Ladies, gents, it’s been a pleasure knowing you.
Especially you, Cronulla and Manly.
After Kim Jong Gil McLachlan declared that the AFL was bunkering down until May 31, Emperor V’landys decreed that the RUGBALEEG will go on, but now, Queensland decided to make Sir Joh’s wet dream a reality, and decided to close the borders and make things QUEENSLANDERS ONLY.
With the daring Gladstone plan scuppered, the terms of surrender have been signed, and the NRL has joined the rest of the sporting world in recess.
It’s a tough decision to do it now, but personally, I’d have given it another Round before Scotty From Marketing cracked the shits at the Sharkies losing, and pulled the plug on the comp himself.
As for the tips, this is how well I’m going – I said I thought the Bunnies would win, and then apparently I entered the Broncos (Buggered if I remember doing that).
Then I said the Knights would win, and I obviously picked Wests.
Apparently it’s evened itself out, and I’ve ended up with 6.
North Queensland 24 defeated Canterbury 12 @ ANZ Stadium
The first night of the new normal, and to be honest, it looked like your average Souths home crowd at ANZ.
After the Doggies struck for their first try of 2020, Jason Taumalolo went to town on the hosts in a brutally dominant display – 345 metres on 26 runs, 8 broken tackles, and a try, just reminding us once again that he is indeed, a physical specimen.
It took 73 minutes before the Doggies finally figured out how to stop JT – Just bloody dack him.
Aside from Jase rampaging around in attack, the Cowboys got it done on the other side of the ball – A good example was this 50m chase from Coen Hess, who hared after a pissfarting Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the corner, and thanks to a bit of help from Kyle Feldt, made sure the fullback got dragged out at the 1 instead of the in-goal for a drop out.
The Boys got a penalty in the ensuing set, and Holmes kicked the 2 to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Another Holmes kick that had me scratching my head was his opening conversion attempt, that looked like it had deceptively gone through the uprights.
After 13 takes, it appears the ball did indeed float across the left upright.
The last moment of note was Gav Cooper being interviewed by Channel 9 – His teammates strung him up and locked him out of the changerooms, a moment which was was thankfully caught on camera.
That could also be a metaphor for the Warriors trying to get back into New Zealand.
Penrith 32 defeated St George-Illawarra 28 @ Kogarah Oval
Chalk that one down as one of the most strangely entertaining games we’ll see.
The Panthers absolutely creamed the Dragons for the opening 20 minutes, then they called the mandatory drinks break due to the 35 degree heat, and all it took was one 90m intercept try from Matt Dufty to get the Red V back into it.
Fair to say it was a good move by Mary playing him at full-back over Zac Lomax.
It was absolutely wild – It went from 12-0 Panthers to 16-12 Dragons in a 15 minute explosion of momentum, then Brent Naden opening the 2nd Half scoring from a grubber after the Dragons defence impersonated the speed skaters in the Bradbury race to lead 18-16 with half an hour remaining, which the Dragons responded to 10 minutes later with 2 converted tries in 5 minutes to lead 28-18.
Not to be outdone, Viliame Kikau barged over (Cleary’s kick cut it to 28-24), and with 9 minutes to go, Stephen Crichton and Liam Martin performed a 70m relay good enough for Tokyo 2021 – Crichton ran the first 40m, then passed it off to a flying Martin in support, who reeled in 3 Dragons, then passe it over their heads to a waiting Crichton, who crossed over, and gave Cleary a simple kick to put the Panthers up 30-28.
In a funny situation at the end of the game, the Panthers tested the tactical late game captain’s challenge, which actually ended up working.
With 7 minutes remaining, the Dragons got a 7-tackle 20m restart after a last tackle Penrith kick went dead, but James Tamou called a challenge before Matt Dufty could tap and rocket upfield.
As it turned out, the ball had gone out ahead of the corner post before Brian To’o made contact.
So not only did the Panthers successful have time to reset, they actually won the challenge, but the quirk was that they didn’t get the ball – Instead, it was a Dragons scrum feed at the 10, and more importantly, it was a 6 tackle set.
Ultimately the Red V got the ball to half way, and Ben Hunt got tackled on the last for the changeover, and the Panthers would march down inside 20, and Cleary was given a penalty for being held after a last tackle kick, which turned into 2 points and a minute of time wasted, and they would see out the last desperate attack to go to 2-0.
Brisbane 22 defeated Souths 18 @ Suncorp Stadium
So after some light digging, the Broncos have only had a crowd of below 10,000 twice in 32 years (Both in 1999), the latter of which was against Penrith in Round 14, 1999 (The Broncs won 28-0), when they were still at the QSAC, and struggling after Alfie abruptly retired.
That also means the Broncos had never had a crowd below 10,000 at Lang Park – It quite literally took a pandemic to end a 32 year streak, although if you want to get technical, it’s still active.
As for what we learned from the BATTLE OF BENNETT III, well, I learned some lucky Broncos player is getting married.
Because Friday night was a STAGGS DO.
A hat-trick for Kotoni, and it was good to see Souths practiced social distancing every time he got close to the try line.
Although, in a shocking development, Graham Annesley admitted the second try should’ve been called back for a knock-on, after the slow-motion replay showed Kotoni’s left hand losing control of the ball before slamming it down – Something that was impossible to tell at full speed.
Souths did have the option of the captain’s challenge and bringing the Bunker in for some forensic analysis, however it didn’t happen, and the try was given on the spot without the need for the video replay.
So in a way, the NRL screwed Souths, and Souths also screwed Souths.
Still, despite Staggs scoring 3 of Brisbane’s 4 tries, I’d argue none of them were as good as the odd one out – Anthony Milford going 40m forward and 40m sideways to score.
The other big thing we learned is the headline of Souths so far – The Latrell at fullback experiment is failing as badly as last year’s “Kalyn Ponga in the halves” experiment at Newcastle.
When Souths fans are actually excited to see Alex Johnston come on to the ground and accomplish more in 10 minutes than Mitchell did in the previous 70, there’s a problem.
If the ‘leeg’ season ever returns, one would get 2/1 odds at the TAB on WAYNE pulling the trigger and returning him to the centres so he can get his confidence.
What on earth are they doing at Redfern – It’s like 70% of the salary cap is focused on outside centres and Damien Cook, and as a result, the forward pack routinely get treated like Coles employees in a time of panic.
No wonder WAYNE sits there every week looking like every bit of joy has been sucked out of his soul.
On another note, does that count as a random Souths guy sighting?
Canberra 20 defeated Auckland Warriors 6 @ Cbus Super Stadium
For 74 minutes, the Warriors looked set to record the first back-to-back shutouts to start a season since Annandale in 1920.
If you’d like to know what happened to The Dales after that season, well, I’ll just say they have one thing in common with the Tasmanian Tiger.
Fortunately for the team apparently once again called the Auckland Warriors (Quick tip Peter, they last were 20 years ago), George Williams obstructed Kodi Nikorima during a kick chase, leading to a penalty try to the ‘hosts’, but it still wasn’t enough to stop the Green Machine from bagging another simple 2 points on a very warm day.
So that also means the Warriors still haven’t scored an actual try in 2020… And who knows when that will change.
Still, the Raiders didn’t plan on going over the top with the celebrations, because a nice touch of respect post-game, Josh Hodgson got all the players in a circle, and thanked the Warriors for helping keep the NRL running by willingly staying in Australia.
On that note, I’d also like to say thank-you Auckland, for helping delay the inevitable long enough for us to get another round in.
Now, get the heck over the Tasman to your families.
Manly 9 defeated Easts 8 @ Leichhardt Oval
Suburban ground, single digit scores…
You’d think this was in the 1970s.
In an effort to get some form of live rugbaleeg, local resident Adam Ferguson had an ingenious idea.
He called the council, visited Kennards, and had a truck deliver scaffolding to his house, so he and his mates could watch both games over the fence.
All for the measly sum of $900.
The best part of all was that they apparently hooked up a line to a keg below to save them the effort of climbing up and down.
Full credit to the boys, they gave 110% on that idea.
As the teams fought out a really engaging defensive battle, Tommy Turbo and Daly Cherry-Evans combined for Manly for the opening try after 13 minutes, and Daniel Tupou broke his try drought just before half-time, although someone apparently psyched out Kyle Flanagan during he conversion attempt.
Luke Keary had an absolute fart of a 2nd Half – He got an absolute beauty of a pass from Brett Morris and looked certain to score….. Only to try and improve the kicking angle, pay no attention to a closing Tommy Turbo, who hit Keary’s right arm and forced a knock-on.
What a huge moment that turned out to be – The Roosters had all the momentum after tying the scores just before half-time, and grabbing the lead to begin the 2nd Half… The hypothetical scenarios are endless.
Tommy Turbo popped up for another ripping trysaver a few minutes later, when Old Man Morris broke away down the left touchline, only for New South Wales’ No.1 to meet speed with speed, and collar him like a runaway horse 5m from the tryline, forcing a desperate pass to keep the ball inbounds, and the Silvertails scooped up the leftover in another beautiful piece of defensive play.
Then, Keary’s ping at a field goal to take the lead with 6 minutes to go looked pretty good off the boot, only for it to slam into the left upright – The Chooks still haven’t hit a field goal since Latrell’s game winner on Good Friday last year.
Rubbing crap into the wound, Lachie Croker came off the bench and absolutely creamed James Tedesco with 5 minutes to go, forcing an error and getting the Silvertails a set starting at halfway, and the Chooks could only watch as DCE popped through the game-winning field goal, a situation he basically practices in his sleep.
That’s now 21 field goals for DCE – The most of any active player.
He does it so many times, you’d think he’d actually kicked more.
And thus, the Roosters’ bid for a threepeat has ground to a halt.
Of course, when I say threepeat, I’m referring to 3 consecutive defeats to start the season.
Melbourne 12 defeated Cronulla 10 @ Kogarah Oval
No wonder the Sharks played so well – They got as much support as they’d usually get at Kogarah, so they didn’t have to waste time trying to mentally adjust.
Anyway, in another hard fought battle between the recent rivals, the Storm pretty much just did exactly what they had to do, and it was find a way to win by any means necessary.
A cheap penalty to Cam Smith with 6 minutes to go was apparently the answer.
Newcastle 42 defeated Wests Tigers 24 @ Leichhardt
Pearce dominates at Leichhardt.
Nothing we haven’t seen before.
In a try-fest, Mitch Pearce scored a try and set up another 2, as Adam O’Brien’s Knights abused the Tigers like Siegfried and Roy, putting up kick after kick at the right edge of Joey Leilua and David Nofoaluma, who were better off hiding in a bomb shelter, given how many times they were targeted by Pearce.
It was probably best summed up with the opening try, in which Electric Edrick Lee simply jumped in front of Nofoaluma, batted it back to Enari Tuala, who scored an easy meat pie.
Kurt Mann later scored a try down the same edge, as did Lee Kalyn Ponga in the 2nd Half – Lee’s try involved him once again being the only guy to actually jump for the ball, leading to a clean take and waltzing straight past Nofoaluma for the try.
Meanwhile, Joey’s stinker came from him making 3 errors and missing 5 tackles, all coming after he declared himself the best centre in the league before the season began.
Based on yesterday, he isn’t even the best player in his own family, although given Luciano’s most notable contribution was whacking Kalyn Ponga in the back of the head, I may have overstepped there.
Ponga was obviously distraught about potentially being moved to Gladstone, so he tried getting himself suspended for as long as possible with a shoulder charge on Corey Thompson.
He was disappointed after finding out he’d received a week off, which is now looking more like 16 weeks + 1 off.
The Prince of Port Headland also had an ugly moment, when he threw a wounded duck of a pass to Nofoaluma, who buttered up for some of earlier mistakes with a 90m intercept try – It wasn’t even the first this weekend.
So the Knights get a good win and still drop to 2nd, and of course, the suspension of the season only happens after fate returns Wests to their familiar home.
What he lacks in hair, Todd Greenberg makes up for in well-timed humour.
Parramatta 46 defeated Gold Coast 6 @ Cbus Super Stadium
Being the last game before the collapse of human civilisation, Titans decided to create a better atmosphere than they’d get during a normal home game.
By using a couple of mannequins.
Looking at the final result, this comment from /r/nrl held up pretty well.
The Titans defence could’ve used the help of a little fella named Wilson, who smuggled himself into Robina to wish his friend Tom was around, after Wilson abandoned him 20 years ago off the coast of some Pacific island.
HE WAS SORRY WILSON, DIDN’T YOU HEAR HIM.
Thanks to the Eels absolutely battering the Titans goalline in what appeared the NRL’s answer to the Siege of Leningrad, the final 25 minutes of the game turned into the visual depiction of a dam wall bursting.
Before Dylan Brown finally crashed over, Eels had something like 35 tackles to 5 inside the Titans 10m for the match, but a combination of errors and the Titans digging in their heels kept the score at 14-6.
Here’s what happened after that try.
60th Minute – Kane Evans scores, Mitchell Moses converts (26-6)
65th Minute – Maika Sivo barges over, Mitchell Moses converts (32-6)
70th Minute – Peni Terepo scores, Mitchell Moses converts (38-6)
75th Minute – Dylan Brown scores again, Mitchell Moses converts (44-6)
80th Minute – Mitchell Moses scores one last penalty goal for the road, akin to getting a doggy bag at a restaurant (46-6).
In all, the Prophet kicked 9/9 in front of goal, and throw in that blinder of a 70m solo try to start the scoring.
It does sound crazy, but 46-6 was definitely a fair reflection on the Eels’ sheer dominance on the game.
Case in point, they completed 15 more sets (40) than the Titans had sets altogether (25).
It wasn’t a fair fight.
So the Eels rocket to the top of the ladder as the season gets parked, and perhaps the only other downside is that Nathan Brown picked up a 2 week ban (Closer to an 18 week ban) for ploughing his knees into Dale Copley’s back during the Titans’ only try.
I imagine Nathan’s nonna will be giving her grandson the biggest verbal dressing down since his suspension last year.