Almanac Rugby League – Dragons/Tigers: The link between footy and the dishes

There has been precious little written about the link between the NRL finals and washing dishes.

Perhaps because I’m the only evidence of this link. At half-time in last year’s grand final, with the Roosters leading 8-6 in a tight game I was a ball of nervous energy. With more than three decades of waiting riding on the second 40 minutes, there was no way I was going to be able to sit there and watch the half-time entertainment.

So I went in search of something to do to pass the time and use up some of that energy. That something was washing a load of dishes. In the second 40 the Dragons came out and held the Chooks scoreless while racking up plenty of points themselves. I like to think my dishpan hands helped achieve that win in some small way.

The dishwashing returned after Friday’s final against the Tigers, but not to try and inspire a win but to deal with a loss. I figured, I could spend the rest of the evening wishing painful deaths on anyone living in the Leichhardt and Campbelltown areas but, I’d still wake up the next morning and they’d all still be alive and we would have still lost. Or I could give myself a distraction and do the dishes. Sure I’d still wake up to a loss the next morning but it wouldn’t be compounded by seeing a massive pile of dishes awaiting my attention. It’s not much of a trade-of to be sure, but it’s better than nothing.

My night wasn’t supposed to end with my hands deep in warm, soapy water wishing death on Wests Tigers fans (yeah, I thought I’d give it a crack anyway. Just in case). I was sure the Dragons were on the way up while the Tigers, after an ordinary effort against the hapless Sharks the week before, were on the way down. Instead, what I got was a match that neatly encapsulated the Dragons’ 2011 season – a strong, dominant first half followed by a second half where everything goes pear-shaped.

We went into the sheds up 12-6. It would have been 12-0 but for a try to Benji Marshall that should never have been awarded. He totally muffed a kick, the ball hitting the ground just as he managed to fluke a toe onto it. He regathers and scores. The video ref ruled that Marshallhad drop-kicked the ball (because that’s what all kickers choose to do in the 4th minute of a game – go for a drop goal). By that rationale, any player who drops the ball but gets a boot on it – even after it hits the ground – hasn’t knocked on. It’s totally ridiculous. Though of course the commentators raved about Benji’s genius, just like they do when he does anything more challenging than wake up in the morning.

Then the second half comes along and the two teams play like they’ve swapped jerseys. The error-riddled Tigers dominated, while the Dragons went back to the form they showed during their recent slump. The Dragons were kept scoreless while the Tigers lifted quite a few gears and scored 15 points and never looked like they were going to lose. It was the Tigers rather than the Dragons who showed they could handle the pressure of the big matches.

And so the Dragons are sent to MacIntyre system limbo, waiting for other results to see if we’re still alive or if end of season trip planning can begin. There are a few things theAFLdoes better than the NRL – banners, promotion, deluding themselves that their players are better behaved than ours. The finals system can be added to that list. In theAFL, teams and fans know right after the game if the season is over.

The NRL system forces fans of the team that loses on Friday night to do something incredibly cruel – cheer for other teams to win. I have to urge on three teams I hate to victories so as to keep the Dragons alive. First up was the Broncos – who I hate for 1992 and 1993 – on the next stop on their 2011 Darren Lockyer farewell tour. In the first half of their game against the Warriors, I caught myself cheering two of their tries. At halftime the Broncs were up 18-0 and by full-time it was 40-10 after the floodgates at Suncorp opened late in the game.

One down, one to go.

Straight after that game I put on my Manly hate to support a team I hate because they whinge more than a four-year-old girl. And for 1996. The best thing they could do for me was to knock over the Cowboys, which would save me from a fate worse than death – wanting the Melbourne Storm to win. When it comes to hating the Melbourne Storm, I take a back seat to no-one. For existing in the first place (while teams that had been around for decades were kicked out or folded), for 1999, for the salary cap cheating, for the sooking about how unfair it was they got punished for salary cap cheating and for the fact that, this year, they’re still playing with a side that wouldn’t exist without that rorting (come on, if they were playing by the rules the whole time, they’d have never been able to hang onto Slater, Cronk and Smith).

There would be few things I’d enjoy more than a season in which the Storm got defeated every week. So yeah, I hate them.

To be honest, I’m expecting the Sea Eagles to hurt me by losing and consign me to backing the loathed Storm on Sunday. And it looks like that might happen, after the Cowboys, playing sudden-death  take an 8-0 lead into the break. But at half-time Des Hasler must have slammed every door off its hinges at the football stadium because the Sea Eagles came out all revved up for half No2.

North Queenslanddidn’t trouble the scorers, which was fortunate because they were kept busy with Manly’s 42-point second half.

Two down and the Dragons are still alive. Here’s hoping we make the most of this second chance.


  1. Glen,

    I recognise the “kitchen tidy” syndrome as a way to deal with nervous energy. Emptying the dishwasher is my version.

    I liked your take on Benji’s “drop kick” – in the 4th minute? in a crowded ruck area? Elsewhere I’ve referred to the video ref as the “no fun police”. In this case they were more like the “you’ve got to be *&^%$# joking police”. And I don’t even like the Dragons!

    Who knows what might happen at Suncorp next weekend? At least we know that there’ll be lots of clean dishes at your place and mine.

    As for the Tigers – more arse than class, methinks, and their turn to be on the wrong end of some strange calls will come sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    Interested to read your comments on the NRL final 8 system. It was a question I was wanting to ask week: what do RL supporters think? It is the system the AFL had temporarily. I agree with you that waiting for results of other games, and actually having to play the games in a certain order so that results don’t become redundant before the game is even played, is not an ideal system

    In the AFL in 1998, Adelaide finished 5th and suffered a heavy week one loss to the fourth placed team. However, as a high placed loser, they stayed in and eventually won the premiership. It was a unjustified second chance in a silly finals system. The system has been replaced by a more equitable system where only the top 4 teams get any second chance.

  3. Glen Humphries says

    I prefer the AFL system where the top 4 and the bottom 4 play each other in the first week.
    It’s also fairer because it means the top 4 sides can’t be eliminated in week one. In the league system it’s theoretically possible for teams in third and fourth to be punted after the first week.

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