And so to the northern extremities of Brisbane and Moreton Daily Stadium which is named after a local online newspaper, a super initiative there should be more footy stadiums named after local online newspapers, Beaches Champion Stadium would be lots better than Lottoland, McDonald Jones and 1300 SMILES combined, you would agree, though 4 Pines Park has grown on us early if we are honest and we are.
So! Yes, it’s off to the beating heart of Redcliffe for the crunch NRL round 20 fixture between Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and Cronulla Sharks. And it should be quite good.
Good? Quite good. Because our local sea birds are, as the kids are saying in memes: on fiyah. Killing it. With a bullet. Going gangbusters, whatever gangbusters are, they sound good.
And each week we tip them to destroy their enemies and enjoy the lamentations of the women. And each week – outside aberrations Canberra (excuse) and Newcastle (no excuse) – they do.
And Manly fans to a man and wo-man berate the author: hey-hey-hey! Steady on there, homes. [This Team] has always been a bogey team for us and this looms as a banana skin fixture. Don’t you jinx us none.
And then Manly plunders 44 on Wests Tigers, 32 on St George Illawarra Dragons and 66 on Canterbury Bulldogs when we tipped them to win by seventy, and do we hear a word of praise or positivity from the Brookie Hill Tribe? We do not. Rather it’s: never do that again we got lucky that time everybody be cool and stay werry werry quiet.
And so on. And though the great prophecies did not come true in the Raiders game (excuse: no Turbo, Jake, Josh, DCE) and Knights game (no Ponga, no excuse), that, as a wise man once said, is greatest game of all rugby league.
And yet! The over-arching, elephant-sticking-its-giant-arse-out-of-the-room fact is this: when the Sea Eagles have been hot they’ve been very hot. And of late they’ve been very hot. They’ve been lava from a volcano in Sumatra.
And this Sunday afternoon up in Redcliffe, only Cronulla’s desperation to remain relevant in ‘21, one would warrant, keeps them long in this contest.
Yet Manly have plenty to play for, too. And you can bet that Des Hasler has been liberally splashing dashes of his motivational special sauce about the luxury Novotel Twin Waters that’s doubling as Camp Manly on the Sunshine Coast.
Particularly after upstream rival Parramatta Eels’ flat-out penis-less exhibition against beaten-up Roosters Thursday night.
Did the man say … penis-less?
He did, children, avert your eyes.
Yet this: Fact: Parramatta’s performance against the Roosters was sans penis, the club landed less shots than the Swiss Navy.
And a club that’s running fourth after humming for the first half of the competition has learned how good they are without their halfback Mitchell Moses. And the answer is not very good at all.
Against a team missing upwards of a dozen top-line first graders, Parra failed to score a single point while letting in 28 points.
That is shit-house.
That is penis-free footy.
And thus our Manly’s affectations to the top-4 – which in April (give us your best Rabs Warren) were deadest risible – are looking okay, even toss of a coin.
Particularly given Parramatta – on 28 points and four points clear of Manly – will know a run home of: Rabbitohs, Manly, Cowboys, Storm, Panthers.
You could see them losing four and ending on 30 points.
Meanwhile you could see Manly – run home of Cronulla, Storm, Eels, Raiders, Bulldogs, Cowboys – winning (at least) four more and ending on 32 points.
Yet you’d suggest still fifth because the Chooks are granite-hard and really well drilled. And such is their depth it’s like they don’t even have a salary cap. They sit on 28 points. Their run home is: Panthers, Broncos, Dragons, Rabbitohs, Raiders. Give ‘em two misere. Three and they’re on 34 points and home-n-hosed into the top-4.
Anyway. It’s an open go.
But, as usual, we get ahead of ourselves. For first-up, this Sunday, it’s Cronulla at Moreton Daily Stadium and Daly Cherry-Evans can’t believe he’s playing an NRL game back where it all started.
“I can’t believe I’m playing an NRL game back where it all started,’’ Cherry-Evans exclaimed to Manly media. “It is so exciting.”
When asked by Forest Rugby man and Daily Telegraph sports writer Dean “Bulldog” Ritchie whether it was motivating to not be considered among the favourites, Cherry-Evans smiled enigmatically and said: “You’re going to get a message or a call from Des after this, I’ve got no doubt about that, Bulldog.”
it meant: hey-hey-hey! Steady on there, homes. [Team X] has always been a bogey team for us and this looms as a banana skin fixture. Don’t you jinx us.
Something like it.
In answer to the question proper Cherry-Evans said all teams are where they deserve to be on the ladder.
“Everyone’s talking about Melbourne, Souths and the Panthers, and rightly so. Parramatta’s the forgotten team and going really well [interview conducted before loss of penis].
“We’re a side that is trying to find improvement. When we face those top four sides we can put a up a fight. We’re looking like we’ll be involved in the finals,” Cherry-Evans said.
In team news Cronulla will welcome back Aiden Tolman, Jonaiah Lualua, Luke Metcalf, Matt Moylan and Will Chambers. Big out though: Shaun Johnson. Huge out.
For Manly the “ins” are Curtis Sironen (!), Jack Gosiewski, Cade Cust, Karl Lawton and Kurt De Luis.
Outs are Sean Keppie (birth of first child) and Josh Aloiai who played last week against his old team Wests Tigers after 10 weeks out with injury and now is out again for a one-week ban for a “Cannonball” tackle that was no different from any other of the go-low-after-the-initial-hit-by-two-other-guys-to-slow-down-play-the-ball, except it bent a man’s knee the wrong way.
Anyway he’s out. And Sironen replaces him in the No.12 after being out since 1974 while Karl Lawton is on the bench for Keppie.
Otherwise it’s the same XVII that put 44 on Wests Tigers.
And on a dry track on a Sunday afternoon in Brisbane they’ll put 34 on Cronulla Sharks, too. And win by 18.