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Friday, July 29, 2005

NRL Round 21 

Things are heating up in the rugby league and if the Warriors can win against the Panthers tomorrow night in Sydney they'll be sitting pretty for a shot at the top eight.

Some commentators estimate teams will need 28 points to make the cut this season which would see the Warriors (20) needing to win three of their last five games - they've got a two point bye.
The general opinion, based on the final eight each year since the competition was stretched to 15 teams in 2002, is that a team needs to finish on at least 26 points to make the finals. However, the more compressed nature of this year's competition means a team is likely to need at least 28 points.
After 20 rounds last season there were three teams on 30 points or more and the team running eighth was on 21 points.
After 20 rounds this season there is only one team with more than 26 points and the team running eighth is on 24.
In fact, each of the six teams from third to eighth is on 24 and the teams ninth and 10th have more points than the team that was running eighth last year.

This estimate sits nicely with Warriors coach Tony Kemp's call six weeks ago that the Warriors needed to win 6 from 10. They're currently on 3/5.

However, last week New Zealand's top league reporter Steve Kilgallon wrote the Warriors need to win four of their last five to make the 8?

(Word on the street has it that Kilgallon simply cannot believe the apathy of opposition; New Zealand Heralds league reporter Peter Jessup who according to my sources "hasn't broken a story all year".)

Facing the desperate Panthers in Sydney followed by second-placed Eels at Ericsson then third placed Storm in Melbourne - even if they do have shit crowds - won't be easy.

The final two games of the season are both winnable though - the Knights at Ericsson and then the seemingly headless Sea Eagles at the ever-less imposing Brookvale "fortress".

But the punters are confident the Warriors will get one of these three wins tomorrow.
Penrith beat the Warriors in Auckland earlier this season and have won the last two clashes between these sides at this venue. However that is where the advantage to the Panthers ends. Both sides enter the match with identical sides to last week but the visitors are in far better form. Stacey Jones is running the football at pace while picking up runners when the gaps appear. The four front rowers for the Warriors, Price, Wiki, Villasanti and Paleaaesina are world class and will put NZ on the front foot at all times. Penrith gave the impression that they were a football side for periods of the match against Nth QLD last week but for the remainder they were a rabble. Poor ball handling, missed tackles and unimaginative attack make them a risk this weekend. They need to improve or the Warriors will have them for dinner.

Anyways, enough idle speculation and on to this week's matches. (I'll have to update Jessup's tips as some lazy bugger forgot to buy today's paper...)

Dragons versus Roosters - Bennyasena Dragons
Knights vs Storm - Bennyasena Storm
Broncos vs Raiders - Bennyasena Broncos
Panthers vs Warriors - Bennyasena Warriors
Sea Eagles vs Cowboys - Bennyasena Cowboys
Rabbits vs Bulldogs - Bennyasena Rabbits
(Honestly I think they might be able to pull one out of the bag here, I watched the Bulldogs trialling new kickers last night on the news - kicker maestro El Masri is out - and they were woeful. The two sides drew 23-23 last time they played.)
Sharks vs Tigers - Tigers

Make that 21-21 Bulldogs vs Rabbits last time they played.
I agree about the Dogs ... those kickers couldn't hit the side of a barn from 5 yards.

Another couple of 'upsets' I predict:

Knights over the Storm
Sharks over Tigers (Tigers won't win 5 on the trot).
I stated that sides would need 28 points or maybe 30 five whole weeks ago.

Who's yo' daddy?!!!!

If the Knights and Rabbits hadn't bagged some points recently it definately would have been 30.

I really should be employed for my number crunchability somewhere high up!
My rough guide to where teams might finish up based on table position, form and home advantage:

42 Broncos
34 Eels
34 Cowboys
34 Sharks
32 Storm
32 Dragons
31 Bulldogs
28 Roosters
28 Raiders
28 Tigers
26 Warriors
26 Sea Eagles
18 Panthers
15 Rabbitohs
12 Knights

I'm picking the Warriors to lose to the Panthers, beat the Eels, lose to the Storm, beat the Knights and then lose to the Sea Eagles thanks to a cheating ref.

Hopefully the Sea Eagles have either sealed a playoff spot or can't make it when we meet them.
On jessup at the herald, I notice that as well as the league and fishing he has also been covering basketball for bleeding ages.

Now either he has told them that he wants to move away from league or else the herald are a bunch of fucks.

They have 'rugby' sport friday with rugby again on the cover despite there basically being no games on at the moment and there haven't been for weeks.
Fuck the Herald, they lead with Rugby in January for fuck's sake.
Jessup's round 21 picks
Roosters (lost)
Newcastle (won)
Rabbits (won)
Broncos (won)
Warriors (lost)
Cowboys (won)
Tigers (won)

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