Never finished bottom four: Bennett faces greatest coaching challenge getting Dolphins off the ground
Wayne Bennett has never finished in the bottom four as a coach, next year that might change the way things are looking.
My goodness, Round 11 had it all. Upsets, magic moments, huge milestones, wonderful debuts, bunker blunders and terrible injuries.
I had so much confidence going into last Thursday night’s game, with Dane Gagai, Tyson Frizell and Anthony Milford lining up for the Knights, as well as Adam Reynolds being ruled out for the Broncos. Then the bunker came in and ruined everything! Credit to Brisbane, they played well without their star halfback and beat Newcastle 36-12. Selwyn Cobbo is just something else, isn’t he?! Adding salt to the Knights wounds was Bradman Best coming off with a dislocated elbow.
On Friday night we had Spoon-Bowl between the Tigers and the Bulldogs at Leichhardt. Barrett was gone, Brent Naden swapped sides, the Dogs had the flu, and the Tigers were full of injuries. The home side won 36-22, Alex Twal celebrated his 100th game with a win and kept his try scoring tally at a zero (maybe that’s his plan?) and debutant Fa’amanu Brown grabbed a double. Not bad for a kid that was told years ago after a terrible injury that he would never play again.
In the second Friday night match, Parramatta snuck home with a win for King Gutho in his 150th game, beating Manly 22-20 after a last-minute sideline conversion in the pouring rain from Mitch Moses. You could hear every heart on the Northern Beaches breaking – once for the score line and then again after the news of Tommy Turbo being sidelined for the rest of the season.
Super Saturday kicked off at Kogarah with the Dragons taking on the Warriors – minus Matt Lodge. (How considerate of him to send Nathan Brown a text message to say he wouldn’t be playing.) The day began with the Red V paying tribute to the late, great Johnny Raper. Despite a last-ditch effort from the visitors, and a mixed day from Zac Lomax, the Dragons went on to win the game 24-18. And did Cody Ramsey just end the speculation of who should be the Dragons’ fullback? What a game he had!
Then we headed up to Townsville where the Cowboys had an absolute field day against the Storm and gave them a 36-6 hiding. Yes, Melbourne are missing some big names, but the Cowboys lost Feldt and Taumalolo early on, and never missed a beat. Everyone is loving the athletic and exciting footy they are playing – even Craig Bellamy was shouting something from the coach’s box that was a bit hard to translate, but I think he was saying how pleased he was to see how well Payten’s men are going.
The Panthers showed yet again why they are at the top of the NRL ladder, making light work of the Roosters with a 32-12 win at the SCG. The Roosters tried hard and showed a few glimmers of greatness. The hit on Viliame Kikau from Joseph Suaalii was just beautiful, but all in all they couldn’t match the skill of Cleary and the crew. And Jared Waerea-Hargreaves got sin-binned for swearing at the referee – completely out of character.
Where has this Canberra team been?! The Green Machine were firing on all cylinders against a lacklustre Souths in Dubbo on Sunday. Downing the Rabbits 32-12, the Raiders have turned a horror stretch around to now be just outside the top 8. Josh Papalii celebrated his 250th game with a win and a try, and young Xavier Savage showed he is a star of the future.
The last match of the round started out as a real arm wrestle in the rain between the Titans and the Sharks on the Gold Coast. In the end a late field goal to please-leave-me-at-halfback-Nicho-Hynes gave Cronulla a 25-18 win. And Lachlan Miller, former Rugby Sevens Olympian, debuted for the Sharks at fullback and played like he had been there forever.
Ok, high five to AJ, who tipped the perfect round. We are all so happy for you and secretly resent you at the same time. Paul was just behind with 7/8, Mary and you champions in The Crowd got 6/8 and Mike and I tipped 5/8. It’s no surprise AJ is out in front overall on 62, Paul is in second on 59, The Crowd in third on 58, Mary fourth on 57, with Mike and I hanging out on the golf course on 52.
Now, let’s look at Round 12, the very special Indigenous Round.
Tonight, we see Manly travel to Melbourne to take on the Storm at 8pm at AAMI Park, home of the Wurundjeri people. Usually when these two teams meet we would be talking about and reliving the ‘Battle of Brookvale’, but instead we are talking about injuries and form. Surely the Storm won’t lose three in a row, would they?
Tomorrow night at 6pm is the match of the round, where the Panthers host the Cowboys at BlueBet Stadium, home of the Dharug people. A phenomenal defensive side against a sensational attacking side. Feldt and Taumalolo are ruled out for this one, but the Lamborghini is back in the starting side. Can Hammer and the rest of the Cowboys stand up to the might of the Premiers?
Then we head up to Suncorp Stadium, home of the Yuggera & Turrbal people, for the local derby between the Broncos and the Titans at 8pm. The Gold Coast have shown a lot of heart the past couple of rounds, and Brisbane will once again be without Reynolds. Can they make it six wins in a row without him?
Super Saturday kicks off at 3pm with…..a not so super match….. between the Warriors and the Knights from Moreton Daily Stadium home of the Yuggera, Jinibara & Kabi Kabi people. If you have nothing else on….I mean, like literally nothing else to do, then tune in. I will be of course (for the love of God please let us beat the Warriors).
Then at 5.30pm, the Bunnies host the Tigers at Accor Stadium, home of the Gadigal & Wann-gal people. Both teams are struggling at the moment, but the last few times these sides have met the games have ended in absolute thrillers. Could we be in for more of the same?
To finish off Super Saturday, the Sharks and the Roosters battle it out at 7.305pm at PointsBet Stadium home of the Dharawal people. Both teams are hot and cold, this could be a real flip of the coin.
Sunday afternoon we see the poor old Bulldogs take on the Dragons at Belmore Sports Ground, home of the Dharug people. Can they Dogs give Mick Potter his first win in the hot seat? Or will the Dragons spoil the party?
Then at 4pm, the Raiders and the Eels round out Indigenous Round at GIO Stadium, home of the Ngunnawal people. If the Raiders of the past few rounds turn up, we are in for a real treat.
If you would like to see how you go up against the Experts this round, just remember to get your tips in below by 5pm tonight to be counted in The Crowd’s tips.
After his perfect tipping last round, I’m going to let AJ lead us off with his tips.
Good luck with your tipping everyone!
Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Raiders
My lead extends after a perfect round 11 as I charge to my third Roar Experts tipping win in four years*. Here’s what you need to know about this week’s games…
Melbourne will beat Manly even though they’re in a fitness hole. Harry Grant is dinged up but Jahrome Hughes is back. That and home base means you can’t tip Manly, who will at least try to make a game of it.
What happens when an immovable force meets an unstoppable object? Penrith’s defence outdoes North Queensland’s attack, that’s what.
Brisbane over the Titans but it’ll be closer than expected. Warriors over Knights just cos, really. South Sydney last chance against Wests Tigers. Sorely tempted to take the Tigers but Souths have better players, just maybe not a better attitude.
I’ll take the Roosters over Cronulla, which seems a mild enough upset, the Dragons should do a number on Canterbury although they’ll have to fight for it early.
Finally, your presumptive champions, the people’s team, the Canberra Raiders will continue their roll to the top four by putting 56 on the hapless Parramatta Eels, who needed a most convenient sin binning to stagger past the decrepit Manly last week.
*It may be 2 in four, but who’s keeping score?
Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels
Storm over Manly because I don’t tip against Melbourne in Melbourne.
Panthers over Cowboys, because I don’t tip against Penrith in Penrith (even though I wrote a whole column explaining how Parra were going to beat them there, and then didn’t tip it…)
Broncos are better than the Titans, because almost everyone is.
I don’t ever tip the Warriors, so I suppose it’ll have to be Newcastle.
The Bunnies are my ride or die (see long column this week) so I’ll be taking them over the Tigers.
Cronulla v Roosters is a toughie, because I think both are good, so with no confidence I’ll tip the home team.
Back to Belmore and, like someone who knows no better, I’m going for the home win. Doggies for me.
Parramatta tend to go win-loss-win-loss, which would make this a loss, but I don’t think the Raiders are actually any good, so I’ll be taking Parra.
Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels
Manly without Turbo will be added to the list of teams that Melbourne thrash at AAMI Park, do-dooo, do-dooo.
Penrith will account for the Cowboys, especially given Jason Taumalolo is injured.
The Titans will be up for the Broncos derby but even without Adam Reynolds the home side should get the win
The Warriors somehow manage to eek out wins over fellow dud teams so will probably beat Newcastle but Knights to win this one – not much of that sentence makes logical sense but neither do these two teams.
Souths have been a big disappointment this season but should be able to beat the Tigers.
Cronulla are still not an elite team, but they will get home against the Roosters, who are no longer title contenders.
Bulldogs v Dragons, yeesh. St George Illawarra, just.
Raiders v Eels has the potential to be a humdinger given Canberra’s recent revival but Parra by a whisker.
Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Eels
The poor old Manly Sea Eagles have been dealt a tough blow this week with the loss of Tom Trbojevic. Given his injury and that the Storm have uncharacteristically lost two weeks in a row, I am tipping the Storm in this one.
If you had told me at the start of the year that Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys would be one of the more anticipated games of the year, I would have laughed. But here we are. I’m going tip Penrith because they have been almost unstoppable this year, but I expect the Cowboys to go close. After the Cowboys most recent performance against the Storm, I think we can confirm that they are the real deal this year.
The Broncos have been impressive in recent weeks and will beat the Titans.
I’ve almost resorted to flipping a coin for the next game. I’ve tipped the Knights because of the significant change at the Warriors this week, particularly around Matt Lodge. The Warriors position on the ladder right now is higher than I expected, particularly given the quality of their performances. The Knights have also been disappointing, so it was a hard game to tip.
The Rabbitohs should beat the Tigers and I’m confident that the Sharks will register another win against the Roosters.
The Bulldogs have been appalling this year and I will tip them with caution. This game should be an easy two points in the bag for the Dragons.
I’m tipping my beloved Eels against the Raiders but given the Raiders form over the last few weeks it will be difficult. I’m hoping also that we see some improvement in the Eels edge defence with the return of Waqa Blake.
Storm, Cowboys, Broncos, Knights, Tigers, Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels
I’m going to answer my own question from earlier – no, The Storm will not lose three in a row.
You cannot drag me off this Cowboy’s train! This will be a sensational game, and I’m going all in Cowboys.
This one will be a really close one, but I’m tipping the Broncos to get the chocolates.
The Bunnies are just…not good. (Yes, that is a technical term.) Hastings has his BFF back in Brooks, so I’m going Tigers.
Ahh, my weekly back-and-forth tip. Ummmmm………Sharks
Don’t ask me why, you know how bad I am at this tipping stuff. Bulldogs in an upset.
This should be a really good game! I’m tipping the Eels, but not confidently. I would not be surprised at all if the Raiders went on to win this.
Blah blah blah, I’m forever loyal, blah blah blah…….Knights.
|MEL vs MAN||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL|
|PEN vs NQL||PEN||NQL||PEN||PEN||PEN||PEN|
|BRI vs GLD||BRI||BRI||BRI||BRI||BRI||BRI|
|NZL vs NEW||NZL||NEW||NEW||NEW||NEW||NZL|
|SOU vs WST||SOU||WST||SOU||SOU||SOU||SOU|
|CRO vs SYD||SYD||CRO||CRO||CRO||CRO||CRO|
|CBY vs STI||STI||CBY||STI||CBY||STI||STI|
|CAN vs PAR||CAN||PAR||PAR||PAR||PAR||PAR|