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.
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.
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
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.