Scott Minto: 'Who I reckon will win the NRL'
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Canberra Raiders are playing the style of footy that can win them the premiership, according to former NRL star Scott Minto.
It's an opinion that's clearly shared, with the Raiders now equal favourites with reigning champions, the Sydney Roosters, to take the title in Ladbrokes betting.
Minto said it was fantastic to see the NRL back after a 67-day hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Diehard NRL fans from across the country breathed a sigh of relief last Thursday night as season resumed," he said.
"Record viewership followed, with other countries also taking a keen interest."
Minto liked what he saw in the Green Machine's stunning 22-6 win over the Melbourne Storm on Sunday and expects more of the same this season.
"I like Canberra because they play eyes up as much as possible and not too structured," said Minto, a 53-game NRL veteran.
"Their spine is as good as any in the comp, and the new six again rule will suit them more than other teams because they have strike right across the park and they will be better served to capitalise on more possession.
"They also like to attack from anywhere on the field so can hurt you at any stage of the game.
"I'm confident they will go well."
So well, in fact, Minto is tipping them to take the title, predicting they will again meet the Roosters in the decider but reverse last year's result.
Minto's review of Round 3
Game 1 saw Brisbane take on the Eels at home and from the outset both teams played with plenty of intent. The match was close for most part with the difference showing in the lopsided possession count. Brisbane were on the wrong side of this stat - 40% against Parramatta's 60%. The final score was 34-6. Brisbane's best was Patrick Carrigan who continues to build his reputation while the Eels backrow of Shaun Lane and Ryan Matterson showed why rangy back rowers are the rave.
On Friday night the double header kicked off with my sentimental favourites, the Cowboys, taking on another Queensland team in the Titans. While they tried hard, the Titans were never a match as man mountain Jason Taumalolo exercised his god-given talent to the highest degree, busting tackles and leaving trails of carnage with every run. Newcomer Valentine Holmes was also very strong while Scott Drinkwater showed North Queensland fans there is hope after JT up in the North with a classy outing. The Cowboys easy winners 36-6.
The second clash of the night was between two competition heavyweights - the Roosters and Rabbitohs. With injuries hampering the Rabbits they would be up against it with the Roosters boasting a near full strength line-up. The result didn't surprise, with the Roosters resetting the compass back towards the premiership trophy with a performance sure to silence any doubt about their threepeat ambitions. The final score 28-12. Victor Radley got my best on ground with his efforts reminiscent of the ever fearsome Steve Matai, rattling off one bone-rattling hit after another.
Super Saturday gave us a trifecta of hard hits and fast-paced action when the Warriors took on the Dragons in a first of three games. With a record 43 complete sets from 45, the Warriors put the sword to the winless Dragons to heap further pressure on coach Paul McGregor and his team. The Warriors keeping the Dragons scoreless in this one to the tune of 18-nil to relegate the Red V to the NRL basement.
The second clash would be one every Central Queensland rugby league fan would watch with bated breath as our very own product Harry Grant made his run on debut for his new club the West Tigers up against baysiders the Cronulla Sharks. He didn't disappoint the faithful, starring for his new side with a try and 46 tackles in 60 minutes of play. Coach Michael McGuire was left smiling at his team's performance and the potential combinations that will flourish in weeks to come with his new-look spine. This one was tight until the end with the Tigers pulling away late to win 28-16.
The last match of the night was between two top four sides from the 2019 season with Canberra travelling to Melbourne to go head to head with the Storm. The Storm were very rusty forcing too many errors in a very non Storm like performance that even Craig Bellamy couldn't stomach. His post-match comments were scathing, labelling some of his charges selfish and unworthy of the jersey. One shining light was another CQ product with Cam Munster taking my points as the Storm's best on ground. This result heavily in Canberra favoir with the Green Machine hitting the go button to run out winners 22-6.
Sunday would see two more clashes close Round 3 with an even match anticipated between the Panthers and the Knights. Penrith raced away early to shock the travelling Knights, however the Novacastrians wouldn't lie down. Debutant Bradman Best scored a double in a second half fightback, helping his side draw level by the final siren. Golden point overtime saw six attempts at field goal with the best ricocheting off the post after a Matt Burton attempt. This one would finish in a draw and leave most watching wondering what could have been for either side.
The final game of the round was between Manly and the Bulldogs with Manly fielding their strongest side in 12 months. This would prove beneficial for the home side with Daly Cherry-Evans combining well with Tom Trbojevic to lay on try after try for their team. Trbojevic was superb showing why he's a super star of the game. He scored two tries and set up three in a man of the match performance. Manly raced away to beat the hapless Bulldogs 32-6.
Minto's takeaways from Round 3
What's to like: The one referee rule. Although many thought this would take away from the game it actually worked well. Quick decision-making and no indecisive callas made for good viewing and would register a big tick among armchair warriors.
What's not to like: The Dragons. Full stop. It's time for a change down in Wollongong and this could happen any day now if I'm a betting man. 'Mary' McGregor has to go, as do some of their overpaid stars who are underwhelming at the moment.
MINTO'S TOP EIGHT
Manly Sea Eagles
North Queensland Cowboys
Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders