Once again we are hot favourites to finish 9th. With that in mind, here is a guide to help you decide who to cheer for in round 22.
tl;dr: Tigers beat Manly, Brisbane smash Penrith, Dragons upset Sharks.
Game 1: Thursday 9.50pm, Manly Sea Eagles (5th) vs Wests Tigers (10th) @ Brookvale Oval
- Our last meeting was in round 1, where we defeated them 20-6 on a rainy night in Leichhardt. Tom Trbojevic did not play that night.
- Last year we beat them in both games, particularly 38-12 at Brookvale in round 6. Brooks and Benji dominated that game, the latter terrorised Uate with his spiral bombs.
- We have four straight victories against Manly. Our last loss was in round 19 of 2017, where we went down 16-28.
It’s a tough ask to travel to Brookvale at any time of the year, let alone in a year where Manly are playing very well. One positive is we shouldn’t expect a big crowd.
Manly have plenty of points in them. Their average over the last 8 rounds (since DCE returned from injury) is just under 25 points per game. We will need at least 20 points to even get close.
Our forward pack is a worry, being completely outmatched in size. The result of this game will be decided in the first 20-25 minutes. If Taupau and Fonua-Blake run through us, it’s game over. All we can do is hope (like every other year).
Game 3: Friday 9.55pm, Brisbane Broncos (8th) vs Penrith Panthers (7th) @ Suncorp Stadium
- Brisbane absolutely destroyed the scum from the mountains in round 19 last year. The final scoreline of that game was 50-18.
- Both teams have halves pairings that don’t work for differing reasons. Maloney and Cleary clash, while Turpin and Boyd are just plain bad.
We want Brisbane to run up a cricket score like they did last year. Brisbane’s for and against is now meaningless as they are on an odd number of competition points, so any negative to Penrith is a bonus to us.
Brisbane’s defence has been inconsistent, allowing big scores to all of the top 6 (excluding Manly). Based on what we saw vs the Bulldogs, it’s hard to see how Penrith crack them.
Game 8: Sunday 6.05pm, Cronulla Sharks (9th) vs St. George Illawara Dragons (14th) @ PointsBet Stadium
- The Dragons have been terrible this season. Despite winning in their last start (against the even more terrible Titans), they’ve still lost 11 of their last 14 games.
- Cronulla have been very inconsistent. After 12 games they had a 7-5 record. Since then they’ve won 2 of their last 8 games.
- Since 2015, these two teams have played each other 9 times, with Dragons winning one more game for a 5-4 record.
An upset would be nice, though, the more logical prediction would be seeing Cronulla return to form and put the cellar dwelling Dragons away.
A loss to Manly wouldn’t end our season, but it would force us to win our last three games in a row, which statistically just doesn’t happen for us (we’ve only had four streaks of 3+ wins since 2012, inclusive). Anyway, enjoy your week, and don’t cry too much over 9th.