100318_ant'sanalysisSoooo…  Has anyone else had enough of the Storm’s salary cap breach story?  Even the tea cup, salary cap and meteorological puns are getting tired (however much I’ve enjoyed them)!

I guess News Limited may as well sell some papers about their own incestuous romp with the NRL and the Storm.

There’s a profit to be had in everything.

Let’s get back to the footy.

Broncos v Knights – 7:35pm Friday April 30, Suncorp Stadium

These teams are struggling.  With two wins a piece, they both need a turnaround in form if they are to be any chance of making the finals this year.  It’s actually not just a turnaround they need, but a handbrake, U-turn over double white lines.  And yes, this is only round 8.  The Broncos have the worst defence in the competition – two handed touch does not equal a tackle.  But at least the Broncos managed to beat the Sharks.  The Knights were absolutely abysmal last weekend where they were convincingly outclassed by Cronulla.  I didn’t think I’d say that about any team this season!  Whatever it was that sparked the Knights’ performance in round 1 has deserted them.  Even a bad Broncos side at home should be enough to beat the boys from Newcastle.  Thaiday, Lockyer and Izzy are shouldering a lot of responsibility for the Broncos, but they have able shoulders indeed.  The Broncos will rub more salt into a festering Knights side that are bleeding points and plain embarrassing.

Broncos by 8.

Eels v Bulldogs – 7:35pm Friday April 30, ANZ Stadium

The bookies are confident that the Eels are back in form and have them short price favourites.  This rematch of the semi-final last year that saw the Eels progress to the GF should provide a fiery match with some key contests in the backs.  I agree that last week up in Townsville was a marked improvement by the Eels, but the Bulldogs are also coming off two wins and apart from a second half lapse last week, they dominated the Broncos.  History and injuries suggest that the Eels should get up on Friday night.  The Eels have won six of the last seven against the Doggies, and the Doggies have lost three of their best players in Hannant, Roberts and Morris this week.  Idris is building his reputation as a difficult customer, but the formidable Eels centres of Tahu and Reddy can be just as menacing.  The Eels will win, but it will be much tighter than the punters would have you believe.

Eels to win by 4.

Warriors v Raiders – 5:00pm (3:00pm AEST) Saturday May 1, Mt Smart Stadium

Phat Ass! The Green Machine’s performances must be taking their toll on your health.  At least Sharks supporters don’t expect their team to win!  The Raiders once again (ala Manly) capitulated in the second half against the Rabbitohs on ANZAC Day.  How hard is it to put in 80 minutes?  They’ve caught the 40 minute bug which seems to be spreading faster than swine flu amongst NRL teams this season.  The Warriors were destroyed by the Storm, but the Storm were a team on a mission to show how dominant a team that cheats can be against a law abiding side.  The Warriors should be favoured at Mt Smart Stadium as the flight across the Tasman seems to affect visitors as much as the trip to Canberra (what does that say about Canberra and New Zealand?).  Hmmm.  Warriors will have the mental edge in this one, because if you can lose like the Raiders did (again), will they ever be confident that they won’t get chased down?

Warriors by 12.

Titans v Panthers – 5:30pm Saturday May 1, Skilled Park

This is a big game.  2nd plays 3rd on the ladder with only two losses each.  The Titans somehow “Houdini’d” their way out of a loss against Manly last week, even though they’re still missing the services of Scott Prince?!?!  The Panthers are sitting on a winning streak of four, while displaying some real premiership credentials.  The Panthers hushed the hopeful Tigers’ fans with an impressive display from the big boys in the pack.  Big Petro is playing like a fine Cab Sav you forgot you had in the cellar.  Laffranchi for the Titans continues to make his way through opposition defensive lines, and Preston Campbell was a little master from No. 1.  If the Titans had Prince, they would win, without him, the Panthers will be too strong.  The Titans managed to beat the Storm and Manly, but the Panthers have momentum on their side.  There are rumours that Prince will be back this week, but surely he shouldn’t be rushed into the firing line.  Panthers will upset the Gold Coast fans with a tight win.

Panthers by 4.

Cowboys v Storm – 7:30pm Saturday May 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium

The intrigue continues.  Look, the Storm have $700k extra on the field, who do you reckon will win?  The Cowboys haven’t beaten the Storm since the start of 2006, which coincidentally was when they started to breach the salary cap.  Funny that.  The Storm have strength across the park which should expose the weaknesses in the Cowboys attack and defence.  The Cowboys have actually lost five out of the last seven games up at Dairy Farmers, so the home ground advantage, if any, probably won’t impact the result.  It all depends on the attitude of the Storm players.  Will the Townsville crowd cheer or jeer the Storm?  I’m guessing jeer.  They are playing with an extra Thurston in the salary cap, are likely to steal the two points, might injure Cowboys players, and are the Melbourne Storm, so everyone outside of Melbourne hates them anyway.

Storm by 8.

Dragons v Sharks – 7:30pm Saturday May 1, WIN Stadium

The Sharks are paying over $5.00 in a two horse race which is absolutely justified.  The Sharks have the worst attack in the competition, amassing only 99 points this season, while conversely, the Dragons have the best defence, conceding only 71 points in seven rounds!  Sure the Sharks were unlikely victors against Newcastle last week, but Newcastle were rubbish and the Dragons are a THOUSAND times better than the Knights. Half of the residents of Wollongong will show up to witness the Dragons continue their winning ways.  Sorry Sticky, but I didn’t have a kebab for lunch today.  Sharks have no hope.

Dragons by 22.

Tigers v Roosters – 2:00pm Sunday May 2, Campbelltown Sports Stadium

Battle of 6th and 7th on the table.  The Tigers have had a recent slide with two losses on the trot, but out at the spiritual home of the Magpies you’d have to think their form will improve.  That being said, the Roosters have played much better than their results indicate.  They led the Dragons 6-4 at the break last weekend, and if the Roosters can put in a similar defensive performance against the Tigers for the full 80 (or at least 65 minutes) they’ll score enough points to win.   In the round 2 clash between these two, the Roosters triumphed 44-32, so if a team can work out how to defend, they’ll probably win.  Pearce is out for the Roosters which is a shame given his recent form but Carney is slotting into the halves as an able replacement.  Not only that, Minichiello will be safer at the back as Carney was a massive liability with his suspect defensive decisions in the No. 1 jersey.  The Roosters will, against the odds, upset the parochial Wests’ supporters in black and white.

Roosters by 8.

Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles – 3:00pm Sunday May 2, ANZ Stadium

I feel sick.  Dessy must have found some solace in Melbourne’s predicament, as his performance at the post match conference was much more calm and collected than the result justified.  The dressing room door must have been thankful.  Once again, Manly squandered a lead that should have been enough to win the game.  While Manly were the victims of a second half comeback against the Titans, the Rabbits inflicted a second half comeback against the Raiders.  So if you’re keen to go the half/full double, Manly at half and Rabbits to win would have to be an attractive bet.  The Sea Eagles were the darlings of the competition last week, but they couldn’t perform for the full 80.  Frustrating as a fan.  The Rabbitohs appear to have two teams that can show up.  The one that was shocking in their defeat to the Eels, and the one that showed up in the second half against the Raiders, with nothing in between.  The Rabbitohs play well when their forwards get the upper hand, and unfortunately for them, it won’t happen this week.  Don’t disappoint your fans again Manly, play the full 80.

Sea Eagles by 12.

Progress Score Round 7 – 34/56 60.7%

Multi-Magic … My long shot bets for the punter within…

  • Broncos v Knights – Broncos -4.5
  • Eels v Bulldogs – Eels 1-12
  • Warriors v Raiders – Warriors -5.5
  • Titans v Panthers – Panthers to win
  • Cowboys v Storm – Storm 1-12
  • Dragons v Sharks – Dragons -15.5
  • Tigers v Roosters – Roosters to win
  • Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles – Sea Eagles -2.5