NRL Round 8: Sometimes you just have to laugh!


For general use



Little did he know it at the time but Matt O’Hanlon gazumped us all when he patented the phrase ‘You gotta love footy!” I seem to want to use it every other week to highlight some aspect of the game – but it’s his phrase and I have to respect that. It would have been useful to have it available again this week but I can’t and won’t appropriate it. I’ve tried an alternative instead.


By the time the Dolphins played the Eels in Darwin on Friday night I was already 0-2 with my tips for the round. I couldn’t see how the decimated Dolphins could possibly match it with the Eels. The first half suggested that I was on the money with my tip, even though my heart was with the Dolphins. Yes, it was only an 8-4 lead to the Eels after some scrambling Dolphin defence but the Eels were ahead in just about every stat except errors. The Dolphins looked like the ‘thrown together at the last moment’ team they actually were – no structure, no clear game plan, little to no ball, and no field position. There was just one notable exception – their ring-in fullback, Trai Fuller, who was playing just his second NRL game. In the first 10 minutes alone he defused at least three Eels scoring opportunities as he put his small frame on the line in courageous defence. It set the standard for his performance all night. Nevertheless, you were left to think that it was only a matter of time before the avalanche hit.


An early second half penalty took the score to 10-4 to the Eels and the momentum was all one way. Then the predicted avalanche hit – but in the opposite direction! In 25 minutes of pulsating, instinctive, riveting, irresistible, outrageous and, at times, ad lib footy, the Dolphins piled on 8 unanswered tries to go from 4-10 to 44-10. (It could have been 50+ if Isaako had brought his kicking boots along.) After the first of the eight tries I was happy that the underdogs were putting up a fight; after the second I smiled at the brilliance of Fuller; after the third I chuckled under my breath at the audacity of the upstarts. After that, as the next five piled up, I just couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Utterly preposterous! That simply cannot happen in the NRL – especially when executed by this motley crew whose coach was sick in bed back in Brisbane, and even more so against a team with top four aspirations who were reduced to the role of training session cones to run through, around and over. With one exception – Gutho refuses to recognise that a cause is lost. Clearly lame and utterly stuffed, he not only refused to leave the field but also fought on with an almost heroic nobility befitting the fine captain he is.


Dolphins, take a bow! That was the most exciting 25 minutes I’ve seen in a long, long time. Shades of the Broncos and Raiders entertainers from last century! Think Alfie, Kevvie, Kerrod, Pearl and Wendell, Sticky, Daly, Big Mal, Nagas and Mullins.


Elsewhere in Round 6, the first half of the Roosters/Storm game suggested that we were in for a free-flowing, end-to-end extravaganza but, alas, the second half became an almost ugly affair where one piece of sheer physicality by Xavier Coates decided the issue. As I wrote last week, you have to be either courageous or a fool to tip against the Storm. I was the fool. The Dragons looked so good in their upset win over the Warriors but rely too much on Hunt, Lomax and Sloan. An injury to any one of them will cause problems. The Panthers did enough, and not much more, to get past the Wests Tigers who battled gamely. Defence was AWOL in the Titans/Sea Eagles match but Turbo looked back to his best and Jurbo has one hell of a power pack. The Broncos went wild for 20 minutes and that was enough to beat the Raiders. Ezra Mam is fast becoming one of the most eye-catching players in the comp. Mam + Walsh = excitement. The Bulldogs took a step forward against the disappointing Knights but need to back it up next time. The Cowboys were woeful against the Sharks, simply woeful! Credit to the Sharks for turning early half-chances into points to build an unassailable lead.


Anzac Day tomorrow sees a triple header to commence Round 8. The Warriors get things underway when they host the Titans. The home side will be keen to redeem themselves after last week’s poor effort while the Titans just can’t jag a win. More of the same this weekend for Hasler’s boys, I fear, with the Warriors to take this one. The traditional Dragons v Roosters Anzac Day game follows later in the afternoon. On recent form, this could be a cracker. The Roosters will start favourites but some of the recent form of the Dragons has me guessing. Consistency is still an issue for the joint venture while the boys from Bondi are flat track bullies against mid-table opposition. I’ll back the Roosters. In the evening, Melbourne Storm host the ‘who knows what’s going on’ Rabbitohs. They should be fresh coming off the bye but what could be worse than having to then encounter Melbourne in Melbourne where the Rabbitohs have never won.  Melbourne will batter them up the middle and then let Hughes, Munster, Coates and Paps loose. I feel sorry for my Bunnies friends. Storm brewing!


Only one game on Friday when Manly hosts the dehydrated Parramatta at Brookie. I can’t see how the Eels can possibly recover enough in one week to challenge the Sea Eagles who love to run the ball. More chasey coming up for the Eels as DCE, Brooks, Turbo and co run amok. Manly for me.


On Saturday the Wests Tigers come up against the Broncos which, you’d expect, will see a Broncos romp. Too big, too fast, too slick, too skilled, too everything. Brisbane by the length of the straight. Then the Cowboys are at home to the Panthers. North Queensland can’t play any worse than they did last weekend (Dearden excepted) while, even at their worst, the Panthers are still a cut above most. The Cowboys lack sufficient strike power to overcome the multi-pronged options available to Penrith. The Panthers comfortably.


The Dolphins host the Knights on Sunday afternoon and last week suggests a home win. I’m still chuckling about those crazy 25 minutes on Friday night! Can they do it again? The Knights have lost their best player for months and it’s hard to see them challenging in this game. But weren’t the Dolphins in an even worse situation last week? Adversity provides opportunity. Are the Knights good enough to take it? Not this weekend – the Dolphins to win. Finally, the Raiders take on the top-of-the-table Sharks in what could be a bit of a razzle-dazzle game. But the loss of Fogarty is a huge blow to the Raiders while Hynes is back to his best for the Sharks. That’s the story right there. Sharks to win.


The Bulldogs have the bye.


Finally, farewell Dale Finucane who had been forced into retirement on health grounds after sustaining multiple concussions over the years. 251 NRL games, 5 State of Origin appearances, 2 premierships with Melbourne Storm. Represented the Bulldogs, Storm and Sharks. A tough, tireless, hard-hitting, rugged player who led by example. The type you’d be more than happy to have on your team.


Dale Finucane
Image: Wikipedia


To read our library of rugby league stories click HERE.

To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.

To see the full 2024 season draw for the NRL click HERE.

To see the full 2024 season draw for the NRLW click HERE.

To see the details for State of Origin in 2024 click HERE.


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.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.

About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.


  1. Russel Hansen says

    love what the Dolphins are doing – on and off the field – in 2023, finally, after the Broncos’ monopoly for so long, a rugby league city the size of Brisvegas became a two team ‘town’ again!

    PHINS UP !!

  2. Matt O'Hanlon says

    I have to agree with your Redcliffe view- and it is clear that the Redcliffe pride built up over many years is of benefit. This raises the issue for expansion that a historical basis could be of great benefit eg . North Sydney – also they were aided by an abysmal Eels performance. On another note I’ve always thought if Finucane was a QLD er he would have played over 20 origins

  3. Ian Hauser says

    Thanks for the thoughts, RITV and PITC. The shell grit is certainly deeply ingrained enough in Redcliffe to make it a good heartland choice. Perhaps the same could be said of Ipswich, Toowoomba and the Wide Bay/Central Queensland areas but maybe they’re too far removed physically for them to work.

    Agreed re Dale Finucane, Prop. In the mould of Billy Moore, Dallas Johnson, Bob Lindner. I think Pat Carrigan will be the next to earn that level of company.

Leave a Comment