The 2014 NRL season starts tonight… and you know what that means: Tipping for Dummies is back!
The opening round is sure to be a big one with several key matches taking place, perhaps none bigger than the first two.
Thursday March 6, 2014
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Sydney Roosters @ ANZ Stadium
Yes. This happened. Somehow, in the realm of possibility, these two were put together in the opening match of the opening round. The reigning premiers will start the defense of their title as they clash with their long-storied rivals, the Bunnies. One of the notable ins for this game is the Bunnies debut of veteran Lote Tuqiri.
SolSat’s prediction: Sydney Roosters
The Chookies have what, 98% of their premiership winning team playing in this opening game so quite solely based on that, the Chookies will win this one with a slight edge over their opponents. Don’t expect the Bunnies to go down without a fight, though.
Friday March 7, 2014
Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Brisbane Broncos @ ANZ Stadium
My boys will fly down to the state of cockroaches as they take on the Doggies in Friday Night Football. This is a key match for the Broncos as the debuting Ben Barba will collide with his former team in the big one for the first time. Bias aside, the Broncos have made key changes to their side as co-captain Cozza will play in the front row and Hoffman will play as five-eighth.
SolSat’s prediction: Brisbane Broncos
I am hoping for a Broncos win, of course, but I think with the new side – and the overall “refreshing” of the team – that the Broncos can take this one, much like they beat the Doggies in their last game for 2013. Minus the emotional farewell of Princey.
Saturday March 8, 2014
Penrith Panthers vs. Newcastle Knights @ Sportingbet Stadium
The start of Saturday footy sees the Panthers take on the Knights. The Panthers, like the Broncos, have had a reinvigoration of sorts, and part of this will be seen as new recruit Jamal Idris will start for Penrith despite a hamstring complaint. Michael Dobson will take over cutie Jarrod Mullen on the Knights side.
SolSat’s prediction: Newcastle Knights
My reason for this would be 80% intuition – I just feel as if the Knights have a better side, despite the omission of Knights playmaker Mullen. The newly formed Panthers side will put up a good fight and hopefully Idris will stay unharmed in this game.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs. Melbourne Storm @ Brookvale Oval
The 2013 runner-ups will face the favoured side of Melbourne Storm at Brooky Oval. The Eagles’ new recruits Josh Starling, Dunamis Lui and Cheyse Blair will make their debuts while the Storm are missing key player Cooper Cronk, who will be replaced by Ben Roberts.
SolSat’s prediction: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Again, going mainly off intuition, the Sea Eagles have been the most consistently good team in recent NRL history so I see them one-upping the Storm in what is sure to be a bloody brilliant game of league. In the end, all league enthusiasts are the winners of this one.
North Queensland Cowboys vs. Canberra Raiders @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
I’m sorry, 1300 Smiles Stadium is the funniest name of a stadium I have ever come across. Regardless, the team ledy by smiling Thurston and brute Scott will face the Canberra Raiders who, to put it bluntly, had a terrible season in 2013. The Cowboys are coming off their big win at the Auckland Nines while the Raiders are hoping to win and get the ball rolling.
SolSat’s prediction: North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys are truly premier contenders this year and I expect to see a stellar performance from the Queensland side on Saturday. Anthony Milford, who is going to be a baby Bronco next year (hallelujah!) will put up a good fight but the Cowboys will be hard to stop.
Sunday March 9, 2014
St. George Illawarra Dragons vs. West Tigers @ ANZ Stadium
In what is kind of not a home game for either side, two of the bottom teams from 2013 will face off in the Sunday opener as the Dragons take on the Tigers. Key Dragon player Josh Dugan will be out while the Tigers will play for the first time without Benji Marshall in the big one.
SolSat’s prediction: West Tigers
This game is a tough one to call and to be honest, I’m a bit skeppers about my decision. Regardless, I am backing the Tigers to take this one out, largely due to the fact of Dugan missing play. Here’s to a good game regardless.
Parramatta Eels vs. New Zealand Warriors
The bottom-rung team in the Eels have re-formed themselves in a desperate attempt to not get the wooden spoon for another consecutive year. They, however, have the formidable task of defeating the Warriors in round one, who had a spectacular showing at the inaugural Auckland Nines.
SolSat’s prediction: New Zealand Warriors
With all due respect to the Eels, who I truly believe will have a better season this year with players like Will Hopoate, but the Warriors have shown that they are a side not to be taken lightly, and they will go on to defeat the Eels on Saturday in what will be a surprisingly great match.
Monday March 10, 2014
Cronulla Sharks vs. Gold Coast Titans
After a scandalous year, the Sharkies will look to regain some of their fandom this year and will do so when they take on the Titans in the round’s closing game. Todd Carney has been named for the Sharks despite a hamstring injury and his Titans counterpart Aidan Sezer will look to take advantage of that.
SolSat’s prediction: Gold Coast Titans
Go with me on this one, I actually believe that the Titans, much like the Broncos, will have a much better season this year. Sezer’s kicking game is unmatched and with the return of Beau Falloon, the Titans are my pick to win this one.
Not only is my beloved NRL back but I also get the privilege of meeting the Broncos after their game on Friday night. Tis the benefits of being a club member. I highly recommend becoming a member and supporting your club!
– by Noah La’ulu