably walk over for another half-century this week.  Sorry Panfers.

Gold Coast Titans vs Parramatta Eels

The Eels have boldly named an unchanged line-up from the team that was beaten by 40 points last week, trying to prove that this team isn't as bad as they appear.  Parra’s defence this year has been as hard as soup, and their attacking plays demonstrate the ball handling skills of a lesbian.  In any case, this one could go the soccer route and be a fucking boring nil-all draw, or we could get some kind of 34-48 scoreline with nothing but razzle-dazzle and poor defence.  My thoughts: this game is more likely to produce no winners, just one team that lost harder than the other.   

Friday, July 24, 2015

NRL 2015 Round 20 - Comics and controversy and one more naughty c-word

What a glorious week in rugby league – the NRL announced that seven teams will be wearing superhero-inspired outfits based on Marvel characters in the upcoming rounds.  FUCK YES.  The Raiders, Roosters, St George and Cowboys will be sprucing up their Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor uniforms, Manly have thankfully got rid of their weird Wolverine yellow bullshit from last year and have adapted a more maroon-themed DareDevil jersey, while the Knights and Tigers will be getting Spider-Man and War Machine. 

It’s almost worth supporting the Knights to get a sweet-ass Spider-Man jersey.  Almost.

Personally, I would have gone for Black Widow over the fairly obscure War Machine, and used George Rose as the model.  If a big man in some tight leathers doesn’t scream “FUCKEN-FOOTY-YES-CUNTS” right in your face as you’re trying to buy a bucket of chips, nothing does. 

In other"news", Geoff Toovey is rumoured to be leaving Manly.  Again.  One day this fucking rumour will be true and we can all be rid of the little fucking rat.  I guess a broken clock is right twice a day, huh?  Yeah.  Philosophy, bitches.

In more recent and unexpected news:  last week, Roosters and New Zealand international Shaun Kenny-Dowell was charged with a string of offences regarding domestic violence.  This week, he has reportedly checked himself into hospital.  I reckon the footy community can try and join the dots on that one to come to their own conclusion.  Personally, I think it reeks of the MatthewNewton defense, aka the case of Guilty Minor Celebrity vs depression.  Before being caught knocking his ex-girlfriend around (a lot), I doubt depression or self-harm or whatever he’s in the hospital for had ever crossed his mind.  Amazing what being charged for assault and having your career and life tarnished forever will do to a person, huh?  I am also aware that I could be eating my proverbial words if something much more serious comes from this, so I’ll just give a message to SKD from the NRL regarding his AVO and hope that he’s OK.  With that many abbreviations, I could probably tweet it to him.  Twice.  

While I’m doing the controversial opinions thing, I also reckon that Bruce Jenner’s gender-whateverthefuck it is is a complete sham, and the world’s most extreme publicity stunt and grab for coin.  Just as you thought Bruce Jenner’s name was worth dick as he divorced from Kris JennerKardashian and everyone reckoned he was a twat, welcome to motherfucking Caitlyn Jenner, who everyone seems to love, because basically it’s politically incorrect not to love him.  FUCK.  THAT.  It’s still the same person, the same twat that we’ve always disliked, but now he’s wearing a dress and is on the cover of Vanity Fair instead of Men’s Health!  It’s all a bunch of bullshit.

I also think that Daly Chery-Evans will not last his contract at Manly, Shane Watson’s Australian cricketing career is not over and the latest Avengers movie wasn’t that good.  CONTROVERSY CORNER OVER.

Sometimes there's such a thing as "too many filters."  Thanks to Fox Sports for making this picture and caption possible.

Round 20
Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans
The off-season cocaine drama has clearly taken its toll on the Titans, who are afraid to hold onto the ball in case they are charged with possession.  Brisbane continue to roll on, just doing whatever they do.  It’s especially surprising how well they do considering one of their strike players in Jack Reed. 

Wests Tigers vs Sydney Roosters
Seems a bit odd that the Roosters get another bye this week… OH WAIT THEY DON’T THEY’RE JUST PLAYING THE TIGERS LOL .  The only way the Tiges can avoid embarrassment will be to run every single play at James Moloney, who has the most missed tackles in the NRL (congrats, Jimmy) as well as being the most penalised player in the league.  Funny that.  Note: I didn’t say that the Tiges would win, I just said it wouldn’t be as embarrassing.  The Chooks to get up after a “drama-filled” week by about 20.

New Zealand Warriors vs Manly Sea Eagles
There’s always one fucking game to ruin everything, isn’t there?  Both teams have the ability to score a thousand or go for eighty minutes without ever making it to their last tackle.  I’m going the Warriors, only because I don’t think they have it in them to put together two shithouse performances in a row, and also… Manly.

South Sydney Rabbits vs Newcastle Knights
If there’s a game for the Bunnies to truly get into the swing of things, this is it.  A down-and-out Newcastle team is just prime to have a half-century put on them.  I can almost foresee a Souths team that just tries that little bit too hard to be razzle-dazzle and ends up winning a fairly undisciplined game by 10.  Either way, fuck Newcastle.

Melbourne Storm vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Here’s a fun game to play at home – see how many times St George can rack up a new set of six tackles 10 metres from the Storm line, and then find new and inventive ways to fuck it up.  While I don’t think the Storm are the real deal, they’re looking too strong for the Dragons this week.  And you know when Cooper Cronk looks too strong for anyone, there’s some serious trouble.  I get the feeling Cronk’s the kind of grown man who would cry if he got stung by a bee.  Partly because of the pain, and partly because he killed a bee.

Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders
The Raiders cost me a FULL ROUND last week, so they’d better fucking deliver this week.  The age-old ploy of naming a halfback and then changing that halfback a minute before the game didn’t seem to work too well for the Raiders in last week’s controfuckingversial loss to the Sharks, so hopefully ol’ Sticky Stuart will have learnt about putting a halfback into a halfback role this week.  Probably not though.  In any case, can’t go past the Green Machine this week.  It’s my Achilles heel, except for when they play someone good.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks
Trent Hodkinson had a great game for the Dogs last week, answering his State of Origin critics… pity it was only against the Eels.  Could be a different story this week, as Cronulla look to keep their season alive.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about this game this week.  It’s fucking stupid.  Dogs.  Always Dogs.  Well, not always.  

Nth Queensland Cowboys vs Parramatta Eels

The Eels have been mentioned in a couple of pretty weird headlines this week, in that they’re trying to pay halfback Chris Sandow not to play… Sandow reject this offer and instead went about deliberately missing tackles and getting himself suspended for an illegal shoulder charge last week.  Yeah, it’s all fucking weird.  The wheels have officially fallen off at Parramatta, and I read today that Sandow has signed with the Super League.  So… have fun, Christopher.  PS.  Go Cowboys.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

NRL 2015 Round 19 - Heritage Round

Round 19 is Heritage Round, which is probably in my top twenty-six rounds of the NRL, and it gives the Gold Coast Titans a chance to fully appreciate their seven-year history and three previously-failed Gold Coast teams.  Long live the mighty Seagulls, eh?  Anyone?  No one?  The silence I’m being met with is like being at a Roosters vs Titans game.

The NRL has let itself down this week by not filling up any newspapers with player misdemeanours, assaults, arrests, drug charges, drinking, social media spats, code-switching, contract-dodging or peptide-chugging.  So either the NRL has done a great job in keeping things quiet, or the internet is down at Josh Dugan’s house. 

Way to go boys, everyone gave 110% this week, stuck to the plan and came away with the two points.  The forwards provided momentum up front and made some room for the backs to take advantage of.  Couple of lucky bounces in there, but that's the way of rugby league.  Full credit to the opposition who really stuck in there and pushed you all the way.  You should enjoy this win, go back to the drawing board & work hard at training, and hopefully take the momentum into next week, where you’ll have another hard game.  Thanks to Channel 9 and Mitre 10.

Round 19

Parramatta Eels vs Canterbury Bulldogs
This looks like the best Doggies outfit to have hit the park for some time.  Unfortunately for the Eels, it looks like the usual bunch of idiots that turn up for them every week to get beaten by 20.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even Semi Radradra won’t cross the line for a four-pointer, officially making this game a waste of everybody’s time.    

Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers
The Pennies have a decent forward pack, but the backline looks a bit too “meh” to me to trouble anyone.  And if you can’t trouble the Storm, you know you’re doing something wrong, who are on the end of a four-game losing streak.  Stupid Storm.  PS.  They’ll win by about 16.

Canberra Raiders vs Cronulla Sharks
The mighty mighty Raiders’ juggernaut is approaching warp speed WOOP WOOP!  Watch for the sneaky Sharks to take off one of their underperforming backline players (take your pick) through “concussion” for a free interchange to get Ben Barba into the game around the 50th minute mark.  Canberra will be missing their underrated halfback Sammy Williams through injury, but have announced Kurt “John the” Baptiste in the half line, which will be fucking interesting to see, as it has been a while since the Raiders have fielded anyone from Middle Earth.  Look for Papalli to put a few big hits (and a couple of cheap ones) on Cronulla captain Paul “I’m too old for this shit” Gallen.  Raiders by a thousand, but most likely a whole lot less.

Newcastle Knights vs Gold Coast Titans
If these teams grabbed a couple of pies and some beers to watch the Under 21s play, it would be a much better outcome for everyone.  Especially since Gidley would probably get his “Ooh, I wouldn’t have dropped that” comments going, and would probably get punched by a fat guy who hasn’t played since he was fifteen for slagging off his nephew. 

St George Illawarra Dragons. vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Saints welcome back five players from injury and house arrest this week, but are going into this game with about seventeen reserves just in case everyone falls apart again.  Both sides are playing a bit shit at the moment, but I reckon the Bunnies will get home in a scrappy, low-scoring affair. 

Sydney Roosters vs New Zealand Warriors
Warriors playmaker and human hard-on Shaun Johnson was reportedly injured during training during the week and is a “maybe” to play in this game.  If he doesn’t play, it will throw tissue consumption statistics in New Zealand into complete disarray.  Meanwhile, the Rooters are about as strong as a team with James Moloney in it could possibly be.  I would like to see the Roosters salary cap details, please.  Yes, all of them.  And a beer.  And a tissue.  Thank you.  Chooks to cheat home by eight.

Brisbane Broncos vs Wests Tigers
I have been trying to imagine the Tigers repeating their effort against the Rabbitohs from a few weeks back, but I just can’t see it happening again.  The Broncos are just looking too damn good right now – they are not playing magical football, but they’re getting it done with some grinding, smart play.  The fact that they won six in a row during Origin, are close to full strength and playing the bottom-placed team doesn’t really give anyone many other options other than to tip a big Brissy win.  And it hurts me to say that, because I still hate Brisbane because of Mick Hancock.

Manly Sea Eagles vs Nth Queensland Cowboys

This will be a good test for the Cowboys to prove that they are true premiership contenders – Manly are in good form but under shit-tins of pressure to win (how the fuck are they still a possibility to make the finals?), so this will be a good indicator of the Cowboys’ mettle.  The Cowbs will rely on JT to take them home, while Daly Chery-Evans will need to stand up again to bring home the bacon.  Carn you Cowbs.

Friday, July 10, 2015

NRL 2015 - Round 18: No more Origin bullshit wheee!

There were two stories that dominated the NRL landscape this week – one was the fact that Cameron Smith didn’t cure paraplegia following Alex Johnson’s incident last year, and the other was the constant “will he/won’t he” debate around whether Robbie Farah would overcome his injuries to play in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider. 

Cam Smith copped a dead-set flogging from the Channel 9 60-Minute “journalists” to the point that he has put a media ban on them.  Cameron Smith, captain of the national team plus the Melbourne Storm plus the newly-crowned champions of the world, the Queensland Maroons Origin side, will not speak to the “major” provider of rugby league in Australia.  I bet there are about a thousand other players right now wishing they’d done the same thing a whole lot earlier. 

After what felt like thirty seven years of hype, we can now officially put Robbie Farah into the “who fucking cares if he plays or not” category.  Let’s be honest, the guy is no Johnathan Thurston or Andrew Johns, who would dominate an opposition if you hacked off one of their legs with a dull and rusty soup spoon, this is Robbie Farah.  “Oh noes, Robbie isn’t playing!” the NSW selectors fretted.  “Before we officially forfeit this game, get… I don’t know… anyone else to play that position.  I think we’ll manage.”  Turns out that QLD won by the small margin of 46 points, a deficit I’m just not sure that Rob Farah, with his busted shoulder and fractured hand, would not have been able to close. 

So congrats to Queensland, who showed that the best offence is a great defence, and successfully (hopefully) ended the representative careers of Pearce, Hodkinson  and Hopoate for NSW, and proved that DCE really is shit.  So despite being a NSW supporter, I think they’ve done the game a huge favour. 

Round 18

Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights

A cold, rainy Friday night at GIO stadium is just what the doctor ordered.  To be honest, giving Canberra their first/only Friday night game just as an ice age is approaching is a bit rude.  With all fingers crossed inside my mittens, Canberra will walk over the top of Newcastle in this one, who, despite starting the season well, now find themselves on the bottom of the ladder.  And there’s no better way to lift your morale and get back into footy than with a trip to the nation’s capital just as the sleet starts coming down.  Raiders by a dozen.

Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters

I reckon the Panthers could almost sneak this one in… but I also reckoned that smartphones wouldn’t catch on.  Although I did have a dream the other night that Australia would be 3/87 in the cricket – but it turned out that it was England who were 3/87.  Spooky, eh?  Roosters by 10 or so.  Or Panthers by 10 or so.  It’s all the same.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Brisbane Broncos

A still-drunk Brisbane side take on a still-shit Bulldogs team in what is destined to be a cracker of a match.  I’ll watch this one just to see Hodges have a vom after the first 10 minutes.  After that I probably won’t be too interested, to be honest.  Broncos by 8.

New Zealand Warriors vs Melbourne Storm

The Storm always struggle against the Warriors, from memory.  Whether it’s the players, the strategies, the defence, there’s just something about the Warriors that troubles the Storm.  Although I could be thinking of a different team in a different sport, or even a team that doesn’t actually exist.  It might be a video game or something.  Warriors by 13.

Cronulla Sharks vs St George Illawarra Dragons

I don’t care who wins this game, but I hope the Sharkies do, because I’ve tipped them.  I figure that the Dragons will have a million players out with injuries, suspensions and court appearances, so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the Cronullas.  Not by much though. 

Gold Coast Titans vs Manly Sea Eagles

Congrats to Manly for finally sneaking their way off the bottom of the ladder, and are now sitting pretty in third last position.  YAY!  They will continue their “winning” ways by putting it to the Titans, who will hopefully give Chery-Evans a shellacking for not following through with his contract deal… but then will probably be thankful that he didn’t sign with them because he’s a bit shit.  

Friday, July 03, 2015

NRL 2015 Round 17: Too much weekend, not enough footy

Another split round this week, which will no doubt throw up a whole bunch of questions, like:  Who the fuck will win this one? 

Actually, that’s pretty much my questioning each week, come to think of it.  It’s a pretty topsy-turvy kind of comp this year anyway, so throw in a handful of games without Origin players, and I’m fucking at sixes and sevens as to who to pick. 

Former NRL player Karmichael Hunt admitted this week that he (and a thousand of his team-mates) used speed and cocaine during the off-season (and probably the regular season, pre-season, post-season and every second Wednesday morning).  This has taken a shitload of heat off the current NRL players who are under investigation for using speed and cocaine, which is a welcome turn of events, and possibly the best thing that Hunt has done for the game.

Unfortunately there’s always a yang to someone else’s yin in this sport, and the Sydney Roosters have undone all of Karmichael’s good deeds and have brought rugby league into disrepute once again:

The Roosters were allowed to ask Bieber one question:  What's it like playing in front of a big crowd?

The NRL has announced that from the 2016 season, interchanges will be reduced from ten to eight per team in an effort to highlight athletic ability, increase unpredictability and entertainment, and to ensure that George Rose is never signed to another club again.  While I think that less interchanges is a good idea, it will bring about people milking injuries to get a “free” penalty sub, and will reduce the impact of the gigantic fucking behemoth props that are running around destroying everything in their path and turn everyone into second-rowers. 

Plus, there are a few other rule changes that I’d prefer to see – players need to take more onus on ball security.  Just because there’s a bloke tackling your arm doesn’t mean he’s trying to illegally rip it out of your fingers (unless he’s Michael Ennis).  There needs to be more action taking on ‘blocking’ when a high kick goes up; it’s like a fucking NFL defensive line at the moment, and there should be some fucking guy keeping his fucking eye on the fucking water runners and trainers who go out on the field.  The Broncos have employed Allan Langer as one of their water boys, so they give him a couple of Powerade bottles, tell him to stand behind the defensive line and he directs the players around the ground.  It’s no wonder that the Australian team keeps getting beaten – they have no idea what they’re doing when it isn’t being fed straight to them.  Langer isn’t the only one who does it, but there are trainers who spend more time on the field than the players.  In 2018, they might have to bring in a rule that requires two water-boy substitutions per game just to even things out.  

Round 17

Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Both of these teams need to get their fucking consistency in order.  I can’t rightly tip anyone with their current form.  But I can’t go past Souths based on last week – John Sutton ran the ball gloriously, and racked up more metres than the Employee of the Month at the ruler making factory. 

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Nth Queensland Cowboys

The Cowbs let through 24 unanswered points in the second half last week, derailing their 12-game unbeaten streak, and proving that they really do struggle without Johnathan Thurston.  However, the Red V are missing Dugan, Merrin and Frizzell (and probably a couple more), so anything – or nothing – could happen.  I’m going for the Dragoons, but I’m not confident.

Manly Sea Eagles vs Cronulla Sharks

I wish I could be decidedly average at my job and still get paid $10 million like the Manly half-line.  This will be their last chance to get any kind of form back – if you can’t beat Cronulla, what fucking good are you?

Wests Tigers vs Parramatta Eels

Well, the Eels get to do what no one thought would happen this year – play a team lower than them on the ladder.  And they fucking deserve to be there too; the Tiges are playing absolutely dog’s balls right now.  It’s a rare kind of thing to say, but I’m giving the Eels my “cannot possibly lose this one” stamp of approval this week.  Sure, that stamp didn’t work out too well last week, but I still believe in it.