Another week of fairly big scores and the whip is well and truly out for those in the hunt. Despite posting the lowest score of anyone in the top 40, Bear13 still leads overall…by 6 points.
That’s like, 1/20th of BJ Leilua’s score. And yes, I left him out again last week, which only cost me 90 points and 356 places. Where’s that bloody toaster?
Most of the top 10,000 have deep squads, so the 50/50 decisions like BJ or Matterson (90 points), Cleary or Munster (65 points) and Taumalolo or Fifita (76 points) will make or break your week and possibly your season. Here’s hoping I can help steer you in the right direction.
Let’s get to it.
THURSDAY, August 9
NQ Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos, 7.50pm at 1300SMILES Stadium
Cowboys: 1 Te Maire Martin, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Enari Tuala, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Justin O’Neill, 6 Jake Clifford, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matt Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Jordan McLean, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo Interchange: 14 Ben Hampton, 15 John Asiata, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Scott Bolton
Reserves: 18 Ethan Lowe, 19 Gideon Gela-Mosby, 20 Lachlan Coote, 24 Francis Molo
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Gehamat Shibasaki, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 David Fifita, 13 Joe Ofahengaue Interchange: 14 Sam Tagataese, 15 Patrick Mago, 16 Korbin Sims, 17 Kotoni Stags
Reserves: 18 George Fai, 19 Troy Dargan, 20 Jordan Kahu, 21 Tevita Pangai jnr
Cory Jenson in for SF13 is the only Cowboys change. Except the Jason Taumalolo ($580k, 48 BE) impersonator from the past few weeks finally stepped aside for the real thing, so that’s nice.
Jamayne Isaako ($470k, 43 BE) shifts back to the wing to accommodate Boyd at fullback and debutant Gehamat Shibasaki at left centre. TPJ ($471k, 82 BE) is out but should be nuffed or upgraded anyway. Fifita and Joe O also start, with Josh McGuire’s hair-pulling antics sitting him out for a week to think about his actions.
Player(s) of Interest:
Johnathon Thurston ($481k, 4 BE). Most of us moved on old man JT earlier this year after it was clear the magic had gone. But he’s coming off a 99 and 69 (nice) and always saves his best for when the Cowboys line up against their great rivals. His 110 at Suncorp in round 2 was his highest score of the year and only the goalpost denied him the matchwinning TS/LBA (plus certain goal for a lazy 24 extra points). Come to think of it, Scott Bolton running into that post perfectly sums up the Cowboys year, but I digress. JT has averaged 70 against the Broncos this decade, including an injury-affected 2, so if you own him you could do worse than give the old man one last spot in your 17.
FRIDAY, August 10
NZ Warriors v Newcastle Knights, 6.00pm at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Gerard Beale, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Isaiah Papali’i, 12 Adam Blair, 13 Simon Mannering Interchange: 14 Jazz Tevaga, 15 Leivaha Pulu, 16 Bunty Afoa, 17 Peta Hiku
Reserves: 18 Anthony Gelling, 20 Joseph Vuna, 21 Chris Satae, 22 Karl Lawton
Knights: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Cory Denniss, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Jack Cogger, 7 Mitchell Pearce (c), 8 Herman Ese’ese, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Daniel Saifiti, 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12 Mitch Barnett, 13 Aidan Guerra Interchange: 14 Jamie Buhrer (c), 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Pasami Saulo, 17 JJ Felise
Reserves: 18 Nick Meaney, 19 Josh King, 20 Brock Lamb, 21 Luke Yates
Peta Hiku makes the Warriors bench for the first time in weeks, so be wary of the AE nightmare. Blair and Manners swap roles but expect them to be interchangeable throughout the game anyway.
The Knights have debutant Pasami Saulo on the interchange, giving Herman Ese’ese the start. Ponga and Pearce have been named despite niggles.
Player(s) of Interest:
Isiaiah Papali’i ($494k, 41 BE). I was shocked to discover that almost 11,000 SuperCoaches still owned the other big Papa and I daresay just about every one of them had him riding the pine last week. But with a 5RA of 62, this bloke has played 80 minutes almost every week since the round 13 bye and faces the Knights and Bulldogs the next two games. By the way, that 5RA of 62 is more than Paul Gallen and Josh Papalii – or as he’ll now be known, the lesser Papa.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters, 7.55pm at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Hymel Hunt, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Richie Kennar, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Tom Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess (c) Interchange: 14 Braidon Burns, 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola
Reserves: 18 Billy Brittain, 19 Kyle Turner, 20 Dean Britt, 21 Tyrell Fuimaono
Roosters: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 Joseph Manu, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Ryan Matterson, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11 Boyd Cordner, 12 Isaac Liu, 13 Victor Radley Interchange: 14 Dylan Napa, 15 Zane Tetevano, 16 Mitchell Aubusson, 17 Sean O’Sullivan
Reserves: 18 Nat Butcher, 19 Kurt Baptiste, 20 Matthew Ikuvalu, 21 Lindsay Collins
The game of the round sees both teams essentially 1-17, with Richie Kennar in for Adam Douehi the only change. This is the same Richie Kennar I held for five weeks leading into the first bye because he only had a “two week injury”. That was 15 weeks ago. But I’m not bitter.
Player(s) of Interest:
Alex Johnston ($452k, 63 BE). The Bunnies are on fire but AJ has been a little off the boil, despite his last start 62 (which included Cody Walker-levels of junk points, but still). The 3RA of 43 in a side scoring so many points must worry owners and the Roosters are great at defending fullbacks. After last week’s game against the Storm produced so many SuperCoach points for Souths, the tendency might be to consider them matchup proof. The decision to play him in your 17 could be one of those 50/50 decisions I mentioned up top and could cost you 90 points either way.
SATURDAY, August 11
Gold Coast Titans v Penrith Panthers, 3.00pm at Cbus Super Stadium
Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Konrad Hurrell, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 AJ Brimson, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Keegan Hipgrave, 13 Jai Arrow Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Moeaki Fotuaika,16 Jack Stockwell, 17 Will Matthews
Reserves: 18 Leilani Latu, 19 Brendan Elliot, 20 Jai Whitbread, 21 Kane Elgey
Panthers: 1 Tyrone Peachey, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 James Maloney (c), 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 James Fisher-Harris Interchange: 14 Tyrone May, 15 Trent Merrin, 16 Moses Leota, 17 Corey Harawira-Naera
Reserves: 18 Christian Crichton, 19 Jack Hetherington, 20 Kaide Ellis, 21 Wayde Egan
Madman Keegan Hipgrave ($228k, 16 BE) returns for the Titans, which is plenty entertaining for fans but I’m not sure actually helps then win games. Jai Whitbread misses out.
RCG ($387k, 89 BE) makes a long-awaited return to the starting team at Leota’s expense. Otherwise, Tyrone Peachey ($490k, 4 BE) has been carving up since the move to fullback – great strategy, Hook! Here’s a pink slip…
Player(s) of Interest:
Nathan Cleary ($540k, 8 BE). The Titans were belted by Parramatta of all teams, so I want to be clear when I say that every Penrith player in your squad should start this week. I am singling Cleary out since his 3RA of 89 marks him as a quality VC/C option while reminding people that teams often have a new lease on life the game after an unpopular coach has been sacked (Poor Hook). This game could be anything and I feel sorry for all 34 Titans supporters in the stands this week.
Manly Sea Eagles v Canterbury Bulldogs, 5.30pm, McGrath Foundation Stadium
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Bradley Parker, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Manase Fainu, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic Interchange: 14 Trent Hodkinson, 15 Kelepi Tanginoa, 16 Jack Gosiewski, 17 Taniela Paseka
Reserves: 18 Frank Winterstein, 19 Matthew Wright, 20 Thomas Wright, 21 Toafofoa Sipley
Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Lachlan Lewis, 7 Jeremy Marshall-King, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Adam Elliott Interchange: 14 Fa’amanu Brown, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Ofahiki Ogden, 17 Chris Smith
Reserves: 19 Greg Eastwood, 20 Matthew Frawley, 21 Renouf Toomaga, 23 John Olive
Manly are 1-17 after their great win over the Sharks, while the Bulldogs welcome back David Klemmer ($505k, 67 BE) and Jeremy Marshall-King. And thank god Klemmer is back because that means we don’t have to watch the corpse of Greg Eastwood lumber around the field for 20 minutes. It’s like watching Weekend at Bernie’s being a Dogs fan sometimes…
Player of Interest:
DCE ($467k, 17 BE). Even in a surprise win, the Bulldogs still allowed Kodi Nikorima to score 69 (nice again) last week, continuing their appalling record defending HFBs. After going cold for a spell, DCE was back in form last week and faces the Dogs, Titans and Tigers the next three weeks. Those sweet matchups are the kind to singlehandedly swing a h2h final, in my opinion. And did I mention his SuperCoach record against Canterbury? He averages 69 (seriously, he does).
Parramatta Eels v St George-Illawarra Dragons, 7.35pm, ANZ Stadium
Eels: 1 Corey Norman, 2 Jarryd Hayne, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Clint Gutherson (c), 5 George Jennings, 6 Jaeman Salmon, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Siosaia Vave, 9 Reed Mahoney, 10 Tim Mannah (c), 11 Marata Niukore, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Nathan Brown Interchange: 14 Will Smith, 15 Kane Evans, 16 Peni Terepo, 17 Brad Takairangi
Reserves: 18 Bevan French, 19 David Gower, 20 Oregan Kaufusi, 21 Raymond Stone
Dragons: 1 Matt Dufty, 2 Jordan Pereira, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Leeson Ah Mau, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack de Belin Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Blake Lawrie, 17 Luciano Leilua
Reserves: 18 Jacob Host, 19 Nene Macdonald, 20 Zachary Lomax, 21 Hame Sele
Big changes at the Eels, with youngster Jaemon Salmon at five-eighth, Corey Norman at fullback, Hayne to the wing and Gutho ($433k, 21 BE) to centre. Garnished with a dollop of Bevan French out and Will Smith on the interchange.
The Dragons are reeling after yet another loss, with the only change being enforced – Vaughan out, with Ah Mau starting and Blake Lawrie to the bench.
Player of Interest:
Jarryd Hayne ($505k, 48 BE). I’m tempted to say Hayne has been rocks and diamonds in recent weeks but the fact of the matter is that his lowest score since returning from injury seven weeks ago is 41 – not terrible for an outside back, by any means. He’ll likely line up on Euan Aitken and Jordan Periera’s side this week with Aitken’s reputation as a defensive centre taking an absolute hammering the last couple of games (Mitchell 113, Kata 83). In the aforementioned last seven games Hayne has averaged 69 (okay, I’ll stop now) making him one of the form CTW options going around.
SUNDAY, August 12
Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers, 2.00pm at GIO Stadium
Raiders: 1 Nick Cotric, 2 Brad Abbey, 3 Blake Austin, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aidan Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Josh Hodgson (c), 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii Interchange: 14 Dunamis Lui, 15 Shannon Boyd, 16 Siliva Havili, 17 Luke Bateman
Reserves: 18 Liam Knight, 19 Jack Murchie, 20 Makahesi Makatoa, 21 Emre Guler
Wests Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Michael Chee Kam, 12 Luke Garner, 13 Elijah Taylor (c) Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Suaso Sue, 16 Robbie Rochow, 17 Matt Eisenhuth
Reserves: 18 Jacob Liddle, 19 Chris McQueen, 20 Pita Godinet, 21 Mahe Fonua
The Raiders are unchanged, while the Tigers have Corey Thompson out for the year and MWZ in his place. Luke Garner gets a run in the edge merry-go-round, meaning ET goes to lock and Eisenhuth to the interchange. Interestingly Mahe Fonua has been named as a reserve, meaning the mullet may not be far away from returning.
Player of Interest:
Nick Cotric ($401k, 77 BE). Not that long ago, Cotric was the best SuperCoach option of the Raiders CTWs ahead of Rapana, Leilua and Croker. Now, with a 3RA of 33 and 5RA of 40 it might be preferable to own Croker instead – at least he won’t be the AE nightmare Cotric is threatening to become. Needless to say, don’t play him for the foreseeable future.
Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks, 4.10pm, AAMI Park
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Jahrome Hughes, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Dale Finucane Interchange: 14 Kenny Bromwich, 15 Tim Glasby, 16 Christian Welch, 17 Joe Stimson
Reserves: 18 Tui Kamikamica, 19 Brandon Smith, 20 Cheyse Blair, 21 Brodie Croft
Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Josh Dugan, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Sione Katoa, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Wade Graham (c), 13 Paul Gallen (c) Interchange: 14 Scott Sorensen, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya
Reserves: 18 Joseph Paulo, 19 Ava Seumanufagai, 20 Sosaia Feki, 21 Kyle Flanagan
The Storm not only relinquished the top spot to South Sydney in their 30-20 loss on Friday but there is also some concern around Cameron Smith, who despite a foot injury has been named this week. As a result, their odds to win the 2018 NRL Grand Final have dropped to 7/2 according to MyTopSportsbooks, sharing the title of favourites with the Sydney Roosters (7/2). Otherwise, there’s not much doing, with Suli Vunivalu back on the wing for Blair and the Sharks unchanged from last week.
Player of Interest:
Andrew Fifita ($565k, 78 BE). Woof, what a way to come back down to earth after a mini-resurgence. Fifi cost his owners plenty last weekend with his 36, as the site exploded with the frustrations of those who played him over the likes of Taumalolo and Arrow. Assuming he clears concussion protocol to take his spot, it would be a brave man to double down against the Storm who rarely play poorly two weeks in a row.