Even though the points weren’t all correct, 7 out of my 8 chosen won their game in Round 1. As such, I have a pretty good feeling I can predict a perfect round this weekend.
I’ve missed spending the weekends sitting back with mates and enjoying a good game of footy. I realised this after the All Stars match kicked off in February. It was fast-paced, had big hits and made tries: as Owen Craigie said, it was the perfect start to 2019.
There's no better feeling than hanging out with the mob and watching the Indigenous All Stars go in for try after try ending with a 34-14 win over the Maori All Stars.
Last week's wrap-up
After a by-gone weekend of great footy, I’ve narrowed down my top three games.
1. Roosters (16) vs. Rabbitohs (26)
In a back and forth game that was expected to be an exciting showdown between Greg Inglis and Latrell Mitchell, this one took an interesting turn due to the rain.
It was won down the middle, as wet weather games should be, and it was all thanks to the Forwards.
The Bunnies proved to be the better team in these conditions with only 11 errors compared to the Roosters, equally first with 15 errors.
Bunnies ended the game with 1,632 running metres and equalled first for post-contact metres with 553m. The game was won through the forward hit ups, but ultimately Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook were the champion orchestrators of the match.
2. Cowboys (24) vs. Dragons (12)
As I said last week, the team I was most eager to watch was the North Queensland Cowboys to see how they will go in a post-JT era. To my excitement, they did not disappoint in their first game back.
There was a bit of doubt around Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan being able to lead the team and take charge after having led them to the big dance in 2017 late in the season without JT; then getting injured early in 2018; and not being that same player from the 2017 finals when he returned.
On Saturday however, any doubt that was surrounding him and his role disappeared. Stepping up to the plate and conducting the Cowboys around the paddock, Captain Morgan was cool, calm and collected throughout the match. Morgan finished the game with 475 kick metres and 19 kicks and led the League in both categories. He also went over the line for a try to add to his stellar performance.
But let’s not forget about Lock Jason Taumalolo, leading the league with 93 post contact metres and 287 total run metres, he also had two line breaks and seven tackle breaks. The only thing Cowboys need to work on is finding a replacement conversion kicker for JT as they only had 2/5 conversion on Saturday night.
3. Warriors (40) vs. Bulldogs (6)
This was one of the few games over the weekend to be won through the backs instead of forwards.
The Warriors were just simply the better team on the night, entering the season in such a dominating fashion, there was not much the Bulldogs could do to slow them down.
The Doggies were top five in tackles with 365 but were also second in missed tackles with 38.
As much as I love a great back and forth game, I enjoy watching a pure performance of offence. Ending with seven tries, it felt like the Warriors were just about scoring a try every 10 minutes.
With the loss of superstar Shaun Johnson, I thought the Warriors would have lost hope, but I think they proved a lot of people wrong — including me — by hitting the ground running and taking the top spot on the ladder after round one.
The halves combination of Blake Green and Adam Keighran displayed a pretty dynamic duo which shared a lot of responsibility, the majority on Blake Green as Adam Keighran only debuted on Saturday but it was one hell of a game for him. Keighran scored a total of 16 points in the game, leading the comp thanks to a try and 6 conversions. As Green finishing with 422 kicking metres and 200 for Keighran, they both had a forced dropout, and Green also had a try assist. The Warriors will have a big season ahead of them.
My Winning Picks for... ROUND 2
Dragons vs. Rabbitohs
I’m going with the Bunnies on this one. A convincing win in bad weather last week with great work from the forward pack and the halves give them the edge going into their next game against the Dragons.
Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker are in great form and will continue what they started in Round 1.
Matt Dufty only had minimal minutes towards the back end of the game in Round 1 but he was everywhere when he was on. This might be a good tactic for the young gun, but I think he needs to come onto the field earlier and for more minutes for the Dragons to have any chance against the Bunnies. However, my prediction is that they’ll stick to the same formula they used in Round 1. I’m gonna say Bunnies by 14.
Raiders vs. Storm
The Raiders did have a good first game back with a 21-0 victory in Round 1, but it was against an injured team who was missing their star halfback in Ash Taylor. So for this one, I don't think they'll have what it takes to beat the Storm who are currently in great form. Storm by 12.
Broncos vs. Cowboys
In Round 1, the Broncos lost speedster James Roberts to injury in the opening five minutes which left them vulnerable on in attack and also defence.
Jimmy had suffered from an acute back spasm and they say he may return in Round 2, but from the looks of how he was attempting to walk around the field on Thursday night, I'm unconvinced he'll return for a little while (but I do wish him a speedy recovery!)
Cowboys had too much control last Saturday night and I think if they can shut down Corey Oates on Broncos left edge they'll have the game in the bag, as that's the only area I feel Broncos can find a way to get the advantage over the Cowboys. I'm still backing North Queensland in this Queensland Derby. Cowboys by 10.
Sharks vs. Titans
Cronulla had a pretty tight game with Newcastle in the first Round, but I think the Titans are their own worst enemy at this point and the Sharks will take the win.
Gold Coast ended up with 14 errors, 11 penalties conceded (the most in the league) and 16 missed tackles.
Sharks only lost in the final minutes of their first game but Titans never had a chance, you can expect a repeat of that performance this weekend. Sharks by 24.
Knights vs. Panthers
As I said last week, the Knights had the best recruitment in the offseason and thanks to their signings they won the game against the Sharks.
After a big battle of the forwards, David Klemmer and Andrew Fifita fought hard and new recruit Lock Tim Glasby went in for the first try of the game at the 68th minute with the Sharks striking back four minutes later. Then Edrick Lee, took an intercept in the 74th minute and ran about 80 metres to seal the game for the Knights.
James Tamou tried to put the Panthers on his back and carry them to a victory in their first game, but the Eels were just too good across the whole field.
I think the Knights will be the same and beat the Panthers in a close one, only by 6 points.
Sea Eagles vs. Roosters
Manly looked a bit shocking in their first game back and almost ended the match with only 2 points, but had a lucky try in the corner on the 79th minute.
Roosters had a pretty disappointing game as well but I think that they'll step it up this weekend, go all out on attack and give out a bit of a hiding. Roosters by 18.
Bulldogs vs. Eels
I’m sorry to the Doggies fans, but they just haven’t found their feet yet after losing such pivotal players in the Morris twins, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer.
Eels, on the other hand, came out swinging with a cohesive team who looked more than ready for any challenge thrown at them. Michael Jennings scored a double for them but was charged for a high tackle so he may miss a week or even more, but I think Blake Ferguson will have a big one this weekend. Eels by 16.
Tigers vs. Warriors
I can’t express how much I enjoyed seeing Benji Marshall and Robbie Farrah back with the Tigers again, and for Farrah to score two tries at Leichhardt was the icing on the cake.
But in saying that, the Tigers did not produce anything spectacular in the first 40 minutes of the game and I think that’s where the Warriors will get in front early. The Warriors are so dominant that I reckon the Tigers will do their best to stay in it, but Warriors will pull away early in the second half after a great first half. Warriors by 18.
These are my predictions for how Round 2 will end up for the NRL. And with the footy seasons returning that also means the return of NITV’s flagship League show #OverTheBlackDot
Over The Black Dot airs on Tuesdays, 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34) from 19 March.
Grayson McCarthy-Grogan is a passionate rugby league fan and NITV Digital Producer. He writes about Sports, Politics and Indigenous Affairs. To follow Grayson or contact with story tips, find him on Twitter @GraysonMcG