Blow that whistle Ref! - Round 1 preview


Journey Man
Tigers (2.65) Vs Dragons (1.48)

On Friday 10th March we will see the kick-off to the 2006 season between last years premiers and the best team never to win a premiership in the last 10 years. Both teams in recent times have been slow starters so this year at least one team will have some points on the board early in the season. The tigers have Marshal back from injury and have added some size to their pack in the off season with the addition of O’Hara and Galloway. They have also strengthened their premier league bench with the addition of Sam Harris. They were beaten up front in their trial against Manly 2 weeks ago and now come up against the best pack in the competition. The Saints on the other hand have internal issues, Lance Thompson was unceremoniously booted late last year and there are numerous rumours floating around concerning almost every star in the side. Bailey is off to the Gold Coast in 2007, will he be focused? Only time will tell. We have seen inner turmoil destroy the seasons of many clubs in the last 5 years. Can the Saints overcome this? The tigers have not had been without their share of controversy with half back Scott Prince set to join Bailey next year.

Tip: Saints pack will be too big and dominate, therefore not allowing the tigers pair to weave their magic. Dragons by 13+

Knights (1.80) Vs Eels (2.00)

After a shocking start to 2005 and a fantastic second half of the season it’s hard to judge just where the Knights stand. Johns is fit and will endeavour to do what he does best. Both clubs will see a coaching change at the end of the season and at this stage it looks like a direct swap may be on the cards. Hagen is locked into Parramatta and Smith is the frontrunner for the Newcastle appointment. This should lead to two fired up teams and some good footy. Parramatta have remained relatively unchanged from 2005 where they were minor premiers and chokers yet again. They have a strong line up across the park and it will take some Johns magic for the knight to break through.

Tip: Knights have the home crowd advantage and since there isn’t anything better to do in Newcastle Energy Australia will be packed. This will see them home in a close one. Knights by 6

Dogs (1.36) Vs Panthers (3.15)

If trial form is anything to go by this game will be close. The betting agencies seem to think otherwise. The Dogs have lost their representative 5/8 in Anasta and have to fill the hole with some untried talent. Sherwin had a poor 2005 and will be looking to recapture his form from a few years ago. Up front the dogs have a lot of power and will be hard to match early. Penrith have changed captains due to an unsavoury incident involving Gower, will the effect his game? I don’t think so. After a disappointing year in 2005 the panthers look to be relying on some classy juniors to come through as their recruitment was fairly quiet.

Tip: Dogs to come out firing 13+

Sea Eagles (1.28) Vs Raiders (3.65)

For the first time since Manly last won the comp we see them playing round 1 at home. A good omen? We hope so. After a big improvement in 2005 Manly have improved their roster in 2006 and look set to rattle the top 4. Canberra on the other hand have been tipped by many to receive the spoon after falling away to 14th last season. Both sides have started well in recent year and both have big home ground advantages. The raiders have a few players out with injury including 2 in the engine room which is sure to hurt them. Elliot who is moving to Penrith next year has opted for some junior players so Manly will need to be on top of the youthful enthusiasm that they will carry. Manly have not had a good record under lights in recent years however most of those games have been away. This year they have their first 3 home games under lights and should be able to get the monkey off their back

Tip: Manly at home to be too strong all over the park. 13+

Warriors (1.72) Vs Storm (2.10)

Round 1 sees two teams that are expected by most to go backwards this season, the Warriors with their off field drama and the Storm with the loss of Matt Orford. This game could go either way. Again with uncertainty at the club due to salary cap issues the warriors are expected to struggle. Add to that the kick in the face to supporters when the warriors were docked 4 points before the season even started. This will see crowds down a little since the competition is so close that 4 points can mean upwards of 5 positions on the table. The Storm have youngsters Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis covering the 2 departures that left for the northern beaches. They have been settling in well and seems to have formed some nice combinations in the trials.

Tip: Storm by 6 in a sloppy game

Broncos (1.62) Vs Cowboys (2.30)

QUEENSLANDER!! In what is to be the last season with just 2 Queensland representatives in the NRL we get the intrastate rivalry to kick things off. The Broncos are going through a bit of rebuilding with Bennet naming several youngsters over the tried and tested origin stars who are getting a little long in the tooth. There is still a question over the halves pairing in defence who last year were 1st and 3rd in total tackles missed. The Cowboys have lost part of their engine room but managed to keep most of the side unchanged. Since being rank underdogs and falling just metres short of the grand final a couple of years ago they haven’t looked back.

Tip: Cowboys by 13+

Rabbitohs (3.65) Vs Roosters (1.28)

The local rivalry is on for round one. Ashley Harrison comes up against his old team and Braith Anasta debuts against the team he almost signed with. The bunnies tried hard to purchase some blue chip players last year but were pipped at the post. Instead they have looked to their juniors to mature to form what will be an exciting team after coming off and improved 2005. The Roosters made some room last year and bought well to cover their weaker positions. They would have been very disappointed at missing the 8 and will be looking to get the ball rolling with a convincing win.

Tip: Roosters by 13+ with just too much class across the paddock

Sharks have the bye this week
"They have also strengthened their premier league bench with the addition of Sam Harris."
Classic stuff.
I still like the Tiges and Broncs. It's the Newc v Parra game that is killing me.
Good preview Fluff.


Journey Man
Absolutly right MB round 1 is such an unknown.

You have the good starters and the slow starters.

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