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NRL Predictions Round 5

Ok folks, you asked for it and here it is – the analysis of your team leading into this weeks round. Some very nice NRL Rugby League match-ups here and already we are seeing how close the overall points are on the NRL Ladder.

Punters: the best value of the Round can be found on the Manly Sea Eagles, while we have tipped the Bulldogs – The unbeaten Eagles are paying $2.80 for the win which is a top deal.

Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers @ CUA
Always a big one the local western derby. Will be a very interesting forward battle this one, I feel the Raiders made the Eels look better than they were last week. Penrith while a little inconsistent, didn’t get much ball against Titans, but when they did – they used it. Considering this, and a big CUA Stadium crowd at Penrith –
Panthers to win

Gold Coast Titans vs Brisbane Broncos @ Suncorp
This could be a very firey match, two clubs battling for the love of the banana benders. Brisbane playing a physical, grinding style at present and face the unpredictable attack of the Titans. While a home game for the Titans at Suncorp, they will face a very tough test. I think the experience of the Broncos will be too much for the Titans in a big game atmosphere.

Melbourne Storm vs St George Illawarra Dragons @ Oki
The Dragons must be dreading this week, what a team to face for redemption – the Storm. Impossible to tip against the Storm. The Saints have pushed Matt Head back to premier league and obviously struggling for confidence and experience. Storm to win.

Bulldogs vs Manly Sea Eagles @ Telstra
Now this will be a top game; the unbeaten Eagles face a real test with the feared Bulldogs forwards. Kite vs Willie should be a classic, I think the Eagles haven’t really been tested yet and the power game and thrust from the Dogs will see Manly fall away. Dogs to win

NZ Warriors vs North Queensland Cowboys @ Mt Smart NZ
Yet another top clash, these two gun sides will face off in NZ. The Cowboys are starting to feel the injury pinch with Webb and now O’Donnell gone for NRL 2007. This is a game where they’ll need their best forwards, I think the Warriors were very unlucky last week and deserved the win over Manly. I’ve gone for an upset here, NZ to win at home.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights @ Bluetounge Central Coast
The Knights face the first day of the rest of their lives without Johns. This factor alone is sure to see them have a slight hangover, along with the fact that Seu Seu was diciplined this week and skipped training sessions. Souths will be pumped to redeem after being touch up by the Dogs. Souths to win.

West Tigers vs Cronulla Sharks @ Campbelltown Stadium
NRL will be reporting live from this game, and what a tonne of pressure the 2005 premiers are under. Winless this season, and they now face a confident Sharks team who touched up the Dragons in a big way in Round 4. While it might seem silly to bet against the Sharks, I think the Tigers simply have to win. A vocal crowd is always in place at the ‘in your face’ type ground at Campbelltown and will give the Tigers the energy they need to overcome the Sharks. Tigers to win.

Canberra Raiders vs Sydney City Roosters @ Bruce Stadium, ACT
What a big one for Monday night football, Rugby League’s cellar dwellers will battle it out for the spoon stakes and we are only in Round 5. Roosters are surely nearing their first win, hunting their 1000th win for what seems like years. But, the Raiders at home on a Monday night, like Round 3 vs the Knights – can really turn it on. Raiders to win.

NRL Teams for Round 5 Announced

Gold Coast Titans VS Brisbane Broncos @ Suncorp Stadium, Friday 13/04/07 7.30pm

Gold Coast Titans –
Preston Campbell, Lelea Paea, Brett Delaney, Josh Graham, Jake Webster, Matt Hilder, Scott Prince ©, Luke Bailey ©, Clint Amos, Michael Henderson, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Luke Swain
Bench – Kris Kahler, Brad Meyers, Gavin Cooper, Nathan Friend

Brisbane Broncos –
Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Tonie Carroll, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Darren Lockyer ©, Shane Perry, Dane Carlaw, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Sam Thaiday, Brad Thorn, Greg Eastwood

Bench – Ben Hannant, Nick Kenny, Ian Lacey, Michael Ennis, David Stagg

Referee – Steve Clark

Penrith Panthers VS Parramatta Eels @ CUA Stadium, Friday, 13/04/07 7.30pm

Penrith Panthers –
Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Mitchell Jennings, Luke Lewis, Luke Rooney, Peter Wallace, Craig Gower ©, Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Frank Puletua, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith
Bench – Matthew Bell, Junior Moors, Bryan Norrie, Paul Aiton

Parramatta Eels –
Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless ©, PJ Marsh, Aaron Cannings, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ian Hindmarsh, Daniel Wagon
Bench –Blake Green, Josh Cordoba, Richard Fa’aoso, Feleti Mateo, Fuifui Moimoi

Referee – Shayne Hayne

St George-Illawarra Dragons VS Melbourne Storm @ Oki Jubilee Stadium, Saturday 14/04/07 5.30pm

St George-Illawarra Dragons-


Melbourne Storm –
Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Antonio Kaufusi, Cameron Smith, Brett White, Michael Crocker, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson

Bench – Sam Tagataese, Jeff Lima, Ben Cross, Steve Turner

Referee – Ben Cummins

Canterbury Bulldogs VS Manly Sea-Eagles @ Telstra Stadium, Saturday 14/04/07 7.30pm

Canterbury Bulldogs –
Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Trent Cutler, Daniel Holdsworth, Ben Roberts, Mark O’Meley, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan ©, Reni Maitua
Bench – Dallas McIlwain, Nick Kouparitsas, Kane Cleal, Chris Armit

Manly Sea-Eagles –
Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steven Bell, Jamie Lyon, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Michael Monaghan, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite ©, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson
Bench – George Rose, Mark Bryant, Glenn Hall, Clint Halden

Referee – Paul Simpkins

New Zealand Warriors VS North QLD Cowboys @ Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 15/04/07 2pm

New Zealand Warriors –
Wade McKinnon, Todd Byrne, Tony Martin, Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, Nathan Fien, Steve Price ©, Simon Mannering, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck
Bench – George Gatis, Evarn Tuimavave, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira

North QLD Cowboys –
Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Neil Sweeney, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston ©, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, Shane Tronc, Steve Southern, Jacob Lillyman, Justin Smith
Bench – David Faiumu, Scott Bolton, Sione Faumuina, Ray Cashmere

Referee – Tony Archer

South Sydney Rabbitohs VS Newcastle Knights @ Bluetongue Stadium, Sunday 15/04/07 2pm

South Sydney Rabbitohs –
David Peachey, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Yileen Gordon, Jeremy Smith, Joe Williams, Peter Cusack ©, Daniel Irvine, Roy Asotasi, Dean Widders, David Fa’alogo, John Sutton
Bench – Shane Rigon, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Scott Geddes, Jaiman Lowe

Newcastle Knights –
Kurt Gidley, James Mc Manus, George Carmont, Brad Tighe, Adam MacDougall, Daniel Abraham, Jarrod Mullen, Josh Perry, Danny Buderus, Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Clint Newton, Daniel Tolar
Bench – Michael Young, Cory Paterson, Matthew White, Kirk Reynoldson, Reegan Tanner

Referee – Gavin Badger

Wests Tigers VS Cronulla Sharks @ Campbelltown Stadium, Sunday 15/04/07 3pm

Wests Tigers –
Brett Hodgson ©, Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, Benji Marshall, John Morris, Keith Galloway, Robbie Farah, Todd Payten, Ben Galea, Chris Heighington, Liam Fulton
Bench – Dene Halatau, Jason Moodie, Bronson Harrison, Bryce Gibbs

Cronulla Sharks –
Brett Kearney, David Simmons, Fraser Anderson, Ben Pomeroy, Luke Covell, Brett Seymour, Brett Kimmorley ©, Phil Leuluai, Kevin Kingston, Luke Douglas, Reece Williams, Lance Thompson, Greg Bird
Bench – Cameron Ciraldo, Isaac De Gois, Craig Stapleton, Ben Ross, Paul Gallen

Referee – Sean Hampstead

Canberra Raiders VS Sydney Roosters @ Canberra Stadium, Monday 16/04/07 7pm

Canberra Raiders –
William Zillman, Colin Best, Phil Graham, Adrian Purtell, Brett Kelly, Todd Carney, Michael Dobson, Scott Logan, Lincoln Withers, Dane Tilse, Neville Costigan, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue ©
Bench – Ben Jones, Michael Weyman, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Trevor Thurling

Sydney Roosters-
Anthony Minichiello, Sam Perrett, Iosia Soliola, Joel Monaghan, Shaun Kenny-Dowell, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Dave Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Nate Myles, Craig Fitzgibbon ©, Anthony Tupou
Bench – Chris Beattie, Shane Shackleton, Amos Roberts, Lopini Paea

Referee – Jared Maxwell

NRL Review for Round 4

Well a tough round to pick and we missed a few upsets this week; this is how we saw your team perform this week:

Rabbitohs: Occasion got to them, too much hype. Kidwell will be missed but big Joe will be a handy fill-in. Just a minor speed bump.
Bulldogs: Building nicely now, with two back to back wins. Cutler seems a real find. Shifty and Utai will find it hard pinning spots down.
Roosters: Not too many nice things to say here; except: Toupo, Mini and Wing. Everyone else needs to improve. Long year.
Broncos: Weren’t brilliant, but got the money. Will improve as focus moves off them. Eastwood really stepping up.
Knights: Threw the game away after starting so well. Better forwards effort. Losing Joey will give them a hangover for a few weeks. Mullen will step up.
Storm: Good enough to win when playing poorly. Ruck defence a little patchy and King is not faultless in line defence. But still the best team in the NRL.
Eels: Finally clicked in attack after forwards stepped up. Need halves cohesion. Blake Green needs a spot.
Raiders: Went from hero’s to zero’s in a week. Capable of beating most, but consistency is the next challenge. Zilman needs positional work in D.
Tigers: So unlucky yet again, haven’t played a bad game in 2007, yet find themselves win less. The Tigers really need a big bopper – forwards too light.
Cowboys: A la Storm, playing poorly at times but still have the talent to win games. Injuries killing them; Webb now O’Donnell.
Sea Eagles: Amazingly still unbeaten after never really setting the world on fire in any games. Should have scored more points with 60%+ possession against NZ. Orford and Menzies will take Eagles to another level.
Warriors: Rock solid defence, very unlucky this week. Must secure an away win to gain assurance in 07. Going ok.
Panthers: Most inconsistent team so far; playing like premiers one week, then has beens the next. Playing a style much like Warriors of yesteryear, flamboyant and risky.
Titans: Surprised everyone, forward pack dominating and creative backs. Still a little bit of an enigma. Meyers went well.
Sharks: Controlled the game for 80 minutes, strong showing – Bird is amazing right now, agressive and hard to stop. Might get on a roll, face hapless Tigers this week.
St George: Uh Oh – bad signs here. Usual injuries killing them, but losing confidence which is rare for the Red Vee. Missing Bailey badly.

Andrew Johns; the man, the legend – gone forever.

After extensive testing on his injured neck today, with results that reflected a buldging disc – Newcastle, NSW and Australian Half-Back and possibly the greatest player of the modern era has announced his retirement from NRL Rugby League effective immediately. A press-conference is being held as we speak. More detailed news and comment on the Andrew Johns injury in the coming hours.
We look forward to hearing your comments on the Andrew Johns retirement.

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NRL Monday Night Rugby League

Cronulla Sharks maul hapless Saints
Sharks 40 def St George Illawarra 4

Monday Night football appears to be a huge success for the NRL in season 2007 with a massive Rugby League crowd turning up at Shark Park (19,500) to see the Sharks finally play some impressive, controlled football against their neighbours the St George Illawarra Dragons.

With St George Illawarra having the usual 1million+ in playing talent on the sidelines, it was an opportune time for the Sharks to strike and strike they did.

Cronulla braved the early forward onslaught from the Saints, and won the battle of the play the ball to keep a nice roll happening on down field plays. The Dragons simply dropped too much ball and at times look disinterested in the game.

Kimmorley was looking his old self with some beautifully selected cut out passes and was busy for most of the night. Out wider Pommeroy was elusive in attack and bagged a double and Kearny scored his first ever hat-trick as he trailed the play all night waiting for any second phase opportunities.

It looked to be a slick and well prepared game plan from the Stuart coached Sharks – as they worked Greg Bird down the fringes beautifully. It seemed that whenever the Morris boys got the ball the Sharks swarmed and closed any attacking play down; on several occasions jutting the ball loose.

Overall, the possession stat simply killed any chance the Saints had of getting into the game. The Dragons had a 39% overall possession amount and this will prevent any team winning a match in modern day Rugby League – to compound this, 70% of the small amount of possession they did have was within their own half.

Nathan Brown couldn’t hide his frustration at the press conference, raising the point that many of his young chargers simply don’t realise what is required week in, week out to actually win an NRL match. The Dragon forwards aren’t allowing enough room for their backline to weave any magic and it seems everyone is waiting for Hornby to pull off the impossible.

Full credit to the eager Sharks – they move to 4 competition points and face the winless Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium next weekend; which will have them confident of putting back to back wins together.

Cronulla Sharks 40 (Brett Kearney 3, Ben Pomeroy 2, David Simmons, Fraser Andersen tries; Luke Covell 6 goals)
St George-Illawarra Dragons 4
(Josh Morris try)

NRL News Monday Night Rugby League

Kidwell Injury – NRL News Rugby League

You’re Kidding David?

Disasterous news today for South Sydney fans as key off-season signing David Kidwell – the passionate and dynamic kiwi will be sidelined for the rest of the 2007 season due to major knee damage.

Amazingly the knee injury doesn’t come from his last game or even a South Sydney training session. The new Bunny boy has damaged the knee in a freak easter accident involving his young toddler.

Apparently Kidwell has tripped akwardly over the young one and torn the cruciate ligament in his knee.

Kidwell has had no prior knee damage, and this kind of freak accident is sure to hurt Souths at a time when things are going so well.

Kidwell is trying to remain upbeat, and has said he will work on other areas of his health while immobile to be back bigger and better for NRL 2008.

Fortunately for South Sydney, they have an arsenal of forwards in reserve grade to pick from – most notably Kiwi Internationl Joe Gulavao who spoke to earlier this year.

We wish David a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing big Joe in action soon in the South Sydney Rabbitohs first grade side.

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NRL Sunday Rugby League

Manly eventually run over Warriors
Manly Sea Eagles 13 def NZ Warriors 10

Brooky was the scene of a hard fought low scoring game of Rugby League today as the Eagles did battle with the NZ Warriors.

In a physical match-up that saw 5 to 6 tries disallowed, mostly for Manly – it was the intervention from referee Ben Cummins early in the second half that only really allowed Manly to win.

The Warriors dominated possession in the first half, and were able to touch down for first points, however the possession stats changed late in the half and the Warriors were successful in repelling wave after wave of Manly attack. It was extremely impressive defence, I was blown away at home many repeat sets Manly had only to be turned away by staunch Warriors defence.

The sides went into the sheds at 6-0 to the Warriors – but upon returning, 2 or 3 crucial calls by referee Ben Cummins really did hand the match over the Sea Eagles.

Cummins was actually having an impressive game, and refused to use video replays on several occasions and made correct no-try rulings in each. However, initially it was a blatent 2 on 1 strip on Michael Witt that was missed, then it was a 50/50 call on a Warrior play the ball infringement, then it was several missed Manly drop balls during tackles and finally it was ruthless whistle blowing late in the half that saw the Warriors see less than 40 percent possession in period 2.

I do not follow either of these teams personally, but if I was a Warriors fan I would surely be livid at the raw deal they copped in certain situations. To only lose the game by 3 points, when they saw less than 40 percent ball was simply amazing. The stats don’t actually tell the full story for this game, as the Warriors did miss something like 35+ tackles, but with 30 minutes to go – this stat was less than half that. Purely weight of possession prevented them from winning – however their strong defence will see them win plenty more games this year.

For Manly, probably not their best match. They really should have poured on more points with the ball they had. Mick Monaghan is to be congratulated again on an impressive match, he continues to be the form player for Manly and possibly the NRL 2007 season. He was always probing, organising and disciplined for his side – and he was ably backed up by some strong Manly forwards – with Brent Kite and Choc Watmough putting in big performances.

Manly really only need to work on some outside back attacking sequences. Most of the Eagles tries this year are coming from kicks – unusually highly rated centres Steve Bell and Jamie Lyon are playing well without being absolutely dominant as expected.

It has been interesting watching Jamie Lyon, as his fitness and skill is taking some time to catch up to current NRL standards – it points out that the UK Super League really is a few levels below NRL standards, and we can see this as Lyon is taking time to adapt.

The good work of Manly fullback Brett Stuart continues, with the speedster getting involved in everything and was unlucky not to have bagged 3 more tries, as he was denied this many times.

A little bit too much whistle blowing for my liking but overall a good old style defensive game was had at Brooky and Manly move to 4 games and 4 wins for NRL 2007.

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Slick Eels bath the Raiders at Parramatta Stadium
Parramatta Eels 38 def Canberra Raiders 6

How can anyone pick NRL results these days? After running riot against Newcastle last Monday night the young Canberra Raiders got absolutely bathed by the Eels tonight, losing by 32 points at the rainy and wet Parramatta dome.

The Eels saw some large scale changes prior to kick-off, after losing Cayless, Tahu and Finch to injuries. Coming into the side were debutants Blake Green at pivot and Kristian Inu at Centre. Also coming into the side was big bopper Richie Fa’oso. PJ Marsh got the nod in the starting side, and Riddell was pushed to the bench.

Both teams took an age to settle down after the kick off, with plenty of dropped ball and sloppy play. The Raiders enjoying 80 percent possession and all the field position in the first 10 minutes, but simply unable to score a try or even get a repeat set on their own merits.

The game finally saw some points, when Nathan Hindmarsh ran 70m through the middle of the ruck untouched to score under the posts. Raiders fullback Zillman was no where to be seen, and I think this try set the scene for the result tonight.

The Eels touched down again prior to half time through Ben Smith after a dropped ball from Zillman off a Tim Smith kick; but really niether side seemed keen to play safe, wet weather football.

In the second half the Raiders brain snapped from the opening play; after being gifted a ball 20m out from the Eels line – the Raiders dropped the ball from a bungled wedge scrum push play and then threw in a penalty to boot.

The Eels scored from the ensuing set and never looked back.

It was the confidence injection the Eels needed; suddenly Tim Smith cut out passes were sticking, Hayne was finding space and pulling off flick passes – all of this in shockling slippery conditions.

Debutants Green and Inu were sparkling in their first taste of the big time. Green, who plays half in reserve grade didn’t over play his hand and let Tim Smith steer the ship – a stark contrast to the ‘too many cooks’ situation when Smith and Finch play together. Green injected some well placed kicks and was faultless in defence.

Outwide Inu was always dangerous. Parramatta must have no worries with Tahu heading to Rugby Union, as Inu will comfortably slip into the vacant centre role. Inu beat his opposite Colin Best on several occasions and combined well with Jarryd Hayne who played junior grades with Inu in the Cabramatta ranks.

The Parramatta forwards finally put their hand up and all played well at once – the result saw Scott Logan and Neville Costigan battered and turned away on many occasions. Ben Smith must be wrapped for his marking of Costigan. Whenever the big former Bronco ran the ball – Ben Smith was all over him snapping his legs from under him on many occasions.

Even PJ Marsh got in on the act, putting an absolute massive hit on Scott Logan mid-way through the second half. Logan was never the same, spending the rest of the match hunting Marsh and getting penalised soon after.

The Eels did have some luck in attack and most plays they tried came off. Hindmarsh and Ben Smith bagged doubles and forwards Riddell and Cordoba both scored rare tries.

The Parramatta Eels really needed a win like this to boost confidence, and while Canberra played poorly – fortune favours the brave – and the Eels kicked away to a big win.

For Canberra, its back to the drawing board. Last Monday nights win seems worlds away now. Too much ball was dropped too easily and ruck defence was absolutely woeful. Apart from Michael Weyman and Dane Tilse – the Canberra forwards got towelled up by the much maligned Eels pack.

It’s not all bad news for the Raiders however, as they face the equally poor Roosters next week in what should be a battle of the cellar dwellers – this might be a good night to wash your hair.

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