The Finals Countdown - Round 26 preview

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Winging it
Here we go, last week of the general comp and last chance to have another idiotic stab at the results. It has been a very tough season. After what can be described as an abysmal first half where I couldn’t pick a banjo when sitting on the front porch, in the last eight weeks I have been one short of getting all 7 games right with the points start on 5 occasions. That doesn’t help getting a collect from the bookies which hasn’t happened once this year and confirms that MB and his money is soon parted.

Eels vs. Broncos. This is almost a walk up for the Slimes in front of a stadium that was sold out on Wednesday and will be baying for a menu containing horse meat. The bookies have the Eels @ $1.20 and giving 14.5 points start. The Broncos are ravaged by injuries and are playing like a PL team at the moment with no direction behind the pack. The big question is whether Lockyer is in and my money says he will be there. This could make the contest closer but all season it is consistent combinations that win games and Smith and Morris haven’t missed a game. Karmichael Hunt offers the Broncos something in attack but in recent weeks defensively he has been watching the opposition backs run around him to score.
Prediction: Eels to run away in the second half by 20+ points.

Sharks vs. Rabbitohs. The Sharks are driving punters crazy with their erratic form. A one week turnaround of 92 points is astonishing and last week they failed miserably to muscle up to the Knights. The bookies have them @ $1.33, along with -8.5 points. The Mixos have been impressive with wins against the Roosters, Raiders and Dogs in the last 4 weeks and will welcome back Ben Walker who has given them greater stability. The threat of winning the spoon will urge them on. The Sharks will really miss Jason Stevens, a man who loves getting the opposition’s knickers in a knot, as he is in career best form. The Sharks pack still looks stronger for mine and I can see them getting away to a good start.
Prediction: Sharks by 10.

Raiders vs. Sea Eagles. Is there really any other game this weekend? I don’t think so. The season for Manly comes down to one game. There has been rain around Canberra this week and more showers tomorrow. When the teams run on to the soggy ground in front of about 5000 spectators it will be a delightful 5 degrees with the frost starting to set in. The likelihood of the Raiders getting the spoon is remote but it is a possibility and the other games that finish the equation are on Sunday, so make no mistake - coach Elliot will want to win this one. The bookies have the Raiders @ $1.70, with -2.5 points. Team Canberra has yielded 44 points less than Manly over the season. Their weakness is in the pack and they have not had their preferred bookends for almost the entire season. Manly’s performance in this area is also disastrous. Will Beaver really play 5/8th? My guess is yes and therein lies where we will lose it. A backrow that is/was the envy of the comp being broken up again. Will Stewart play? I hope so and if not Steppa should be there, but we know he won’t. Out wide we are almost impotent - dump Hill and rely on speed. But it won’t happen.
Prediction: Raiders by 8.

Cowboys vs. Storm. Now here is a thrilling game with both teams blessed with outstanding backs. The Storm put the free running Tiges in their place last weekend and the Cowboys need the home ground advantage as the fire is going out. The bookies have Cowboys as solid favourites @ $1.50 and offering 5.5 points start. The Cowboys stood up against the Mixos last weekend but lost their clashes with the title contenders of Dragons and Tigers in the last 4 weeks. The word is that both Slater and Bowen are off their game, comments that almost defy belief. If the backs are a great matchup, which they are, it will come down to the forwards. Both packs have options but the Cowboys seem to get second phase play happening with greater consistency and Paul Rauhihi is the offload king with 54 this season.
Prediction: I am not confident but Cowboys by 4.

Roosters vs. the Dogs. Could there be a more wonderful feeling than seeing the rorting moneybags and the disgraced dogs both out of the 8 coming into this round? Well that would be Manly having clinched eighth spot on Saturday night, but you get my drift. Herein lies the problems with selecting results on Sunday when Saturday’s game is so crucial. Roosters are hot, hot favourites @ $1.20 and having to give 12.5 pts. The Dog’s pack is almost back to its best but they are still stuck with Corey Hughes in number 7 and behind Anasta they have nothing but wet caps in a toy gun. Personally I think the Roosters looked good against Brisbane because they had so many injuries and if you took Mini out of the equation there wasn’t much in it.
Prediction: Rorters by 6.

Dragons vs. Knights. The Knights have proved me soooo wrong and have looked top 4 material for 8 weeks. They are playing with such confidence and skill it is hard to believe that they will probably claim the spoon this year. Bookies have the Dragons @ $1.45 along with -8.5 pts. They both have packs that are firing and look even for mine, but the Dragons seem to have that ability to hold the ruck area with fierce in-your-face defence. Johns is a genius and creates spaces that few others can and their entire squad have the versatility to run off the opportunities. This will be a very close one. With the Eels most likely winning on Friday night the tranny in Brown’s ear will be tuned to the Tigers clash to see just how hard they have to deliver to hold second spot. Still they have a 20 point for & against buffer.
Prediction: Dragons by 6.

Tigers vs. Panthers. Telstra Stadium is not Leichhardt so some of the home ground buzz will be missing for the Tigers. They will have learnt a lot from last week’s dusting by the Storm. The Panthers are already planning Mad Monday and don’t have the spoon to worry about – just another poor year to forget about. The Tigers are @ $1.45 to win, and giving 6.5 points. Footie comes down to attitude and I don’t think the Panthers will be packing it in their kit bag before they leave home.
Prediction: Tigers by around 18.

A last note is that Manly are $1.65 to make the Top 8, Roosters $2.65 and Panthers @ $7.00. The odds are crazy and it is only the alignment of the stars and the fact that the Panthers are still in the mix that doesn’t have the Roosters with the money to go through. Bring on Saturday night and for this round I have no problems in making as many mistakes as possible so long as it includes a win against the Raiders.


Journey Man
The Cowboys vs Storm is game of the round for mine.

Either of those two teams are a real chance to launch a bid for GF glory from outside the top 4.

Chip and Chase

True Supporter
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Can't argue with most of that, although I think the Rabbits might get up.

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  • Jethro
    Star Trekkin' across the universe

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16 8 7 29 21
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