NRL

Meaningless NRL Review: Round 5, 2020

A tough couple of months for Western Suburbs legends.

Arthur Summons departed us in May, now NSWRL Team of the Century member Noel ‘Ned’ Kelly has bitten the dust at the age of 84.

The other sad facet to Kelly’s passing is that all of the original members of Controversy Corner have now left us.

Host Rex Mossop died in 2011, Easts hardman Ferris Ashton in 2013, referee Col Pearce in 2004, and former SMH journo Alan Clarkson died in 2015.

But, the biggest story of the Round….

What is it with school children causing chaos for the Bulldogs?

Thanks to a positive test to the teacher at Laguna Street, the school attended by Aiden Tolman’s child, the Dogs-Roosters game became the first game in the NRL era to be postponed, and the first since a Knights-Rabbitohs match in the 1997 ARL season was delayed 6 weeks due to rain.


Manly 20 defeated Brisbane 18 at Central Coast Stadium

Turns out the Broncos didn’t need C.Oates in the backline….

THEY NEEDED COATES!

Repeatedly kicking for the right corner never looked so good.

He had poor young Tevita Funa on debut locking himself in a bomb shelter – It was like Greg Inglis had mated with Steve Renouf.

Coming off a 93-6 carpet combing over the past fortnight, the Broncos looked like a functional footy team, thanks to a grand reshuffling of the backline and sending Corey Oates into the second row, but perhaps more importantly, they did something they didn’t do in either of those shellackings.

They scored first.

The massive psychological difference when you’re not playing from behind after 5 minutes.

In kicking repeatedly for Coates down the right edge, he set up Kotoni Staggs’ opening try, then he scored the previously seen try from a Milford kick that was just sitting there ready to be taken, and it eventually evolved into just letting Coates mark the ball and taking him down immediately, which seemed to work.

After soaking up repeat sets on their own line, the Broncos went down the left and made it 18-0 via Darius Boyd, but the pivotal moment that helped turn the game came as Boyd was about to complete a double and make the score 22-0 in the 35th minute, which would’ve buried the Silvertails there and then.

It was called a try, only for Oates, acting as the decoy runner, to be cited for obstructing Daly Cherry-Evans, and to be honest, Corey probably didn’t do enough to disguise it, especially with DCE making a milkman’s tackle on Oates to make it obvious for the video ref.

That call did seem in line with a call that went against the Storm last week, which had Gus repeating the word “No” 400 times.

Making the most of that lucky break, Funa managed to end a rocky 1st Half by scoring his maiden try in the corner, and going in 18-4 down turned out to be a massive boost to morale for the Silvertails.

As DCE and Tommy Trbjoevic went into overdrive, Manly’s comeback also coincided with the Broncos getting nervous and losing their dare, effectively abandoning what had got them into a double digit lead, combined with Seibold’s not so great interchanges, and Ash Klein nailing them to a wooden cross and laughing at their suffering.

A 12-0 in the penalty count in the 2nd Half, two useless set restarts (Back to back), a missed 40-20 that clearly hit the sideline, allowing a Sea Eagles try (To DCE) that was as line ball obstruction as the Oates call, although Croft probably did jump out of the line.

The additional problem was that Pat Carrigan had a ‘mare – He got a touch on DCE’s field goal to give Manly a repeat set in the final minutes at 18 apiece, then midway through the subsequent set, he was penalised for a supposed strip on Jake Trbjoevic right as the held call came, giving Ruben Garrick the easy 2 points, which decided the game.

Of course, the Broncos couldn’t challenge the play (Which they had a puncher’s chance of winning) because they’d wasted it challenging Coates taking out a kick-chaser just before that play, which led to Garrick tying the scores in the first place.

As the Broncos got one last attack in the final 90 seconds, Coates saw a gap and went for glory on the 3rd tackle, only for Tommy Turbo to come from the clouds, and force him over the sidelines with an apparent old-fashioned Billy Slater shoulder charge to preserve the win.

Apparently there was some use of the left arm.

So, despite losing Marty Taupau after 8 minutes, and Moses Soli with a compound fracture of his finger, the Silvertails were good enough to pull themselves up from their bootstraps after copping an absolute barrage, and this time around, they got the 2 points for their display of character.

Ironically, with a bit of help from the ref.


Once Were Warriors 37 defeated North Queensland 26 at Central Coast Stadium

The Warriors outscored Richmond and Collingwood.

Another milestone for the year 2020.

What a wildly entertaining game, and one that summed up the Warriors under Steve Kearney.

After last week’s shut out, they ran in 7 tries on the Cowboys, continuing this never ending roller coaster that, if it were an actual roller coaster, would’ve been shut down years ago by the authorities for it’s danger to patrons.

After Valentine Holmes rolled his ankle on a big run in the 1st Half, holy moly, did the arse fall out of the Cows backline or what.

It was like any idea of covering defence vanished and they just waved the white flag.

Peta Hiku subjected them to repeated devastation on his way to a hat-trick, and if things weren’t bad enough, Holmes had his 2 metre safe space illegally invaded by Hannah Hollis trying to get an interview, an apparent breach of the league’s bio security measures.

The worst thing that a News Ltd journo has done since the Phone Hacking.

A fantastic win by the Warriors, and one could only feel this game will serve as more ammunition for frustrated Cowboys fans to fire at Paul Green’s extremely average coaching since the end of the Thurston era.


Parramatta 16 defeated Penrith 10 at Bankwest Stadium

In a ripping Western Derby, the Eels proved how good they are right now.

Only on top in general play for all of 6 minutes, down 10-0 deep into the final quarter of the game, and yet, the moment they finally poked a hole in Penrith’s resolute defence, they promptly put on such a devastating burst that it was enough to make the Panthers’ 74 minutes of hard work practically worthless.

Their sledging game was on point as well.

Now THAT is a power move.

This game was an example of the age-old adage that good teams find a way to win when they don’t play at their best.

In addition, good players find a way to treat their opponents like a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tubeman.

Like former Panther Waqa Blake on poor young Steve Crichton.

GOOD GOD, GOOD GOD.

Ivan Cleary’s halves selection was bound to have questions asked regardless of what happened, but it was the decision to bring Matt Burton on for Jarome Luai in the final 15 minutes that seemed boggling, especially as Luai and Cleary were settled, and the Eels were getting a massive run on.

I did have a laugh at this exchange on /r/nrl:

/u/ThePokemonMan: “Regardless of how you feel about Luai/Burton, subbing Luai off with 15 minutes to go for Burton when you are under pressure to score points is absolutely braindead. Halves don’t just jump in and “work”, they can’t set the pace 65 minutes in. They can’t gel immediately. That was bonkers.…. One of them needs to play 80 at half, whether you believe it to be Luai or Burton. Both were extremely hard done by with that call from Ivan.”

/u/truflebuta: “You don’t understand, Burton was brought on when score was 10-10 to kick field goals”

/u/lachjeff: “The Panthers sacked their coach a month before the finals when they were in the Top 4 two years ago – This is par for the course.”

The other facet was Nathan’s game plan of ‘Always look for Viliame Kikau’ didn’t have a Plan B, because Plan A failed when Kikau was pretty much marked out of the game by Mitch Moses.

On another note, I’d just like to say Moses’ halves partner Dylan Brown is a damn genius.

The Panthers had one last crack at tying the scores with 16 seconds left, and Brown, aware of the situation, gave away a cynical penalty by lying on top of Liam Martin for long enough that time ran out, and the Panthers only got one more unsuccessful play, which went from one wing to the other, but ended in futility.

All for the price of a 10 second sin binning.

Well done to the Eels, 5-0, and the greatest test of all awaits in a firecracker on Saturday evening.

The Red White & Bluesters.


Souths 32 defeated Gold Coast 12 at Bankwest Stadium

Really nice stuff from Souths against an in-form lightweight, as Latrell Mitchell one-upped last week’s performance with a try and 3 assists in a promising show of natural improvement in the No.1, and it was pretty clear that Cody Walker’s return and Cam Murray’s return to the middle served as the tonic that the Bunnies probably needed.

Still, I have to ask the question.

What the hell was Cody Walker up to during the lockdown that resulted in this?

Didn’t realise they were literally trying to breed like rabbits at Redfern.


Melbourne 26 defeated Newcastle 12 at Central Coast Stadium

Picking up from a failed joke I put out last week:

I regret nothing.

So, the Storm go to 4-1, with next to no fanfare from their beloved fans in the Sydney media.

Yep, it’s definitely another Storm season.


Canberra 14 defeated Wests Tigers 6 at Campbelltown

In Ricky Stuart’s 400th game as an NRL coach, the bigger story was that the game turned into another day in the life of Russell Packer.

He played his first game since Easter Monday of last year, after 14 months of nerve issues in his toe almost saw him medically retired, so in that sense, just getting to Campbelltown was an achievement.

Within 6 minutes of coming off the bench in the 2nd Half, the dogged Tigers were finally breached after Jack Wighton carved through Packer and 3 other Tigers, putting the Raiders up 6-4 with the extras, and shortly after that, Packer committed a professional foul on Jordan Rapana as he went the quick tap from a penalty, earning him an easy 10 in the bin.

With the Tigers down to 12, George Williams put in an early kick through a gaping maw in the right edge, and Nick Cotric scored unmarked in the corner, and Jarrod Croker made it a daunting 12-4 Raiders lead, as tries were like liquid gold.

Packer came back on, as the Tigers cut the lead back to a converted try through an Mbye penalty with 20 minutes to go, and keeping his typically rotten run going, he was put on report for a high shot on Joey Tapine with 12 minutes go.

With a list of priors longer than Santa’s naughty list, Packer was handed a minimum 2 game ban.

With the rate that Michael Maguire is making changes, he’ll either be back in 2 weeks, or be left waiting another 14 months to play with no NSW Cup.

Croker sealed the win with the shot from in front to make it 14-6, the Green Machine is back and functioning, and the end result of a tough win was that we got to see Jack Wighton look like he’d taken on 5 men in the Canberra CBD:

And Sticky saw it off by cracking a cold one in honour of bringing up his quadruple hundred.

The scenes if Sticky had ripped out a Stone Cold Steve Austin beer chug.

The Tigers fall to 2-3, the dropping of Benji Marshall worked for 40 minutes instead of 80, and now Corey Thompson managed to escape the wrath of Mad Madge.

By getting a release to the Gold Coast.


St George-Illawarra 30 defeated Cronulla 16 at Campbelltown Stadium

Isaac Luke walked out on the Dragons, and they won.

He’ll probably end up at the Broncos, who now have the key to success – Sign him, then release him 2 days before the game.

In a game that was going to be confined to the darkness of 6:30 on a Sunday evening, before the sudden news broke of the Bulldogs-Roosters being hastily delayed by the NRL, promoting the Dragons into the sunshine of free-to-air.

With Australia suddenly watching intently, and having scored fewer tries than a struggling Darius Boyd since the restart, Sunday was the day that the Red V played like a team who were desperate to correct their collision course with a black hole.

Ben Hunt was taken out of the halves and played at dummy-half, putting Cam McInnes at lock, Corey Norman went into the halves to join Adam Clune, James Graham went o the bench, and Matt Dufty was given a sudden promotion from ball boy to full back.

Dufty scored a try, had two try assists, 197 running metres and 10 tackle breaks.

The other possible reason the Dragons played so well is that the club turned the selection table into something slightly more useful than the United Nations.

The new selection method has Mary joined in a voting process by assistant coaches Shane Flanagan and Dean Young, plus executive manager of football Ben Haran.

Those additional voices probably explain how Dufty was given a more meaningful role than sanitising balls.

With the Sharks doing nothing in a game they would have fancied themselves in, John Morris is now apparently in the gun, as the Shire residents find themselves at 1-4 alongside their hated rivals, and already among the mooted replacements for Morris is England rugby coach (And former Wallabies coach) Eddie Jones, who has an apparent desire to coach in the NRL, despite having no experience in the 13-player game of rugba leeg.

Still, you have to remember that Eddie has dealt with vicious English rugby fans and the British media for the last 4 years.

By comparison, dealing with Buzz Rothfield will be like dealing with a chihuahua trying to hump your leg.

On another note, I think Cameron McInnes might be talking with a bit of a whistle for the near future.

If they ever let kids play sport again, wear your mouth guard kids

There’s something about Dragons players and teeth.

Of course, the Australian rhyming slang for teeth is ‘Barry Beath’, who was a Dragons great.


COVID 19 vs Sydney 42 defeated Canterbury 6 at Bankwest Stadium

Who’d have thought after Monday Night Footy was killed by a new TV contract in 2016, that we’d get another Monday night game not on ANZAC Day.

And at the site of the old Parramatta Stadium where it came to an end, nonetheless.

2020 dishes up another surprise.

With Aiden Tolman locked in a bubble for 14 days in a convenient way to avoid going to training, the Bulldogs, who all tested very positively in another sense, were already over-matched before the positive test at Laguna Street, were no match for Easts, even with Jared Warea-Hargeaves on ice.

This Dogs team is always capable of dragging teams down to their own level, but the Chooks came straight out of the sheds, and with the Dogs not even getting a sniff of the ball, scored the opening try through Angus Crichton after taking advantage of Lachie Lewis rushing out to make a tackle, before turning a potential intercept pass into the play that summed up the night.

Kyle Flanagan was alert enough to regather the ball to Joey Manu, who waited to reel in Lewis, then threw a perfect flick pass for Brett Morris to charge for the line, and after losing his footing, he hit Flanagan in stride for a beautiful meat pie.

Making a try assist wearing Brett’s jumper.

Classic Josh Morris.

On their merry way to another 2 points, the Roosters went 30-0 ahead, reaching an amazing 95 unanswered points over a 3 game span, (Jake Friend’s converted try against Souths + the 59 against Brisbane were the other 65 points.)

It appeared Christian Crichton had ended the run with a try just before half-time, but it was revealed by the Bunker that his right foot had brushed the sideline, the effect of Dan Tupou’s desperate defending.

After missing that chance to cut it to 24-4, the Dogs finally breached the wall with 14 minutes remaining with some smart off-loads, and just like Michael Slater, the Chooks fell just short of a spectacular century.

Clearly dejected, they ran in 2 more tries, one of which was a methodical 30m build-up in which half the team touched the ball, before Flanagan caught the Dogs napping with a grubber for Brett Morris, who scored untouched.

The other was James Tedesco’s hat-trick try, and I didn’t fully comprehend just how thoroughly Teddy put the Dogs on a leash.

A conservative night by the standards of a Golden Boot winner.

If there is a downside for the Rampaging Roosters, it was that the NRL won’t push the upcoming Eels game back a day to accommodate the sudden change of date for tonight’s game.

So in a somewhat unbalanced situation, The Roosters effectively have a 4 day preparation, versus an unbeaten Eels team with 7 days preparation.

Damn, now how am I going to make a National Roosters League joke?


Tipping Performance

5/8… could’ve had 6/8 if I hadn’t bitten the bullet on the Knights.

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