Round 8 looks like five lopsided games with three close games with the most difficult Rabbitohs-Sea Eagles, Warriors-Raiders and Dragons-Tigers to predict.
The Tigers’ resurgence – it’s not a streak until they’ve won at least three games in a row – momentarily dampened Wests manager Michael Maguire while his counterpart in Sunday’s Wollongong clash , Anthony Griffin, is also breathing a little easier after the return. subsequent triumphs.
A few weeks ago, this match seemed like an early indicator of who will get the wooden spoon, but now fans of both teams dare to dream of soaring to the dizzying heights of mid-table. But let’s not talk about the playoffs, they’re still way off in every way.
Brisbane’s Kevin Walters had the dubious honor of winning the full backing of the board this week and while club manager Darren Lockyer hasn’t used that age-old wording, it won’t help the coach to sleep easier as the glamorous club look forward to a return to the final.
Here are the burning questions for each of the 16 clubs ahead of the eight games that make up Round 8 of the season.
Broncos vs. Sharks at Suncorp Stadium, 7:50 p.m.
Should Kevin Walters be nervous? Broncos board member Darren Lockyer said executives were “100% behind” Walters. Often when these words are spoken, it means being 100% behind the coach with knives ready to be lodged in the back. After finishing 14th in Walters’ first year, Brisbane are 3-4. Pull out their four wins over Canterbury during his tenure and their record stands at 7-21. Despite being a club legend, mediocrity won’t be tolerated for too long unless the results start to turn around.
Will the Sharks face a tough decision over Wade Graham’s future? The veteran striker is set to make his first appearance in 2022 after picking up an ankle injury in pre-season. The skipper is a free agent at the end of the season and the Sharks are already struggling to keep fellow British second rower Nikora and wrecking ball fit Siosifa Talakai’s contract runs until next year, but he will order a major upgrade. After a series of bad luck with concussions and ankle surgery, hopefully Graham can get back to his best and end his career on his terms.
Titans vs. Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium, 6 p.m.
Can the Gold Coast pack live up to its reputation? The Titans, on paper, have a towering pack but they’re not dominating in 2022, one of the team’s many problems. They are 12th in post-contact meters at 520.5 per game, more than 100 less than league leaders Penrith. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (34th at 52.9 per game) is the only Titans forward in the NRL’s top 50 by this stat.
Will the Panthers skid on the road? Much has been made of their incredible 21-game winning streak at Penrith, but the Panthers are also racking up a phenomenal away record. In matches away from BlueBet Stadium since the start of 2020, they have only tasted defeat four times with a draw while claiming 32 wins. Some of those matches were at neutral venues due to COVID moves, but it’s still a remarkable strike rate. No team has ever won its first eight games in successive seasons, so the Panthers could throw another record on their growing pile. Good luck, Titans.
Rabbitohs vs. Sea Eagles at Central Coast Stadium, 7:55 p.m.
Are the star duo making too many tackles? Damien Cook (342) and Cameron Murray (327) are ranked one and two on the list for most tackles this year, a far cry from Knights third hooker Chris Randall (292). Murray is averaging 71 minutes while Cook has played all but 11 of South Sydney’s seven games so they will register plenty of tackles but if coach Jason Demetriou can cut their defensive production a fraction it should give them that extra bit of gas in the tank when the bunnies have the ball.
Should Josh Schuster get the five-eighth jersey? Manly faces an interesting conundrum with Schuster’s agent agitating for his client to get a crack in his preferred five-eights role rather than play as a forward advantage. Schuster, who is on the team and could play his first game of the season after ankle surgery, was a revelation at No. 2 and looks like he’s literally outgrown his junior position. The Sea Eagles got decent value from veteran Kieran Foran at a cheap cost this season and last, but Schuster clearly has a much longer future. Manly coach Des Hasler doesn’t like being dictated by anyone on how he runs his team, so this has the potential to be more than a broken promise from a former CEO.
Warriors v Raiders at Moreton Daily Stadium, 3pm
Have you seen worse defense than the Warriors on Monday night? Some of the tries they conceded in the second half of their 70-10 capitulation to the Storm were sweeter than margarine that had been left out in the scorching sun. In the desert. Jesse Bromwich seemed to be going at half speed as he crossed the line and defenders bounced off him. Conceding 54 points in one half is unforgivable – their performance on Matchday 8 will tell us a lot about the courage of this team, or lack thereof.
Can Canberra’s right edge build muscle? Granted, the Panthers’ left edge is white-hot, producing more runs than any team’s left or right groupings this year. They spoiled Canberra’s trio of rookie half-back Brad Scheider, center Semi Valemei and winger Nick Cotric on Sunday at Penrith. Jarrod Croker has been on the team for the past two weeks without racing, so it might be worth seeing if he can help build his advantage again.
Bulldogs v Roosters at Accor Stadium, 5:30 p.m.
Why not play The Foxx in the back? Canterbury struggled to get the ball past Josh Addo-Carr on the left wing and his supreme attacking skills are going to be wasted. Why not give it a run from the back? Matt Dufty didn’t set the world on fire with the No 1 shirt and the fact that they signed him to a one-year contract means Canterbury don’t necessarily trust him to be the solution to long term. Let the Foxx trot.
Can Luke Keary watch the 2018 Grand Final replay? Roosters skipper James Tedesco says the team have discussed Keary’s role and called on him to be more of an organizer in attack as the two, as well as Joey Manu and Sam Walker, all play off the cuff without a clear general on the ground. Keary need only recall his medal-winning performance Clive Churchill in the win over Melbourne, in which he called the shots as a badly injured Cooper Cronk climbed into the side saddle, to see what he needs to do to recover the attack of the Roosters. working.
Eels vs. Cowboys at TIO Stadium, 7:05 p.m. (AEST)
Can eels be hunted? Parramatta is an excellent favorite – he has won his last 16 games leading at the break. The last time they were brought down was in their semi-final loss to Souths in 2020 when they dropped 30 points in the second stanza as they watched an 18-8 advantage at halftime. -time turn into a 38-24 loss.
Are Cowboys fed raw meat? North Queensland have regained their defensive intensity after being dismal last year when they coughed up a league-worst 31.2 points per game, nearly triple that of Premiers Penrith (11.6) . Only the Panthers (12) are better than their 2022 average of 13.3 and they rank first in the fewest ineffective tackles per game (9.9).
Knights v Storm at McDonald Jones Stadium, 2 p.m.
Where will the Knights’ points come from? They have just three players who have scored more than two tries this year and two of them are out this week – Dane Gagai and Dominic Young. They have only crossed the strip four times in the last four matches, all defeats, including three in the game against St George Illawarra. And they face the team with the third-best defense in the NRL.
Can Ryan Papenhuyzen break the El Magic record? The Storm fullback opened the season with 10 tries, 30 goals and a basket for 101 points in seven appearances. Manly’s Reuben Garrick, when he scored 334 last year, came close to breaking Hazem El Masri’s all-time record of 342 set in Canterbury’s winning campaign in 2004. If he maintains his current pace of 14.43 per game, Papenhuyzen would break the record if he played every game in the regular season without needing the playoffs to increase his total.
Dragons vs. Tigers at WIN Stadium, 4:05 p.m.
Should the Dragons let Tariq Sims leave early? They have said they won’t let him join the Storm mid-season despite the veteran striker signing a deal with Melbourne for 2023. they should probably keep the Sims on deck, especially with Jaydn Su’A indefinitely with an ankle injury, but if the August 1 deadline draws near and St George Illawara isn’t in the equation for the final, they might as well release him to give a young striker more playing time.
Can the Tigers break the four-year-old hat-trick? The Wests haven’t won three games in a row since the sixth inning in 2018. Different eras back then – Ivan Cleary drove the bus, Malcolm Turnbull was Premier and Luke Brooks was the much-maligned Tigers playmaker criticized not to justify his high salary. . Well, maybe not so different after all. Apart from Brooks, only winger David Nofoaluma, striker Alex Twal and hooker Jacob Liddle are still in the squad.