Meaningless NRL Review: Round 1, 2020

Always wash your hands after cleaning up your arch rivals

You know, I looked at how my fabled tips were going just after the Sunday evening game started – Turns out I entered the Dragons instead of the Tigers, despite indicating I thought Wests would win.

So on that note, I got 5/8.

After witnessing the opening round, I’m thinking that certain fanbases will be glad they can’t witness the disappointment of their teams in person for Round 2.

I think this also the paragraph where I make a regurgitated joke about the Roosters having an advantage of playing in empty stadiums, because they have no real fans.

Parramatta 8 defeated Canterbury 2 @ Bankwest Stadium

And to think, my tips were going so well up until Friday evening.

A big effort by the Dogs to begin 2020 – They scored 2 points, looked absolutely inept in attack, and it wasn’t even the worst attacking performance by a team this weekend.

Big thumbs up for Dean Pay and his pups, despite them having a more disturbing fascination for schoolgirls than Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused.

Donning my Captain Obvious cape, having a good defence is all well and good (It has won the Chooks the last 2 premierships), but it’s completely useless if you can’t attack.

We got our first taste of the Captain’s Challenge 20 minutes into the season, and I thought it was brilliant to see Clint Gutherson impersonate Tim Paine, and waste his challenge on a blatantly obvious decision (Regan Campbell-Gillard knocked on).

It was only 20 minutes in, what could possibly go wrong.

Then the Doggies decided to challenge a knock-on barely 3 minutes in to the 2nd Half, and it was that obvious of a knock on by Will Hopoate, that it had a fake moustache and glasses on it.

It’s always good to see players reinforce our biased and preconceived notion of them not being that clever.

Anyway, the Eels won ugly in an absolute dogfight, thanks to Blake Ferguson’s instinctive snap kick that Reed Mahoney latched on to with 15 minutes to go.

The great irony being that Reed played Under 20s for the Dogs a few seasons ago, before he got cut, and signed with Parra for $6000 in 2017.

That might end up being his salary for 2021 if COVID-19 wipes out the NRL’s cash reserves.

Canberra 24 defeated Gold Coast 6 @ GIO Stadium

As I previously mentioned, they could played this game on the moon, and the Raiders would still have moonwalked it in.

Clive Churchill Medalist Jack Wighton scored a double inside 15 minutes, and Jarrod Croker popped over both conversions, which was all he needed to become the newest member of the 2,000 point club – And he’s still 6 months away from turning 30.

I wonder how the Raiders will pull off the Viking Clap for the next couple of months.

Other than that, the Titans go home to the holiday strip, safe in the knowledge that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson posting photos of Vegemite and koalas in quarantine have taken them out of the local news.

Brisbane 28 defeated North Queensland 21 @ North Queensland Stadium

22,459 fans rocked up for the first game at North Queensland Stadium, and do you want to know the moment the Cowboys were rooted?

When Kyle Feldt put the opening kickoff into Ross Creek.

The Cowboys probably wanted to make the debut at the new stadium a sort of baptism not seen since The Godfather….

If you ask me, it did resemble that famous scene… if it were the Corleones getting pasted by the other families.

The Broncos forward pack deadset ate Jason Taumalolo and their Cowboy counterparts like a 10 piece bucket of KFC, busting out of some 45 tackles, rendering Valentine Holmes’ Cowboys debut moot.

After Jake Turpin scored the first-ever try at the new stadium, Kotoni Staggs scored a pretty solid try 20 minutes in after breaking tackles, and then managed to top it with the seldom seen hand sanitising celebration.

That’s a good reminder as anything to keep washing your bloody hands.

And that wasn’t even the best Broncos moment of the night – That went to David Fifita disposing of about 8 Cowboys like 2 ply toilet paper, with a 69m (Giggity) solo try, finishing off the hosts with 20 minutes to go.

The big downside was Tevita Pangai Jnr wasting no time in booking another holiday from the judiciary, with his notorious record earning him a 4 game ban for a late dangerous hit on Justin O’Neill, not even 2 minutes into the night.

At the rate the Coronavirus is expanding and destroying every sporting league, that suspension is probably going to be a tad longer than a month.

Capping off this latest genius act from TPJ was the fact that it was his first game back from the 5 game ban that finished off his 2019 season.

If you do the math, that will mean he’s played 1 of the Broncs last 10 games, and they need him pretty badly given Matt Lodge and Joe Ofahengaue aren’t there.

Still, the Broncos are unbeaten to start 2020, but right now, they probably aren’t focused on that.

Newcastle 20 defeated New Zealand 0 @ McDonald Jones Stadium

I believe Kevin Bloody Wilson had a song to describe the Warriors… Something about An Absolute something of A Day.

First, it was windy and wet in Newcastle.

Then, Jacinda Ardern announced the 14-day self isolation period on people travelling from Australia to New Zealand, effectively forcing the team to stay in Australia, and robbing them of next week’s home game against the Raiders (And beyond).

Then, Blake Green got Roger Tuivasa-Sheck killed with an absolute arse of a hospital pass.

It’s not like Roger wasn’t struggling with an injury before Saturday.

And the cherry on top of the crap cake was that the Knights shut them out in an ugly afternoon (But a very good way to start life under Adam O’Brien for the Knights), which absolutely nobody ‘over here’ will care about, because all the focus is on the NRL’s decision to set the team up in an internment camp at that resort in Kingscliff for at least the next week, minus Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert, who managed to get home for family reasons before the restrictions kicked in today.

Personally, I’m surprised the Warriors playing group are so keen to head back to New Zealand after Round 2, given they’ll end up in isolation for a fortnight and cause a butterfly effect felt around the league for years to come.

Then again, I can sympathise with them – I can’t spend more than a week in New South Wales before I get sick of the joint.

Souths 22 defeated Cronulla 18 @ ANZ Stadium

For 50 minutes, the Sharks played like a team who knew they were next to no hope of beating Souths with all the players they had out – Bronson Xerri joining that list thanks to a coronavirus test that came back negative.

Then in the final 30 minutes, they played like a team who had found out the incredible news that their No.1 fan had possibly been exposed to the Coronavirus by his Home Affairs Minister.

22-8 down with 18 minutes left, then Solomone Kata finished off 2 Shaun Johnson build-up plays in the space of 2 minutes, and the second try was downright nasty.

But, just when the Sharks had the overlap for Josh Morris to tie the scores in the corner with 90 seconds to go (And have a kick to win it), the final pass from Connor Tracey (Former pilot of Thunderbird 1) went forward, and the Bunnies saw out time.

Wade Graham still had his Captain’s Challenge in ahnd, but referee Ben Cummins told him you can’t challenge a forward pass, which wouldn’t have worked out anyway.

Anyway, Souths survived, and after the game, WAYNE was asked why he pulled Latrell Mitchell from Fullback for Alex Johnson after 55 minutes, to which he replied that it was always the plan, and he also detailed his radical plan to keep the NRL season going (Before he found out about the Warriors situation), instead of the possible economic disaster if the season was stopped.

Fly all 16 teams out to a warm climate, and play all the games there – Suggestions being Perth, Darwin, or Townsville.

Ya know, somehow, I don’t think Townsville will be happening anytime soon.

Penrith 20 defeated Easts 14 @ Panthers Stadium

After trailing 14-8 in the 63rd minute, with Viliame Kikau apparently injured, Jack Hetherington on report (And now suspended) for decapitating James Tedesco, and play pretty much proceeding as expected, the Pink Panthers turned things around with a deadset brilliant piece of team play.

Starting out at midfield on the 3rd tackle, three passes freed up Josh Mansour down the left, who managed to draw in Tedesco (With his head glued back on), and then just before the tackle, Mansour nailed the old-fashioned checkside kick (As the South Australians call it), and 5th gamer Stephen Crichton came from the clouds, picked it up off one bounce, and scored.

Turns out a Crichton did have a big say in this game, but it wasn’t Angus, who was ruled out with pneumonia on Saturday morning, although a coronavirus test came back a welcome negative.

They eventually took the lead when Kikau returned to the field, and barged over to score what was the winning try with 10 minutes left.

After witnessing that 2nd Half fadeout, Chooks fans have declared they won’t even bother showing up next week.

Or the week after.

Or the week after that.

In fact, they might not turn up for the rest of the season.

Melbourne 18 defeated Manly 4 @ Brookvale

Death, Taxes and the Storm winning in Round 1.

19 years (18 games in all) without an opening round defeat for the Mexicans, a streak that manages to pre-date Craig Bellamy’s coaching career.

It was the classic Des vs Bellyache defensive slugfest for an hour, full of moments like Tommy Turbo landing try-saving tackles, the ballkids (wearing gloves) using bleach to disinfect balls that went into the crowd to combat potential virus spreading,…

Still tastes better than West End

And in the 52nd minute, the fans got the moment they won’t be able to see in person for some time.

Jorge ‘The Grim Reaper’ Taufua sending some poor bastard into the afterlife.

The Storm had the last laugh against Jorge – Jahrome Hughes put up a perfect kick in behind the winger, which Suliasi Vunivalu ran down to score the opening try in the 61st minute.

Suli scored again 2 minutes later after a double kick build-up on the last tackle from Hughes, which was apparently the straw that broke the bird’s back, because the Sea Eagles simply couldn’t crack the Storm defence.

As well as the damage he inflicted on the scoreboard, Suli also tried inflicting a fair bit of damage on Dylan Walker, by flying into a tackle with a raised knee, in an apparent hurdling attempt.

The Storm then finished off the game with Old Man Cam putting in a grubber for Tom ‘Ike’ Eisenhuth to reach out and score from with 6 minutes to go, giving them a 18-4 win, but it was definitely closer than the scoreboard suggests.

Wests Tigers 24 defeated St George-Illawarra 14 @ WIN Stadium

I counted at least 6 Saints players who couldn’t catch a deadly virus if they willingly flew to Italy.

That’s the only positive thing you can say about Saints right now.

The evening exploded barely 60 seconds in, as the rain started randomly teeming, then Dragon Mikaele Ravalawa fielded a kick, rocketed 50m downfield, put in another 30m kick and chase, and a freak bounce forced Corey Thompson to interfere before the Dragons could score, resulting in one of the best penalty tries ever seen.

It was noted on Fox that in a situation like that, it’s almost better to let the Dragons score and have them attempt the conversion in the corner.

Nevertheless, the he Tigers got back in it, then made another error when Corey Thompson couldn’t deal with a high ball, and Zac Lomax scored from the spillage.

With Luke Brooks a late out with a calf injury on Saturday afternoon, Benji stepped in, whipped out his wand and began dominating with some vintage Marshall Magic, for a good 15 minutes, it looked like the Tigers were the only team in it.

Especially after Lomax didn’t bother committing to dealing with a grubber until it was too late, allowing Luciano Leilua to get a hand on the ball, seconds before brother Joey could score what would’ve been a no-try with his foot on the line.

I have to say, that’s fantastic refereeing to call that a try onfield at the speed the play was going at.

A try + 2 assists for Benji, and he also took over the goal kicking for the first time since the end of 2013 – He went 4/5.

While Wests made a few mistakes and eventually fixed things up, the Dragons buggered up an amazing number of scoring chances.

In the 6th minute, Tariq Sims lost the ball seconds before he a potential try, then Baryden Williame knocked on chasing down a grubber a few minutes later, and eventually David Nofoaluma tied the scores thanks to Marshall’s grubber.

In the 49th minute, Sims couldn’t hold on to an offload from Tyrell Fuimaono on the Tigers goalline – The score would’ve been 18-8 with a kick to come, but Marshall scored 2 minutes later to tie the scores.

Then with 7 minutes to go, The Dragons moved the ball superbly, and Ben Hunt had Paul Vaughan open to his left to streak in the last 8m and tie the scores, but his pass was too low, and Vaughan spilled it.

That was probably the worst of the lot.

With 5 minutes to go, Tyson Frizell made a brilliant run down the left, and then completely pissed up the pass under pressure, with 2 support players unmarked to his right.

And then Tariq Sims destroyed the Red V’s momentum by attempting to kill Josh Reynolds (For the 3rd time) with 4 minutes to go, landing himself on report, and handing the Tigers a penalty.

A few sets later, Nofoaluma capped off a well-earned win by driving straight through the Dragons’ defence to score, and as the Tiges celebrated, the Dragons tried starting a frustrated punch-up.

After today’s nightmare, I’m thinking Dragons fans are viewing not having to go to Kogarah or Woolongong as a reward.

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