Thursday, March 09, 2017

NRL 2017 - Round 2: Dragons on Top

You know it’s footy season when the nightly news opens their bulletin with “A dark day for the NRL, as a new scandal unravels…”  We’re off to a flyer this year, but at least we have some new news for the NRL this time:  Panthers player Bryce Cartwright has been pinged as a dickwit who offered an ex-girlfriend $50,000 to get an abortion; and former Rooster/Bronco Martin Kennedy being arrested for his involvement in an international wildlife smuggling ring.  

I’m not saying that either of these are good news stories, but it’s a nice change to get some different charges laid against our sporting heroes instead of the usual “Fuckwit McGee had thirty schooners too many and punched on with his girlfriend (or someone else’s).”  Penrith Godfather and Rugby League doyen fuckwit Phil Gould addressed the Cartwright controversy in a calm, mature and all-encompassing way by giving the statement “no comment.”  Long-gone are the days of great press-releases.  Remember last year’s Parramatta media respondent?  That guy had RSI from all of the work that he did. 

Anyway, let’s put our lizard-smuggling tendencies aside and concentrate on what exactly is going to happen in 2017.  Here are my predictions, which are the right predictions and probably the only predictions you’ll ever need: 
Brisbane Broncos:  “Hello, Kicking Game?  It’s me, Brisbane.  How are you?  I was just wondering if you’d be interested in coming to the game on Friday night?  No?  You’re busy shampooing Adam Blair’s hair?  Fair enough then.”  Halfback Ben Hunt appears to have brought his 2015 Golden-Point form with him for another year, which is a bad sign for the Broncs.  Hunt has signed to head to the Dragons at the end of this season, but if he keeps playing like he did last week, they’ll probably be all like, “Oh yeah, we were just kidding about that.  We already have a halfback anyway.  Have you met Josh McCrone?”

Canberra Raiders:  The mighty fucking Canberra Raiders fell ball-agonizingly short of a remarkable win at the second-stupidest-named stadium in Australia in Round 1, confirming that they are living up to their pre-season hype of being The Greatest Team Ever In The History Of The World Except For Last Week Where They Lost To The Cowboys.  With a massive forward pack, a couple of escaped cons in the backline and a motherfucking Viking on the sideline, the Raiders will only get better this year. 

Canterbury Bulldogs:  Correct me if I’m wrong (don’t, though), but is this the same Canterbury Bulldogs side that has been going steadily downhill for years?  Like, they haven’t actually got any new or better players since about 1987?  Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t win any games at all this year.  In fact, that would probably be the best thing for everyone.  Except the Dogs, obviously.

Cronulla Sharks:  Paul Gallen really should have retired last year when the Sharkies won the premiership.  Instead, he’ll no doubt hang around for another 50 years being rubbish until they can somehow cheat enough to win again.  Something tells me that they got rid of the wrong drug-cheats from the team.

Gold Coast Titans:   They look pretty underwhelming on-field this season, but will dominate the back-pages of the paper for all the wrong reasons.  The best thing that the Gold Coast did for their crowd attendance last year was buying Jarryd Hayne after his shithouse NFL/Olympic debacle.  The worst thing they did for their football was buying Jarryd Hayne.  What a knob.  The guy is putting himself well and truly above the team, then hitting out on Twitter.  Who does this guy think he is, Donald Trump?  Hayne will leave the NRL by May (bonjour French rugby), which will still give the Titans just enough time to get into the top eight.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles:  Eh.  I’d love to say that they’ll really miss Brett Stewart and Steve Matai this year, but they have been passengers in the club for a few years now.  If only they could get rid of the other 17 numpties in the squad then they could challenge for a finals spot.  Another bleak season is on the cards, and they’ll probably lose Tom Trbojevic to injury, poaching or dyslexia at some point during the year.

Melbourne Storm:  The Storm have an uncanny knack of doing the very fucking bare minimum to win a game, and 2017 will be no different.  They’ll just keep doing what they do, but just a little bit worse than last year.

Newcastle Knights:  The Knights should relocate to Christchurch, with all the rebuilding that’s going at the club lately.  I don’t foresee a whole lot of good times for the Novacastrian faithful, but I am predicting a better year for them than last year, which is probably the equivalent of saying that the next time Grant Hackett gets drunk and grabs your nipples, he won’t be as drunk as last time.

New Zealand Warriors:  The Warriors will have another underperforming season, whereby they ultimately have the backbone of the New Zealand national side, but play with the fluency and coordination of Grant Hackett on a plane trip.  Keiran Foran is tipped to be coming back around Round 8, which is just about the right time for him to lead the Warriors into eleventh place on the ladder. 

North Queensland Cowboys:  Remember when the Cowboys relied 100% on Johnathan Thurston to win them games?  Well now Cowboys fans can relax, as Jason Taumalomo is now there to shoulder half the responsibility.  The North Queensland Thurstonolomos are tipped to contend the Grand Final, and unless either one of those guys literally explodes in a fiery mess or something, will probably go really fucking close. 

Parramatta Eels:   The Eels are kind of at the top-half of the “just making up the numbers this year” teams, and I think will be surprised when they find themselves in the finals.  If they can keep third-party payments above board, their wingers out of Fiji (and out of jail), their halfbacks out of brothels, and everyone off the drugs, it should be a pretty good year for Parra. 

Penrith Panthers:  Let’s just hope that Round 1 was a complete and utter fuck-up and Penrith turned up to the game after a funeral or something.  For a side that is meant to be knocking on the premiership door, they fell pretty fucking short.  I’m not saying that they were disappointing, but if they sent me a text message, I would totally wait until the next day to respond.  Also, why the fuck did they buy James Tamou for $600,000 per season?  That is a shit decision right there, like when I got drunk and bought a guitar on eBay, only this move is way more expensive and you can’t just throw Tamou into the spare room and forget about him.  Or can you?  No, not ethically. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs:  Souths really have fallen in a heap since winning the comp only a few years ago, and many thought that 2017 was going to be a redemption season… until the year kicked off and everything went even more belly-up than it had before.  Inglis is gone, probably for the entire year.  Honestly, the best thing that that guy can do from here is retire and free up about $1million per year for Souths to spend on a player who isn’t made of pillows.  I don’t see Souths doing much of anything this year, to be perfectly Francine. 

St George Illawarra Dragons:  … I can’t even.  I had the Dragons tipped to come dead-fucking-last before the year began, and then they go and win against a side that most had picked to be premiership material.  Not just won, but fucking nutted them like a bag of dicks.  Yeah, I don’t really know what I’m saying either.  Maybe the Dragons aren’t as shit as I thought.  Nah.

Sydney Roosters:  I think they will have a better 2017 than they did 2016, which really shouldn’t be too hard unless each player and their mums have their legs fall off.  I like to think that it happens to each player in a unique and whacky way, like Mitchell Pearce is mucking around in a sawmill when the inevitable happens, Boyd Cordner gets his legs cut off when he gets stuck in the automatic doors at Woolies, and Latrell Mitchell is carving ham and drops the knife onto his legs. 
Yeah anyway, the Roosters will do well this year.

Wests Tigers:   In a couple of years, the Tigers will take over the mantle of “most entertaining team in the NRL” as they throw the ball around to their quick men, have the most talented playmakers, some agile back-rowers, a couple of monster props and probably the best looking coach.  The one thing they’ll need to focus on this year is when to turn on their razzle, and when to de-dazzle their pinazzle, if you knazzle what I mazzle. 

So that's the year in preview.  For those with shorter attention spans, here's what we can look forward to over the next four days:


Roosters (1.45) vs Canterbury (2.85)

And so the age-old question will be answered: if a team of professional footballers play a team of professional witches hats, who will win?  The Dogs have tried to fill their defensive lapses with Will Hopoate bringing Jesus into the game, but this probably won’t help - as was written in the Bible:  And Matthew said, “Lord, come tackle me” and Jesus did confront his friend, but could not stop him with his flapping arms.  Matthew said, “Lord, try again, but try using your whole body.”  And Jesus did, but put his head too low and was struck in the temple by Matthew’s knee.  “Lord, are you ok?” Matthew inquired.  “Fuck off, Matthew, you fucking cheated,” Jesus did respond.  And so they did put Jesus to defend on the wing, and did not attack down his side too often so he didn’t feel too bad. 

Warriors (2.15) vs Storm (1.73)

The Warriors traditionally “turn up” against the Storm, who traditionally “turn up” against everyone else.  So I guess this one will come down to who “turns up” the most.  I’m reckoning that the Storm will “turn up” to the tune of about 16 points.  On a side note, Jesse Bromwich dislocated his thumb OUT OF HIS SKIN last week.  Fucking gross.  If that happened to me, I’d just cut my arm off. 

Brisbane (1.85) vs North Queensland (2.00)

Brisbane’s game plan of “if we’re inside our opposition’s 40 metre zone, put up a bomb and hope for the best.  If we’re outside the 40, just boot it down the centre of the field as best you can… and hope for the best” is starting to wear pretty thin.  For their sake I hope they improve in that aspect of their game.  For my sake of tipping, I hope they don’t.  The last million games between these two have been golden-point thrillers; I don’t think this one will get to that. 

Newcastle (2.50) vs Titans (1.55)

Oh fuck, who cares?

Manly (1.65) vs Souths (2.30)

If there’s a side with a worse forward pack than Souths right now, it’s Manly.  I think that the Bunnies will actually gel better without Pinglis taking up valuable real estate on the field, and also fuck Manly.

Canberra (1.55) vs Cronulla (2.50)

This is shaping up to be a classic modern rivalry, with the toothless, dribbling, meth-addict, dole-bludging, peptide-smoking premiers just having the edge over the handsome, rugged, athletic, powerful and honourable Raiders.  Canberra will be looking to avenge their grinding loss from the last round of finals last year, and what better way to get even from losing a finals match is to beat that team in round 2 the following year?

Tigers (2.05) vs Penrith (1.80)

If we look at this game on recent form:
Tigers defeated Rabbitohs by 16 points in round 1.  Rabbitohs defeated Dragons by 22 points in Charity Shield.  Dragons defeated Panthers by 32 in round 1
Based on this, the Tigers should beat the Panthers by 70 this week.  However, I’m sticking with the Mountain Men for another week (because I hate myself), as long as Bryce Cartwright can remember that he’s a 110kg back rower instead of a 60kg halfback. 

St George (2.00) vs Parramatta (1.80)

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if St George’s round one upset win is the highlight of their entire season.  In round 17 when they get destroyed 82-12 by the Raiders or the Cowboys (or the Knights), they’ll still be laughing and patting each other on the back and reminiscing about the time they beat someone and they were on top of the ladder. 

This just looks wrong

Next week:  A forgotten legend of the game

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