Well that’s Week One done as a mere 6 teams remain, and outside of Friday it was a top notch start to the finals, capped off by the wild events of Saturday, starting with the latest one point thriller between the Roosters and Titans, followed by Ivan Cleary bringing a spoon to a gunfight against the wily old master Wayne Bennett, who in turn brought a pump-action shotgun, resulting in Ivan having a right old meltdown about coaches manipulating referees in his press conference, which is the pot calling the kettle black, and it looked like Wayne just sat back and pissed himself laughing, knowing he’d just mentally destroyed Cleary, Shane Warne-Daryll Cullinan style.
On another note, the NRL have released the Semi Finals and Preliminary Finals schedule, and I have to say I’ve got questions.
The Semi Finals are normal enough – Manly vs Easts on Friday night, then Panthers-Eels in the Saturday night Derby, but come the Prelims, Souths get the Friday night prelim slot, and what I was surprised by was the fact that the Melbourne Storm were put in the Saturday night slot starting at 7:50pm AEST against one of the Panthers or Eels, which, even with the prospect of a Grand Final rematch, won’t even be the biggest sports event involving a Melbourne team that night.
You have to wonder what was going on in the old brain department at the NRL, scheduling the Melbourne Storm on the same day, in the same timeslot, that 2 Melbourne teams are going to be playing in the AFL Grand Final, albeit on the other side of the continent, with one of them gunning to end a 57-year premiership drought, a nigh-on suicidal move that pretty much ensures nobody in Melbourne is going to watch the Storm in a knockout final.
Screw rest, what about your ratings?
Melbourne Storm 40 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 12 – Correct
“Storm lap Sea Eagles after Hasler suffers Turbo failure”
Sure the Storm’s backline were superb, but have a look at these numbers for running metres in the respective forward packs, and you’ll start to understand how the Storm won so thoroughly:
Jake Trbojevic – 46m
Aloiai – 51m
Tapau – 76m
Olakau’atu – 70m
Schuster – 21m
Keppie – 8m
Paseka – 88m
Sironen – 20m
Finucane – 115m
Jesse Bromwich – 116m
Kaufusi – 80m
Kenny Bromwich – 65m
Finucane – 115m
Kamikamica – 97m
Asofa-Solomona – 103m
And the big one, Christian Welch – 153m
5 players over 100 metres, another 90 metres, while Manly by comparison had none -That’s not domination, that’s outright destruction.
Sydney Roosters 25 defeated Gold Coast Titans 24 – Correct
Another gripping contest between the Roosters and Titans in 2021, this time in the pressure cooker of Townsville, with the mother of all endings.
First, Sam Walker kicks the game-winning field goal against the Titans for the second time this season, thanks to the Chooks line setting up a slightly illegal wall, then eventually after a failed onside kick, the Roosters leave the Titans needing to go 100 metres in a minute.
And wouldn’t you know it, they got 85 of it before Walker came from nowhere to produce a superb try saver on Phillip Sami, but it still wasn’t game over, because the Titans realised the right side was vulnerable, and they went to Patrick Herbert in a 3 on 2 against a sliding Chooks defence, which led to a moment of finals stupidity unseen since Joey Leilua ddn’t pass to a wide open Jordan Rapana in the 2019 Grand Final.
In a situation like that, the human brain naturally has a few split second decisions on offer:
A) Pass to big David Fifita, the team’s leading tryscorer, who would’ve used his sheer size to eat Daniel Tupou alive and score the winner, and you can’t convince me otherwise that a winger could stop a forward.
B) Make the high percentage play and pass to an unmarked Corey Thompson in the corner, who had nothing but a few metres of green grass between himself and glory….
But instead, Herbert chose option C) Run into 3 defenders in a great display of heroball, then try and make the offload of the century to Thompson, only to throw it straight out of bounds.
That’d just drive a dagger through the heart of Titans fans… they were good enough to win on Saturday, they had the win right there, and that winning chance went flying over the sideline when it didn’t need to.
Do not advance to the Semi Finals, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dollars.
Meantime, Josh Morris will get yet another potential farewell game as the Chooks get a date with Manly on Friday, and odd fact, next year will be 50 years since the historic ’72 Grand Final, when the Sea Eagles finally won their maiden premiership at the 6th time of asking, knocking off the Roosters 19-14.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 defeated Penrith Panthers 10 – Incorrect
That was Nathan Cleary’s first loss for the entire year….
I guess he’ll just have to cop it on the chin.
Parramatta Eels 28 defeated Newcastle Knights 20 – Correct
I wonder how many players have scored a finals hat-trick and still played for the losing team, because that’s exactly what Enari Tuala got to experience on Sunday.
Now, before people talk about the penalty try, Gutherson getting away with a knock on disguised as a drop kick, and Ashley Klein’s refereeing performance, I’d like to point out that there was one truly egregious moment that everyone missed in the 1st Half….
Injured Eel Reed Mahoney appearing on Channel 9 on the half hour, apparently to talk about how disappointed he was not to be on air, and without even realising that he was live on air, casually dropped a nice old FARK.