Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 12 Wrap: Cameron Smith injured, a Broncos fadeout and a Bulldog’s howler

There was one upset in Round 12 of the NRL, while some matches proved a lot tighter than what might have been expected. The top five teams tasted victory while the Cronulla Sharks moved to sixth at the expense of the Newcastle Knights. Yet it was bizarre that the third, fourth and fifth teams conceded as many tries as they scored.


This Indigenous Round began with three Indigenous players sharing all of their team’s points. Cody Walker, Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell were the scorers in South Sydney’s 32-24 defeat of St George Illawarra on Thursday night. Dragons fullback Matt Dufty held centre stage as his team raced to a 16-0 lead in the first 18 minutes, while the Rabbitohs were set back as halfback Adam Reynolds suffered a match-ending injury in the lead-up to the first try.


For many years I’ve insisted that nothing changes the complexion of a game quite like an intercept. So it proved, yet again! A pass from Dufty could have set up a Dragons try. Instead, Johnston snaffled it and bridged the margin to six points.


The Rabbitohs hit the lead in the second half before the Dragons drew level with a try that was dodgy at best. It was obvious to me that Tyson Frizell failed to ground the ball properly, but the people in The Bunker often seem to see things differently. You can form your own opinion after checking it here:


Another intercept try to Johnston proved another turning point as the Rabbitohs moved ahead 32-20. Souths remained at the bottom edge of the top eight while the Dragons’ faint finals hopes took another dive.


The finals hopes of the Wests Tigers were also dealt a blow as the struggling Warriors enjoyed a surprise 26-20 win on Friday, after the Sydney team led 14-8 at the break. The New Zealand team jumped to a 26-14 lead before the Tigers closed the gap to a converted try, and then could have forced the match into golden point had a pass found the mark. If Tigers coach Michael Maguire was furious at half-time, as this footage shows!781352, imagine how he must have been at full-time?


The maligned Broncos showed great signs in the first 70 minutes of their match against the Sharks, only for Brisbane’s season to hit another new low because of the final 10 minutes. The lead changed repeatedly in the first half, and Cronulla took an 18-14 advantage into the second half before the Broncos repelled wave after wave of Shark attack (pun intended!).


The Broncos showed newfound character, energy and enthusiasm, and gained a promising 26-18 lead. They forced a repeat set to maintain the pressure and, ironically, it was at this point that everything unravelled in the blink of an eye. A short goal-line drop-out was batted straight to teenage Broncos halfback Tom Dearden who inexplicably dropped a sitter. I still can’t believe how the whole game changed so drastically at that very moment. Whether the Broncos were mentally or physically drained, I’m not sure. Perhaps it was a bit of both. Perhaps they lacked killer instinct and self-belief. Either way, the non-existent leadership at the Broncos raised its ugly head yet again. The courageous and resolute defence from the previous 30 minutes was all in vain and suddenly nowhere to be seen as the Sharks scored three quick tries to romp to victory.


In the Saturday afternoon fixture, the Roosters survived an almighty scare as they downed the unfancied Gold Coast Titans 18-12. It was strange to think that the teams scored two tries apiece while penalty goals proved most decisive.


The Canberra Raiders were also given a major fright as they won 14-12 over the struggling North Queensland Cowboys, once more with both teams scoring two tries. North Queensland moved ahead 12-8 in the second half but it proved short-lived, with Canberra regaining a two-point lead before the last 20 minutes featured no points.


The Penrith Panthers remained on top of the ladder following an impressive 42-12 trouncing of the Manly Sea Eagles, who remained outside the top-eight on for-and-against. Following a couple of recent victories that were far from overwhelming, the Panthers clicked into gear as they led 24-6 at half-time and then went on with the job in the second half.


In the first match on Sunday, the third-placed Parramatta Eels appeared on track for a convincing win as they led 18-0 after 30 minutes. But the last-placed Canterbury Bulldogs scored 16 unanswered points, and then it was totally unusual to see no points scored in the final 26 minutes as a huge upset looked possible.


Later that day, there were plenty of injuries at Sunshine Coast Stadium, where the Melbourne Storm defeated Newcastle 26-16. Cameron Smith sustained a rare injury and was forced from the field for more than half of the match, yet his team still fared well without him. The Knights were gallant and honest but could not match the class of the Storm. Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen scored one of the best tries of the year, as he raced 90 metres and used brilliant footwork along the way. Check it out here:


While The Bunker continues to cause bewilderment at least once each round, I’ll also draw attention to other trends that I find disturbing. I wish players would stop stuffing around over little things. If a player makes a mistake, what is the point of patting him on the head or wrapping your arm around him? Cold comfort I reckon, as all it does is single him out and draw attention to his error. Just leave him alone and get on with the game, I say. Even worse, what is the point of high-fiving and mobbing each other when producing a good tackle or forcing an error? Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs produced an impressive trysaving tackle, but his reaction and that of his team-mates was just ridiculous! Check it out from 0.27 to 0.32 here Just like in cricket, I HATE seeing batsmen kissing the badge on their helmet after scoring a century. Michael Slater made it a ritual, but moreover I find it ridiculous that others followed suit! One of my mates told me that the media has a lot to answer for, because it pushes these sorts of things as “popular behaviour”.


Meanwhile, a conspicuous error from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak provided a sobering reminder to make sure you face the correct way when playing the ball! Shades of Martin Bella from many years ago!


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About Liam Hauser

A Queenslander through and through, Liam went out of his comfort zone as he had a thoroughly worthwhile time in Tumut and Gundagai from 2008 to 2016 before enjoying a year in Gunnedah. His strongest sporting interests are State of Origin, Sheffield Shield, Test cricket and the NRL. His sporting CV doesn’t have many highlights, although he once top-scored in a warehouse cricket match with 54 not out at number 10, and shared in an unbroken last wicket stand of 83 with the number 11 who scored an undefeated 52. Liam has written books including State of Origin 40 Years, A Century of Cricket Tests, A History of Test Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Rugby League, and The Great Grand Finals: Rugby League's Greatest Contests. Also a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra.

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