Hehehehehe…. Hahahahaha… okay guys, sorry, just had to get that out of the way after reading some of your sob stories following my Facebook post last week. I shouldn’t laugh, as I have had plenty of my own stuff-ups, but you have to admit there is some pain relief in humour! <br><br>There were the obvious ones – like picking Nathan Fien before the start of the year only to see him break his leg in Round 1; trade wasted. The same can be said for the Eels’ Shane Shackleton, amongst others. I also loved hearing how Brandon Cameron worked out his side so as to get Dan Hunt in, picked him, puffed out his chest in admiration of a well-executed trade system – only to have Hunt’s Achilles snap in the Dragons’ pre-game warm-up that week! Ouch, that one hurt for both guys!<br><br>Dean Smith traded out recent guns Todd Carney and Jarryd Hayne for Ashley Harrison and Greg Bird right before the former pair exploded into the points… and the latter pair got injured; woops!<br><br>Ashley Skinner was one of many to be burned by the Cowboys’ halves. Between the naming and late inclusions and swaps around Grant Rovelli, Ray Thompson and Michael Morgan, many were scorched. Plenty used trades to bring in one or the other to get the weekly pay-off and a cash rise, only for one of the three to play when in fact another was named on a handful of occasions! Neil Henry might have his own side in this league and was toying with us all!<br><br>Paul Wenham cracked me up; even he admits he deserved his fate after he tried Melbourne Storm-style tactics! Pauly boy explains his demise this way:<br><br>“I guess you could say 'served me right’. For those who remember, there was a week where there was a glitch at the end of lockout, reverting remaining salary caps back to the value they were two weeks prior to the date. This for me meant I had an additional $300,000 under my cap. With all the excitement I didn’t ask questions and just spent the additional money. When they fixed the problem and lockout was back on, my cap had been recalculated – but the trades I made weren’t reversed, leaving me with a large negative balance for my remaining salary cap. From then on I couldn’t make any trades unless it would add enough salary cap to compensate the whole negative balance, meaning even slightly downgrading a player wasn’t possible to make up the balance by using two trades. Therefore, I was forced to make up the balance in a single trade – which could only be done by trading out Robbie Farah, who I had kept my faith in all year despite some poor rounds and naming him captain every week. That week he scored his 70 – the highest of the season – losing me 140 points. And, after rising 15,000 from the week, it meant I couldn’t afford to get him back in. Pretty funny looking back, but it cost me head-to-head and took a while to replenish my team.” <br><br>Sorry Paul – but they say cheaters never prosper!<br><br>Okay – now let’s look at my “fearless predictions” from last week… it was pretty much one grimace after another…<br><br><b>Nathan Hindmarsh</b> – woops; fail. He only scored 42 points… but I blame the Bulldogs for not really turning up. Didn’t we all expect a good, hard, tight defensive game that Hayne would’ve torn apart at the back end? Instead the ‘Hayne Plane’ took off at kick-off – and Hindy had half a night off, watching the in-flight movie!<br><br><b>Sam Burgess</b> – a 33, below his 37 average. According to my sources, he was supposed to be refreshed and ready to rip and tear knowing the Bunnies needed a result to get back on track. They got the result and Sam played okay but certainly didn’t shine. He took it easy in defence and wasn’t in the coach’s good books with a couple of handling errors (one leading to a Warriors try)!<br><br><b>Lote Tuqiri </b>– 18 points as the Sea Eagles demolished the Wests Tigers. (And, despite this, Michael Robertson only mustered eight points! Robbo, I know you’ve been “tragic” all year as a Dream Teamer, but surely you’d like to stop making mistakes in the limited touches you have!)<br><br>As for Steve Matai – that trip to the sin bin was a killer on his way to just 20 points. <br><br>BUT – Paul Gallen to the rescue! A 74-point haul against the Raiders certainly helped a few teams out this week (mine included!). We were also tipping Gallen as a captain choice on our Dream Team Panel Show… redemption! And once again, in hindsight, why didn’t I suggest Luke Bailey would have a blinder against his former club? It was an obvious one, right? And he also smashed up 74 points. <br><br>This week I’m going to take another stab at predicting the highest-scoring player. I think it will come from a regular, so of the 11 guys valued at 300,000-plus I’m going to say the most expensive of them all in Corey Parker will probably be the man against his former mentor Wayne Bennett, but only marginally over Gallen, who will score big again (maybe not quite so big). And this time I’ll back Hindmarsh again to play strongly against his old coach Brian Smith. <br><br>And other guys I’m expecting big weeks from? How about I pull one guy out from each match who might not necessarily be the top scorer, but who should score well this week…<br><br><b>Penrith v North Queensland</b><br>How about Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote? With Luke Walsh back, he has his kicking buddy and they are shaping up for a form turnaround against the struggling Cowboys. He could score three tries this Friday night and add massive metres from kick returns…<br><br><b>Canterbury v South Sydney</b><br>Ben Lowe. He’s been a Dream Team stand-out this year. He’ll have to stand up and be counted even more with the Bunnies’ injury concerns. This could be his highest score yet. You can also throw Eddy Pettybourne in the mix here. Dave Taylor’s shoes are big ones to fill… literally.<br><br><b>Parramatta v Sydney Roosters</b><br>It would be easy to say Jarryd Hayne or Todd Carney but let’s find someone else. I have already suggested Hindy will have a bigger week than last round but also keep an eye on Jake Friend’s numbers here. I think the Roosters’ hooker will be called upon to do plenty of defence and could get 50+ points from tackles alone. If he manages a run here and there, pops an offload or creates a break, he could post a big score. It might come down to his missed tackles and penalties conceded.<br><br><b>Wests Tigers v Cronulla</b><br>Gallen, Gallen, Gallen here. But besides this stats muncher you might want to look at the Tigers’ offensive capabilities. If they are in a mood they could rack up a score against the Sharks. Usually Robbie Farah would be a ‘lock’ to add attacking points to his defensive ones, but how concussed is he? So let’s take a risk on Benji Marshall. I bet he has been practising his goal-kicking this week, and he is just the type of player who can score twice and set up three others against the Sharks. It’s time to back him out of his 30-point-games slump. Obviously, the Tigers’ back-rowers Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington and Liam Fulton should all score well, but they might not have to do as much tackling as usual…<br><br><b>Warriors v Gold Coast</b><br>I think Anthony Laffranchi will continue his recent good form and post big here. He is just one try away from 50 in his career and sources suggest he wants it bad. He’ll tackle all day and has just enough footwork to trouble the Warriors’ defence. Look for Nathan Friend to tackle himself to a standstill once again.<br><b><br>Melbourne v Canberra</b><br>The Raiders can’t contain Greg Inglis if he turns up with his mind on the job. Last time out Inglis scored three times and the Raiders’ edge defence hasn’t gotten any better since. The huge question mark is whether he is distracted by all of the contract talk and the obvious fact they are playing for nothing. For the Raiders to shine, Josh Dugan needs a mammoth game, as does Tom Learoyd-Lahrs who is now starting. If big Tom stays out there for more minutes he might actually beat his average of a lowly 21 and break his high mark of 35. As for the top scorer? Cam Smith is the odds-on favourite but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Terry Campese pull a 55 out of his bag of tricks with so much on the line.<br><br><b>Brisbane v St George Illawarra</b><br>Matt Gillett is starting and will be called upon to do plenty of defence. A 50+ score would certainly not surprise me. Corey Parker will go high as always but might not get as many shots at goal against the dogged Dragons defence. Hooker Andrew McCullough might be the man. Bennett will send his rolling forwards at the youngster all game. He scored poorly last week as the Roosters went to the edges and wide all game, but the Dragons will go up the guts before they shift wide to the deadly centres. A quick shout out to Darius Boyd, who might awaken from his mini-slump against his old team.<br><br><b>Newcastle v Manly</b><br>Gidley at halfback – his tackles will be up but his running metres down… and just how many shots at goal will his team earn against a Manly team starting to find some defensive muscle. How about we look at Anthony Watmough? If the Sea Eagles get rolling, his running metres could get to 200 and you know he’ll add his defensive numbers to that. It seems the biggest problem with ‘Choc’ is his errors and penalties conceded. If he stays away from the negatives, this could be a 40-plus game – something he has done only twice this year, and on both of those occasions he scored tries. Top scorer? Time to step up to the plate, Trent Hodkinson! Remind us why you were once the buy of the season!<br><br>Okay guys – more opinion for you to get bogged down in… and curse me for later! As always, get on Facebook and throw your opinion in the mix.<br><br>Head-to-head finals are looming – start trimming some fat people, and bolster your team for an assault at the title! Depth is a little over-rated in head-to-head!
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