The Grubber looks over the matches for NRL Round 5, 2008. Will the winless Rabbitohs break their 2008 duck? And can the Roosters keep their strong early form running after losing several stars for this weeks match?
Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles
The Grand Final rematch. Forget what they are saying publicly, Manly would most certainly want to avenge their 2007 loss and more importantly get an early psychological advantage over the Storm for this season. While the Manly men will be fired up, their form is only slowly improving and against only average competition in recent weeks – they are sure to be tested by the solid Storm. Olympic Park is the biggest factor in this match-up, the Storm at home on a Friday night are always tough and if Manly couldn’t get them in Sydney at Homebush in the Grand Final – this is going to be mission impossible. Melbourne by 8+
Parramatta Eels vs Gold Coast Titans
The Eels coming off some very patchy form are somehow favouritesÂ with only the home ground and a missing Luke Bailey on their side. The Titans while playing some top quality footy have a horrible away from home statistic and it seems no one in the world wants to back them in this one. The Grubber doesn’t agree. On current form, the Titans should win this game. The Eels were pushed all the way by the Knights and the Titans should give them an even harder test. With 4 former Eels in the Titans lineup, Brett Delaney, Aaron Cannings, Luke O’Dwyer and Matt Petersen this means even more motivation and comfort for the traveling Titans – the Gold Coast to win in a close one.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs North Queensland Cowboys
Its always hard to work out how the Dragons will come out of the blocks, let alone how they will finish a match. In this match at WIN Stadium it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys continue after their first win last week. With the Cowboys gaining much needed confidence, their experienced side should be able to click into gear and start to travel successfully. Things still aren’t rosey at the Dragons and things have a long way to go before improving. Still hard to pick, but lean towards the Cowboys in this one.
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters
An interesting clash here, the Panthers stringing two wins together and looking a different side to a month ago. The Sydney Roosters have been the form side in 2008Â and if they weren’t hampered by injury and discipline problems in this clash you would put your house on them to win. In saying that even though the game is at CUA, the Panthers too have injury problems and might find it tough. However, the Sydney Roosters look to have the consistency and should hurt the Panthers when they commit their weekly errors and give away their regulation penalties. Roosters to win.
NZ Warriors vs Bulldogs
If they can win this game, the Warriors could get the launch pad they need to get their 2008 campaign well underway. A big road trip for the Bulldogs and their loss to the Roosters last week will have probably taken some petrol from the tank. Expect to see some big collisions, but put your cash on the Warriors here. While their win against the Knights was helped by big possession and poor referee calls, the confidence should be back with the Warriors in this one.
Canberra Raiders vs Wests Tigers
Gee it’s hard tipping these days. Another tough one, the Tigers coming off a bad loss and looking listless in attack have the tough ask of taking on Canberra in the chilly ACT. While Canberra have had their own form problems, their injury and suspension list keeps growing making their task harder. In saying this, the Raiders should be too much of a handful at home. Expect a grinding game here and Canberra’s style should stifle any attempt by the Tigers to play an expansive game.
Newcastle Knights vs Brisbane Broncos
The Knights fans should turn out in force for this game, their side turning over a new leaf in 2008 and looking much more competitive. Unlucky last week, the Knights will put up a big fight in this one and it will be interesting to see how the Broncos rebound from a tough loss to the Storm last week. You’d have to go with the Broncos in this one judging by their early season form, however the Knights will put up a big fight. The Newcastle wingers Cooper Vuna and Keith Lulia are poised to become the biggest strike weapons in the league, they simply need an ounce more belief and a few passes to stick and they will be big weapons. I am surprised Adam McDougall was recalled by Brian Smith after the form of the incumbent wingers. Still, Broncos should be too tough in this game.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Cronulla Sharks
It’s a shame this game is at ANZ Stadium, as it would have been ideally placed at Shark Park or a similar suburban venue. The Rabbitohs are facing a critical clash even though it’s only Round 5. Winless, the Bunnies face the in-form Sharks who have ground out some wins even without some major stars. Looking at the situation the Bunnies find themselves in, I feel they will come out and play this like a grand final. The Sharks have won without looking great, but they may struggle with the big rolling Bunnies forwards. Go the upset here, Souths to get a win.