Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 1 fallout

About 45 years ago, VFL legend Lou Richards offered his tips for the upcoming round of matches, also known as ‘The Lip’s Kiss of Death’ predictions. In assessing the then Footscray’s chances he said, “Footscray are on a roll – they’ve won one in a row!”

 

That may have been a long time ago in the VFL but it’s not hard to imagine the current NRL’s happiness today when they can claim, “Footy is on a roll – we’ve had one weekend in a row without a player sex scandal! Just as we hoped, the drama has switched to on-field issues and Bunker howlers.” (This claim conveniently avoids Chairman Peter Beattie’s gaffe on social media about the long-deceased Laurie Nicholls.)

 

First round matches did tell us a lot about the possibilities of the coming season. Here are a few:

  • it took only two minutes of the Storm v Broncos game to see the first stupidity of the year – Matt Lodge taking out Cameron Munster’s legs – two weeks on the sideline, son. When will they learn?
  • by game two, Knights v Sharks, the Bunker was at its unfathomable best with a bizarre call of ‘penalty try’ when the wicked bounce of the ball made it anything but likely that Cronulla would have scored. Howler number one for the season!
  • when the rain came on Friday, favouritism went out the window – the Bunnies showed the hotshot Roosters how to play it simple (wily old fox Bennett at his best!), scoot out of dummy half (made all the more effective if you’ve got Damian Cook in your side), get down and guts it out (after Sam Burgess was forced off for fifteen minutes). It was clear that the Roosters don’t like having their feathers ruffled as their frustrations showed repeatedly in the second half. Suck it up, lads!
  • by Saturday, the Warriors flagged their intentions by flogging the very sad Bulldogs – but given that it was only the Dogs, we’ll have to wait before talking the Warriors up too much. It could be a lloonngg season for Dogs supporters;
  • then Wests Tigers, starring the Dad’s Army duo of Robbie and Benji, took the Sea Eagles apart to suggest that this year’s Tigers just might have a few claws – again we’ll have to wait and see;
  • the Cowboys probably made the biggest statement of the weekend with wrecking-ball, man-mountain JT and nifty Michael Morgan riding roughshod over a seriously undermanned Dragons outfit;
  • the Eels scored the upset of the round with their ‘better-than-the-scoreboard-shows’ win over the Panthers. Maybe Mitchell Moses is as good as we have been led to believe; maybe the Panthers aren’t;
  • the Raiders lived up to their name by thrashing the much-hyped Titans on the Gold Coast. Can the Canberra boys finally live up to their potential this year? But to be fair to the Titans, Ash Taylor didn’t play and they lost Tyrone Roberts after twelve minutes – a fair old handicap.

 

The four clubs with ‘issues’ (Panthers, Dragons,  Sea Eagles and Bulldogs) were all awful; the Broncos have two key forwards out of action (Lodge and Haas – both self-inflicted) ahead of their clash with the Cowboys this week – a possible 0-2 start to the season would take some overcoming; the Sea Eagles cop the Roosters on the rebound after an unexpected loss – what will the spread be on this one?; the Dragons are also staring at a 0-2 scenario as they face the Rabbitohs; and the game of the round will see the Storm go to Canberra, a match-up that might tell us a lot about both sides.

 

The highlight of the season’s opening weekend was the invisibility of the on-field referees. Hard to see any of them getting the chop this weekend to allow a certain Queensland referee to make her first grade NRL debut.

 

Elsewhere:

 

After two rounds of the QRL Intrust Super Cup, defending premiers Redcliffe Dolphins are winless and struggling – they lost all four grades on Saturday! A possible base for a new NRL team? Hard to see at this point. The Ipswich Jets are also 0-2 after being mauled by the Burleigh Bears – the Walker brothers have a real challenge on their hands – has their ‘creative’ style of play been totally unravelled by their opponents? The PNG Hunters are yet to trouble the scoreboard at all after two games, including a nasty 24-0 loss at home on Sunday.

 

At the top end of the table, Easts Tigers are building on a strong 2018 season;  Northern Pride are fulfilling pre-season expectations; Sunshine Coast Falcons have also stood up after blitzing Redcliffe away on Saturday night; and Tweed Heads Seagulls have surprised by going two for two to date.

 

Could it be that the first month of the season will sort out the sheep from the goats? For the sake of the competition, let’s hope not!

 

And further afield:

 

Congratulations to Coolac on winning their seventh consecutive premiership in the Tumut District Cricket Association. Coolac 4/203 def Junee 104.

About Ian Hauser

A happy, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV - although I do share the never-to-be-beaten record for the tenth wicket for the long-defunct Unley Lutheran Cricket Club - a partnership of 62 with Craig Hartmann in 1973! A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I'm a firm believer in the notion that there is a fine line between winning and losing in sport. 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 footyalmanac.com.au's online editors, I offer a comprehensive editing service for both new and experienced writers. Check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au Queenslander!

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