Meaningless NRL Review: Round 15, 2020


Parramatta 14 defeated Melbourne 0 at Bankwest Stadium

On debut, Cooper Johns saw his team get shut out, he gave away a penalty that led to a try, and he got put on report.

Yep, he definitely got Matthew’s genes.

It was apparent that the horde of injuries have finally caught up to the Storm, and after a half-decent start with several chances on the Eels line, the Top 2 defence of the Blue and Golds ground them to nothingness, and kept the Storm scoreless for the first time since Round 12 of 2014.

162 games – It was the Storm’s longest streak scoring points in their history, although it was well short of the North Sydney Bears’ all-time record of 488, which ran from 1943 through to 1970.

Injuries or not, Eels fans would be at half mast at the thought of pitching a shutout on the Storm, given the history they’ve got against each other, although despite the glory of keeping them to a big fat doughnut, the Eels didn’t exactly play like a team who could send shivers down your spine, and it’s all thanks to their pissy attack, which once again failed to crack 20 points.

I suppose they can partially thank Brandon Smith for that, given The Cheese pulled off an awesome try saver on Michael Jennings by sliding across and getting his hand under the ball to force a knock-on.

If the rumour mongers are true, then Brad Arthur has been focusing his players on defence during the week, which might explain the drop-off in attack.

Clearly they’re learning the lessons of the 2001 Eels – If the attack shits the bed in the crunch and the defence can’t cover, then you’re toast.

So after going on such a tear for the last 2 months, the Storm’s injury scenario, which last week resembled M*A*S*H, now more closely resembles one of those early episodes of E.R.

Stand-in captain Kenny Bromwich suffered a calf injury, and another key casualty was The Cheese, who unfortunately had a few holes poked in his jaw by a high tackle from Marate Niukore.

That incident was one of the many moments from the game that Craig Bellamy was unhappy with during his amazing 2 minute press conference, that saw him eager to punch on with Brad Arthur.

Another was that Nelson Asofa-Solomona was binned for a similar shoulder to the head, which he somehow avoided suspension for, whereas Niukore stayed on the field, and there was also the apparent issue of Parramatta players apparently milking the crap out of crusher tackles, trying to take advantage of the recent Commission crackdown on the issue this past week.

Albert Vete and Johns were both charged but cleared of supposed crushers, Niukore got a week, and I can’t help but feel the issue of milking crushers is about to turn into the world’s biggest rabbit hole, as we have to work out which crushers are actually serious enough to be considered crushers.

In the meantime Craig, try and get your players to score a point next week.

Penrith 38 defeated Cronulla 12 at Panthers Stadium

That was a 1000 IQ move from Shaun Johnson to withdraw with ‘groin soreness’ barely an hour before the game.

More likely he saw the writing on the wall for the Sharks defence against the Panthers attack, and decided it was the perfect time to give his body a rest for the run home.

It meant Johnson didn’t have to try and tackle a rampant Viliame Kikau when he was left one-on-one, a task that was left to his halves replacement Braydon Trindall.

With a weight differential of some 29 kilos, poor Braydon was probably firing up a prayer to St Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, when Big Billy steamed his way only 4 minutes in.

Obviously that prayer went straight to the answering machine.

From the Fox League Twitter

If that wasn’t tough enough for Braydon, he had another encounter with Big Billy just before full time, and this time the Panthers forward got the Shark with a late hit that almost sent Braydon’s guts flying out through his mouth.

From Fox League

John Morris described Braydon as “A bit crook” after the hit, which could just be code for ‘His balls were wedged in his stomach.’

On a serious note, good to see he’s fine, and in a bit of fortunate news for the Tigers’ defensive line, Kikau will be missing for Saturday’s game because of the hit, as he’s earned a 1-game suspension.

Anyway, it was another thumping win by the Panthers over the Sharks in 2020, and The Riffs join the elite group of teams to win 10 games in a row in the NRL era, and in this shortened season, they now have a crucial 3 point gap between themselves and the Storm with 5 games remaining.

I think the Sharks can take plenty of positives away from their last meeting against the Panthers.

This time they only gave up 38 points instead of 56, and they only lost by 26 instead of 32.

St George-Illawarra 28 defeated Brisbane 24 at Suncorp Stadium

After everything the Broncos have gone through, and after the Dragons flicked Mary, I thought this was a very enjoyable Friday evening between two teams who weren’t afraid to throw caution to the wind.

The Dragons scored 2 tries in the opening 5 minutes, and you’d have felt oblidged to say this was going to be a classic case of a cakewalk over a beleaguered team, but the Peter Gentle Broncos actually showed some grit and evened the game 20 minutes later, before the Dragons got back in front.

In a move from left field, the Broncos weren’t given a chance to relax in the sheds, because they were immediately running through ball drills, which Fatty Vautin claimed he’d never seen in 50 years of involvement in the game.

From NRL on Nine

I assume the Broncos did it due to their ugly recent history of fading out in games, and you know what, it bloody well worked, because Kotoni Staggs absolutely ruined the Dragons left edge straight out of the break.

From the Wide World of Sports Twitter (@wwos)

How about that fend on Euan Aitken.

Some say he still hasn’t returned from the shadow realm.

Aside from Staggs, another player who actually gave the Broncos a breath of fresh air was Tommy Dearden, who was throw into the halves and told to the run offence, and in very much a sink or swim situation, the young fella was fantastic.

From Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports

Last year, Corey Norman finished off the Broncos at Suncorp with a late kick, which in that instance was a drop goal.

This year, he finished them off again with a late kick, this time launching a 4th tackle kick on his own 30m, which went 50m in the air, and bounced so perfectly that Darius Boyd got trapped deep in his own in-goal, and the Dragons kick chasers finished him and the Broncos hopes off right there and then.

You can easily accuse dear old Darius of ball watching, but that kick and chase was the effort of the night, and the Red V got the reward for it.

Of course, it caused a butterfly effect that led to Korbin Sims suffering what looked to be a serious lower leg injury when he got the penalty on the siren, so, swings and roundabouts.

Canberra 36 defeated Gold Coast 16 at Cbus Super Stadium

What summed this game up?

Josh Papalii bringing down stand-in Titans skipper Jamal Fogarty when he was a near certainty to score under the posts.

From the Fox League Twitter

And he got the error to boot.

Absolutely no contest – The Raiders too good.

Sydney Roosters 38 defeated Wests Tigers 16 at Leichhardt Oval

Well, Robbo’s 200th game as coach went as well as most of the previous 199.

Reasonably successfully.

Despite Matt Ikuvalu joining the rather long Easts casualty ward, the Tricolours were playing another game to the Tigers, who were always playing catch-up after going 20-0 down inside 25 minutes, all thanks to the Morris boys, who both scored doubles in the same game for the first time, with Brett going into 5th on the all-time tryscorers list with 163, and Josh passed Steve Renouf on 143 tries into 18th.

Fittingly, this happened on the same weekend that they turned 34.

Just as Robbo said, if only they were 10 years younger.

Another highlight of the night was James Tedesco finally returning to Leichhardt, this time to actually face his former team, and it was a funny old night for Teddy, who didn’t score a try once again, but was still able to show as much class as he did arse on a 30m linebreak that led to a try.

What is that, a full moon, a crescent moon, or a waxing moon?

2 plays after that, Brett Morris was over in the right corner.

Then about an hour later, when Wests had apparently recovered to within 20-12, Siosuia Taukeaiho found Drew Hutchison with that flick pass under the posts, and it was like popping a balloon with a sledgehammer.

This will also pop their balloon a little bit more:

Wests are 9th.

They have lost 9 games.

Their for/against is -9.

There are 9 weeks remaining until the Grand Final, and it will be broadcast on Channel 9.

At this rate, they’ll be missing the finals for the 9th consecutive season.

South Sydney 56 defeated Manly 16 at ANZ Stadium

I could watch Adam Reynolds kick at goal on a loop for 8 hours when I’m bored, and I’m usually bored all the time.

Reynolds had 5 sideline kicks for the night, and 9 in all.


On another note, Manly’s night was an Australian Horror Story if there ever was one.

Souths hare out of the blocks and go 12-0 up at a point per minute, then as they shell the Manly right edge again, Tevita Funa hits Alex Johnston in the face during the act of scoring, giving away an 8-point try, concussing Johnston, and sending Funa to the sin bin.

From the NRL on Nine Twitter

With the way Reynolds was kicking, the scorekeepers had already pencilled in 20-0 before Sutton had even marched Funa.

During the time Funa was off, Souths scored 2 more tries, then he comes back on, and just before the Half, with Souths 32-0 up and safe as houses…

He threw a try assist for Latrell Mitchell to pretty much walk over and score.

That encapsulated the night for the poor old Silvertails, who were a rudderless ship without sails, or a hull.

Or wood.

Once Were Warriors 20 defeated Canterbury 14 at ANZ Stadium

Something we all seemed to forget was that the NRL quietly decided to penalise boot throwing after Freddie disliked Ben Hunt using Boyd Cordner’s boot as a javelin during Origin I last season.

Clearly, Jack Murchie forgot that, and was penalised for flicking Sauaso Sue’s boot into Row 26 fo the Olympic Stadium.

It ranks right up there for famous shoe-throwing incidents of the 21st Century, like Rhys Palmer chucking one onto Gloucester Park during a race last year, and that Iraqi journalist who lined up George W. Bush in one of the more civil press conferences involving a U.S President.

Making history as the first player penalised for boot throwing was the highlight of the day for Jack, on an afternoon where he scored the first two tries of his NRL career, and tag-teamed with a dominant Kodi Nikorima to propel the Warriors to a comeback win, after falling behind 14-6 in the 2nd Half to a Dogs team showing some good signs in attack, but Todd Payten’s team, as they have done all season, never stopped coming, and good on them, because through everything, they’re now in that train of teams on 6 wins fighting for 9th spot.

At the same time that the Kiwis have dragged themselves up to win again, with the way the Dogs are throwing way leads, it looks like there’s one team in the league who don’t want the Broncos winning the spoon.

Newcastle 12 defeated North Queensland 0 at McDonald Jones Stadium

This Knights team would have to be the first people wearing orange hi-vis gear to put in hard work on a Sunday afternoon.

It was an utterly torturous game to watch, considering the Knights absolutely dominated general play, but scored a mere 2 tries from 55 tackles inside the Cowboys 20m, but a more penitent point is that the Novocastrian defence pitched a shut out.

Why is that significant, JT?

Because it ended the longest streak of games scoring a try in First Grade history.

The Cowboys had scored a try in 221 games, dating back to Round 2 of 2012.

Considering how pathetic the Cowboys have been lately, it’s a wonder it didn’t end earlier.

The Knights probably did have excuses as to why their attack looked so lethargic – Blake Green had his right knee folded up like an umbrella, joining the injured brigade after being signed as an injury replacement, and Starford To’a didn’t make it to full time.

Speaking of that Green injury, if you want to talk about shocking luck, that was right up there, considering he’s a month shy of turning 34, doesn’t have a contract for 2021, and just suffered a suspected ACL tear.

That’s last rites for your career territory.

While that happened, I think what summed up the peak of frustration for the average viewer was the 10 minutes either side of Half Time.

There was the Knights forcing a dropout after Scott Drinkwater got his boot on the ball letting it bounce out – The Cowboys got the ball back on the short kick.

Then, Mitchell Pearce gets binned on the siren for a deliberate offside after Coen Hess realised he could take a quick tap.

Kyle Feldt gets the penalty kick at goal, and promptly misses another shot from point blank range by pushing it massively across the face.

Jason Taumalolo suffers a lower leg injury and never returns to the game.

With a 13 vs 12 advantage, the Cowboys then throw a stray pass 10m out, Ponga scoops the ball and runs 90m, and eventually Mitch Dunn gets binned for a deliberate offside to stop a try.

So instead of throwing an extra pass and almost certainly scoring against a scrambled defence, the Knights went for the 2 points, and apparently kicking into a hurricane, Ponga’s kick went across the face and missed by a mile.

Adam Reynolds would’ve kicked it.

Then, Josh King stops dead in the line when he should’ve run straight through, because John Asiata gave up.

Eventually, Ponga found a spot on the ground that wasn’t affected by hurricane-force winds and put the Knights up 8-0, and they finally sealed proceedings with Enari Tuala flying over in the left corner.


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