NRL Wk 5: Spotlight on the Draw, and Shootin’ the Breezer with Chemistry

I realise everyone is looking ahead to next week’s blockbuster between the Storm and Rabbitohs (both of whom should win in a canter this weekend). And so am I, because I can promise a captivating Point Tracker for that game. It currently favours the Storm by a try, but reveals an interesting sub-plot. Stay tuned.

Eyeballing the charts has brought another game into sharp focus, however, even though it occurs a few weeks later. Here are the charts, and you can probably guess which game – Roosters v Manly. They both lead the defensive stats, as well as line-breaks relative to their opposition. The Roosters have habitually been Manly’s bunnies, but I sense this is a very different team. It is going to be awesome.

Line Breaks vs opposition

Line Breaks vs opposition

These 2 teams have better defence than Richie Fa'aoso, OJ and OP combined!

These 2 teams have better defence than Richie Fa’aoso, OJ and OP combined!

In going through these numbers and the draw, something else caught my eye:  how would you like to have the Bulldogs’ draw from round 3 onwards?

  • Storm away
  • Rabbitohs and Manly at home (though it was also the Rabbitohs home ground)
  • Roosters and Sharks away

So they’re playing most of a red hot top 8 in 5 consecutive weeks, mostly away. Wow. Is it any wonder Ben Barba has come back earlier than anticipated? Footy is therapy, after all. Having lost the first 2 games of this horror stretch, it’s not inconceivable they could lose all 5! It’s unlikely, sure, but I can definitely see a 1-4 outcome.

Last year the Raiders were placed 15th midway through the year, but bounced like a bad cheque to easily make the top 8, so surely the Bulldogs can do it? Well, back to the draw … Beginning round 14, they have:

  • Manly away
  • Roosters at home before a bye
  • Knights and Storm at home before another bye

I had them dropping to 5th this year, but am beginning to wonder if it might not be a smidge lower than that given this horrific draw.

Shootin’ the Breezer …

Yeah, I know, how can you mix up the red wire and the blue wire? pfft!

Yeah, I know, how can you mix up the red wire and the blue wire? pfft!

The temperature is rising daily on a Josh Dragon deal now that he has admitted his shortcomings and is seeking professional guidance with the assistance of the NRL. A few anecdotes by David Smith about his time in the UK bomb squad would probably have been enough to have him tapping out from the CEO’s submissive hold in a way a Breezer never could. If he makes it out alive before David reveals he was the kid in Jerry Maguire, then he will have suffered enough to set himself on the right path to re-enter the NRL, and to get another tattoo commemorating the occasion. Perhaps David on the other leg to match off Ray Lewis?

Three points to note:

  • Remember the Dr’s motto: In rugby league, everyone is forgiven. Always. For anything. It’s part of the game’s DNA, and it’s a very strong vote for the concept of rehabilitation! And it helps if you’re a player of undoubted talent.
  • Football is sure to be noted as a necessary part of his recovery, just like Barba.
  • Josh can blow a raspberry while drinking a breezer while flipping the bird while taking a photos. Ergo, the man can multi-task. Give him a bic lighter and he can blow fire. A dragon if ever I’ve seen one.

 If the Chemistry … is Right …

Now lets just see what happens as I pour this block-runner play into this enhanced obstruction solution ...

Now let’s just see what happens as I pour this block-runner play into this enhanced obstruction solution …

That’s the chorus of a truly awful song, but Jarryd Hayne has offset that foetal position-inducing memory while simultaneously resuscitating my faith in humanity – and the sciences – by revealing that chemistry will play a part in arresting the Eels’ fortunes. And the no-show at the recovery session after the Roosters match now makes perfect sense.

Rather than wading through the chemicals in the local pool, they were back in the lab studying the way molecules bind to make compounds and mixing liquids in beakers, just like all good young chemistry students.

Source: The Far Side

Source: The Far Side

By appreciating chemical bonds and reactions, and perhaps the odd backyard explosion, they are far better placed to understand how rugby league combinations are formed, and the causes and effect stemming from completing sets, making tackles  and playing field position, and leading inexorably to rugby league point-scoring poetry. This juxtaposition is a masterstroke, a real ‘aha!’ moment, and confirms why Ricky is known as the game’s greatest thinker.

The problem for Jarryd now is balancing his workload between the on-field comedy routine with the referees (though he will receive valuable assistance in this department from Gavin Badger, who can improvise with the best of them), the chemistry experiments, and learning the team’s game plan.

I’ll be back Friday to analyse the Bulldogs v Manly heavy hitter, as well as the Game of the Week, Cowboys v Panthers (an odd choice, but look at the other games and tell me this isn’t the hardest to pick …).

I’ll probably sneak in the Mannah Cup match, too, given its significance (and no more Parra jokes).

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