100318_ant'sanalysisWhat a week.  Timana Tahu just can’t keep himself out of the headlines.  A four week ban and a prescription of cold showers are in store for Tahu who had a fantastic brain fart against the Knights on Monday night.  It certainly didn’t look to me like he was interested in reconciliation.

Times must be tough at Parramatta.  I knew Paul Osborne was a bit tight when he decided to halt all contract negotiations until the Eels started winning – But using the five finger discount at the supermarket!?!?!  Too funny.

Like the faceless powerbrokers of the Labor Party, there are unsubstantiated rumblings that some Roosters players are abusing prescription medications.  It all happens at Bondi Junction.

It’s no coincidence we have our first female PM during the ‘Women in League Round’.  If she can play full forward for the Western Bulldogs, surely she can play prop for the Cowboys…  Apparently she’s a Storm fan.  There goes my vote.

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Oh BTW… Why is Hulk Hogan flogging Sydney Roosters’ memberships?  He is about as convincing as Jeremy Jackson (Baywatch’s ‘Hobie’) is with his nasal delivery technology.  I’ll take three.

The footy wasn’t great, so at least the off-field action kept us entertained.

Dragons v Tigers – 7:35pm Friday June 25, WIN Jubilee Stadium

The Tigers have won the last four straight while the Dragons have won the last three.  On paper, you would expect this battle of first and third place on the table to be a close affair.  Not so.  The Tigers v Raiders game last weekend was an absolute abomination and an insult to the great game of Rugby League.   The Dragons are by far and away the most consistent performers in the competition, whereas the Tigers played well, played like crap, are in another purple patch and are now due for a loss.  Last week was a lucky escape and luck will not be on their side against a St George side that treats luck as a combination of preparation and opportunity.  I like Wade McKinnon at the back for the Tigers.  I don’t know where they found the money, but he is a quality player who has plenty of skills to display if he can return to his form of 2008.  Maybe he’s past it.  The Tigers should be concerned about their forwards.  They were completely outplayed and exposed by the muscle of the Raiders’ pack.  Get ready for the Dragons to exploit those weaknesses.

Dragons by 14.

Panthers v Sea Eagles – 7:35pm Friday June 25, CUA Stadium

Last weekend, the Sea Eagles only narrowly avoided disappointing me, while the Panthers surprised me.  The Sea Eagles are still struggling to close out games and have not shown premiership material for the last couple of months.  Without Lyon, their attack seems to rely on the skills of Big George Rose! At least Manly let their fatties stay that way.  The Panthers will gain a lot of confidence from their hard fought win against the Broncos last week, and that should be enough to topple the Sea Eagles.  That kid Lachlan Coote can score tries against the best of them – Great to watch.  Mind you, the Panthers’ game against the Broncos last weekend could have been a completely different affair had the ref checked to see if Izzy had actually knocked on.  I may be a La-Z-Boy referee, but if you’re going to go upstairs for 90% of possible tries, you may as well go up there for all of them.  It’ll be the pretty Pink Panthers who will put on the points in Penrith this weekend.

Panthers by 8.

Eels v Broncos – 5:30pm Saturday June 26, Parramatta Stadium

This’ll be a cracker.  Anyone who watched the Eels v Knights game on Monday would have seen the Eels play like excrement.  They won’t do that again, not at Parramatta Stadium this weekend anyway.  The Broncos were convincingly beaten by the Panthers last weekend, but they have found some rare form over the last two months, and should challenge the less impressive Eels.  The Eels won the last game against the Broncos in this round last year, but they don’t have a great record against Brisbane, or at home in the last few rounds. Still, the inevitable bounce in form from a bad defeat and the home ground advantage should hold the Eels in good stead.  At least with Tahu on the side lines they should get a full complement of level headed players for 80 minutes.  Shame really.  If it were up at Brisbane, I’d be all over the Broncos and I’d expect them to win big.  But with last week’s results and the game at Parra, the Eels should scrape home.

Eels by 1.

Rabbitohs v Storm – 5:30pm (AEST) Saturday June 26, Members Equity Stadium, Perth

So the South Sydney Rabbitohs are playing the Melbourne Storm in Perth…  Go figure.  I thought the Western Reds was enough of an experiment.  I know I rabbit on about Isaac Luke each week, but he is the form half running around the comp at the moment.  He almost singlehandedly defeated the Sea Eagles last week, and has an incredible knack of finding gaps, and putting himself or others into them.  If only he was a New South Welshman.  The problem for the Rabbitohs is that the Storm have half a dozen Isaac Lukes in their side.  The Storm have only lost to the Rabbitohs twice in thirteen encounters, and the Melbourne side have won the last eight in a row.  Maybe South Sydney have sacrificed their home ground advantage and taken a punt that the Perth crowd can deliver them a win.  I don’t think so.  The Storm smashed the Cowboys last weekend, and they’ll win convincingly in Perth.  The last time these two played at the same venue, the Storm won by 6.  It’ll be more than that with these cheating Mexicans.  Haven’t brought that up for a couple of weeks.

Storm by 8.

Cowboys v Sharks – 7:30pm Saturday June 26, Dairy Farmers Stadium

Lets look at some official statistics.  Both of these teams suck.  The Cowboys are at the bottom of the ladder (less Melbourne) with four wins, and the worst defence in the competition.  The Sharks are third from the bottom (less Melbourne), also with four wins, and the least points scored in the competition.  Anyone excited about this weekend’s prospects?  Didn’t think so.  The Cowboys took advantage of a poor showing by the Raiders a couple of weekends ago up at Dairy Farmers but they were absolutely destroyed by the Storm the following week.  The Sharks were beaten by the Dragons 22-4 last week, but they actually looked all right.  The boys from Cronulla have been slowly improving, but there’s nothing to get really excited about.  While the Cowboys have only won three of the last ten at home, but they have beaten the Sharks in their last two encounters, and they’ll give their fans a rare treat with back to back home wins this weekend.  Sharks are missing Snowden and the ability to play well.

Cowboys by 6.

Titans v Knights – 3:00pm Sunday June 27, Skilled Park

The Titans are back! Well sort of.  They backed up their impressive win against Manly with a fairly average one point win over the Doggies.  A win is a win.  I can’t stress enough how poor quality most of the Knights v Eels game was on Monday night. The Knights may have beaten the Eels, but the real losers were the poor fans who were made to suffer the absolute non-spectacle.  The Knights will have no chance against the Titans.  Yes they have a couple of players who can do a couple of good things each game, but that shouldn’t be enough to win a game of footy.  Even without Scotty Prince, the Titans will be too good for a Knights team that have only won five from fourteen this season.  The strength of the Titans side lies in their forward pack.  They are big, fast and skilful.  With Preston slotting into the halves, and Rogers and Bird in the side, there will be enough attackers to make up for any tries Uate scores with his blistering pace.  Skilled Park is a bit of a fortress for the Titans and will be too much for the Novo Castrians to master.

Titans by 16.

Roosters v Warriors – 6:00pm (AEST) Sunday June 27, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Christchurch!?!?  Does anyone play league in the South Island?  How much are the Roosters getting paid to host the Warriors over the ditch?  I guess the Roosters are hoping the Warriors are rubbish and that the two competition points will be travelling back to Sydney on the team flight.  I wonder how much the Roosters would pay for two points come the business end of the season?  Both teams are coming off a bye and previous round wins, but neither team has established any consistency.  The Warriors have only won three from their last eight, but they have the Beast fit and well this weekend.  Yes, the Roosters have Pearce and Carney in attack, but I’m picking a Warriors surge towards the finals.  The Warriors have played at AMI Stadium three times, with only one win from their last start against the Tigers.  That being said, the Warriors have a great record against the Roosters with only one loss and a draw out of the last eight games.  The Warriors in New Zealand will be tough for the cocky Bondi boys pepped up on goof balls.

Warriors by 7.

Raiders v Bulldogs – 7:00pm Monday June 28, Canberra Stadium

At least 20 points went missing from the Tigers v Raiders game last weekend.  The Raiders forwards gave their team enough ascendency to put them in good field position, then their backs would fumble the ball and the tries went begging.  Still they have MASSIVE forwards.  Shillington is really hitting some form.  The Dogs on the other hand are a sorry bunch.  I feel for them.  They have been putting on points, and getting into winning positions, but just not finishing the job.  At least they are consistent with six losses in a row.  I’d like to back the Doggies, but with only three wins this season, what are the odds? $2.55 apparently.  The Raiders need this to stay in touch with the top eight, while the Bulldogs must have half of their thoughts on next season.  The Raiders at home have not been as formidable as we have seen the Green Machine in Canberra in past years, however they are still a tough ask.  I certainly don’t want to come up against their forward pack on a freezing Monday evening.  The Dogs will go down again.  Canberra need to use this weekend to start fulfilling their ambitions for the latter half of the season.  Finals are still a possibility…

Raiders by 6.

Progress Score Round 15 – 64/108 59.3%

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

  • Dragons v Tigers – Dragons 13+
  • Panthers v Sea Eagles – Panthers -5.5
  • Eels v Broncos – Eels 1-12
  • Rabbitohs v Storm – Storm 1-12
  • Cowboys v Sharks – Cowboys 1-12
  • Titans v Knights – Titans 13+
  • Roosters v Warriors – Warriors 1-12
  • Raiders v Bulldogs – Raiders 1-12

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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