Andrew Johns tackles Benjie Marshall in last night’s test
It may not have been the result I wanted last Sunday but the Eels versus Sea Eagles was indeed the game of the season so far. There is something magic about watching league at the SCG recalling the great years of the 70s and 80s. Indeed if anyone was a winner last Sunday it was rugby league. Ok, I’ve gone and said it. I promise I won’t say it again.
Over the fold some thoughts on the Anzac Test, some interesting player movements and my tips for the weekend.
Update: A review of last night’s game and I’m off to Leichhardt tomorrow for the Tigers v Sea Beagles as well.
The Kangaroos showed their class in a 50-12 win over the Kiwis. The score though didn’t reflect how close the match was at half-time at 14-6. The Kiwis were really muscling up in defence and to their credit kept up with it in the second half (as Karmichael Hunt found out after being knocked out by Pritchard’s shoulder).
As friend and commenter Esmarelda (the hairiest woman I’ve ever known) noted via SMS 20 minutes into the first half the Kiwis needed someone who could kick. Benji did eventually come on and things improved slightly. However the difference was Johns and Buderus who combined well with their old team mate Ben Kennedy along with Willie Mason who was very strong up front. Timana Tahu, another former Knight now with the Eels, scored two tries for Australia and helped set up another try. Unfortunately that was it for New Zealand.
Do not discount the Kiwis for the Tri-nations. If Benji stays fit and Sonny Bill finds gets some match fitness and remains injury free along with a few other players they will be a handful. But the Kiwis do not have the depth the Aussies have and it showed last night. However with Johns no longer playing international football the half back spot remains open and he will be missed.
This is shaping up to be a great game on Friday. The Kangaroos are out for revenge and obviously the Kiwis want to show last year’s win was no fluke as was claimed by Bozo Fulton. Matt Bowen does deserve to feel aggrieved by his shabby treatment at the hands of the selectors. Karmicheal Hunt (an almost very unfortunate name) is a great young fullback but Bowen has the form on the board. It just goes to show that form usually has nothing to do with Kangaroo selection. The selectors do pick in mysterious ways.
Benji Marshall returns from his shoulder injury for the Kiwis and it will be a real test for him. The word is that the ‘Roos forwards will target him in defence. I hope the magnanimous gesture from the Tigers allowing him to play does not backfire with further injury.
My tip. The Kangaroos but it will be a brutal affair.
To Ole Blighty and Back
As expected Trent Barrett has signed with Wigan for three years and stood himself down from State of Origin. This will free up the moolah for Money Bags Gaz and I’ll reckon he’ll stay with the Dragons leaving the ARU looking a might foolish.
Coming back from England is the Eels’ prodigal son (known as Judas to others) Jamie Lyon. He is expected to sign with the Eels for 2007 after walking out on the club in 2004. One of the best centres in the world, Lyon also has been doing well at 5/8 and is expected to fill that role for the mighty Blue and Gold. Expect mighty boos when he first walks out in 2007 turning into rapturous applause when he scores a match winning try.
Tips for the Weekend
Eels over Canberra
Cowboys to beat the Panthers
Souths without a prayer against the Storm
Knights if Johns survives without injury otherwise the Broncs.
As I dislike both the Roosters and the Bulldogs this one is hard but will go Bulldogs.
Sea Eagles to swoop from upon high on the Tigers.
And for the hell of it, the Sharks in an upset over the Dragons.