Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 11: Carnage!

 

 

The good news is that the NRL’s Magic Round was staged successfully over the weekend and the Suncorp Stadium surface withstood the impact of eight NRL matches within a period of 50 hours. Additionally, the local economy got a good boost with hospitality providers particularly happy after some tough times. The ‘let’s watch this space’ news is that the hierarchy’s diktat regarding tackles above the shoulders, a move with admirable intent, was over-refereed but will probably sort itself out in the coming weeks. The bad news is that the on-field carnage which resulted from the over-application of the rule with admirable intent saw matches disrupted by multiple and, sometimes, prolonged stoppages which runs counter to the hierarchy’s stated goal of speeding up the game for greater entertainment value.

 

My problem with the crackdown is that this imposition from above comes mid-season and without much consultation. It’s not as if the concussion issue has emerged only over the past nine rounds. Why wasn’t the change instituted from the start of the year? And why weren’t the clubs, referees, coaches, players and other relevant officials consulted? Peter V has done a lot of good things over the past 12 months but this isn’t one of his diplomatic or, at this stage, practical triumphs. I agree with the intention, make no mistake about that, but the implementation has been less than ideal.

 

And what a round of matches we saw! The Tigers found their claws; Turbo Tom and DCE were in another class; the Raiders rediscovered some grit (but have lost out to the new regime); Adam Reynolds showed the Rabbitohs and Broncos what he’s worth; the Roosters can only get stronger; the Eels will go further into September this year; the Storm can play razzle-dazzle footy, even without Munster, Papenhuyzen and B Smith; Penrith are unbackable favourites for the premiership. But, for all of those ‘winners’, there are just as many losers. We do seem to have a group of five teams that are streets ahead of the rest, a middle clump of the hopefuls who are not there yet, and a handful of sides at the bottom who are miles out of their class.

 

Looking ahead to Round 11, the Cowboys meet the Knights tonight up in Townsville. Technically they sit equal 8th on the ladder alongside three other teams. In reality, they are both way off the pace and should be looking towards their rosters for next year. Call that harsh and/or unkind but, unfortunately, it’s true. Newcastle might get better if they can get both Pearce and Ponga on the paddock consistently – at the same time. That won’t happen this weekend and so I think the Cowboys are in with a chance.

 

The Warriors and Tigers meet tomorrow evening and, going by last weekend, you’d have to favour the Tigers. But, again, it’s inconsequential to the overall competition. It’s almost a case of it all coming down to Luke Brooks. I feel sorry for the poor bloke – he cops all the blame for losses and doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves when they play well, like the other day. Others get the headlines. The Warriors can’t put 80 minutes together and so will continue to make up the numbers.

 

Amazingly, the Dragons are 6th on the ladder. Can you believe that? How did that happen? I put it down to Dufty who was going great guns until he injured his shoulder. If he’s out for a while, I don’t fancy the Dragons making too much progress. But, against the Sharks, they might still have enough. The Shire lads were more competitive against the Rabbitohs but are unsettled. I can’t see them going anywhere soon.

 

The Titans at home will look to get back on the winners list against the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. While I’m not confident about the Gold Coast men, I think they’re still ahead of the fumbling, stumbling Dogs who just can’t string plays together to really threaten the scorers sufficiently. They looked ok momentarily against the Raiders but, when push came to shove, couldn’t get their act together. The Roosters, looming menacingly at this stage, will trample the bad news Broncos in the early evening. Not much to say about this one that isn’t painfully obvious to all.  Then the Raiders host the Storm in Canberra. The home side has lost at least a couple of key players in Papalii and Wighton to suspension which should render them an easy target for the rampaging Storm. I mentioned Nicko Hynes last week – he just glides across the field, and aren’t his skills silky? Buy him, Brisbane!!!

 

The Rabbitohs play the Panthers in Dubbo on Sunday afternoon – what a treat for the locals! You just can’t go past Penrith but, you never know, wily old Wayne might have a trick or two up his sleeve. I’ll go with the Panthers as much for their defence as for their free-flowing attack. Souths have attacking flair but I can’t see their defence holding on. The Eels and the Sea Eagles close the round at Bankwest. This should be a beauty if both sides play to recent form. Manly are coming and Jake Turbo is regaining form – a worrying sign for opponents. The Eels seem to have a bit more in the tank than last year and play the game out to the final hooter. I think it will be worth watching this one on free to air TV – just turn off the volume!

 

So my winners this week are the Cowboys, Tigers, Dragons, Titans, Roosters, Storm, Panthers and Sea Eagles.

 

Thursday May 20

Cowboys v Knights, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday May 21

Warriors v Tigers,  Stadium, 6.00pm

Sharks v Dragons, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday May 22

Titans v Bulldogs, Cbus Super Stadium, 3.000pm

Roosters v Broncos, SCG, 5.30pm

Raiders v Storm, GIO Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday May 23

Rabbitohs v Panthers, Dubbo, 2.00pm

Eels v Sea Eagles, Bankwest Stadium, 4.05pm

Venues and times are current at the time of publication but please check for late changes.

 

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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

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