Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 6: Wheat and chaff

Noel Kelly (Source: Commons)

 

It seems appropriate to me that Noel Kelly’s image is prominent this week. As pointed out earlier in the week, Kelly was a great one for sorting out the wheat from the chaff on the field. Round 6 of the NRL is shaping up that way, too.

 

Let’s start with the referees. The Bunker remains a problem! From last week’s Manly v Brisbane game, please try to explain to me the consistency in the interpretation of the obstruction rule in the No Try decision to deny Darius Boyd and the Try call to allow the Daly Cherry-Evans score. In the first, DCE committed to the tackle of the inside man, held on to him and then fell over to try (successfully) to con the reviewer into thinking he had been fouled; in the second, the inside Brisbane defender was knocked over by the Manly decoy runner to allow DCE a free run to the line but it was allowed. Amazing! Even the commentators were flummoxed.

 

After a great re-start in Round 3, the standard of on-field refereeing has fallen away somewhat as coaches have attempted (and, arguably, succeeded) to undermine the spirit of the ‘6 again’ rule change. It’s all about gaining time to reset the defensive line. It goes like this: be willing to concede a ‘6 again’ call to buy time to reset the line; if you’re still in difficulties defensively, be willing to concede a second ‘6 again’ call on the first tackle of the new set. By then your line will be position. The spirit of the rule change is thereby defeated. The solution? Very simple indeed. The rule changes allow the referee the discretion to use the sin bin for repeated offences. Well, for goodness sake, USE IT! A second indiscretion in consecutive sets deserves to see you go down one man for 10 minutes. Referees, please have the intestinal fortitude to march someone immediately. And be consistent from the first to the eightieth minute. If you do, the fans, the people for whom the game is played, will be on your side and we’ll have the open, running style that we all want and expect.

 

Ashley Klein had a shocker last week but is still on the first choice panel this week. Why? Just because he’s a senior ref? Surely that doesn’t make him immune from a stint running the line if he performs badly as the on-field whistle-blower. We have another 8 experienced on-field referees currently running the line. Why not use them to make the top 8, whoever they are, earn their places every week? Call it ‘incentive’. I’d love to see Belinda Sharpe get a run.

 

Round 6 starts off with the Knights v Broncos match-up tonight. The Knights will want to get back in the winner’s circle after a tough loss to the Storm. It was only the scheming of Cameron Smith that got the Storm home while the Knights lacked that last bit of class. They’ll be better for the loss. The Broncos could have and should have won against Manly but ill-discipline and a couple poor calls let them down. But they looked a lot better and should be stronger this week with the return of Glenn and Pangai Jnr. but they’ll miss the energy and dash of Staggs. Knights for me.

 

The Rabbitohs were better last week because Mitchell looked more interested. He has the same challenge that the Warriors face each week – finding consistency! If Mitchell does, the Warriors will be in strife. I’ve been on the Warriors recently but I can’t see them holding the Bunnies who look a bit too strong across the park. Cody Walker is due to repay the support shown to him by Souths in his recent strife.

 

The Storm have to travel again to meet the Panthers on Friday night. The boys from the west looked good for about 60 minutes last week but then lost their structure when the Eels put them to the test. They’ve got the cattle but not the smarts, seemingly. The Storm roll on but, sooner or later, their reliance on a few will not be enough. But I think they’ll still have enough to win this one – just.

 

The Titans v Dragons game, a bottom of the ladder clash, will have a bit more interest than might have been expected following the Dragons’ first win last week. The Titans are strengthened by the acquisition of Corey Thompson but need more grunt up front; the Dragons might have a bit more confidence after looking better last week. This could turn out to be an entertaining game. I’ll back the Dragons.

 

The Tigers and the Cowboys are playing for credibility and, possibly, their season! It’s almost come to that even this soon. Neither looked particularly good last time around yet both have players who can set a game alight. I’ll go for the Tigers, but only because the Cowboys don’t travel well.

 

The match of the round is the Roosters v Eels clash on Saturday night. The Roosters are just about unbeatable at the moment – they have strength, speed, skill and depth. The Eels have a certain electricity which has the potential to zap the boys from Bondi but have they got the grunt to hold their ground until the pace of the game turns their way? I think Parra may have a bit to learn about that aspect of the game just yet. The Roosters for me.

 

The Raiders v Sea Eagles is the other major match-up this weekend. The Raiders have been a bit on and off; the Sea Eagles were lucky to get away with a win last weekend. Sooner or later, one of these two will get on a run and I think that’s more likely to be the Raiders. I think this one could be end-to-end footy, the way we like it. The Raiders – just.

 

Finally, the Sharks and the Bulldogs are both facing the reality of being inconsequential in 2020. That’s an awful thing to say in mid-June but it may well be accurate. The Sharks have aspirations and so I expect them to come through.

 

So my winners this week are: Knights, Rabbitohs, Storm, Dragons, Tigers, Roosters, Raiders and Sharks.

 

Thursday June 18

Knights v Broncos Central Coast Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday June 19

Rabbitohs v Warriors at Bankwest Stadium, 6.00pm
Panthers v Storm at Campbelltown Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday June 20

Titans v Dragons at Suncorp Stadium, 3.00pm
Tigers v Cowboys at Campbelltown Stadium, 5.30pm
Roosters v Eels at Bankwest Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday June 21

Raiders v Sea Eagles at Bankwest Stadium, 4.05pm
Sharks v Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium, 6.30pm

 

@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

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