Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 7: Fans short-changed by same old, same old

When the NRL season re-commenced a month ago, I held out hopes that the overall experience of the COVID-19 situation plus a couple of well-intended tweaks to the code’s rules might, just might, lead to a refreshed approach to the game. Alas, I was a fool to be so naive!

 

Last week, I suggested that the tweaks to the rules, intended to declutter and speed up the game, have been gamed by coaches more intent on winning than presenting a free-flowing game for us, the fans. On Tuesday, John Campbell and I lamented the crass commercialism and corporatisation of modern, top tier sport which wantonly exploits and potentially alienates fans. Then, as this week unfolded, we have seen yet more of the same old, same old – a coach sacked by a corporate board unwilling to confront its own shortcomings, speculation about the tenure of at least three other coaches (plus the farcical rumoured omnipresence of Wayne Bennett coaching at least three different clubs next year!), scuttlebutt about behind-the-scenes player contractual wrangling only a quarter of the way through the on-field season, and even more evidence of the ‘crash through’ mentality of administrators hellbent on making/keeping the broadcast dollars flow by pushing the boundaries of crowd attendances in the face of still uncertain public health issues.

 

In short, the fans can get stuffed! It’s not about them. For a long time, it has been, is, and will be about the money. Poor fellow my code.

 

Poor, unappreciated fans that we are, we try to struggle on and take pleasure in the good things the players are doing on the field. We appreciate the re-emergence of the Eels, the courageous effort on the Sea Eagles last Sunday, the sacrifice of the Warriors in relocating indefinitely to honour their commitment to the NRL, and the individual efforts of players such as Luke Keary, Maika Sivo, Cameron Smith, Daniel Saifiti, Xavier Coates, Corey Horsburgh, etc.

 

And so, in that spirit, here’s my take on this weekend’s Round 7:

 

The Panthers may have found their general mojo as well as their teamwork and should have a good tussle with the Rabbitohs where Latrell Mitchell may have awoken from apparent uninterest. But I’m not convinced by the Souths pack and expect the lads from the west to get away with this one and get on a roll in the coming weeks.

 

The Storm rarely lose two in a row; three would be unthinkable. They should have far too many guns for the fractured Warriors for whose players one can’t help but feel sorry. Or will they perform one of those against-all-logic comebacks and regain some self-belief and sense of purpose? I just can’t see it happening.

 

The Roosters will cut short the brief renaissance of the Dragons – mercilessly, I fear. Nothing more needs to be said.

 

Will being at home make any difference to the Cowboys? Optimists will say that they played much better in the second half on Saturday night; but their first was so diabolical that what happened after that was irrelevant. The Knights look solid and settled by comparison and will score a hit and run win.

 

The Broncos and the Titans have only pride to play for, not that either of them have shown much of that commodity of late. In a sense, who cares about this one? The Broncos are less worse and should win.

 

The Raiders are a real disappointment after their great run last season. They’ve lost their spark and their cohesion. They’ll get shown up by he Eels if they can’t get their act together immediately. The Eels, by comparison, are settled, co-ordinated and full of spirit. The home team for me.

 

The Sea Eagles were the gutsiest performers of Round 6; the Sharks bumble along, just scraping a win over the hapless Bulldogs last start. I can see only one winner here.

 

Finally, the Tigers should extend their run with a win over the Bulldogs – again, a spirited team against an honest group of players who Arte out of their depth.

 

So my Round 7 winners are: Panthers, Storm, Roosters, Knights, Broncos, Eels, Sea Eagles and Tigers.

 

From Round 6, match of the week goes to Roosters v Eels – a clash worthy of their top-of-the-table status; team of the week goes to the Sea Eagles for their courageous win against the odds after losing three players to injury; player of the week goes to Maika Sivo for his Jonah Lomu impersonation when he took out Teddy!

 

The full fixture for the weekend is:

 

Thursday June 25

Panthers v Rabbitohs, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 7.50pm

Friday June 26

Storm v Warriors at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 6.00pm
Roosters v Dragons at Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm

Saturday June 27

Cowboys v Knights at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 3.00pm
Broncos v Titans at Suncorp Stadium, 5.30pm
Eels v Raiders at Bankwest Stadium, 7.35pm

Sunday June 28

Sea Eagles v Sharks at Central Coast Stadium, 4.05pm
Bulldogs v Tigers 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

Comments

  1. As Richard Colless said in his Intro to my book, “Without the fans there would be no game”.

    And, as for our Broncos!

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