NRL Rd 3 The Big Match Ups – Saturday


Renee McKay/Action Photographics
Renee McKay/Action Photographics

Round 3 The Big Match Ups – Saturday

Panthers versus Dogs

  • at Sportingbet Stadium so no great advantages there
  • Penrith  played away last Saturday (Loss to Storm) and Canterbury played at home on Monday night (Win over badly weakened Cronulla)
  • Panthers perhaps got a confidence boost from competing well with Storm but not sure Dogs got the same despite a big scoreboard victory.
  • Bulldogs could be down on energy a fraction after short turn around but the type of match v Sharks would have taken little out of the tank I feel. Panthers likewise should be well prepared after 7 days.
  • Manu/Wes Naiqama only top 25 players missing while for Dogs Eastwood/Lafai/Kasiano/Inu are all injured.
  • Idris returned successfully for Panthers last week so should be even better prepared this time round. Great match up on that edge with Idris facing off with Josh Morris!
  • What a contrast in the #6s. Reynolds all grit and determination and aggression and work rate versus Soward. All the Dogs additions this week are unavailable – til next season!
  • Love the #9 clash too. Ennis freed of refereeing duties this season versus battling work rate nice guy Kevin Kingston followed by the electric Segeyaro. The Bulldogs skipper might be able to chat with his direct opponent about how it feels to move aside for a young speedster mid match in readiness for next season.
  • The back rowers are also stark in contrast. The ‘sawn offs” of Penrith knocking legs together with regularity and running into brick walls (or MASSIVE  BULLDOGS) for each other so bravely against those giant powerhouses Pritchard, Williams, Finucane and O’Hanlon.
  • Panthers will be keen to repeat the fewer missed tackles versus Storm (27) than their previous shocker v Knights (59). Contrast that to Dogs 24 v Broncos and juts 13 missed tackles versus Sharks.  This is a reflection also of the quality of the running power of individual opponents and the team attacking options also of course.

 Summary:  I find it hard to tip any team with a poor fullback and for differing reasons that’s how I see both these teams. Perrett is a winger doing his best at #1 and Moylan is learning that the position of fullback in lower grades of footy doesn’t even resemble the pressure and physical mayhem you face back there in NRL footy. Talented yes but not experienced yet.

Pushed to make a call I will say ……….. Bulldogs


Sharks versus Drags

  • at Redmondis  Stadium s I can’t see any great advantages there
  • Cronulla played away on Monday night (massive belting from Dogs) and Dragons played away on Saturday to Warriors (solid win over an underperforming Warriors). This could be a battle of who recovers best with Sharks requiring mental as well as physical.
  • Dragons continued to build much needed confidence with second win so should arrive in good mental and emotional state. Tough response needed by entire Cronulla club after consecutive losses.
  • The woes continue on the injury list for Sharks with Fifita / Ryan / Gardiner / Robson / Tupou / Lewis / Gallen all missing.
  • “The merged entity” without Dugan only from their starting lineup but Groat and Witt also
  • Fulton returns for Wests and McQueen for Souths.
  • #6 seems to be the key player match up, Widdop having hit the ground running in these two opening wins against soft targets I feel and not for the first time in his career Carney is seen as the possible saviour for the shire club. Kicking games, goal kicking (or will Gordon get this job), attacking keys – who will lead the rest of their team to victory?
  • The fierce territorial rivalry that has existed between these clubs may not be present in current circumstances.

Summary: I hope they are all more excited about this one than I am.  Sharks should be as they need desperately to get the first win for the season. Dragons should be too because they really haven’t beaten anyone of great note as yet and we might all be saying the same thing again even if they do get a “W” up on Saturday night. TC’s kicking can give the Sharks at least that aspect to generate some pressure off them and onto the opposition. That will be a start after 2 very ordinary team performances.

St George Illawarra in a tight battle


Cowboys versus Warriors

  • at NQ so a considerable advantage apparently when we look at Cowboys home record and Warriors away record in recent times.
  • NQ  played away last Friday (Loss to Broncs) and Warriors played at home on Saturday arvo (poor loss to Dragons)
  • With one win between them this match could be described as very important – as if they all aren’t!
  • Cows are missing only Lachlan Coote (season) while Warriors are missing 2 players I consider vital to their performances – Thomas Leuluai  and Kevin Locke
  • I have been focusing on fullbacks lately in my writing on and also for and RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK and as you can see both clubs are missing players I would suggest are their first string #1s, in Coote and Locke.
  • The performances of Morgan (learning how to play new position) and Tomkins (learning how to play the position at a new level of intensity and precision) will be key from a perspective of DON’T LOSE THE GAME FOR US PLEASE! Learning on the job in NRL is both necessary for almost everyone at some stage and dangerous for the team while its happening – never more dangerous than when it’s a #1 with his L plates on.
  • The Sims boys have had a promotion this week from Coach Green – Tariq into the #13 jersey from the bench and Ashton onto the bench. They both seem to promise a lot in those massive frames and extroverted personalities. If the coach can find a key to them performing more regularly in Tarzan mode they might just spark the whole joint into a dominating mood.
  • The half backs match-up is also of interest to me. Johnson hasn’t really sparked the Warriors attack and also needs to improve his tackling to help out that leaky right edge D of the Warriors. If Taumalolo plays left side second row in rage mode as he does occasionally SJ will need to show his very best effort or the big fella might create havoc.
  • Lui’s progress seemed to falter a little last week in the loss at Brisbane. I sometimes wonder if it is all fantastic playing inside the best player in the NRL. Maybe it’s great and also tough on some days. Another aspect perhaps that new coach can improve as the season unfolds?
  • Matulino versus Tamou and Scott doesn’t seem fair. Hope the big Kiwi gets a hand from his front row teammates (that’s Matulino BTW).

Summary: Any slight advantages in preparation go to Cows and it was already looking a tough ask for Warriors. The stakes are really high in this match (yes yes they should always be high in every NRL match).  A “W” here would be a massive kick start for the Warriors and a loss makes it 3 from 3 in the “L” department. For NQ this one will be seen as a savage loss against an opponent who has not fired up as yet. A danger game for NQ. Not the end of the world for either team but …………

Cows by plenty