Tonight’s NRL double-header can’t come fast enough. I didn’t think my shakes and palpitations from lack of Thursday footy were all that serious until Mrs Dr threw the washing in the bath. C’est la vie. Who says a man can’t multitask? If Josh Dragon can do it, then heck, so can I.
On the face of it, tonight’s matches appear fairly straight forward on the tipping scale. Manly and the Titans clearly have the form on the board and the stats to suggest those performances were not just well deserved, but dominant.
Picking against the Bulldogs is always fraught with danger, however. They are the most recent Minor Premiers and Grand Finalists, have a coach that monsters every ‘i’ and ‘t’, and can clearly play footy. What’s more, Mackay’s and Bankstown’s favourite hair-snipper is back in the custodian roll after cutting his teeth on the Rabbitohs last week.
But they aren’t at full strength. Klemmer and Eastwood have been ruled out tonight on top of Inu and Kasiano being unavailable, robbing them of muscle and thrust up front. Further, talk of Frank Pritchard leaving at the end of the year is almost certain to influence his effectiveness. It would appear that they will rely heavily on the Bulldog’s bulldog, Josh Reynolds, and Barba to make the plays that count. As for Tony Williams, if he can contribute, that’d be nice, but I won’t be predicting that.
It’s also worth noting last night’s blog outlining the horror draw the Bulldogs face. The Storm and Rabbitohs followed by Manly, Roosters and the Sharks. They are less than halfway though so far, and without a win.
Manly, on the other hand, have the best defence in the business, as well as scintillating attack, particularly in the 2nd half as you can see above. I know this game is supposed to be close because of the ‘history’ underlying it, but Manly by 13 (I can’t quite get to the Tracker’s 20pts, but would do so if the game was at Brooky).
As for the banana-bender-big-bash, the Titans have feasted on the Raiders and Panthers, beaten the superb Manly, and lost to an emotionally potent Sharks outfit back in round 1. The Titans are:
- 2nd on Points Scored vs Conceded,
- 2nd on Metres per Run (attacking thrust)
- 3rd on Tries Scored vs Conceded,
- 3rd on Line Breaks Made vs Conceded
They have quickly become the real deal after a disappointing 2012, and it’s difficult to see the Broncos matching them given their questionable attacking prowess (last week’s effort and their completion rates notwithstanding). Their defensive line will also be materially disturbed by the absence of Sam Thaiday. He does an mountain of work, and is a proven inspiration to his team. In short, he will be sorely missed, in the middle of the park as much as in cover defence.