Almanac Rugby League – A classic, a calamity and a controversy: Another week in rugby league

As Matt O’Hanlon says, “You’ve just gotta love footy!” After the weekend we’ve just had in rugby league, you’d have to be a very hard marker to say that the game, on the field at least, is anything but entertaining. (We won’t go into off the field, that’s another story.)

 

The Roosters v Storm clash was up there with the very best you’ll ever see in a game of rugby league. Up and back, swings of momentum, intense competition for all 85 minutes, flair, hits aplenty, individual performances, team defence – it had everything. It was the equal of an Origin match for speed and intensity, worthy of a Grand Final. (It may well have been a long-range preview.) A true classic! Several weeks ago I bagged referee Ashley Klein when he had a shocker. Today I’m happy to give him a huge wrap for the way he handled this one. Essentially, he was invisible (the highest plaudit of all) until the moment came which decided the match. Referees usually put the whistle away in Golden Point time to allow the players to sort it out. On this occasion, Klein had the courage to correctly blow the whistle when Friend infringed, albeit marginally, in the ruck, handing Melbourne the winning penalty goal. What a game to start the weekend.

 

On Friday, the Raiders were not at their best but that was good enough to take care of the Dragons. The highlight was the form of George Williams but the Green Machine’s attack is still clunky. To their credit, the Dragons fought back but aren’t going anywhere soon. Later in the evening, the Eels just keep motoring along at full speed. Maika Sivo did what Maika Sivo does best while Clint Gutherson was a shining light in the absence of Mitchell Moses. The less said about the Cowboys the better. After a good win the previous week, they were just awful.

 

On Saturday afternoon, the Sharks continued their good run, possibly because Shaun Johnson played well again. But the Cronulla boys are looking better than I thought they might and could push for a permanent top eight spot as the season progresses. We’ll see what happens when they meet the Panthers this weekend. The Titans were underwhelming. On Saturday night, the Panthers continued to display their toughness, both physically and mentally, to down the Tigers. By contrast, the Tigers lacked the mental strength to go on with it when the whips were cracking.

 

The Broncos are a basket case, as much off the field as on it. Their situation is a calamity personified and it’s hard to see where they go from here. Expect blood to run at the appropriately named Red Hill in the near future. It’s just as well there’s a creek running past down the bottom of the slope to wash the stains away. Hats off to the Warriors for a gutsy win when no-one would have been surprised if, in their circumstances, they found the going tough.

 

The controversy came with the concluding play in the Knights v Sea Eagles match. Manly winger Tevita Funa appeared to be taken out of the play after kicking ahead. Newcastle, through McCullough, scrambled to force the ball in-goal, but should Manly have received a penalty and, with it, a chance to tie the game up and force Golden Point? The Bunker, which got a couple of earlier decisions to deny tries to Manly correct, ruled against the Sea Eagles again, consigning them to consecutive losses.(In the aftermath, Manly’s Fonua-Blake was sent off after the final whistle for abusing the referee. More on that as the week progresses. Newcastle deserved their win  against the odds, playing away, losing three players to injury, defending courageously, and having a couple of questionable forward passes ruled against them when in clear scoring positions. Manly look significantly weaker in attack without Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker – a worry given that those two will be out for a while yet.

 

In the final game, the Rabbitohs accounted for the Bulldogs to keep the Canterbury boys at the bottom of the ladder. South Sydney are equal 7th but outside the top eight on points differential. Their clash with the Tigers this weekend should sort out eighth spot.

 

Match of the week goes, of course, to the Roosters v Storm clash – enough said already. Team of the week goes to the Newcastle Knights for their gutsy win against the odds at Lottoland, only their fourth win there ever. Player of the week is shared by Eels Clint Gutherson (one of the form players in the comp) and Maika Sivo (four tries in a game doesn’t happen too often).

 

We can only hope that Round 9 will be as good. Meantime, spare a thought for the AFL as it battles to cope with the travel limitations imposed by State border restrictions.

 

@blenheimboy2

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. Liam Hauser says

    Even with each side missing a key player or two, the Storm v Roosters match was brilliant indeed. At 37 years of age, Cameron Smith shows no sign of slowing down or succumbing to fatigue. He is incredible!
    I find it hard to understand how the Broncos can be laughing and joking after one loss, and then crying after the next defeat. It doesn’t change anything in the overall scheme of things. Simply, the club is in crisis. In my opinion, the coach can’t be the only scapegoat.
    While Newcastle was pulled up for a couple of forward passes that were marginal, both sides got away with many blatantly forward passes. I really don’t understand how that happens! As for the last play of the game, I thought Bradman Best was committed to the push on Tevita Funa while Funa was in the process of kicking. Sometimes a penalty will go your way in that situation, sometimes it won’t. What I can’t comprehend is how a player can be silly enough to abuse the on-field referee when it’s a decision from the bunker that has caused the complaint. The process is in place, so why should the on-field referee (effectively) have to take a bullet for the bunker?

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