Golden Points – NRL Round 14

Filed in NRL by on June 12, 2014

Round 14 Preview

Fri: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium: Souths, fresh from one of the bravest NRL victories seen in years, will have to continue their hot streak without their three Origin stars and the injured Dylan Walker. The Tigers will be without Farah and Woods, but have a great opportunity to chalk up their second upset win of the season over the heavyweights. TIP: Tigers by 4

Sat: Penrith Panthers v St George Illawarra Dragons at Sportingbet Stadium: Weakened by Origin absences, even a resurgent Benji Marshall won’t be able to rescue the Dragons against the ladder-leading Panthers on Saturday evening. This could get ugly. TIP: Panthers by 24

Sat: Sydney Roosters v Newcastle Knights at Allianz Stadium: The Knights have been gallant in recent weeks without getting the results, but the absence of Origin stars Boyd and Scott, and the injured Leilua will consign the embattled club to a seventh straight loss. The Roosters are building nicely and will again benefit from their halves being dumped by the Blues. TIP: Roosters by 20

Sun: Canterbury Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium: Canterbury was flogged without its Origin contingent prior to the series opener, while Parramatta copped a hiding after game one without Hayne, and will now be without Hopoate and possibly Tonga. Difficult to get a read on this game, but with key position disruptions and the withdrawal of Tolman, the ’Dogs could be headed for a third straight loss if Sandow fires for the Eels. TIP: Eels by 2

Mon: Gold Coast Titans v Melbourne Storm at Cbus Super Stadium: Injuries and Origin absentees have rendered this one of the most uninspiring Monday night clashes of the season – and there’s been a few. But it should also be intriguing; the Titans are less affected in key positions, but their pack will be significantly weakened if Taylor joins Myles and Bird in the final game two squads. The Storm have been gritty but sans attacking polish since losing Cronk and Slater. TIP: Titans by 6


Round 14 Most at Stake

After losing their last two games by 20 points, former ladder leaders the Bulldogs could slip as low as sixth spot if they go down to Parramatta. On such a congested table, it doesn’t take long to drop out of the top eight altogether and Canterbury will see this as a must-win clash – but they will be without Aiden Tolman and Chase Stanley, as well as their NSW halves.


The Selection Table

-Alex Johnston returns from injury for Souths, while Nathan Merritt is at fullback again and Bryson Goodwin slots into injured centre Dylan Walker’s spot. Curtis Sironen makes his first start of the season for the injured Liam Fulton.

-Penrith’s teenage sensation Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will make his third NRL appearance for the injured David Simmons.

-Jake Mamo (fullback) and Josh Mantellato (wing) return to the Knights’ line-up, while James McManus moves in to centre in an Origin- and injury-hit backline.

-Former Dragon Damien Cook will partner Reni Maitua in the Bulldogs’ halves. Ken Sio takes Jarryd Hayne’s place at fullback, with Vai Toutai returning to the wing. Mid-season recruit Isaac De Gois makes his first appearance for the Eels.

-Beau Falloon has forced his way back into the Titans’ No.9 jumper, with Matt Srama relegated to the bench. Ben Hampton returns from suspension to partner Ben Roberts in the Melbourne halves, while the Storm have named an eight-man bench.


Hoodoo Gurus

-Souths have won five of their last six against the Tigers.

-The Panthers have won three straight against the Dragons – their longest-ever streak against the joint venture.

-The Roosters have won seven of their last eight games against the Knights at Allianz Stadium.

-The Bulldogs are on a six-match winning streak against the Eels; prior to that, Parramatta won eight of the previous nine clashes between the archrivals.

-Parramatta has lost 25 of its 29 games without Jarryd Hayne since the beginning of 2009.

-Queensland has not won a game two in Sydney after losing the series opener since 1987.

-The Maroons have won just one of their last four matches in Sydney, and just two of the last 11 game two fixtures staged in Sydney.

-NSW has not wrapped up a series inside two games since 2003.


Round 14 Best Individual Match-ups

-Luke Brooks has been anointed the Blues’ future long-term No.7, but Adam Reynolds will be keen to prove he is still in the mix.

-Big boppers George Burgess and Martin Taupau will make ANZ Stadium shake.

-Jamie Soward will be fired up to continue his Penrith renaissance up against his old club, and star halves Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall.

-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Akuila Uate were both electrifying last weekend.

-Junior Paulo has emerged as a front-row force for the Eels, and he and Tim Mannah face up to the Bulldogs’ international duo James Graham and Sam Kasiano on Sunday.

-Paul Carter has been one of the season’s surprise packets, and lines up against Kiwi Test pair Kevin Proctor and Tohu Harris on Monday night.



-Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei needs just one try to join the legendary Ken Irvine as the only players in premiership history to score 10 tries or more in nine consecutive seasons. Nathan Merritt can also join that illustrious group this year, but he is stranded on one try and is struggling to get a run in first grade. Vatuvei’s next try will also elevate him to the top-20 try-scorers of all-time.

-If Brent Kite plays in at least 11 Penrith’s 12 remaining matches (or finals games) he will become the first player in premiership history to make 20-plus appearances in 13 consecutive seasons. In crafting this ironman-esque feat, Kite has played at least 21 games in every campaign since making his debut for the Dragons in 2002.


Try of the Year contender: Although buried under the Warriors’ disappointing result, David Fusitua’s ‘Superman’ try to open the scoring against Souths and Konrad Hurrell’s barnstorming 50-metre try in the dying stages were two of the most memorable individual efforts of the season to date.

Blunder city, population … Newcastle captain Kurt Gidley gave referee Ashley Klein no option but to sin-bin him after he bowled over counterpart Robbie Farah in the 65th minute as the Tigers rake prepared to take a quick tap after a 40-20 kick. The luckless Knights’ 16-14 lead turned into a seven-point deficit with Gidley off the field, while Akuila Uate’s third try could not prevent a 23-20 loss.


5 backs-to-the-wall Queensland victories

Game 2, 1989: Queensland achieved one of the most famous rearguard victories in the code’s history to clinch the ’89 series in Sydney. Allan Langer (broken leg), Mal Meninga (fractured eye socket) and Paul Vautin (elbow injury) were all out of commission by halftime, while Michael Hancock’s shoulder injury during the second half cleared the Maroons’ bench. They were forced to play out the dying minutes with 12 men after Bob Lindner broke a bone in his leg, but Wally Lewis – after earlier scoring an iconic individual try – inspired his side to a brave 16-12 win. The ultimate compliment to Queensland’s heroics came in the form of the Sydney crowd’s respectful silence, rather than customary booing, after the remarkable match.

Game 2, 1992: In their first series without Wally Lewis and outplayed 14-6 in the series opener, the Maroons headed back to Brisbane in a must-win situation. But despite being down to 11 men at one stage while Peter Jackson and Martin Bella cooled their heels in the sin-bin, Queensland snatched a 5-4 triumph via a last-minute Allan Langer field goal – the impish No.7’s first top-flight one-pointer.

Game 2, 2002: Hammered 32-4 in the series opener, Queensland made six form- and injury-related changes before holding on for a series-saving 26-18 triumph in Brisbane – despite debutant Justin Hodges’ notorious shocker in which his in-goal passes gifted two tries to the Blues.

Game 3, 2006: Buffeted by a backline injury crisis that claimed Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Karmichael Hunt and Steve Bell, the Maroons were forced to call upon Adam Mogg, Josh Hannay, Clinton Schifcofske and Rhys Wesser – a quartet who tallied just 10 Origin appearances between them in their careers. NSW led 14-4 midway through the second half of the Melbourne decider after an abhorrent video ref decision, but two late tries propelled Queensland to a dynasty-starting 16-14 triumph.

Game 3, 2008: The Darren Lockyer-less Maroons forced a decider after losing the series opener, but lost Scott Prince to a broken arm 20 minutes into game three in Sydney. With Karmichael Hunt filling in at five-eighth, Queensland snared a 16-10 win after Johnathan Thurston set up the winning try for Billy Slater 11 minutes from time. It was just Queensland’s second win in a Sydney decider.
Gallen great, but not Immortal: Bob Fulton has called for NSW skipper Paul Gallen to be considered as a future Immortal – and as one of the four originals honoured in 1981, ‘Bozo’ is well-credentialed to make such a big call. After another titanic performance in the series opener, I described Gallen as the Blues’ greatest-ever Origin forward, a statement Fulton has also echoed. He is a genuine great of the modern era, no doubt.

But an Immortal? That would be declaring Gallen is the finest post-war forward after Johnny Raper and Arthur Beetson, better than perennial Immortal nominees Ron Coote and Norm Provan, and the likes of Noel Kelly, Duncan Hall, Glenn Lazarus, Bradley Clyde, Gorden Tallis and Shane Webcke. He’s not quite there yet in my opinion.

Gallen is one of the best-ever representative performers and unwaveringly consistent at club level, but Immortals inspire teams to premierships, and while he’s behind the eight-ball playing his entire career with a dysfunctional Cronulla outfit, he boasts just two preliminary final appearances in 13 seasons. Yes, the Immortal Wally Lewis never won a Sydney premiership, but he was the linchpin in several BRL Grand Final triumphs in his prime when that competition still meant something.

The Immortal tag is reserved for a special few, and with retired luminaries such as Lockyer, Fittler, Langer, Meninga and Sterling yet to be honoured – along with Gallen’s superstar contemporaries Slater, Smith, Thurston and Inglis – the chances of the inspirational Kangaroos, Blues and Sharks workhorse ever sitting on that mantle are slim, even if he does lead NSW to a drought-breaking series triumph.


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