Round 8 Preview: In the clear at last

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Kim Jong Dan
Staff member
Tipping Member
Round 8 Preview: In the clear at last

It has taken 7 rounds of fantastic football to finally get a clear competition leader. The top spot has chopped and changed all year and has been decided on for and against rather than games won. Well no more. The Sea Eagles continued their early boom start to the season, running in 48 points against the Rabbitohs, whilst the Sharks and Raiders both lost games to fall off the pace.

It has to be mentioned again that this is one of the best seasons on record where just about any team can beat any other. It is especially sweet to see Manly back on top. Everyone is starting to hate the manly fans and team again and everyone is thriving on it.

On the other end of the scale The knights are sitting alone in the cellar and don’t look like they will be making much headway to get out of there.

Round 8 promises to be another blockbuster round so lets get into it

Game 1: Broncos vs Sea Eagles
What a game to start off the round, 2 of the leading teams both considered to be contenders for the premiership this year going head to head on Friday night.
In previous years this game would have gained barely a raised eyebrow, its great to see both team are riding high.

Manly are definitely hot at the moment being the second best defensive team in the competition and losing only 1 out of 6 games. They are coming of an annihilation of the rabbitohs and looking to put one over on the broncos to remain on top of the competition ladder. There are however 2 things working against them in this game,
1 – Manly over the past few seasons have played poorly at night only winning a handful of their night time matches
2 – The 1 game Manly have lost was away from home and at night!
I still think manly are a fair chance as long as they turn up hungry and worried about not getting a win.

The broncos no doubt are on fire also at the moment and many have touted them as this years big thing. But one thing has been consistent this year, each of the “Big things� have been defeated at the hands of the Sea Eagles, teams like the Storm, the Raiders and the Sharks all suffered their first defeats of the season against them. Will the Broncos become their next victims?
This week Brisbane will be relishing the return of Civinoceva, Carrol and boom fullback Hunt, whilst international centre Tate will miss the game with a severe gash to his tongue and a flare up of an old shoulder injury.

The Broncos are going in as favourites and it is hard to write them off at home in front of 40,000 screaming fans. But a lot of them fans will be Manly fans too as the broncos are hated and liked equally by Queenslanders.
An extremely tough game to call, Brisbane have won their games through attack rather than defence, in the process chalking up one of the worst defensive records in the league, in stark contrast manly have done it all through defence this should equate to a great on field battle.

Daniel’s Tip: Sea Eagles in a tough battle

Game 2: Storm vs Sharks

The Storm have regathered some momentum after a few dismal losses and managed a win over the Raiders deep in Raider territory. This should surely have inspired them and will bring them well and truly firing into this game. You can never give them home ground advantage however because the loyal 3000 supporters that turn up each week don’t really help their cause all that much.
The combination of Orford Slater was at its best on Sunday and resulted in a double to the fullback, which was instrumental in the win. I am not sure whether they can go on with it though

What is going to make this an interesting game to watch is that the Sharks have the best defence in the competition whilst the Storm have the best attack. It will be good to watch the battle and see the skill employed to try and crack the rock hard defence.

The sharks are coming off of a loss on the weekend to the broncos, who came from behind to take out the match in an ugly display of football. Surely this will have the Sharks fins in the air and have them looking for a feeding frenzy. With Melbourne you never ever know either.

Daniel’s Tip: Storm

Game 3: Bulldogs vs Eels

Before I start I have to let out an exasperated….�Finally� for the Eels. They went about systematically purchasing the best players out on the market and building on paper a very strong and quality football team. It has taken a while but they are now starting to show some form winning their second on the trot on Saturday night. Grothe had a fantastic game on the wing and there were some quality showings, but in all the game was rather messy and there wasn’t anything spectacular about it.

The bulldogs are really suffering at the moment. Just getting home over the hapless Knights and suffering from a slew of injuries to key forward O’meley, SBW and Mason. They are still a dangerous and quality football side and it would do teams well not to underestimate them at this point in the season. The replacement forwards are doing the job but where the team is really wining games is in the halves and outside backs. The general at the back is always dangerous as well. The Eels will need to muscle up out wide and be careful about playing a condensed sliding defence as Tonga and the rest of the backline have the ability to make fools out of you from anywhere on the park at any time.

Daniel’s Tip: Bulldogs to end the Eels winning streak, but make no mistake, the Eels are slippery enough to slip out of the doggies grasp

Game 4: Cowboys vs Roosters

Well last week I tipped against the cowboys and this became the one game that kept me from a perfect round. That means I will consider this game a lot before I make a tip.

The Cowboys came out winners in a dominating and powerful display over the Panthers in the Panthers back yard. At home their record speaks for itself. Over they are looking for their 9th in a row and it is entirely possible. They didn’t seem to suffer too greatly for the loss of Sing on Saturday and you would imagine the same would be the case this week. Carl Webb is going great guns for them as is Thursten and Bowen boys. Hannay also continues to impress with his goal kicking and an attempt at a trendy mullet that comes off more as cowboy cut.
This is a sleek outfit who know how to find the try line and at the same time keep the ball off of theirs. They are a team who prefers to win by carving up bigger blokes and putting the ball over the line, rather than grinding down other teams in defence.
They are more than capable of winning against a roosters team who are failing to impress and find their feet after the loss of the great Fittler.

The Roosters looked to have the game wrapped up over the Dragons on Monday, and were their own worst enemy in coming unravelled in defence, only to be carved up by Head. The Roosters are starting to play better football and play like the team they have become known as but there is still something lacking. There seems to be a lack of urgency and leadership on the field and this is translating to defeats that should have been victories. The last minute loss to the Dragons last week would have dented the Roosters pride and left them feeling a little worse for wear. This could bounce either way for them. It may spur them on to a classy and outstanding display over the roosters, or it may see them continue their fall from grace.

Daniel’s Tip: The Cowboys

Game 5: Warriors vs Panthers

I can’t wait for a round of rugby league this year where I don’t have to make 4 tough decisions out of every 7. This game is next to possible to pick. The teams are so up and down on form that I am surprised they aren’t on a see saw instead of a footy pitch.

The Warriors are coming off of the death sentence of the Bye. Not many teams have come off a bye to win this year but if there is a team that can do it, then it would have to be them. They are another team with a strong pack all around the park, even if they are smaller than previous warrior packs. This hasn’t really hurt them too much and they are now sitting inside the 8 after a tragic season last year that saw them go from one of the best teams to one of the worst. They are now doing things right and slowly putting the pieces back together to form a constructive and calculated season.
The additions of Steve price and wiki have been instrumental in this and they bring experience and level headedness to the team, which reflects positively in some of their on field performances.

The panthers are really struggling to find their feet this season and are in danger of falling back into their form of 2001/2002 where they were the easy beats of the comp. They have some quality players but are suffering due to the injuries to their big men up front one of which wont be back this season.
The Wesser/Campbell connection is incredibly strong and when they are firing it always end up in points for the panthers. Rooney and Phillips also offer a lot in their respective positions.
This is a must win for the panthers, its doesn’t have anything to do with finals chances or anything, more a confident boost they need to stay in touch with the teams flying high

Daniel’s Tip: The touch of death to strike again. Panthers

Game 6: Knights vs Raiders

From 150/1 to get the wooden spoon all the way to almost even favourites the Knights have shown what a dismal year they are having. I don’t feel sorry for them. The 1997 grand final ensured every last ounce of respect for those players and team was squeezed out of me.

The Raiders have had a downward spiral of sorts in the last few weeks losing 2 on the trot to Manly and the Storm. The loss of Smith and Wolfard has not helped them and with Smith still losing the Knights are a chance of getting up but I just cant tip them until they have one another game

Daniel’s Tip: Raiders…..If you’re a betting man put a few on the knights, but be prepared to say good bye to the dollars.

Game 7: Tigers vs Dragons

Anyone got a coin? I just don’t know in this game. Neither team have shown any real soild consistency.

The Dragons came out and won in the last minute against the Roosters which will do wonders for their confidence and enthusiasm but will it do much for their ability to play football as a unit?

There were some amazing plays and a very clever game play was employed against the Roosters. Minnichello is always standing either too shallow or too deep and this wound was exposed fairly easily by the Dragons and this is how they snatched the game out of the Roosters hands.

The Tigers are another team who have had some great wins and played some great football but their form can be unpredictable. Lets face it, benji marshall is the heart and soul of the team and without him they suffer a great deal. Whilst young he is a leader and does move them around the park with confidence and gusto.

Daniel’s Tip: Dragons

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Broncos v Sea Eagles

Manlys toughest task for the season to date. The Broncos are a solid unit and if they hit their straps like they did against the Eels then it might be ugly, as they have match winners all over the park. Tate out and Hodges to centre costs them a bit. Their forwards have no weakness and compliment each other well. The key for Manly is to come out firing and try and get a jump on them. Manlys forwards really need to put in big time and keep the ruck area iron clad in defence. Any laziness or drop in intensity will cost us. Looking for BK to lead from the front and have the rest of the forwards primed. Hopefully Beaver can put a few Jason Smith style hits on Lockyer. Pressure on Broncos back 3 under the high ball could be fruitful. Heart says Manly, head is a little apprehensive.

Manly by 7

Storm v Sharks

Cronulla were in it up to their necks against the Broncos and were probably unlucky given the disallowed try to Vagana. Peachey finding himself with ball in hand on the last tackle is a sure fire way to destroy any hope of scoring points. Melbourne back up after a romp in the park against the undermanned Raiders. The Storms form has been a little up and down and they did lose to the Eels at home, albeit in a lacklustre game. Much is made of the short in goals at Olympic Park, but this could be a major advantage given Cronullas propensity for 5 tackle then bomb play. Also I think with Slater, King, Geyer and Webster at the back that they will have the advantge in the air. This is one of these games that depends on who fires on the day. I'm leaning towards the Orford/Hill combo over Kimmorely/Dykes. However the Sharks have the advantage in the forwards I believe.

Storm by 8

Bulldogs v Eels

The Dogs have been very patchy this year, and seem to be letting teams back into games that they should win comfortably. Obviously they have some classy forwards out with injury at the moment, and I think the loss of O'Meley will be a big one for them this weekend. The Eels are going for three in a row, and have built their last two wins on a solid foundation of no nonsense forward play. I sense that all is not rosy out Belmore way, however they can ill afford another loss as they have a tough run ahead with the Broncos(away), Manly, Storm(away) and the Cowboys. However I think that the Eels can bustle them out of this one and if they play a no frills style as per the last two rounds I think they can drive a nail into the coffin of the Bulldogs title defence. Dogs best chance lays in throwing it wide and putting pressure on Wagon and Tahu. Also test Burt and McKinnon under some high balls.

Eels by 6

Cowboys v Roosters

The suspension of Finch will weaken the Roosters significantly. They have had plenty of trouble settling on a halves combination this season as it is. Cowboys have been playing an exciting brand of football and they have some real gamebreakers in Bowen and Thurston. Rod Jensen off the bench has been one of their best. Justin Smith at 5/8 is their weakness. Rauhihi, Webb and Tronc will have to lift to stop the Roosters forwards getting a roll on and doing their submit/quick play the ball routine, as this is the key to their game. I think the defence of Hannay and Bowman can counter the in form Cross and Flannery. I have a funny feeling that the Cowboys will get up in this one, they are playing with confidence and the bounce of the ball seems to be going their way as evidenced against the Panthers last week.

Cowboys by 10

Warriors v Panthers

Geez, toss a coin. The Warriors off the bye and a last gasp come from behind win against the Knights. The Panthers fresh from a loss at home and a patchy form line. Wiki back for the Warriors is a big plus. Galuvao's health must be in question as he seems to carrying a lot of niggling injuries. Penrith probably have the edge in the key positions, with Priddis, Gower and Wesser. I'm loathe to tip the Warriors as you never know what you are going to get. Look for Skinny Byrne to break out in beads of sweat should he get in the clear as he has flashbacks to Penrith jumpers cutting him down in cover defence. No Sattler this year, but I think the Panthers have the goods to account for them.

Penrith by 14

Knights v Raiders

No point wasting too much time on this one as it is basically a battle of reserve graders. Injury clouds hanging over M Gidley and Carmont. The Raiders are without a host of their "stars". If Gidley and Carmont play then I think the Knights can crack it for a win on the back of Buderus.

Knights by 20

Tigers v Dragons

The Tigers started the season well, including back to back wins over last years grand finalists. However they have come back to earth with two straight losses, and they do seem to leak a lot of points even when they win (Warriors game excluded). They do play an enterprising style of game and aren't afraid to throw it around. The Dragons have turned around a horror start and have played well the last three weeks, no doubt Browny is happy to have all his cattle back. I don't think the Tigers have the forwards to counter the Dragons and if the Dragons play with some of the passion and composure they showed against the Roosters they should win easy.

Dragons by 20
Team P W L PD Pts
10 9 1 124 20
10 8 2 81 18
10 7 3 70 16
10 7 3 69 16
11 7 4 59 14
10 6 4 -10 14
11 6 5 107 12
11 6 5 -9 12
10 5 5 -56 12
11 5 5 30 11
10 4 6 15 10
11 5 6 -12 10
11 4 6 -7 9
10 3 7 -103 8
10 2 8 -81 6
10 2 8 -91 6
10 1 9 -186 4
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