After 25 weeks of late mail sweating, flop cheering, penalty cussing, covert inside information and sudden urges to brutally kneecap certain NRL coaches (watch your back Rick Stone), the 2011 season of NRL DreamTeam concludes this week with two big grand final matchups for the People's fantasy team Gobias Industries. And while it would be nice to secure the Community Shield of DT trophies with victory in one of the leagues, the team owner has placed particular priority on winning the Champions League against arch rivals Bilbul Bandits (coached by my buddy Karl). Allow me to put on a pencil skirt and break down this weeks' key match ups like Dr Melfi breaking down Tony's mother issues...
GOBIAS INDUSTRIES (GI)
League Position(s): 3rd, 1st
Overall Position: 17 (of 86,808)
Overall Position: 17 (of 86,808)
Season Summary: Having set the pace and sufficiently managed trades for the first half of the year, my season was unfortunately derailed by three big gambles that went horribly wrong. In order:
- Round 15: Trading in Tyrone Roberts for some bye cover. We all know how that played out.
- Round 16: Being convinced by Karl to bring in Kurt Gidley instead of Jarryd Hayne. Gidley was a late scratching (leading to a 1 point eliminator loss), got injured in his next game and spent the rest of the season languishing at fullback.
- Round 17: Trading out a goal-kicking-less Daly Cherry Evans for Chad Townsend for no other reason than to free up enough cap space to afford fantasy superstars Ash Harrison and Paul Gallen. Harrison lasted 14 minutes, Daly morphed into some sort of monstrous Andrew Johns/Jonathan Thurston hybrid, and a hobbling Gal became the single most life threatening selection for any DT coach with a heart condition.
A few more unlucky incidents down the stretch to key late season guns (Bailey's flu, Cronk and Halatau's injuries) played right into the hands of those already out of trades and eliminated any chance of winning the FJ Cruiser, but the team was reasonably consistent and out of the top 100 only once since round 3.
BILBUL BANDITS (BB)
League Position(s): 1st, 3rd (Knocked out)
Overall Position: 11
Season Summary: Karl's strategic game can best be described as a combination of 2007 Bill Belichick and Russell Hantz's Heroes vs Villains strategy. While he has been accused on many occasions of copying everyone's trades and was even quoted as saying "I only brought in Fensom because all you other pricks have him", Karl did expertly manage his trades over the bye period and, if not for Halatau's injury and Glenn Stewart's proclivity for throwing haymakers would have found himself firmly entrenched in the top 10. Time will tell if he will stumble at the final hurdle, much like the 07 Pats and Russell.
POINT OF DIFFERENCES
Thanks to the lack of talent at Parramatta, Jarryd Hayne (BB) notches up 25 kick metre points a game and is responsible for every one of their tries and line breaks. His kick metre stats are helped by the fact he has an ego bigger than Wes from The Challenge, and is intent only on showing everyone how far he can kick a Steeden.
Unfortunately for Gobias Industries, Rick Stone's persistence on playing Ryan Stig at five-eighth - despite the fact he offers nothing to the football side apart from a step which has fooled opposition defence once in 10 weeks - is murdering Kurt Gidley's stats. After posting 46, 64 and 54 in the halves from rounds 13-18, Gidley has averaged just 33 since his move back to fullback.
Edge: Bandits (unless they start docking Hayne points for no-look hospital passes which results in either a teammate getting smashed or the ball going to ground)
Gasnier (BB) against Reed (GI). This will be more of a bloodbath than the entire Gears of War franchise.
Major Edge: Bandits
Since I sold him in round 17, Daly Cherry Evans has morphed into the equivalent of a long kicking, ball playing back rower, averaging a staggering 25 tackles a game. Throw in 20 kick metre points, try assists, line breaks and the odd 90m try, and Daly has officially become the dumped ex girlfriend who rebounds by dropping 20lbs, dying her hair and getting a boob job. On the other hand, Cooper Cronk will probably get 50 ... if he plays 80 minutes ... or at all. I will now gargle drain cleaner.
Slight Edge: Bandits
For the first time in 6 weeks, there isn't any late mail suggesting Paul Gallen is in doubt with his cocktail of calf, ankle and shoulder injuries. The Beast from the South East should be up for a massive game in front of his home crowd in his 200th NRL appearance.
For the Bandits, Glenn Stewart is icing his knuckles (oh wait ... he doesn't need to) this week forcing Karl to either trade or play one of his reserves. (NB: I think its ridiculous that the match review committee charged Blair with an additional count of "striking" for actually being a competent enough fighter to land a punch. Was Stewart not trying to land any of the 25 punches/strikes he threw wildly? Would an incompetent gunman not be charged for spraying bullets at a target but ultimately missing with each shot? This saga has become the latest example of the Tony Soprano Paradox.)
Edge: Gobias Industries (although Karl Belichick will probably just trade in Gal to "cover" me).
Luke Douglas (BB) vs Sam Thaiday (GI). Douglas is a better points-per-minute scorer, but Thaiday will probably play 80 minutes in what could be a tough middle-third battle against Manly. However, Brisbane are basically assured of 3rd spot on the ladder, so Anthony Griffin may opt to rest some of his rep forwards. More concerningly, if these fiery silvertails decide to start another stink, Third Man Sam could be having an early shower. Sam, if you are reading this, the least you could do is put Daly out of the game. Thanks big fella.
Will I play JT over Mannering/Srama and hope he hits a 60? Will karma be a bitch for Karl? Will Broncos and Storm players get rested? Will Luke Douglas ever get injured? Will Daly man up and actually get involved in a brawl? Has Ryan Stig really been kidnapped for tonight's game? Can Justin Verlander cover the 1.5 run start against the White Sox? When will the NBA lockout end? Do Shane Watson and Michael Clarke know how to convert starts into centuries? Will I punch Karl when I see the shit eating grin on his face?
Head to Head
Bilbul Bandits $1.35
Gobias Industries $3.30
Bilbul Bandits (-28.5) $1.90
Gobias Industries (+28.5) $1.90
Happy cricket season!