NRL Hot Form Chart
Last year it was the grapple tackle, this year it’s the prowler. South Sydney’s gun recruit Craig Wing had his shoulder dislocated when he was hit late, hard and from behind by the Roosters’ Riley Brown. Wing may miss the season. Brown will play this week against the Broncos. Such is football.
If the bitter clash between the Bondi boys and their rivals from Redfern provided the controversy of the opening round, then Parramatta gave us the comeback. After spotting the Bulldogs 20 points, the Eels got serious, running in five tries to zip in the second half and underlining their early season standing as a genuine contender.
Comebacks of a different kind saw Jonathan Thurston and Darren Lockyer both make successful returns from injury. The Maroon halves were impressive even if their clubs ended on opposite sides of the ledger.
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Brisbane’s was a clinical display against an opponent who is looking at a long season ahead. The Cowboys had a harder time against the Titans. The Gold Coast team are the NRL’s representative in Australia’s sporting battleground, and their victory in front of a capacity crowd at the shiny new Skilled Park (or Temple of Boom if you’re that way inclined) must have brought satisfaction to David Gallop and friends at NRL HQ.
Melbourne, predictably, began season 100 where it ended season 99: winning. Crikey’s top ranked team have set up a Hot Form Chart match of the round with Cronulla after the Sharks beat 2007 runners-up Manly and shot up to third on the Form table.
At the other end of the Hot Form Chart, things are getting a little chilly for the Bulldogs and Dragons, and their respective coaches. Lacklustre round one performances have increased the pressure on Steve Folkes and Nathan Brown, who must be wishing they play each other in round two.
Crikey’s Hot Form Tips for round two are:
Last week: 3
AFL Hot Form Chart
Crikey’s AFL Hot Form Chart is back and, like everybody else, we are ignoring the NAB Cup. Only the last five premiership games count when judging who’s hot and who’s not in world of Australian Rules and, as far as Crikey is concerned, no-one is hotter than Geelong.
The Cats made a mockery of the biggest game of the year by trouncing Port Adelaide in last year’s grand final. Power coach Mark Williams even declared he was a little bored when watching the match. Not as bored as I was, Choc.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the start to another AFL season without some kind of curtain raising bombshell and the issue de l’annee of 2008 is tanking. A disgruntled bit-player appeared on The Footy Show , gave half-intelligible revelations that everybody knew anyway, and declared that Carlton didn’t pick teams to win at the end of last year. Hmm… sounds like a Craig Hutchison “exclusive”.
What truffle will Hutchy’s snout unearth next? That Brendan Fevola has a bladder problem?
The season proper kicks off with tonight’s double-header. Chris Judd’s debut for Carlton has even over-shadowed the Grand Final replay. Judd, whose refusal to grant a pre-game interview raised football’s most prominent eyebrows, tests out his much scrutinised groin against Richmond, a Terry Wallace project. The bookies say the Blues. The Form Chart thinks otherwise.
The Saints are the footy boffins’ darlings on the back of impressive off-season trading and better than expected pre-season form. But Crikey’s Form Table reveals their finish to season ’07 was not as stellar as people remember. St Kilda’s opponent, the Swans, have the narrowest of form edges and a re-conditioned Barry Hall to boot.
Fremantle are an interesting one. The much-maligned Dockers showed signs toward the end of last season that they were getting it together under rookie coach Mark Harvey. But the loss of Paul Haselby leaves a gaping hole in Freo’s midfield and they come up against a team who went within a kick of eliminating the all-conquering Cats from last year’s premiership race.
Easter Monday sees the meeting of two clubs who went through much off-field angst over the warmer months. North Melbourne turned their back on Cavill Avenue, believing not all that glitters to be gold. Essendon showed the door to an institution, instated a young coach and infuriated the forces of conservatism. The Bombers exciting pre-season form has muffled the Sheedy-ites and set up an intriguing first round clash with the ever unfashionable Roos.
Crikey’s Hot Form Tips for round two are:
- West Coast
- North Melbourne