Golden Points – NRL Round 4

Filed in NRL by on March 27, 2014

Round 4 Preview

Fri: Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles at Allianz: An engrossing Grand Final rematch is set to unfold after the keen rivals staged four classic matches last season – all won by the Roosters. Manly is still down on troops, while the Roosters will field 15 of their squad from last year’s decider. TIP: Roosters by 6

Fri: St George Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos at WIN Staidium: Two of the surprise packets so far face off, with the table-topping Saints playing at home for the first time in 2014. A key game for the Broncos, who will feel a 2-2 record would be an unfair reflection of their performances to date. The form of Widdop, Merrin and their wing pairing gives the Dragons the edge. TIP: Dragons by 4

Sat: New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers at Westpac Trust: The Tigers are brimming with confidence and travel to Wellington to take on a Warriors side that snared a pressure-relieving win in Townsville. The Warriors have a dreadful record in NZ away from Mt Smart – particularly in the capital. A fascinating duel between two erratic teams brimming with attacking talent. TIP: Warriors by 10

Sat: Canterbury Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm at NIB: The 2012 Grand finalists head to neutral ground in Perth for this one, with the Bulldogs desperate for a result after two narrow losses in the opening three rounds. Melbourne’s ability to close out matches at the death has been the feature of their matches to date, unbeaten but boasting a for-and-against of just plus-10 points. TIP: Storm by 7

Sat: Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers at Pirtek: The Eels were courageous and unlucky in going down to Manly in the final minute, while injury-hit Penrith scored a gripping after-the-bell victory against Canterbury. The western Sydney derby is the toughest game of the weekend to pick, while Chris Sandow’s recall could go either way for the home side. TIP: Panthers by 6

Sun: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders at ANZ: Souths are smarting from their convincing loss to the Tigers, and have been given a reprieve with George Burgess escaping suspension. The Rabbitohs will be hard to beat for a Raiders outfit at risk of giving the top eight contenders too much of an early-season lead. TIP: Rabbitohs by 14

Sun: Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks at Hunter: Certain to be an emotion-charged slog-fest between the only two winless sides left in the premiership. TIP: Knights by 4

Mon: Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys at CBUS Super: The Cowboys have failed to meet pre-season expectations and face a tricky road trip to play a Gold Coast outfit that has two gritty wins and an embarrassing loss to show for the opening three rounds. This could be decided by the influence of rival halves linchpins Johnathan Thurston and Albert Kelly. TIP: Cowboys by 1


Round 4 Most at Stake

The loser of the Newcastle-Cronulla clash on Sunday will really be staring into the 2014 abyss. Both sides have been ravaged by injuries and off-field disruptions, while the Knights have been rocked by the Alex McKinnon tragedy. It will take a titanic effort for either club to recover and make this year’s finals, but a win here would be a handy starting point.


The selection table:

Chris Sandow makes a surprise return at halfback, which at the very least should ease Parramatta’s goalkicking woes. Chase Stanley returns on the Bulldogs’ right wing for Drury Low. Thomas Leuluai will make his long awaited comeback from a groin injury, filling the interchange spot vacated by Feleti Mateo, who is out with a knee complaint. Chris Lawrence takes the place of Tim Simona, who failed a cognitive test during the week after sustaining concussion. Andrew Fifita, Shaun Fensom and Josh McGuire are all back from suspension, while Peter Wallace has been named to return from injury. Fiji international Apisai Koroisau is the debutant replacement for injured Souths rake Isaac Luke. David Mead moves to fullback for the injured Will Zillman, with Anthony Don preferred on the wing to Kalifa Faifai Loa.


Hoodoo Gurus

-The Warriors have won just three of 18 matches at New Zealand venues other than Mt Smart Stadium, while they have just a draw to show from six matches in Wellington.

-Brisbane is on a six-match winning streak against St George Illawarra.

-Canterbury has won three of its four matches against the Storm outside of Sydney and Melbourne, dating back to 2009.

-Newcastle has won six of its last seven and nine of its last 12 against Cronulla.

-Canberra has lost five straight against Souths.


Round 2 best individual match-ups

Luke Brooks and James Tedesco v Shaun Johnson and Sam Tomkins – the latter pair are still a bit rusty, while the Tigers wunderkinds are among the NRL’s form players.

-Opposite ends of the size scale but equally dangerous, fullbacks Greg Inglis and Anthony Milford will have a major say in the outcome of Sunday’s clash.

-Nate Myles made a herculean 57 tackles last week, and could go one step closer to a Test recall by dominating incumbent props James Tamou and Matt Scott.

-Penrith string-bean David Simmons v Semi ‘Trailer’ Radradra shapes as an intriguing wing battle.

-Bombs will rain upon David Williams as the Roosters and Daniel Tupou seek a repeat of the ‘Wolfman’s’ Grand Final shocker.



-John Sutton will equal Bob McCarthy’s long-standing South Sydney club record of 211 first grade appearances this weekend. Nathan Merritt is just one game further back.

-Simon Mannering will skipper the Warriors for the 92nd time on Saturday, breaking Steve Price’s captaincy club record.

-Dane Nielsen makes his 100th NRL appearance against the Tigers. Incidentally, the defensive specialist boasts just two tries in his last 30 outings.

-Billy Slater’s next try – his 159th – will move him into equal-fifth in premiership history alongside Matt Sing and Hazem El Masri.

-Nathan Merritt’s next try will see him move past Benny Wearing’s long-standing South Sydney record of 144 tries, while it will also take him past another Rabbitohs legend, Harold Horder, into outright eighth in premiership history with 153 (Merritt scored eight tries for Cronulla, while Horder scored 50 for Norths).


Ban the leg lift: The tragic incident involving Alex McKinnon has put the spotlight on the NRL’s recent obsession with concussions and rubbing out the shoulder-charge, not to mention the ‘cannonball’ tackle furore. There are more pertinent player safety issues to address, and banning the lifting of the leg of an upright tackled player altogether – regardless of whether he ends up in a dangerous position – is the most logical solution. Penalising leg-lifting would act as a significant deterrent and cut off the problem at the source, keeping in time with the NRL’s edict of tweaking the rules to prevent injuries, not just dishing out big suspensions after the fact. The immediate prospects facing young McKinnon are 10 times more terrifying than Ian Roberts’ overhyped interview.

Exit the Raider: Edrick Lee’s season-ending foot injury is a terrible blow for club and player. The tall, dynamic Canberra winger with undoubtedly the best hairdo in the NRL was an outside chance for a Queensland Origin call-up, given the Maroons’ injury problems out wide. The 21-year-old Lee, who has scored 15 tries in 19 games, also had his 2013 campaign halted by injury at the halfway point. Erratic former Warrior Bill Tupou is Lee’s subpar replacement on the Raiders’ left flank.


Try of the Year contender: Brett Morris will be hard to beat for his Nofoaluma-esque effort, but Brooks’ grubber for Tedesco to score and Semi Radradra’s phenomenal assist for Nathan Peats’ try are also worthy of mention.

Blunder city, population …

Antonio Winterstein appeared to trip over his shoelaces with the try-line wide open, before losing the ball as he vainly scrambled for the corner. Fortunately, he atoned with a powerhouse try soon after. Glen Fisiiahi, who scored an early double, gifted the Cowboys a try in the same game with an abominable attempted catch of a Johnathan Thurston bomb.

Form Origin Teams

Each week, the below line-ups will be updated for NSW and Queensland State of Origin sides if NRL form was the only selection factor.


1. James Tedesco

2. Pat Richards

3. Will Hopoate

4. Kane Linnett

5. Brett Morris

6. Jamie Soward

7. Luke Brooks

8. Nigel Plum

9. Robbie Farah

10. Aaron Woods

11. Boyd Cordner

12. Tariq Sims

13. Trent Merrin


14. Josh Reynolds

15. Tyrone Peachey

16. Tyson Frizell

17. James Tamou


1. Anthony Milford

2. Kyle Feldt

3. Greg Inglis

4. Dane Gagai

5. Daniel Vidot

6. Johnathan Thurston

7. Cooper Cronk

8. Nate Myles

9. Cameron Smith

10. Corey Parker

11. Gavin Cooper

12. Sam Thaiday

13. Matt Gillett


14. Daly Cherry-Evans

15. Brenton Lawrence

16. Ben Te’o

17. Matthew Scott


This week in history:

1955: Newtown thumped South Sydney 29-6 in an opening-round Grand Final rematch, gaining some revenge for the Rabbitohs’ win in the ’54 decider. Souths ultimately downed minor premiers Newtown in the Grand Final for the second season in a row as they completed the fabled ‘Miracle of ’55’.

1971: Western Suburbs completed one of its biggest-ever wins in the opening round of ’71, piling on 11 tries in a 55-12 defeat of Canterbury at Lidcombe Oval.

1994: Manly humiliated Western Suburbs 66-8 at Brookvale Oval, with Matthew Ridge kicking 11 goals from 12 attempts.

2007: Penrith pipped Brisbane 29-28 in an extraordinary golden point encounter at Suncorp Stadium. Justin Hodges scored four tries for the Broncos, before the Panthers scored two late tries to force extra-time. Peter Wallace nailed the match-winning field goal in the added period, no doubt contributing to Brisbane snapping up the unheralded halfback for the following season.

Correspondence Corner:

Mike, I can see your point but I am certain Michael Lichaa was promoted to first grade because Cronulla’s staff thought he could help them win a football game, not for his development. Peter Sharp’s (or Shane Flanagan’s) stance is backwards logic from a bygone era.

The Punters Guide to the 2014 NRL Season: If you haven’t picked up your copy of Nick Tedeschi’s all-encompassing, fascinating bible for NRL consumption in 2014, what are you waiting for? Anyone who has a punt, makes a fantasy trade or even sits down to watch a game is selling themselves short by not consulting this super-affordable tome first. Get it at newsagencies or on the iTunes store.


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  1. Mav63 says:

    On the basis of form + opponents played to date + recent head to head records, how could you tip the Dragons against the Broncos? Both sides in good form + Broncos playing far tougher opponents in first 3 weeks + 6-0 in favour of Broncos in past 6 games = Broncos to win. The Dragons have had a soft run for the opening three rounds and will struggle to make the eight.