NRL 2006: The Anzac Test and to Ole Blighty and Back


   

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.

Anzac Test

Review:

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.
 

Preview:

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.

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Amanda
15 years ago

I am disappointed Shaun to see you buying into the “Knights can’t win without Joey” canard. I expect better of you.

Shaun
15 years ago

Well the Bunnies almost won last week against the Knights with Joey playing. But there is an alarming trend re the Knights not going well without Johns. Maybe when the pain of 2001 subsides I might be more charitable.

Amanda
15 years ago

The stats are skewed because they include last season but in addition to Johns another few million bucks worth of players were also injured at the same time. To be worthwhile you’d have to have figures of games Joey didn’t play but the team was full strength otherwise, which to my knowledge has not been done.

Shaun
15 years ago

Amanda,

Are you suggesting that footy commentary be based on facts and reasoned analysis? For shame! Where would Ray Hadley, Phil Gould and everyone else who comments on league be?

Esmarelda
Esmarelda
15 years ago

I like your thinking.

However given Benji should be backing up, I can see the Tigers pipping one on Sunday – hopefully that’s 5 out of Tims 16…..

Have gone Roosters much for the same reasons that you’ve gone Bulldogs and I agree the Sharks over the hapless, Union-Prone Dragons.

BTW : My mate Inga (from Sweden) says she knows you & to say hello.

Shaun
15 years ago

Ah yes, Inga. Is she coming back for the cricket this year?

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

Of course the Knights can win games without Johns, every other team has to, so why should the Knights be different. The point is to consider the difference it makes to take arguable the best player in the game out of your team. It is going to cost five to ten points per game at least. Work that out in terms of the win loss ratio for the year.

The interesting thing about the Knights early last season was how competitive they looked, even without Johns and several experienced forwards. While Parra flogged them 50/0 if you just watched the ebb and flow of the play and missed the few minutes while Parra went over the line you would have thought it was practically level pegging. They just lacked the old heads required to get a few yards further when it really mattered. Each week as players came back they got better until they hit a huge winning streak when all hands were on deck.

Vee
Vee
15 years ago

I’m disappointed in that test, it lacked excitement for me. City/Country then SOO will fix that though. Its the same every year, NZ competitive for a little while then AUS runaway with it.

Benji’s a fool if he plays but that said I’ll tip the tigers if their other players are fit

Shaun
15 years ago

The Eels were utterly woeful tonight. Listening to the call was simply painful.

Good point, Vee. SOO is what we are all waiting for. I’ll be at Leichhardt tomorrow and expecting a good game and a good time on the hill.

Esmarelda
Esmarelda
15 years ago

Both Benji and Brett played – Benji from the bench and Brett (wearing 21 – go figure) for the full 80 – in fact the only notable absense was the referee although the final score was ‘desirable’.

Great to see Skando’s 150th – he’s turning out to be a real trooper.

I was more annoyed at the disallowed try under the black dot on the hooter in Premier league which would have put it to golden point – the S.E’s won by 6. Tragedy.

Pip Pip

Jack Web
15 years ago

Nice site Shaun. Are you related to Mick Cronin?