Golden Points – NRL Round 7

Filed in NRL by on April 17, 2014

Round 7 Preview

Fri: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium: The traditional Good Friday clash retains its blockbuster billing, with 2013 disappointments Canterbury sitting in second spot and slow-starting heavyweights Souths returning to form with two convincing wins against handy opposition. Both sides have had their forward packs weakened, but there remains plenty of firepower in each squad. TIP: Rabbitohs by 8

Fri: Newcastle Knights v Brisbane Broncos at Hunter Stadium: Newcastle, buoyed by Jarrod Mullen’s return last week, can get on a roll after chalking up two convincing wins in the last three rounds. Brisbane is desperate to get back in a winning habit after coughing up second half leads in three of their last four games. The Broncos have the better form on the board overall and should be favoured on this tricky road trip. TIP: Broncos by 2

Fri: Manly Sea Eagles v North Queensland Cowboys at Central Coast Stadium: Manly is building another impressive premiership assault, rebounding from an embarrassing loss to the Tigers by wiping the floor with Cronulla. Meanwhile, North Queensland’s form projects ‘disappointments of 2014’ already. TIP: Sea Eagles by 14

Sat: St George Illawarra Dragons v New Zealand Warriors at WIN Jubilee Oval: Early frontrunners St George Illawarra have lost three straight, culminating in a controversial after-the-siren loss to Melbourne – but it was a vastly improved performance from the Dragons with Josh Dugan on fire. The Warriors have exorcised some hoodoos (Townsville, Wellginton) this year, while another couple have been extended (Saints, Eden Park); their woeful record against the Dragons is likely to continue after their best attacking weapon was dropped to NSW Cup. TIP: Dragons by 10

Sat: Cronulla Sharks v Sydney Roosters at Remondis Stadium: Semi-finalists last year, the embattled Sharks are now raging-hot favourites for the spoon. The Roosters have been presented with a golden opportunity to get their spluttering title defence back on track, although Remondis has not exactly been a happy hunting ground. TIP: Roosters by 16

Sun: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium: Results between the two southern clubs have been wildly unpredictable, as has the sides’ respective form so far in 2014. Melbourne’s performance in a lucky escape against the Dragons could kickstart another top four charge, but the Raiders have shown no signs of shaking their unpredictable tag. TIP: Storm by 8

Mon: Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers at Pirtek Stadium: This match would have been pencilled in as a sure-fire dud before the season, but Monday’s clash between 2013’s bottom two teams shapes as the best game of the round. The Tigers may struggle without Robbie Farah, but they have shown far greater resolve than in the recent past in the face of injuries. The effervescent Eels are chasing four straight wins for the first time since 2010. TIP: Eels by 7

Mon: Penrith Panthers v Gold Coast Titans at Centrebet Stadium: The ladder leaders defying all logic will again start outsiders, but are beginning to gather confidence and attract long overdue praise for their gritty efforts. The Panthers have been up and down, but could outline their finals credentials with a biggish scalp on Monday night. TIP: Titans by 2


Round 7 Most at Stake

North Queensland’s season will be on the brink if they crash to another convincing away defeat to Manly at Gosford. A win may be too much to expect up against the relentless Sea Eagles, but a performance the Cowboys can use as a platform for a reversal is essential.


The Selection Table:

Joe Picker and Ben Lowe come into Souths’ squad for suspended duo George Burgess and Ben Te’o, while Pat O’Hanlon is the replacement in the Bulldogs’ 17 for injured co-captain Frank Pritchard. Josh Mantellato has replaced the injured Akuila Uate, ditto debutant Curtis Rona for Antonio Winterstein on the Cowboys’ flank, and Jason King is back in the Manly 17 at the expense of Jesse Sene-Lefao.

Konrad Hurrell has inexplicably been dropped from the Warriors’ side for failing to meet ‘defensive KPIs’, leaving incredulous fans to ponder which KPIs left centre Dane Nielsen has ever met besides stuttering ball-running, starving Manu Vatuvei of the ball and decision-making that would send an Under-12s coach into a rage. Ngani Laumpe, superb on the wing against the Bulldogs, moves into Hurrell’s centre spot and David Fusitua has been recalled on the flank. Ben Henry and Jayson Bukuya are back in the Warriors’ squad for Ben Matulino (suspension) and Sebastine Ikahihifo (concussion).

Darcy Lussick returns from suspension for Parramatta, with Peni Terepo desperately unlucky to make way for the firebrand. Joel Luani is Robbie Farah’s dummy-half replacement, while Braith Anasta comes back from suspension. Ryan James is in the Gold Coast side for injured veteran Luke Bailey; Tyrone Peachey joins Penrith’s squad as Lewis Brown drops out due to a pectoral injury.


Hoodoo Gurus:

-The Warriors have lost their last nine straight and 17 of 21 overall to St George Illawarra, while they have mustered just one away win in 12 attempts – but that was in their only visit to this week’s venue, WIN Jubilee Stadium (Kogarah Oval).

-North Queensland has not beaten Manly in NSW since 2005.

-The away team has emerged victorious in the last six Raiders-Storm clashes, while Melbourne has won 11 of its last 12 in Canberra.

-The Roosters have not won at Cronulla since 2009.

-South Sydney is looking to record its third straight win over Canterbury for the first time since 1971.


Round 7 Best Individual Match-ups:

-The forgotten man in the NSW No.6 mix, John Sutton could put himself back into the frame with a dominant performance opposite Josh Reynolds.

-Newcastle’s Joseph Leilua has been one of the premiership’s most destructive centres in 2014, and represents a handful for Justin Hodges, who will be looking to atone for a shocker against the Titans.

-In a prelude to the trans-Tasman Test in a fortnight, Kieran Foran and Johnathan Thurston square off at Gosford.

-Sam Tomkins is still looking for that breakthrough performance befitting his superstar billing, while opposing fullback Josh Dugan is firming as the NSW No.1 after two outstanding performances since returning from injury.

-Another duel that could affect the make-up of the NSW side – Todd Carney v James Maloney.

-Reborn Eel Chris Sandow takes on Tigers wunderkind Luke Brooks.

-Outside chances for rep spots in 2014, Will Hopoate (NSW) and Tim Simona (NZ) will get a chance to show their wares in Monday’s Eels-Tigers blockbuster.

-Look out for fireworks if hard-hitting backrowers Adam Docker and Greg Bird come together on Monday night, with both players renowned for punching above their weight and showing little in the way of self-preservation.



-Ivan Cleary’s next win will be his 100th as an NRL coach.

-Brent Kite becomes the 20th most capped player in first grade history by making his 292nd appearance.

-Billy Slater requires one try to become the outright fifth top try-scorer in premiership history.

-Manu Vatuvei requires one try to become the outright 30th top try-scorer in premiership history.


Try of the Year contender: Daniel Tupou’s long-range solo effort against Parramatta was sensational, reviving memories of Canberra’s long-striding flyers Brett Mullins and Ken Nagas.

Blunder city, population … Displaying zero percent of the dexterity of his Roosters namesake, hapless Canberra winger Bill Tupou bombed a try for the second straight appearance, thwarting a potential late Raiders comeback by coughing up a regulation pass with the line wide open 10 metres out.


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. Jarryd Hayne

2. Daniel Tupou

3. Will Hopoate

4. Joseph Leilua

5. Brett Morris

6. Josh Reynolds

7. Albert Kelly

8. Aiden Tolman

9. Robbie Farah

10. Aaron Woods

11. Boyd Cordner

12. Greg Bird

13. Trent Merrin


14. John Sutton

15. Adam Docker

16. Tyson Frizell

17. Luke Douglas



1. Anthony Milford

2. Justin O’Neill

3. Greg Inglis

4. Will Chambers

5. Darius Boyd

6. Daly Cherry-Evans

7. Chris Sandow

8. Jacob Lillyman

9. Cameron Smith

10. Corey Parker

11. Nate Myles

12. Sam Thaiday

13. Matt Gillett


14. Cooper Cronk

15. Brenton Lawrence

16. Ashley Harrison

17. Dylan Napa


This week in history:

1937 – South Sydney crushed University 63-0 in the opening round of the season. Winger Don Manson scored five of the Rabbitohs’ 15 tries, an all-time record for a player on first grade debut and an equal-club record for Souths.

1988 – ‘Rambo’ Ron Gibbs’ long-awaited debut for the fledgling Gold Coast-Tweed Giants is buried under a Canberra avalanche, with John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson scoring four tries and second-row workhorse Ashley Gilbert a hat-trick in a 50-6 thrashing.

1991 – Balmain and Penrith played the first ever premiership match in Darwin, the city’s biggest crowd for a sports event witnessing the Panthers’ 14-0 shutout at Richardson Park.

2005 – Parramatta’s former Test forward Michael Vella made a courageous return in Premier League after undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.

2010 – Ironman hooker Luke Priddis became the 14th player in premiership history to play 300 first grade games in St George Illawarra’s 19-6 win over the Gold Coast.


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