Thursday 28 May 2009

NRL Tips Round 12 2009 - AFL Tips Round 10 - Super 14 Final Tip

This is an archived story - so check the main page - for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also regularly updated with opinion, news and features on sport, entertainment and life. The days are getting colder as winter approaches and sadly the tipping has is following suit. That perfect round is but a dream in 2009... As is kicking a goal from the sideline just 1.5 metres from the tryline - interested in giving it a go? Go to for more information on Kick-Off 2009! NRL, AFL & Super 14 Previews below. NRL ROUND 12 - 2009 Tipped a respectable 5 from 8 (well 6 from 8 if the Rabbitohs-Eels Draw counts in your competitions as a 'win') missing the Bulldogs and Knights. With State of Origin I next Wednesday Night - 6 teams have the bye in Round 12 meaning there are only 5 games to tip and the chances of getting that perfect round increase. No games for the Roosters, Titans, Broncos, Storm, Sea Eagles and Cowboys this week. Dragons ($1.54) over Panthers ($2.50) > Some big losses for both sides through Origin representation with the Dragons losing half of their starting pack and the Panthers losing arguably their three most influential players in Luke Lewis, Michael Jennings and of course Petero Civoniceva. That's the rub that gives the Dragons favouritism going into the Friday Nighter at WIN Stadium. Jamie Soward was back 'up' last week against the Sharks and could be primed for a massive game even behind a less heralded forward pack (also without the injured Matt Prior). The Panthers do get Trent Waterhouse back from a one week injury layoff but their three quarter line in particular looks thin on game-breakers whereas the Dragons roll out the same backline they've had before Origin - minus Darius Boyd. Last 5 Head to Head: To be added. Sharks ($2.62) over Eels ($1.50) > Surely the Sharks are going to win eventually...? And the Eels without their only inform player in Jarryd Hayne look the best bet to fall over and allow the Sharks to end their 9 match losing streak. Losing Paul Gallen to Origin duty won't hurt the Sharks as much as the stats suggest and having Trent Barrett as the leader of the side will be huge to the team's sense of direction on the park. Barrett has shown glimpses of his best in recent weeks - sadly they have been all too brief to get the Sharks home but if Barrett and Ricky Stuart can open the game plan up away from forwards who want to pad their hit up stats - the Sharks will win this. But even if the game plan opens up - the only reason I'm picking the Sharks is because Nathan Cayless and Nathan Hindmarsh will keep the Eels competitive defensively - but Parra have nothing in their lineup that can beat the Sharks in attack. Last 5 Head to Head: To be added. Tigers ($2.50) over Warriors ($1.54) > The Warriors are playing some terrible football at the moment and if Coach Ivan Cleary's solution is to drop players in positions he didn't even use in the game plan when they were in the team (poor Denan Kemp has to be filthy he left the Broncos where they believed in using both sides of the field in attack)- what hope do the Aucklanders have in turning their fortunes around with new kids in those spots? Ian Henderson has also been punted only weeks after renewing his contract with the team - replaced by a converted halfback with next to no experience at the NRL level. The Tigers won't have Robbie Farah but they didn't have him against a near-full strength Brisbane side and nearly got the cash. Benji Marshall to have a big one and John Morris fits into a side better at hooker so I'll tip the upset and take the Tigers. If the Warriors lose this - the market on 'First Coach Fired' will soon read 1. Brad Fittler and 2. Ivan Cleary. Last 5 Head to Head: To be added. Bulldogs ($1.72) over Knights ($2.15) > A good friend of mine had good money on the Bulldogs to make the Finals in 2009 and despite my protests that the comp was mediocre and the Dogs were terrible in 2008... I didn't take the tip and take my own advice that the comp is mediocre and any team was capable of a Finals push with some luck and improvement. The Dogs are in top spot and even if Brett Kimmorley can't play due to leg cork - they should overcome their other big loss of Ben Hannant (the form prop in the comp for mine) and take the points from EnergyAustralia against a Knights side that won't have Kurt Gidley and James McManus on Origin duty and could also be without Junior 'The Biscuit' Sau and Steven Simpson - two influential players on their respective sides of the field. Last 5 Head to Head: To be added. Raiders ($2.65) over Rabbitohs ($1.48) > No Terry Campese for Canberra and no John Sutton, Craig Wing and possibly Chris Sandow for South Sydney... this game is evened out significantly by those omissions and despite playing at home the Bunnies will be relying on their forward pack to out muscle the Raiders to get the two points. Canberra opened up their game plan a little against the Warriors but were recipients of a host of soft tries so shouldn't get carried away that they've turned the corner - but a win over the Rabbitohs away from home and maybe it is time to get optimistic about their chances. Marc Herbert had his best game versus the Warriors since he last played the Bunnies late in 2008 and will need to team with possibly Josh Dugan in the Raiders halves to conjure up a tough road win. Last 5 Head to Head: To be added. AFL ROUND 10 - 2009 That's it... I refuse to tip the Richmond Tigers Football Club again this season. I think Terry Wallace is a good coach with a playing roster devoid of application to his game plan... or at least application to the fact I've tipped them almost every week! BLUES ($1.24) over EAGLES ($4.20) The Blues may have been humbled in the first half of their loss to the Crows but they will rebound at home with the Eagles in town - West Coast dropped a very winnable game last week to the under-strength Magpies and may have kissed their season goodbye with that loss. Blues to win. BULLDOGS ($1.60) over SWANS ($2.35) If the Bulldogs don't have Gilbee - the Swans at $2.35 will get a lot of interest from punters. He's a vital part of the Bulldogs lineup and the Swans are coming off a sublime display (how long has it been since anyone has said that about the Swans style of play?) to smash Port Adelaide at the SCG. This is at Manuka so the Swans don't really travel for this 'away' game in the sense they've played at this ground in Canberra quite a bit - so they are every chance but I'll pick the Bulldogs right now. LIONS ($1.77) over KANGAROOS ($2.08) Travis Johnstone DROPPED!!! If he wasn't in my Dream Team lineup that wouldn't be significant news. Still the Roos are a team that can get up for a 'must win' then drop a game in a match they are a 50/50 propersition in... this is such a game and the Lions will take a lot of heart from pushing St.Kilda last Sunday. Lions travelling is always a risk but the Roos are tough to back in a 50/50 clash. SAINTS ($1.10) over DEMONS ($7.00) The poor Melbourne Demons... they are getting better but how many more weeks can they 'get better in defeat' and then come up against another AFL powerhouse the very next match. This week they get the 9-0 St.Kilda and are long long odds to make that 9-1. Saints fans Australia wide are starting to get a little worried... their team may actually be in a favourable position to win a flag come September after having to deal with a few seasons in the last five years where they've had a bad dose of 'notquitethereitis'. The thing is their 9-0 record shouldn't be that much of a surprise - they did after all make the Preliminary Final last year! WHARFIES ($1.46) over TIGERS ($2.75) As said in the opening blurb for Round 10 - I'm on a picking the Tigers ban until the end of 2009. For the players, coaching staff and long suffering fans sake - hopefully my lack of backing them sends them through the rest of the season on a 13 match winning streak! RYHIHF if it happens! HAWKS ($1.62) over CROWS ($2.32) Are Hawthorn getting their act together? We'll find out on Sunday when they try and avoid the fate that the Crows dished out to the Blues at AAMI last weekend. Twin towers Franklin and Roughead are the key in this one - they establish a presence up front and the onus will be on the Adelaide tall timber to do the same at the other end... not sure Taylor Walker is capable of winning a game on his own quite yet. CATS ($1.13) over BOMBERS ($6.00) Give the Bombers credit - they are playing good football. But the Cats - even without Chapman and Stokes - rarely lose... at all during the regular season. So it's another round of Catastic* Football this Sunday! * Consider the term 'Catastic' patented from here on. RYHIHF. POWER ($2.55) over MAGPIES ($1.52) Because the Magpies beat a West Coast team that really isn't all that flash and the Power will be smarting from their hiding at the hands of the Swans last Sunday. Power to pick up a huge away win and Mick Malthouse to formerly put his application to coach the Tigers in 2010 before the Richmond board by Monday morning. SUPER 14 SEMI FINALS - 2009 So here we are the 2009 Super 14 Final and it doesn't feature any of the big favourites of the pre-season. No sign of the Sharks, Hurricanes, Crusaders or (gulp) Waratahs - ok not really favourites but made the Final last year so deserve to be on this list for that reason alone. I wrote the Chiefs off after seeing them beaten by a pretty ordinary performing Waratahs team early on in the season but they've got their act together and now travel to Pretoria to face the Bulls who were arguably the most consistent side of the season (not saying much given they finished on top of the table but they were good every week even when they lost). I'll go with the home team Bulls to win although something inside me is telling me to respect the Chiefs for proving me wrong and getting to the Final. 1:30am (AEST time) SATURDAY NIGHT @ PRETORIA, SA BULLS ($1.38) Backs: Z Kirchner, A Ndungane, J Pretorius, W Olivier, B Habana, M Steyn, F du Preez. Forwards: P Spies, D Potgieter, D Stegmann, V Matfield (c), B Botha, W Kruger, D Kuun, G Steenkamp. Bench: C Ralapelle, R Gerber, D Rossouw, P Wannenburg, H Adams, B Francis, M Delport/G van den Heever. V CHIEFS ($3.10) SQUAD (below predicted team) Backs: M Muliaina (c), L Masaga, R Kahui, C Bruce, D Sweeney, S Donald, T Morland. Forwards: S Lauaki, T Latimer, L Messam, K O'Neill, C Clarke, J McGougan, A de Malmanche, A Taumalolo. Bench: H Elliot, J Savage, T Lynn, S Lilo, D Bason, M Delany, S Anesi, N White, J Willison. BULLS by 3! Good luck with your tips this weekend!

Tuesday 26 May 2009

2009 State of Origin Game One Teams: NSW v QLD

State of Origin Teams Game 3 on main page - +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Brand New State of Origin Video Preview for GAME TWO - CLICK HERE.
The wait is almost over, in just over a week Queensland and New South Wales will do battle in State of Origin I at Docklands in Melbourne to kick-off the 2009 Series. The Maroons are looking to make it four straight series victories, while the Blues will be trying to end the streak at three and restore order to the code. Here are the Game I squads with individual player comments. Also attached is a form rating for each player from their 2009 performance to date - based mainly on how well they are playing to their potential.
Game One Preview after the profiles below or HERE. Teams for Wednesday June 4, game will kick-off at 8pm. For the record: NSW to win the 2009 Series 2-1. Wednesday 27 May EDIT: Glenn Stewart has been suspended for 1 match and will miss the game, Luke Lewis has replaced him on the NSW bench. Sunday 31 May EDIT: Paul Gallen is out with a shoulder injury, Anthony Laffranchi is into the 17 with the final starting lineup to be known an hour before kick-off Wednesday. Manly and Australian backrower Anthony Watmough has flown to Melbourne to be 18th man. QUEENSLAND MAROONS - GAME I 2009 Fullback - SLATER, Billy Hasn't been in breath-taking form for the Storm but he still had to be picked for Game I. Could be targeted on kick-returns by the NSW kick-chase or avoided completely as has been the case in a few games he's played for the Storm this season. Form in 2009: C+ Winger - BOYD, Darius Wayne Bennett sure knows how to pick the next big thing. Boyd's first year or two in the top grade was so far removed from the player he is now, it is scary. In great form for the Dragons. Form in 2009: A Centre - INGLIS, Greg Back in his favoured left centre position we will see the best of Inglis in the next year or two playing outside Finch and Cronk - and in Origin where he'll be even better served by Lockyer and Thurston. Form in 2009: B Centre - HODGES, Justin If his hamstring comes good the NSW backline will be harassed all night by the best centre in the game. His partnership with Folau will give their NSW counterparts nightmares both on and before gameday. Form in 2009: B+ Winger - FOLAU, Israel If you don't enjoy watching Folau play Rugby League there is something seriously wrong with you as the youngster is so talented he reminds us weekly that he should be playing for NSW! Form in 2009: A Five-Eighth - LOCKYER, Darren (c) Has experienced just how tough it is to return to your best following major knee surgery and although his defence continues to be an issue - Lockyer has produced a performance or two this season that should leave no doubt he still has 'it' in attack. Form in 2009: C Halfback - THURSTON, Johnathan Up until the last month, Thurston's grade would've been well and truly in the C range but he has turned a corner since the Test Match and the Cowboys are currently hot - and Thurston is the reason. Queensland selectors will be smiling at this favourable change in form. Form in 2009: B+ Front Rower - CIVONICEVA, Petero Just keeps producing great go-forward for the Panthers and is playing 5 minutes more a game than 2008. One of Civoniceva's most under-rated skills is his ability to scramble defensively - it often goes unnoticed but it is huge for his team. Form in 2009: B+ Hooker - SMITH, Cameron Can play better than he has been and perhaps he's been saving his best for the Origin period and the second half of the NRL Season. Still one of the top players in the game today. Form in 2009: B- Front Rower - PRICE, Steven A throat injury early in the season has had an impact on his club form of late and perhaps he's finally starting to show his age? Leg drive is the key to any prop having longevity in the game and Price's fitness is usually great so he'll bounce back. Form in 2009: B- Second Rower - HARRISON, Ashley Has maintained a consistent game since joining the Titans following a disappointing stint with the Roosters and deserves to retain his Maroons jumper ahead of a strong challenge by David Stagg. Form in 2009: B- Second Rower - THAIDAY, Sam Was in devastating form in the opening two months of the season but since missing out on a Test birth his game has dropped off a bit. Gets an opportunity to fire back up against the Blues. Form in 2009: B+ Lock Forward - JOHNSON, Dallas Defensive workhorse has gone about his business in his normal no-fuss way but with the Storm desperate for edge runners to get their game plan back in action - Johnson hasn't been able to lend assistance. The good news for Queensland is Johnson is here for defence, defence and more defence. Form in 2009: B- Bench - HUNT, Karmichael Has probably been Brisbane's most influential player so far in 2009 but it wasn't enough to oust Billy Slater for the run on fullback spot. If he isn't required as an injury replacement he'll come on in a floating role either side of halftime and probably play the rest of the match if Queensland are chasing points. Form in 2009: B Bench - HANNANT, Ben For mine he is the form prop in the competition and Canterbury looked a little light in the middle of the park against Newcastle without their forward leader. Is playing 60+ minutes a week and while he'll only be needed for just over half that in Origin I - Queensland will lose little when he subs for Price or Civoniceva. Form in 2009: A+ Bench - MYLES, Nate One of the very very few bright spots in the Roosters season has been the form and consistency of Myles in 2009. He plays a modified prop/second rowers role with Sydney but will be needed for impact up the middle in Origin I along with Hannant. The enforcer NSW should fear more than Michael Crocker. Form in 2009: B+ Bench - CROCKER, Michael Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Crocker's 2009 season has not been his immediate impact on the NRL with Souths in just a fortnight of football and elevation back into the Queensland - but that no other club seized the opportunity to sign him earlier. Queensland have however passed on form backrower David Stagg to pick Crocker so he'll be expected to contribute. Form in 2009: B 18th Man - SCOTT, Matthew His last month of football suggests that he is finally fit and over his knee issues that had seen him under perform since his amazing Origin debut in 2006. Has chewed up the metres for the Cowboys with Carl Webb's form implosion and will do a good job for the Maroons if needed. Form in 2009: B Coach: MENINGA, Mal NEW SOUTH WALES BLUES - GAME I 2009 Fullback - GIDLEY, Kurt (c) If his knee complaint isn't an issue by game time the new skipper of NSW has a simple task in Game One - do nothing more than what he does best for Newcastle - run the ball. NSW will need his kick-returns to be on song and his prop like runs coming out of their own half to allow their less work ethic focused outside men the space required to do their thing. Shouldn't overplay his hand with the ball and allow Campese and Farah in particular to run the show. Form in 2009: A Winger - HAYNE, Jarryd If he hadn't woken up the fact he was playing with a pathetic attitude about a month ago he would be fortunate to be the Eels NRL side let alone the Origin team. Since moving to fullback and changing his attitude he's been a beast at the back and NSW will allow him some freedom in the middle of the ruck to float around their off-loading forwards. Form in 2009: B Centre - LYON, Jamie On a personal level I strongly disagree with this selection given Lyon has never been that interested in representative football and the spotlight - and secondly I've always believed him to be a player who only looks good and interested when his team is in control of matches. A trench-Origin-worthy footballer - that is not. His club form has been solid no doubt, but he's not a high involvement footballer and can disappear when his team is on the backfoot... prove me wrong Jamie. Form in 2009: B Centre - JENNINGS, Michael The risk/reward pick of the Blues lineup. He is the most explosive player in the NSW lineup and could form a really potent combination with Terry Campese on the left edge. Has the speed and footwork to give Justin Hodges a tough night but will be similarly targeted in defence which is obviously not his strong point. Form in 2009: A Winger - McMANUS, James Despite a strong push from his Novocastrian buddies - McManus was still a moderately surprising pick ahead of Joel Monaghan. That being said the only thing Monaghan had going for him at selection table was his aerial ability but in recent weeks McManus has done some nice things in the air and is a more no-nonsense type overall. He'll either be the second coming of Rod Wishart at Origin level for NSW or a one game nightmare for Coach Craig Bellamy. Hopefully the former. Form in 2009: B Five-Eighth - CAMPESE, Terry Has been mainly down on form in 2009 but the Raiders have been foolishly adjusting to David Furner's alternative game plan to the 2008 version and Campese's form has suffered as a result. They may have turned the corner against the Warriors but even if the game plan isn't being freed up entirely - it freed up enough to push Campese past Jarrod Mullen and into the five-eighth jersey for NSW that hasn't had a Canberra player in it since Laurie Daley in 1999. The last era that NSW featured a Raiders player at five-eighth was rather successful for the Blues so a good omen for Campese perhaps? Form in 2009: B- Halfback - WALLACE, Peter The one NSW selection I can't fathom based on Wallace's inability to play a game without kicking on the second tackle whilst in the attacking 20m zone but he's clearly the Blues first choice at halfback so I'll learn to live with it. That being said NSW also picked two genuine ball players in Campese and Farah so hopefully Wallace won't try and do much other than link those two... because if he thinks he's the top playmaker NSW are in deep poop and QLD will know exactly what to expect whenever the Blues reach their 20m zone. Form in 2009: B Front Rower - BAILEY, Luke Has been consistent his entire career and was an obvious selection ahead of some of the pretenders who featured in the NSW pack last year. Can be monstered with the ball however so must take the ball up with decoy runners along side him to avoid this. Tough with good endurance - Bailey should play the most minutes of all NSW props. Form in 2009: B Hooker - FARAH, Robbie How anyone could've seriously considered Michael Ennis ahead of Farah for this spot is beyond me. Farah has it all including a vastly under-rated running game which he has been showcasing in recent weeks. Classy playmaker from dummy half or one off the ruck, a deft left foot especially close to the line and a capable defender. He should be playing 80 minutes with Craig Wing only spelling his duty at dummy half rather than subbing Farah off the field entirely. The guy I would've picked as captain. Form in 2009: B+ Front Rower - KITE, Brent I still can't believe the Australian selectors picked him as Clive Churchill Medallist over Michael Robertson in the 2008 decider but Kite's been riding the coat-tails of that award ever since. Has never been a physically dominant prop and his form in 2009 has been sub-par at best. In for two reasons - he's at worst solid at his best and NSW were blooding two rookie props and felt more comfortable with Kite in the side as cover. But hey at least it's Kite instead of Brett White! Form in 2009: C Second Rower - CREAGH, Ben The push in the media for his selection got him over the line for a starting birth and if used correctly he can be a strong edge runner for the Blues. But if he's played too much in the centre of the ruck as a ball carrier he'll be smashed out of the game by the big QLD forwards. Keep him wide and he'll make a contribution. Form in 2009: A Second Rower - O'DONNELL, Luke Would have been one of the first NSW players picked behind Farah and Gidley. Is an agitating, tough and powerful backrower who the Blues will need to make his presence felt all over the field to keep the Maroons pack weary of the NSW unit. One tough hombre. Form in 2009: B+ Lock Forward - LEWIS, Luke Could find himself starting at lock to add another variation in attack from the kick-off and for mine that would be the bold selection to replace Paul Gallen. Even if Bellamy goes for Laffranchi or starts Weyman or Poore in order to have three props on the field at the beginning - it would be surprising to see no sign of Lewis at all in the first half. Will be another good ball runner on the edges if employed early. Form in 2009: A- Bench - WING, Craig Deserves his spot in the squad after coming back from injury and the disappointment of being replaced as South Sydney's long term five-eighth to thrive in a genuine utility role for the Bunnies. Won't see heaps of game time but will spend time at dummy half and as another edge runner in attack whilst defending closer to the middle of the field. Form in 2009: B Bench - POORE, Justin Was part of a pretty handy rookie class in 2004 (Hunt, Sonny Bill Williams, Reni Maitua, Todd Carney, Cooper Cronk, Campese, Manu Vatuvei & Anthony Tupou to name a few that debuted that season) and it may have taken him a while but he has earned a chance at representative football with a good apprenticeship in the NRL. Will do the job he's asked from the bench alongside fellow Dragon Michael Weyman. Form in 2009: B+ Bench - LAFFRANCHI, Anthony Won a chance to play in Game One when Glenn Stewart and then Paul Gallen were ruled out and could find himself in a prop like role as a result. Has been so-so in 2009 for the Titans and although he played in the ANZAC Test was no certainty for NSW as his club role doesn't translate well to Origin. If he rolls up his sleeves and limits the penalties conceded - NSW will get a positive contribution from the Titans backrower. Form in 2009: C+ Bench - WEYMAN, Michael Canberra fans who were willing to look at the talent and not the injuries knew Weyman was capable of this and those who wrote him off as a liability should feel like the gooses they are. I rated this kid as the best thing to come out of Canberra's junior front row stocks since Glenn Lazarus and with a little luck on the injury front, application and confidence from Wayne Bennett - Weyman is playing rep football. Form in 2009: A 18th Man - WATMOUGH, Anthony Unlikely to be required. Form in 2009: C- Coach: BELLAMY, Craig
Here's a preview of the Game One clash. The SQUADS (Full list and player profiles HERE): QUEENSLAND MAROONS - GAME I 2009 VERSUS NEW SOUTH WALES BLUES - GAME I 2009 GAME ONE PREVIEW: NSW have finally been adventurous and tried something different with the makeup of their team and will try and fight fire with fire out wide. The additions of Jennings, Farah, Campese in particular should excite all Blues supporters and give those cocky Maroon types far more concerns than the likes of Quinn, Tuner, Monaghan, Cooper (albeit still a great defender) and McManus... oh wait - he's playing. Still NSW have rolled the dice with some genuine attacking players and if Peter Wallace doesn't get in the way Farah and Campese in particular could combine beautifully with Jennings, Hayne, Gidley and Lyon in attack. Up front I see a bit of a stalemate ensuing as QLD has the edge in their starting props but NSW hold the edge in the backrow. The hookers are both quality players and should have a terrific battle. So in terms of the ruck - both sides should contain the other - which is where Origin can truly produce a great game as the respective backlines and playmakers can run do their thing and enthrall the crowd and TV audience with a classic. And given the talent in the Queensland backline and the rookie spark of their NSW counterparts - we could have a corker on our hands Wednesday night in Melbourne. If the conditions are good that is... the game is being played in Melbourne. Although Sydneysiders can't talk too much of late given the rain of the past month. Game One should always be the hardest to pick based on the simple fact that each team is somewhat different to the one that represented their state the year before and if there are carry over players - form isn't always carried over. Queensland deserve favouritism given the backline combination and their starting front row remains in tact for Game One but the game could turn on how much ball Farah and Campese get to work with and how little Wallace gets in the way. I'll admit I'm a New South Welshman through and through and after three straight years of Maroon victory laps - I'll be tipping the Blues in this one, as we strive to win the series for the first time since 2005. HOW THE GAME WILL PLAY OUT: I see the game being a see-sawing affair with QLD taking the lead early thanks to Israel Folau leaping high for a Thurston cross kick in the 8th minute, NSW bouncing back with two straight tries to Ben Creagh and Terry Campese on the edges but QLD to score 5mins before halftime through a Lockyer-Hodges-Slater combination and take a 12-10 lead into the break. QLD will extend that lead to 18-10 with 30mins to go when Cameron Smith barges over from dummy half but NSW will strike twice to win - the first to James McManus off a Peter Wallace cross kick (his 36th of the night) - and the last try off a Robbie Farah grubber near the line for Michael Jennings in the final 10 minutes. Farah to be the star alongside Campese and Luke O'Donnell. Best for QLD will be Hodges, Smith and Civoniceva. PICK THE SCORE: NSW 22 def. QLD 18 (HT: QLD 12-10) FIRST TRYSCORER: Who else... Israel Folau, QLD. LAST TRYSCORER: Michael Jennings, NSW. MAN OF THE MATCH: Robbie Farah, NSW. GO NEW SOUTH WALES! BLUES to win Series 2-1.

Monday 25 May 2009

Kick-Off 2009 - Are you up to the challenge?

In a brand spanking new competition here on you have the chance to show the footballing world you could do just as good a job on the Bulldogs wing as Hazem El Masri and Daryl Halligan. A few mates and I have kicked-off proceedings with a promo video of us down at a local park taking pot shots at goal from a near impossible angle and we're asking you to do the same, video it, and upload it to with a soundtrack of your choice. (Why a soundtrack? - because it would get a bit boring after the first few kicks) We're hoping to put together an entertaining and skillful collection of videos showcasing the talent (or lack thereof) of goal-kickers from around the world. That's right no matter where you are - get a video of you and your friends trying to convert from no more than 1 or 2 metres from the tryline on the touchline of your local footy field - put a soundtrack to it and upload it so we can judge the best of the best. If you've got better camera equipment than we used in the promo - use it because the two kicks that actually went through the sticks were foiled by technical difficulties with a phone video malfunction robbing two of us of genuine goals from the impossible angle. So here is the promo video with genuine footage of our attempts and we look forward to seeing your videos either posted/linked from YouTube on the comments section of this site, email the link directly to so I can upload them or post/link them to the Facebook Group called "Kick-Off 2009".
Promo Video from Sunday May 24 2009
Here is Entry #2 - Boronia Park Sydney Tuesday May 26 2009.
Entry #4 - Sommerville Park Sydney Monday June 08 2009
Here's hoping we can make this a competition worthy of some prizes - but we need your involvement first so we can figure out what the best reward is. What we'd like to do is organise a shoot-out with one Hazem El Masri - but the chances of that happening depend entirely on the volume of entries on, the YouTube video and the Facebook Group for KICK-OFF 2009!

Wednesday 20 May 2009

NRL Tips Round 11 2009 - AFL Tips Round 09 - Super 14 Tips Semi Finals

This is an archived story - so check the main page - for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also regularly updated with opinion, news and features on sport, entertainment and life. Well it was a week where favourites tippers got close to the cash in the AFL (7 of 8 favourites won), NRL (6 of 8 favourites won) and the Super 14 went pretty much to script in the games that mattered playoff wise. NRL, AFL & Super 14 Previews below. NRL ROUND 11 - 2009 Well I didn't tip badly in Round 10 - scoring 5 from 8 but my tip of the week - the Warriors over the Cowboys fell to pieces in the last 20 minutes and the final score was disheartening to say the least. A win by the Bunnies wasn't a big upset but since I'd also picked the Roosters to beat the Knights... there's 3 wrong and the averageness of my tipping this year continues. Onto Round 11! Rabbitohs ($1.38) over Eels ($3.10) > Injury news to come out of the weekend involved far too many Parramatta players for you to entertain the Eels in this one. But in saying that the Rabbitohs may not have Chris Sandow who came off injured late in the Tigers clash but you would be a game tipper to take the Eels as they are down to just two quality players healthy in Nathan Hindmarsh and Jarryd Hayne. The only bright spot for the Eels out of this game may be that Jarryd Hayne plays his way onto the wing for NSW as he continues to change his attitude towards the game and his performances are reflecting that. Souths butchered the Round 2 clash between these sides with poor attacking options - can't see them doing it again. Last 5 Head to Head: PAR by 6, SOU by 12, PAR by 6, SOU by 25, PAR by 20. Broncos ($1.29) over Tigers ($3.65) > There is some history attached to this game as the Wests Tigers first premiership match as a merged entity was against the Broncos at Campbelltown in 2000. But unless Robbie Farah (who should be fit after a concussion last weekend) and Benji Marshall can carry the Tigers on their back for the entire 80 minutes (60 minutes wasn't long enough against Souths) the Broncos should win this one. Expect a relatively high scoring affair though as the Broncos are yet to really establish themselves defensively but they should have plenty of points in them with Hodges back from injury. Last 5 Head to Head: BRI by 1, BRI by 12, BRI by 30, WTG by 14, WTG by 28. Dragons ($1.45) over Sharks ($2.75) > The Dragons need to be wary in this game as the Sharks continue to struggle on and off the field - which doesn't always bode well for their opposition if these struggles have been around for an extended length of time. One thing Ricky Stuart is really adept at as a coach is motivating his team - something that can count against him long term at a club - but this game is at Toyota Stadium against an local rival, expect the Sharks to get up for this one. That being said I still have to pick St.George-Illawarra to win. Last 5 Head to Head: STI by 4, CRO by 1, CRO by 2, CRO by 4, CRO by 32. Storm ($1.65) over Bulldogs ($2.25) > One has to wonder if the Bulldogs are second guessing themselves about moving this game from ANZ Stadium where a huge fan turnout would've eventuated with the way the Dogs are going on the ladder. Canterbury however moved this to Gosford which could be a real leveller of the home ground advantage and although the crowd should be close to a sell-out - the Storm will enjoy playing at a ground they won at just a fortnight ago against Sydney. If the Dogs had Josh Morris I'd like them a lot more than I do without him (duh!) so I'm tipping the Storm here. Last 5 Head to Head: MEL by 46, MEL by 32, MEL by 24, MEL by 4, MEL by 27. Panthers ($1.38) over Roosters ($3.10) > A real danger game for the Panthers who might've won their last three but haven't convinced me in doing so that they are a genuine finals threat. The game plan is reliant on a strong rolling go forward and when a good defence can contain that the Panthers struggle offensively in a big way. They don't use Michael Jennings nearly enough with early ball and he is their only strike player in their backline - and without a roll forward he'll get it even less. But they are playing the Roosters, who despite a great recent record against Penrith, are on struggle street having capitulated to the Knights at home last Saturday. I don't tip the Panthers with confidence but I got burned by the Roosters last week so Penrith it is. Last 5 Head to Head: SYD by 20, SYD by 16, PEN by 6, SYD by 4, SYD by 20. Raiders ($1.87) over Warriors ($1.95) > Although the NRL competition is plagued by mediocre sides and that means that no team will be out of playoff contention until they mathematically can't reach 11 wins (Canberra need to win 9 of their next 15 to reach 11 wins) - the Raiders face what is basically a must win game at home on Sunday when the Warriors visit. The Aucklanders were average for most of their clash with the Cowboys and pathetic in the last quarter to get shredded on the scoreboard but they are a team capable on their day of doing the same thing to another side that drops off. Canberra have changed their game plan this season to their detriment and are 2-7 as a result of their lack of idea in attack within the game plan David Furner has introduced. If the team is allowed to focus on ball movement instead of one out prop running - Canberra can win this... and perhaps the team's current record may have finally convinced Furner that his way isn't going to work with the roster he inherited. Last 5 Head to Head: WAR by 8, CAN by 2, CAN by 4, WAR by 8, CAN by 1. Titans ($1.82) over Sea Eagles ($2.00) > Big big game for the Titans who have lost two straight and on the road and can't afford to drop a home game if they have genuine Top 4 aspirations. Getting Anthony Laffranchi back is a massive boost as should be Luke Bailey who is not 100% certain to line up. Scott Prince and Preston Campbell may have a field day against the Manly pack who have been suspect defensively this season and if John Cartwright realises he needs William Zillman at fullback and Mat Rogers in the centres - the Titans will win this well. Last 5 Head to Head: MAN by 18, MAN by 20, MAN by 14. Knights ($2.05) over Cowboys ($1.77) > A mouth-watering match up of two sides capable of playing some very entertaining football. I remain unconvinced the Cowboys can beat teams that play well (broad statement but the Warriors were pathetic in the last quarter last week and the Eels were only just above decent in Round 8 and they beat the Cowboys) and they have so many errors and defensive lapses on their line during a game that a good team will beat them until that is rectified. Johnathan Thurston is playing well but I still believe he is a great 'from in front' footballer and a frustrating underperformer when his team is on the back foot. I would happily be proven wrong as he can play some outstanding football but there's a bit of headless chicken about him when his team is falling behind on the scoreboard. Thus the Knights get the pick here despite the tough road trip. Last 5 Head to Head: NEW by 14, NEW by 12, NQL by 16, NEW by 7, NQL by 2. AFL ROUND 09 - 2009 Tipped 7 from 8 in Round 8, missing only the Tigers. And while I predicted a draw on the site I ended up following the gut feel... and like Terry Wallace I would've torn Mitch Morton a new one had I been his coach too - pathetic pathetic play by a player who was dropped recently for playing too much for himself and not for the team... say hello to the VFL again young man - that selfish play was the worst I've seen in years for a team that had the game won by simply holding possession. So since I went for one genuine upset - Richmond - and the Hawks weren't a real roughie against the Dockers (or Wharfies as the players refer to themselves now) - I will fall behind a lot of tipsters who would've got the round 100% correct. CATS ($1.14) over BULLDOGS ($5.75) No matter how much you liked the Dogs wins over the Crows and Demons the past fortnight as they steadied Eade's ship - the Cats can't be tipped against until they lose. That makes sense - read it again. KANGAROOS ($1.73) over WHARFIES ($2.10) Freo may have travelled well to beat the Blues - but that was on neutral ground (Gold Coast) and the Roos desperately need a win - something that drives them to perform under Dean Laidley. Roos over the Wharfies on Saturday arvo at Docklands. BLUES ($1.62) over CROWS ($2.30) Can sense this may be the game where the home ground advantage is bigger factor than current form. The Crows fell short against the Lions away but weren't disgraced and the Blues handled a depleted Magpies easily at the G. I'm picking the Blues based on their midfield strength but it isn't a strong angle to hang my tip on given the game is at AAMI. EAGLES ($1.50) over MAGPIES ($2.60) What possesses me to think the Magpies are a chance is that I'm still not sure that West Coast are actually any good. Sure they almost stole the game from the Swans on Saturday night but the Swans aren't a team that will blow teams away this year so the games they win will be close. Having said that I feel like the Eagles can use their home ground advantage and the undermanned state of the Magpies list to win this one. TIGERS ($2.35) over BOMBERS ($1.60) I keep picking the Tigers... and this is one selection I'm sure to change before the end of the week because Essendon continue to look the goods in most of their matches and the Tigers have been appalling in closing out matches when they've had the lead. If not for Mitch Morton's brain snap of epic proportions against the Power - Richmond would be 2-6... I think they can be 2-7 though. SWANS ($1.57) over POWER ($2.40) Swans at home (esp the SCG) is always a relatively safe pick and the Power got lucky late at home to the Tigers - so Swans deserve favouritism here and should win - although I'm not confident. LIONS ($5.00) over SAINTS ($1.17) Clearly I'm nuts. In fact as I write this I'm eating nuts in the form of a 'Sunbeam Just Nuts' Bar so it might be influencing my decision to pick the LIONS AWAY against ST.KILDA who are 8-0!If I try and analyse why I'll change my pick so I won't talk myself out of this crazed but 'feels right' selection. HAWKS ($1.18) over DEMONS ($5.00) The Hawks got their mojo back in stopping the Wharfies in WA so I'll be happy to take them against the Demons in the Sunday twilight fixture. The Demons are close to pulling off that big upset and maybe even a fortnight of back to back wins - but I don't think it'll be this week. SUPER 14 SEMI FINALS - 2009 Well it wasn't the boldest of calls but did predict which teams would make the Super 14 Semi Finals - - but still dropped 2 of the 7 games when the Stormers finally beat a team they were supposed to and the Bulls pipped the Sharks in the final match. So we're onto the Semi Finals this weekend in Pretoria and Hamilton. I'm tipping the Hurricanes to overcome the Chiefs and the Bulls to represent South African in the Final when they beat a gallant Crusaders team. 19:35 (NZ time) FRIDAY NIGHT @ HAMILTON, NZ CHIEFS ($1.81) Backs: M Muliaina (c), L Masaga, D Sweeney, C Bruce, S Sivivatu, S Donald, T Morland. Forwards: S Lauaki, T Latimer, L Messam, K O'Neill, C Clarke, J McGougan, A de Malmanche, A Taumalolo. Bench: H Elliot, J Savage, T Lynn, S Lilo, D Bason, M Delany, S Anesi. V HURRICANES ($2.00) Backs: C Jane, T Ellison, C Smith, M Nonu, D Smith, W Ripia, P Weepu. Forwards: R So'oialo (c), S Waldrom, V Vito, J Eaton, J Thrush, N Tialata, A Hore, J Schwalger. Bench: G Robinson, J Ellison, B Evans, K Lowe, A Mathewson, J Kawau, Z Guildford. 15:00 (SA time) SATURDAY AFTERNOON @ PRETORIA, SA BULLS ($1.50) Backs: Z Kirchner, A Ndungane, J Pretorius, W Olivier, B Habana, M Steyn, F du Preez. Forwards: P Spies, D Potgieter, D Stegmann, V Matfield (c), B Botha, W Kruger, D Kuun, G Steenkamp. Bench: C Ralapelle, R Gerber, D Rossouw, P Wannenburg, H Adams, B Francis, G van den Heever. V CRUSADERS ($2.60) (24 man squad) Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Jason Macdonald, Daniel Perrin, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Michael Paterson, Ross Filipo, Kieran Read, Thomas Waldrom, Richie McCaw (c), George Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Kahn Fotuali’i, Stephen Brett, Colin Slade, Hamish Gard, Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman, Sean Maitland, Leon MacDonald, Jared Payne, Adam Whitelock. Backs: TBA Forwards: TBA Bench: TBA Good luck with your tips this weekend!

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Bulldogs cry foul yet reek of double standards

Bulldogs Blow Up Deluxe Over Call...

In case you missed any Rugby League related program, newspaper or internet site over the past few days, you will know that the Bulldogs are blowing up deluxe over a video refereeing decision that they believe cost them victory in their Friday Night Football clash with the St.George-Illawarra Dragons at WIN Jubilee Oval.

 The incident happened in the final minute of play when Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten took an off-load from winger Bryson Goodwin and saw an opening in the Dragons defence from halfway.

He saw an opportunity to cut left into a gap that was created by poor positioning from Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward and Patten raced into the clear drew the last line of defence and sent Jamal Idris into score.

However the gap in question had opened up behind a Bulldogs player who was coming back on side after the Dragons clearing kick that Goodwin had fielded.

The player in question was Greg Eastwood - who I should clearly point out is completely free of fault in this incident - and he did nothing wrong bar begin moving back on side after the kick. He made no obvious movements to impede any Dragons player and even when contact was made with Soward - he did absolutely nothing deliberate to prevent Soward from getting to Patten.


The line Patten ran in behind Eastwood is the issue that people seem to be conveniently missing when they blow up over Video Referee Steven Clark's decision of 'No Try'.

If Patten had run a straight line through the gap Soward had created by rushing up - then the try would've been awarded with barely any hesitation by Clark. But the key point here is that Patten ran a line that angled his body behind Eastwood and thus HE (not Eastwood) created the shepherd/obstruction that prevented Soward from making a genuine play on the ball carrier.

That's not to say that Soward would've tackled Patten - but the proximity of the shepherd that Patten created out of the passive Eastwood - meant that for mine - Clark had no option but to penalise Patten for his choice of running line.

Soward played the situation well - he hadn't been himself all match since a Michael Ennis cheap-shot after he had made a break left the Dragons playmaker dazed and without a running game for the rest of the night - and did enough to suggest that his ability to get to Patten had been affected by the presence of Eastwood and the Patten line.

It is a penalty. Correct call.

Now that's the incident but not the main focus of this article.

The issue that has led me to write this review is the constant whinging and whining of Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore and CEO Todd Greenberg - both who have done a great job getting the Bulldogs back on track - but are playing a huge hand of double standards in regards to Clark.

 They are calling for an example to be made of Clark - that he be stood down (if not sacked entirely) because he has - in their belief - cost them 2 competition points and impacted their chances at winning the Minor Premiership.

 Now the double standards that I speak of are in regards to their Round 2 'win' over the Panthers in which it was proven that they had 14 players on the field when their scored the match winning try in the final minutes.

On that occasion Andrew Ryan had re-entered the field after having just been interchanged at the request of the Bulldogs trainer who had a brain explosion of his own as he attended to an injured Michael Ennis.

For some reason Ryan - who has played in the NRL long enough to know the interchange rules back to front - ran back onto the field without interchanging with a player or going through the NRL's interchange official and joined the attacking line which within that very set of six - marched down the field and scored the winning try to Ben Roberts and beat the Panthers.

An NRL investigation has stripped the Bulldogs of those two points for cheating but now when another human error takes place - the Bulldogs are campaigning heavily for the head of Steven Clark.

By the reasoning that Moore and Greenberg are showing - they can call for Clark to be sacked for his error - yet the trainer in question Tony Ayoub fronted up for work the next day and that's fine.

Let me get this straight - Clark's decision has cost the Bulldogs the Minor Premiership so he needs to be sacked to send a message - and Ayoub costs the Bulldogs two points they gained via cheating and there's no mention of the guy losing his job or even being stood down for a week.

I understand the Bulldogs are upset over the decision - while I believe the right call was made I can totally see why they feel like they had won the game and they'll be dirty forever more towards Clark.

But to call for him to be sacked for an error they believe cost them the match and yet show complete mercy on Ayoub for an error that DID cost them two points that may also cost them the Minor Premiership - smacks of double standards and looking out for their own.

Now in saying that I firmly believe they are right to stand by Ayoub and let him keep his job - but they need to understand that NRL Referees Boss Robert Finch is totally in the right for the same reasons - by standing by a veteran official like Steven Clark.

 And another thing - are the NRL, the Bulldogs or the Dragons going to take any action towards the fans on the Kogarah hill who threw objects onto the field when the decision was made?

In light of how we heard all week about how players are responsible for their actions - no matter if what they think they are doing is ok - how can the same parties that call for the players to pull their heads in and own up for their actions - let a very dangerous incident like the missile throwing go unpunished or without investigation?

Or are we sending the message that just because you are frustrated with something you can do whatever you like and throw objects at people who aren't even at fault - and I'm talking about the ball boys, camera men, on-field officials and security guards around the edge of the ground - if that's the case we've obviously learnt nothing from the last week.

This is an article from 2009...

Sunday 17 May 2009

Scrubs is back! Ninth Season confirmed by ABC!

The rumours from the US appear to be true. SCRUBS will return for a ninth (and quite possibly more depending how it rates I guess) season in the fall of 2009 after the ABC network renewed it this past week. Considering I had gone to such lengths as to film myself dancing to the theme song of the show in an ill-advised tribute to what I thought was the last ever episode - I now feel as if my dancing has been all for naught. If you know not of what I speak - check out my Facebook page and click on the videos link... In other TV news here is a list of the comedy/drama shows that have also been picked up by networks for next season - with thanks to for the information: NBC: Heroes, 30 Rock, The Office, Friday Night Lights & Law & Order: SVU. ABC: Scrubs, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice & Ugly Betty. CBS: The Big Bang Theory & Two & a Half Men. FOX: 24, Lie to Me, American Dad, Family Guy, Bones, Fringe, The Simpson & 'til Death. CW: Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill & Supernatural. Now Scrubs was going to be a big name casualty but it now avoids this list of shows that have been cancelled - but maybe should've survived - you tell me. Boston Legal, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, ER, King of the Hill, Life, Prison Break & Pushing Daises. The big loss there is Boston Legal for mine and as a youngster I used to watch ER every week... but that just shows you it probably should've been finished a few years ago. A few shows that are worth considering are on the brink - they might get picked up - they might disappear tomorrow, they are: Everybody Hates Chris, Don't Forget the Lyrics - Wayne Brady should be on TV period, The New Adventures of Old Christine - ditto JLD *Elaine from Seinfeld*. Now there are another host of shows in the probably returning category - and some shouldn't be but will (see the CSI fleet of shows) but two must return for mine and probably will. They are the amazingly well crafted 'House MD' and 'My Name is Earl' which is a show that I'll probably get into at some point again. A couple of other shows are good enough to go around again and they include Law & Order, How I Met Your Mother (after all we need to meet the mother don't we), NCIS & Criminal Minds. So there's your TV fix for the day. Read below for more Scrubs related information... Warning - if you read on I am assuming you have seen all of Season 8 - as I mention a fairly big plot point from that season in my feelings about Season 9 - so don't keep reading if you want to be spoiler free for the final few episodes of the just completed Season 8.
My initial reaction to the news that Zach Braff will also be featuring in at least six episodes of the 9th season is well sadly... disappointment. Not that Braff will reprise his role as Dr. John Dorian but that what I believed was a perfect final episode will now only really be - JD's final episode as a regular cast member. I feel a little cheated by that because it was so perfect in wrapping up and packaging what I believe the show was so good at - mixing drama and comedy and producing spun gold. I cannot see the makers of the show being able to do any future series finale the same justice. Mind you I am happy there will be more Turk, Dr. Cox, Jordan, The Janitor, Ted, The Todd, Colonel Doctor etc - and of course hopefully much more Dr. Elliot Reid! - but I am unsure as to whether Judy Reyes will come back as Carla and not having JD as the central character will leave the show without its emotional and quirky heartbeat. That's a dangerous road to take in a series that Braff has championed with his goofy, annoying yet somehow always likeable take on the character. I am pleased we get more Sacred Heart - in fact will Dr. Kelso be back? - but it just feels as if ABC might have felt like they go into the Scrubs game two or three seasons too late and now want to milk it for all they can before turfing it in 12 months time. My fear is Season 9 won't have the Bill Lawrence TLC that Season 8 clearly had all over it - and we'll get a season that is funny but has little or no meaning - unlike what I thought was a brilliant balance in Season 8. So anyhoo... Scrubs - barring a late cancellation - will be back in late 2009 with a 9th Season. So I must ask you to stop doing 'End of Scrubs High Fives' from this moment forward...

Super 14 Semi Finals decided

The final round of the 2009 Super 14 regular season has been played and there will be no Australian teams in the Semi Finals for the second time in the past three years. The Waratahs and Brumbies were mathematical chances entering the weekend but despite the Waratahs doing everything they could to qualify (beating the Lions with a four try bonus point); wins by the Crusaders and Hurricanes finished their season on Saturday night. The Brumbies lost to the finals-bound Chiefs on Friday night to end their season. So with no Australian teams featuring how do the Super 14 Semi Finals shape up for 2009? The Bulls sat atop the table after 13 weeks and their 27-26 win over the Sharks (who could've made the Finals with a win) see them take the #1 seed into the Semi Finals on 46 points, coming in at #2 was the Chiefs on 45 points (beating the Brumbies 10-7), the Hurricanes at #3 on 44 points (defeated the Reds 37-28) and the #4 Crusaders on 41 points (who beat the Blues 15-13 late) round out the playoff births. The Waratahs 41 points were pipped on percentages by the Crusaders, followed by the Sharks and Brumbies on 38 points, the Western Force on 36 points, the Blues on 32 points, the Stormers on 27 points, Highlanders on 26 points, Lions on 25 points, Reds on 19 points and the poor old Cheetahs - who beat both the Sharks and Crusaders this season - on 12 points. So this coming weekend we'll see the Semi Finals feature the 'minor premier' Bulls versus the defending champion Crusaders and an all New Zealand affair with the Chiefs hosting the Hurricanes. SUPER 14 SEMI FINALS 2009 #1 Bulls v #4 Cruasaders at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. #2 Chiefs v #3 Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The Crusaders celebrate their 2008 Super 14 Title.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

NRL Tips Round 10 2009 - AFL Tips Round 08 - Super 14 Tips Week 14

There has been a lot of google searches for Round 10 Tipping in AFL this week May 25-29 and if you find yourself on this page - the current article you are searching for is located here - the AFL tips for Round 10 are located mid page. This is an archived story - so check the main page - for the current round of tipping for NRL, AFL and Super 14. The site is also updated with opinion, news and features regularly. The tipping remains mediocre... but tips you still shall get. Match Previews up. NRL ROUND 10 - 2009 At this stage of the week I'm leaning towards a clean sweep for Home Teams. But am swayable on both Friday Night games and the Roosters v Knights on Saturday. Warriors are my best bet of the weekend as I just can't see the Cowboys defence holding the Warriors go-forward at bay for long. Dragons over Bulldogs > At Kogarah (where it had to stay) this game has become a sell-out and the Dragons with a number of key players back from injuries that forced them out of the Cowboys game - should win this clash. I've failed to tip the Dogs in ANY game this year and the egg is firmly attached to my face (they are 7-1) but without Josh Morris they aren't at full strength and I think that is what they need to be to take the 2 points from Kogarah. Jamie Soward will be a major factor in this game as he looks to make a statement to Country Coach Laurie Daley who left him on the bench for all but 10 mins in the rep fixture and with his main troops available this week - he will decide the match with his kicking game. Last 5 Head to Head: STI by 30, BUL by 12, BUL by 4, BUL by 16, BUL by 6. Broncos over Titans > If Scott Prince joins Luke Bailey (injured) and Anthony Laffranchi (suspended) on the sidelines for this one, the Titans are almost unbackable - despite an impressive win undermanned against the Storm earlier this year. While the Broncos may not have Karmichael Hunt or Justin Hodges they will still have one Darren Lockyer and their entire pack healthy - two huge factors in favour of the home side Broncos. If the every key Titan was playing - I'd be tempted by the Gold Coast but if one of Hunt or Hodges play then the Broncos will win this one. Last 5 Head to Head: BRI by 4, GLD by 2, BRI by 1, GLD by 12. Roosters over Knights > The Roosters showed some signs they were getting their act together on Monday Night against the Storm - but a lack of class saw them fall short when the game was there to be dominated on the scoreboard early. But this is no gimme for the Knights - who just keep winning - and it is away which is a factor to really consider. Braith Anasta has been trying hard all season for the Roosters but his halves partner Mitchell Pearce needs to ditch the robot like way he runs a game and play what is in front of him. If I see him turn an inside ball to a runner one more time when the ball clearly needs to go wide (Pearce's computer programming says by turning it inside the outside defence is more vulnerable the next play - memo to Pearce - it isn't!!!! and hasn't been all year!) - I'll give up on him ever being a star halfback in the game. The Roosters don't have the most fashionable outside backs but they can finish of a play... but they need the ball Mitchell. Knights deserve favouritism but I've got a hunch the Roosters play above their recent form and Willie Mason (who was showing signs he is running freely again last Monday) and Nate Myles will be a huge factor up the middle. Last 5 Head to Head: SYD by 2, NEW by 14, SYD by 3, NEW by 4, NEW by 14. Panthers over Sharks > The Sharks have another decent looking side on paper but they have yet to display the application to defence that was their forte in 2008 and until they do I won't be picking them again. Thus take the Panthers in this game at CUA - as Penrith have hit a purple patch of late with Matt Elliott's forward dominated game starting to look the goods. However I'm not convinced his game plan works well against teams with a swarming defence - so this matchup isn't ideal as the Sharks CAN defend if they are on their game. But thow Michael Jennings and Frank Pritchard down the left enough times and they'll worry anyone... it'll be a quesiton of whether Penrith control possession enough and get good field position for those two strikeweapons to become a factor in the game. Last 5 Head to Head: CRO by 8, CRO by 2, PEN by 1, CRO by 18, PEN by 4. Warriors over Cowboys > The apparent rivalry in this game is the fact both sides entered the competition together in 1995... both have also made just one Grand Final appearance since that time - the Warriors in a loss to the Roosters in 2002 and the Cowboys in a loss to the Tigers in 2005. They also had a dust up in a game a few years back that involved cheerleaders so there's another reason why the NRL figured this was a great matchup... On the field the Cowboys rode Johnathan Thurston to a win over the depleted Dragons but the Warriors are as close to full strength as they can get (minus Brent Tate) and I fully expect them to give the Cowboys a footballing lesson at Mt Smart this Sunday. Wouldn't touch the Cowboys with a ten foot pole on recent form despite the win over the Dragons. Last 5 Head to Head: WAR by 10, NQL by 28, NQL by 37, NQL by 6, WAR by 20. Sea Eagles over Eels > The Sea Eagles may have breathed some life into their 2009 premiership campaign by upsetting the Broncos on Sunday but the wins must continue this week against the Eels. Parramatta took advantage of a woeful Cowboys outfit two Fridays ago to get a morale boosting win but they were far from impressive. The Sea Eagles have the recent wood over the Eels and only another amazing individual display by Jarryd Hayne can give the Eels a chance here - and Manly aren't exactly going well either - but they have a better side (even without Brett Stewart) and are at home against the Eels - plus this is a game they HAVE to win to be serious about the Finals. Last 5 Head to Head: MAN by 18, MAN by 4, MAN by 8, MAN by 10, PAR by 13. Tigers over Rabbitohs > For a rivalry clash this match hasn't produced a close game since 2004 when only a single point decided the match in Round 2 at the SFS (Souths won 17-16) and in the seven matches since the average winning margin has been 31 points - and the Tigers have won six of those games. But injuries to both sides key attacking players might see this game be close for a change. No John Sutton for the Rabbitohs is a huge loss and no Chris Lawrence or Dean Collis leaves the Tigers without their two starting centres. This game is being played at the SCG so there will be no home ground advantage but the Benji Marshall-Robbie Farah factor plays the strongest hand here especially as Souths have no Sutton to counter their brilliance. Michael Crocker debuts for the Bunnies at lock. Last 5 Head to Head: WTG by 24, WTG by 20, SOU by 25, WTG by 34, WTG by 40. Storm over Raiders > If the Raiders actually win this they will be putting an end to a shocking losing streak at the hands of Melbourne. Canberra has won just 5 of the 23 matches the teams have contested and have been conquered in every game since the final Round of 2002... hardly an endorsement for the Raiders chances in this game. But you never know... Melbourne's rep stars got an extra day or two rest after the Test and now get a full week to recover for this game which is at Olympic Park... ok with those factors part of the equation we know Canberra can't win. Storm to win but a blowout... maybe not. Last 5 Head to Head: MEL by 16, MEL by 7, MEL by 28, MEL by 16, MEL by 4. AFL ROUND 08 - 2009 Only tipped 4/8 in Round 7 as I went with too many upsets... have I learnt my lesson for Round 8? Hawks over Dockers - the amazing revival of Freo ends this week as the Hawks wake up from their slumber and win by plenty. Bulldogs over Demons - Watching the second quarter of the Crows-Bulldogs was thoroughly entertaining and that's because the Dogs play such a fast paced game, the Demons are limited and lack quality to win the close games - so Dogs here. Cats over Kangaroos - don't discount the Roos entirely as the Cats still won't have Gary Ablett but you'd be a brave and rather stupid man to tip against the Cats at the Cattery. Lions over Crows - The Lions got that vital away win last week over the Tigers and will carry that momentum back home and beat a Crows team that showed some good signs (esp young Walker at full forward) but aren't a strong side in 2009... well not strong enough to take the points at the Gabba. Swans over Eagles - no Daniel Kerr is the big omission and that gives the Swans a clear advantage coupled with the home ground factor. Swans couldn't finish in the first quarter at Geelong and that cost them massively - I can't see West Coast being able to punish them like Geelong did. Power v Tigers - too close to call. Yes Port are at home but the Tigers for mine are not a 1-6 team and will claim a big scalp sooner rather than later. So its draw time at AAMI... Blues over Magpies - got sucked in by the Pies last week and foolishly picked them to beat St.Kilda who are looking very very good so far in 2009. The Blues dropped their game with Freo which won't be sitting well with the playing group and they'll rebound with a win here. Saints over Bombers - can't discount Essendon who beat the Hawks in a stirring game on Friday Night but the Saints are 7-0 and playing fantastic football - Saints for mine. SUPER 14 Week 14 - 2009 The Final Four will be decided on the last weekend of the Regular Season - for a full rundown on how each match this weekend impacts the makeup of the Finals - check out As for the tips - check out the article for the reasons why and how that impacts the final ladder: Chiefs over Brumbies Waratahs over Lions Crusaders over Blues Hurricanes over Reds Force over Highlanders Cheetahs over Stormers Sharks over Bulls Good luck with your tips this weekend!