Wayne Bennett has smiled in consecutive weekends.
Start praying to whatever deity you believe in, because Beelzebub is about to rise up from the underworld.
So it was the highest-scoring opening weekend to an NRL finals series on record – 235 points across 4 games.
You don’t even need to joke about there being better defence in the NRLW, because there WAS better displays of defence in both NRLW games.
Have a look at that – Amber Hall turns Teaghan Hartigan into roadkill, yet Hartigan still manages to get straight back into the play and helps finish off the tackle.
Penrith 29 defeated Sydney Roosters 28 at Panthers Stadium
Turns out the Panthers did win by the length of the hairs on Nathan Cleary’s chinny chin chin.
I can’t believe it.
In what was just about the performance of the weekend, Cleary scored a seldom seen 1st Half finals hat-trick, no thanks to his running mate Jarome Luai running rampant through the Chooks defence, and after trailing 10-0, the Panthers whipped out the old deep-fryer and turned their opponents into something resembling Colonel Sanders’ Original.
One of them looked finger lickin’ good, and it certainly wasn’t Easts.
Although, just when it looked like Cleary junior had sealed the win with the drop goal 3 minutes from time as the Chooks cut it to 28-22, Brent Naden couldn’t keep his excitement in his shorts, and fielded the onside kick before it went the required 10 metres, thinking he could streak away and score a memorable 60m solo try to end the night, sending the old Pepper Stadium into chaos.
Of course, if that ball goes an extra metre forward, Naden looks like a genius, but it didn’t, so he looks like an idiot with a haircut to match.
That penalty led to Angus Chrichton’s converted try cutting the margin back to a point with 2 minutes to go, but a final desperate raid didn’t work out, as Robbo seemed to cry “Get up you soft prick” in vein towards Josh Mansour, the Panthers made it 16 straight, and Naden didn’t have his tyres slashed in retribution, and he’ll still be on the Cleary family’s Christmas card list.
What an honour.
All in all, a fantastic contest, and as Jamie Soward probably loved pointing out, just as it was in 2014, the Panthers won by a point.
In fact, the Roosters have something in common with the 1994 Broncos, who were also going for the Threepeat – They both lost a final by a point.
Canberra 32 defeated Cronulla 20 at GIO Stadium
Where was Scott Morrison when Cronulla’s playmakers dropped like flies.
Ironically, for a team that had been so consistently terrible against Top 8 teams, the 1st Half on Saturday night was just about the best half of footy the Sharks have played all season.
Sans the brains of their attack in Shaun Johnson, the Shire residents genuinely flayed the flat-footed Raiders, despite the prediction of the polar opposite occurring, given the
The stats from that opening 40 minutes are crazy – 64% possession, 87% territory, 20 tackles (Compared to the Raiders’ 2) inside the opposition 20m, 6 extra sets, and they looked like they should’ve had 13 vs 12 for 10 minutes, but John Bateman escaped punishment for what was possibly an intentional trip on Brayden Hamlin-Uele, which ended in a Sharks penalty goal, letting the Raiders off the hook.
Despite all that, the Raiders were still alive thanks to the lack of scoreboard pressure, only trailing 14-6, as the one half-decent chance the Raiders had ended in Joey Tapine beating off 5 Sharks to score.
Then, with the Sharks still leading 14-6 just before the half, it just all went to hell when Blayke Brailey went down, and just to cap it off, George Williams read Wade Graham’s pass right at the half and made it 14-10.
Combine Brayley’s injury with the Sharks also losing his replacement Scott Sorensen to the simultaneous groin and hammy pull, and you didn’t even need to watch the 2nd Half to know which way this was going.
The play that would put the Green Machine ahead for good was when Jack Wighton earned his team a penalty some 18m out after getting dry-humped by Andrew Fifita, who kicked the ball out of Wighton’s hands, turning it from a 6-again to a penalty.
The Sharks leadership all converged on Grant Atkins, completely ignoring that Wighton had just tapped the ball more than 15m out from the line, making the play live, and the fact that you can’t challenge ruck interference penalties.
On replay, the end result pretty much sums up Cronulla’s defensive efforts in 2020.
Wighton scored again 2 minutes later, the Raiders in total ran in 26 unanswered points, and they’re on their way to the SCG for a free swing at the Roosters.
Melbourne Storm 36 defeated Parramatta 24 at Suncorp Stadium
Sorry everyone, I had to temporarily stop writing this segment due to a ‘tactical cramp.’
So to the surprise of nobody, the Eels felt the full brunt of the amazing magic-powered phenomenon that is the Queensland Melbourne Storm, this time after holding an early 12-0 lead, only to concede 6 of the next 7 tries to the Stormers, and just to cap it off:
Marata Niukore was suspended for a crusher tackle, and will miss at least 2 games because of carryover points, also potentially ending his season.
Maika Sivo hurt his knee and won’t be seen again in 2020.
Blake Ferguson is a lucky 50/50 to play against Souths because of a knee injury, potentially leaving the Eels without both starting wingers against a horde of rampaging Rabbits.
The Eels may have kept the final score close, but all things considered, forget about Oktoberfest, that game was some kind of Papenhuyzenfest.
265 metres off 22 runs, 2 tries, 2 try assists.
While the Storm have a fortnight off, giving Cameron Munster a window to deal with his latest knee issue, and allowing Cameron Smith to continue his quest to find the Fountain Of Youth, the Eels have been left facing the unwanted double S word.
South Sydney 46 defeated Newcastle 20 at ANZ Stadium
Concerning times at Redfern, as Souths go from scoring 60 points and winning by 52, to ONLY scoring 46 points and winning by 26.
It’s so concerning that Wayne Bennett is breaking character and smiling at watching Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds set up tries for fun.
Just wait until you see the state of the Queensland backline next month, Wayne, you’ll be back looking like this.
In fairness, nobody can tell if he’s chuffed or angry in that photo.
So on a funny old afternoon, featuring the Knights turning a 14-0 lead into Souths going on a merciless 46-0 run, and Ben Cummins getting himself caught up in another bungled set restart call:
Through all that mumbo jumbo, we were all left with one burning question about the Knights’ disappointing end to the season season.
WHY WAS AIDAN GUERRA NOT THE REGULAR KICKER IN PLACE OF KALYN PONGA FROM DAY ONE.
SO MANY PROBLEMS COULD’VE BEEN AVOIDED.
JUST LOOK – HIS ONLY CAREER KICK AT GOAL WAS A SIDELINE CONVERSION THAT NEVER LOOKED LIKE MISSING.
How’s the technique on that.
Guerra was also given the odds of “A gazillion to one” by Joey Johns to make it.
Thank goodness Joey isn’t a bookmaker, because he’d have turned the average TAB-frequenting mug into a ‘kajillionaire.’
And prior to that, Guerra’s last touch of a ball in professional rugba leeg was a try assist for Hymel Hunt to stop the 46-0 run of Souths.
Should’ve had him in the halves, Adam O’Brien.