The NRL is back after a tremendous round of International rugby league featuring a win to Gurgler favourite – the PNG Kumuls. Just two weeks left however of full 8 game rounds too for a long time, and then the Origin affected period of the NRL kicks in featuring fewer teams and fewer players, and it sucks.
As good as every Super Saturday is on Fox Sports, a proper Super Saturday is on this weekend with two big games featuring 4 big teams at one location. The Melbourne v Cowboys and Manly v Broncos double header at Suncorp is a great idea, and there should be more of it. Perhaps getting closer to the Super League Magic weekend idea where all the 14 teams play at one ground over 2 days. We’ve been to one, and have already suggested that the NRL does one to in an earlier rant.
Good to see Channel 9 are consistent with their scheduling. With only the two all Sydney games on offer this weekend, they’ve made sure they have both, especially in the comfort zone of everyone loves Sunday football. Here’s our guide to Sunday Football on Ch9.
Parramatta’s salary cap drama continues, and just a thought. Despite the huge fine and loss of competition points, the Eels have really got off lightly. Considering the Bulldogs’ crimes were found out at the end of the season and were wiped out for that premiership, and the Storm had premierships taken off them, the fact that Parramatta can still play for a title seems a little unfair given their blatant rorting. And to get under the cap they only had to get rid of one player who is a regular this season. And he (reportedly Nathan Peats) is going against his will. If they do make the eight and go on a finals run, there may be repercussions for the NRL. Or unless they are all cheating and don’t want to get caught themselves.
Onto this week’s rundown.
THURSDAY – ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA v CANBERRA
You know it’s close to Origin time when the Raiders get a premium Thursday or Friday night timeslot, and here is their first for the year. The Dragons have beaten the Raiders in each game since 2014, but before that Canberra had won every game since 2007. What does that mean? Who the hell knows.
GURGLER TIPS – CANBERRA to win.
FRIDAY – PARRAMATTA v SOUTHS
Will Parramatta be playing for points? Will the move to number 6 make Greg Inglis look interested in rugby league again. How many tries will Aussie Semi Radradra score on the high after his Australian test debut last weekend? So many questions to answer, and before Inglis’ move to five eighth we’d chalked this one down as an Eels special. More ball will mean fewer places to hide, and might spark him and the Rabbitohs into life. Anything’s worth a try.
GURGLER TIPS – SOUTHS to win.
SATURDAY – PENRITH v NEW ZEALAND in Christchurch.
Penrith continue to share the love as they head to New Zealand a round after taking a home game to Bathurst. It should made mandatory that all teams take a game on the road, including the big clubs, to share the rugby league around and give the loyal league fans in the country something to look forward to. The Intrust Super Cup have an entire Country Week round which is always highly anticipated and welcomed. The NRL seems more concerned with things like ensuring they have a round which features superheroes on the jersey for those with a particular brand of clothing.
This is the first week we haven’t tipped Penrith +8.5 start.
GURGLER TIPS – PENRITH to win
SATURDAY – MELBOURNE v COWBOYS + MANLY v BRONCOS
2 great games back to back, just the way we like it, and it should be. Whilst there will never be a Australian version of the Magic Weekend, this double header is as good as it gets for the time being. Great ground, two great games. 3 of the top 4. Everyone with a chance to boo Manly. Boxes ticked.
Melbourne have lost just once at Suncorp since 2007, so will be a tough for the Cowboys to beat, who have already lost a Suncorp once this year. The Broncos are getting a taste of what Origin period will be like by introducing another new name (Jai Arrow from feeder club Norths) to go with the wave of recent debutants – Herman Ese’ese, Travis Waddell. All Intrust Super Cup players, so proof of that competition’s worth. Another ISC recruit is Matt Parcell who has shown his quality for Manly this year so far, despite injury. DCE is back after being booed at this ground last years for turning his back on a Titans deal. Or maybe it was for the performance in Origin 2. He might get the last laugh as Manly had a decent record here before consecutive losses in 2014 and 2015 at Suncorp.
GURGLER TIPS – STORM +8.5 start / MANLY +14.5 start
SUNDAY – NEWCASTLE v SHARKS
The Sharks were super impressive beating Brisbane last time out, and should find it easy against a Newcastle side that look specials for the wooden spoon. Unlucky for them Parramatta’s salary cap punishments were applied at this stage of the year instead of later when they wouldn’t have been able to catch any team including Newcastle. The Sharks look top 4 for sure, and a maiden Premiership is a real threat if they keep along the same path.
GURGLER TIP: NEWCASTLE +16.5 start
SUNDAY – WESTS TIGERS v BULLDOGS.
Usual whinge about Sunday footy only featuring Sydney teams, but enough of that here.
Tigers have lost James Tedesco, so look even more blunted in attack than usual. Given his performance for the Kumuls on Saturday night, the Tigers could do much worse than to bring in off season recruit from Ipswich Rod Griffin into the side. But they did beat Souths last start breaking a long winless run. They play the Bulldogs who are hard to tell which side turns up. If it is good Bulldogs they win this by plenty. If not, they probably still win, but we all thought Souths would beat the Tigers too.
GURGLER TIP – TIGERS + 12.5 start
MONDAY – GOLD COAST v ROOSTERS
Night winter weather, and Gold Coast’s ability to turn out for a sporting event should ensure this game could get a 500 people per degrees Celsius. By the look of the Roosters last game, the Titans fans won’t be clapping their hands much to stay warm, as Mitchell Pearce plays himself into an Origin story despite his claims to not want to nominate this year.
GURGLER TIPS – ROOSTERS -9.5 start.
GURGLER SUPER MULTI
CANBERRA to win.
SOUTHS to win.
PENRITH to win
STORM +8.5 start
MANLY +14.5 start
NEWCASTLE +16.5 start
TIGERS + 12.5 start
ROOSTERS -9.5 start
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