From The Couch: Round 13

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 5, 2012

Origin Selection Notes:Well, the Jamie Buhrer era is over. It last seven minutes. All the drivel put forward by Ricky Stuart to justify the selection is now done. He has been replaced by Penrith prop Tim Grant. Grant was lucky to get the nod over Aaron Woods and forgotten man Aiden Tolman but at least the balance of the side has improved with Paul Gallen back to lock. It is a much better looking side with Anthony Watmough coming in for the injured Tony Williams.

Stuart though, did not make the big calls he needed. He didn't drop Mitchell Pearce. He didn't dump Michael Jennings. He, somehow, decided to stick with Ben Creagh.

The Blues team, on paper has improved. It has not improved enough.

Mal Meninga, not surprisingly, kept the same 17. Ben Barba's claims are undoubtedly there but the Maroons are sticking big.

The Mid-Season Report Card: This week, all 16 teams are graded as to how they are travelling after 13 rounds.

Brisbane (8-4, 2nd) [A-]: The Broncos have played good, consistent footy for the second straight year under Anthony Griffin with the defence particularly notable. Put six on end before losing three straight. Pack has been excellent. Few weaknesses. Decent run with injuries and have great depth at any rate.
Best:Corey Norman has seamlessly slipped into Darren Lockyer's boots.
Disappointing: Petero Civoniceva's return to Brisbane has been underwhelming.
Surprise: Josh McGuire is making a real name for himself as a legit hard-man.
Best win: 28-20 v St George Illawarra
Worst Loss: 20-30 at New Zealand

Canberra (4-8, 15th) [D]:It has been another inconsistent and underachieving year from the Raiders. Injuries have hit hard but the attitude in most games has been disgraceful. Worst edge defence in the competition. Croker exposed all the time. Get smashed through the middle. No hooker/half has been a big problem.
Best: Josh Dugan, when healthy and played in his right position, has been solid.
Disappointing: Jarrod Croker is constantly exposed defensively on the left edge.
Surprise: Josh Papalii is one of the few Raiders who puts in week in week out.
Best Win: 30-16 at Wests Tigers
Worst Loss: 0-40 v Wests Tigers

Canterbury (8-5, 3rd) [A]:It was expected Des Hasler would take a year to get Canterbury right. It took him one pre-season. The entire identity of the Bulldogs has changed with skillful, chain-passing forwards complemented perfectly by the exciting Ben Barba and Josh Morris and a real 'footballer's footballer' in Josh Reynolds.
Best: Josh Morris has rediscovered his form and has been outstanding all year.
Disappointing: Michael Ennis continues to struggle, usually overplaying his hand.
Surprise: Josh Reynolds has won the No.6 jersey with super-competitiveness.
Best Win: 23-18 v South Sydney
Worst Loss: 6-20 v Newcastle

Cronulla (7-5, 6th) [A]: Have seriously overachieved this season with the risks on Todd Carney and Bryce Gibbs reaping significant rewards. Shane Flanagan has done a great job with the pack going a treat. Concerns out wide but the halves are making amends. Origin has really hurt the Sharks' momentum.
Best: Paul Gallen may well be the best forward to ever play the game.
Disappointing: Anthony Tupou is on $420k and has done nothing when fit.
Surprise: Jason Bukuya has been superb since winning the starting backrow job.
Best Win: 12-10 v Melbourne
Worst Loss: 20-29 at Parramatta

Gold Coast (5-7, 10th) [C+]:Few expected much of the Titans this year and with plenty of off-field dramas this year, another horrid year could have been on the cards. The promotion of Aidan Sezer has turned the Titans around though and they are shaping as smokies to make the eight on the back of honest defence.
Best: Greg Bird has led from the front for the Titans, ripping in every week.
Disappointing: Jamal Idris is shaping as the largest bust – waistline wise – ever.
Surprise: Former Bulldog prospect Aidan Sezer has turned this side around. 
Best Win: 25-14 at Canterbury
Worst Loss: 12-24 v Canberra

Manly (8-5, 5th) [B+]:The Sea Eagles have seemingly lost nothing with Des Hasler leaving and have managed to re-sign most of their squad. Manly have gone very well against the good teams but have struggled against the lesser lights, a slight worry. The right edge attack with Lyon and G.Stewart is ruthless.
Best:Jamie Lyon is the best centre in the game and has Manly's right edge flying.
Disappointing: Tony Williams has spent most of the year on the sidelines.
Surprise: Jamie Buhrer has become a very handy utility to have in the squad.
Best Win: 24-22 at Brisbane
Worst Loss: 20-29 at Parramatta

Melbourne (11-1, 1st) [A+]:The benchmark for the premiership with only one loss. No team in their league. Still playing around the big three but getting big contributions from bit players. Superbly drilled and their more open style has reaped plenty of rewards this year. Should be there when the whips are cracking.
Best: Cooper Cronk has taken his game to a new level and has been top class.
Disappointing: Kevin Proctor has had some injury and form worries this year.
Surprise: Ryan Hoffman has been very good in his return to the Storm.
Best Win: 42-18 v New Zealand
Worst Loss: 10-12 at Cronulla

Newcastle (4-8, 13th) [D-]: There were big hopes for the Knights this year but Wayne Bennett knew he had a big task changing the attitudes of the front office and senior players. Still has plenty to do. Stars not firing and attitude poor. Kurt Gidley's absence has hurt plenty. Jarrod Mullen has to go.
Best: Chris Houston gives his all every week and is the hardest worker there.
Disappointing: Darius Boyd has done nothing but cry since lobbing at the club.
Surprise: Willie Mason has gone remarkably well since joining mid-season.
Best Win: 20-6 v Canterbury
Worst Loss: 14-24 v Gold Coast

New Zealand (5-7, 12th) [C]: The loss of Ivan Cleary has fundamentally changed the Warriors. New coach Brian McClennan is a lot looser and much less a disciplinarian. Result has been a far poorer defence and less consistency. Are really at the crossroads of what to date has been a disappointing season.
Best: Shaun Johnson hasn't been consistent but boy does he have some talent.
Disappointing: Manu Vatuvei has returned to the poor decision player of the past.
Surprise: Konrad Hurrell is raw but looks a killer for the Warriors.
Best Win: 30-20 v Brisbane
Worst Loss: 12-32 at Canberra

North Queensland (7-6, 8th) [B-]:It has been a topsy-turvy season for the Cowboys this year. The club has been uncharacteristically strong on the road while losing some shockers at home. Consistency has again been an issue. Forward pack is first rate. Worries against quality opposition – have had an easy draw.
Best: Johnathan Thurston, outstanding, as always, a real treat.
Disappointing: Kalifa Faifai-Loa can't even force his way into the best 17.
Surprise: James Tamou has provided the Cowboys with the Aussie prop duo.
Best Win: 30-6 v St George Illawarra
Worst Loss: 0-18 v Gold Coast

Parramatta (2-10, 16th) [F]:The Eels have been on a rough trot – admittedly, mostly their own doing – since their appearance in the 2009 Grand Final but this year has been their worst. Their efforts have been just abhorrent with big-money stars doing nothing. Defence is pathetic. Stephen Kearney won't see out the year. Wooden spoon certainties.
Best: Fuifui Moimoi is the one forward who continues to bend the line.
Disappointing: Chris Sandow. Ben Roberts. Willie Tonga. Jarryd Hayne.
Surprise: Matt Ryan is playing like a young Nathan Hindmarsh.
Best Win: 29-20 v Manly
Worst Loss: 6-39 v Penrith

Penrith (4-8, 14th)[C]: It was expected that 2012 would be a rebuilding year for the Panthers and so it has been. Ivan Cleary has proved himself right for the job though with some big calls. Injuries have hurt, particularly to Michael Gordon, but lack class and have been very poor at home. Didn't score in two rounds.
Best: Lachlan Coote has been reliable at the back and has been key to attack
Disappointing: Michael Jennings has been spineless all year and will be out soon.
Surprise: Blake Austin has been a nice find with his competitiveness admirable.
Best Win: 22-4 v Manly
Worst Loss: 14-34 at Newcastle

St George Illawarra (6-7, 11th) [C-]:This was always going to be a watershed year for the Dragons but they have not handled the loss of Wayne Bennett well. Their attack is almost non-existent while they have lost the ability to grind out wins on the road. Have the talent but not playing like a cohesive unit.
Best: Jason Nightingale contributes more than any winger in the comp, reliable.
Disappointing: Ben Hornby's form has gone off the edge of a cliff and quickly.
Surprise: Brett Morris' move to fullback has worked a treat for the Dragons.
Best Win: 36-12 v Wests Tigers
Worst Loss: 12-13 at Penrith

South Sydney (7-5, 7th) [A-]:Michael Maguire has done a wonderful job with South Sydney, totally transforming the kind of team they are. He has the Bunnies playing very direct and is getting the best out of his players. The Bunnies are well balanced and can go a long way this year with their talent and coaching.
Best: Michael Maguire moved Greg Inglis to fullback early and he has excelled.
Disappointing: Ben Lowe was an emerging Origin type but is struggling now.
Surprise: Adam Reynolds has been superb in his first year in the Souths No.7.
Best Win: 34-28 v Cronulla
Worst Loss: 20-24 v Sydney Roosters

Sydney Roosters (5-7, 12th) [B-]: The young Roosters side has probably performed as expected this year. They have been desperately unlucky on a couple of occasions but have had their share of luck as well. Young pack looks set to make an impact in years ahead. Defensive weaknesses in the backline a worry.
Best: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has really led from the front for the Chooks.
Disappointing: Braith Anasta has been poor all year and shows little leadership.
Surprise: Boyd Cordner shapes as one of the best Rooster prospects in years.
Best Win: 24-20 at South Sydney
Worst Loss: 12-50 v North Queensland

Wests Tigers (7-5, 4th) [B+]:Started slowly (as always) with only one win in the first six rounds but worked themselves into a six-game win streak to the midway point. Benji Marshall has shifted to No.7 and has been excellent. Robbie Farah is flying. The prop duo of Woods and Galloway going a treat. Curtis Sironen, top prospect.
Best: Aaron Woods has elevated himself from promising prospect to elite prop.
Disappointing: Adam Blair has done little since arriving on a big-money deal.
Surprise: Beau Ryan has been absolutely outstanding for the Tigers in 2012
Best Win: 40-0 at Canberra
Worst Loss: 12-36 at St George Illawarra

David Furner is a Moron: There has arguably not been a dumber positional switch all season than David Furner's call to move Josh Dugan to five-eighth. Dugan is the best kick returner in the NRL. One consistent advantage the Raiders had is now gone. Dugan has a bad shoulder, one that will require surgery at season's end. So what better decision than moving him into the line where he will be forced to endure a greater workload in defence? The move was the desperate act from a coach lacking in ideas and intelligence. Of course, the result said it all: 0-40, at home, in the wet. Rather than his 150-plus metres, he ran for 24. He also had seven missed tackles. Reece Robinson had 94 metres with two errors and looked horrible. All this to keep Dimitri Pelo in the side. How long are the Raiders going to let their club go to hell with this moron in charge?

Bring Down Bill: It appears moves are afoot to rid rugby league, once and for all, of the blight that is Bill Harrigan. His cuteness will no longer be tolerated. Harrigan, amazingly, has managed to do as bad a job as referees boss predecessor Robert Finch. Officiating was okay last year. It has gone back to being a disaster this year. Even the good referees – see the Tony Archer faction – cannot cop Harrigan justifying that Inglis try. It is also clear that Harrigan is playing favourites with his appointments, giving his top henchman Matt Cecchin an undeserved Origin debut. Harrigan will see out the year but will not be back next season with Steve Clark or Tony Archer likely to take over. It really is astonishing that anyone at the NRL is surprised by this. Harrigan always needs to be the hero but as always, never puts the work in and never backs down. He is a scourge on the backside of the game and he needs to be shown the door.

On The Move: Newcastle and Penrith both made signing news throughout the week with the Knights signing sacked Brisbane winger Dane Gagai and the Panthers landing a massive coup by penning Dean Whare.

Gagai will join the Knights straight away. It won't be long before he gets the call to first grade, likely in the centres. The Knights have just lacked punch in the three-quarter line all season and Timana Tahu has been disgraceful –lazy, slow, stupid.

Whare is an excellent get for the Panthers and a nice replacement for Michael Gordon. He is versatile and skillful and he plays with real vision. He is a quality get.

Happy 250: Luke Burt and John Morris this week played their 250th-NRL game. There have not been two more unassuming players reach the milestone, with the possible exception of John Cross. Burt and Morris become just the sixth and seventh players to reach 250 premiership matches without playing Origin or international football after Cross, Craig Coleman, Preston Campbell, Todd Payten and Simon Woolford.

$2.50 Tickets at Parramatta: The Eels last week dropped ticket prices to $2.50 to celebrate Luke Burt's 250th game. Parramatta need to get a better understanding of economics: surely the market price for an Eels ticket is no bigger than $2.50. I certainly wouldn't pay that much, even to see them get toweled up.

For Channel Nine: An open letter, written by rugby league lover Aaron Marriott.

An open letter to Kerry Stokes.

Please Kerry, please, bury Channel Nine.

You're already a great philanthropist my friend. Now cement your legacy in the hearts of all Australians, for all of time, by wiping these maggots off the map.


Rugby League fans

Recruitment in the NRL Era – Newcastle: Newcastle have not recruited well. Their MO has been to overpay for washed-up veterans (Steve Walters, Russell Richardson) or to spend overs on former Knights players who developed into better types elsewhere (Kade Snowden) or wanted a farewell in Newcastle (Timana Tahu, Adam MacDougall). With the exception of Ben Kennedy and a few other lesser lights –Chris Houston, Zeb Taia and Isaac De Gois – the Knights have generally recruited very poorly. Admittedly, they have been hamstrung financially but have done little with the money they have had.

Best Year: Without question 2000 was the best recruitment year for the Knights. The club recruited two tough forwards – Ben Kennedy and Matt Parsons – who both played in the 2001 decider along with Rothman's Medal winner David Fairleigh, who had a good encore in Newcastle after a stellar career at Norths. Jason Moodie went onto play Origin but was easily replaced while Owen Craigie was on his way to becoming the bodyshape Jamal Idris would model himself on.

Worst Year: The Knights lost nobody in 2010 but their only pick-ups were Antonio Kaufusi and Evarn Tuimivave, both of whom have contributed very little to the club.

Best Buy: Ben Kennedy was an outstanding player and played the peak of his career at the Knights, winning a premiership in 2001, his second year at the club. The hard-headed lock played for NSW and Australia throughout the duration of his Knights career and was an integral part of the club's last great era. The Knights made the finals in the first four years he was at the club but ran last in his first year out.

Worst Buy: The Knights have a long list of poor recruits, particularly in recent times, this year signing Adam Cuthbertson, Timana Tahu and Willie Mason. But the worst of the lot was bum prop Antonio Kaufusi. The lazy forward played 33 games for the Knights and almost never put in. At least he came cheap.

Worst Loss: Ben Kennedy, see above. Kennedy still had two great years left in him at Manly and could have extended Newcastle's period near the top had he have not headed south. Won two Dally M Lock of the Year awards at the Sea Eagles.

Origin/International Players Recruited:
Already: (14) Steve Walters, David Fairleigh, Ben Kennedy, Russell Richardson, Craig Smith, Brian Carney, Adam MacDougall, Antonio Kaufusi, Evarn Tuimivave, Neville Costigan, Darius Boyd, Willie Mason, Kade Snowden, Timana Tahu
Became: (2) Zeb Taia, Ben Cross

Origin/International Players Lost:
Already: (7) Adam Muir, Matthew Johns, Darren Albert, Adam MacDougall, Ben Kennedy, Timana Tahu, Josh Perry
Became: (5) Jason Moodie, Paul Rauhihi, Michael Ennis, Anthony Quinn, Kade Snowden

*Super League Tri Series and International matches are recognised.
** Only players who went to or came from another NRL club are noted with the exception of English internationals.

Injury Update: Some massive injuries this week and mainly up front wit Luke Bailey and Sam Burgess both set for extended periods on the sidelines.

Luke Bailey (GC): Suffered some nasty rib cartilage damage and will miss between 4-6 weeks. That should see Luke Douglas start with Nate Myles up front.

Shaun Berrigan (Can): More bad news for the Raiders with their best hooker ruled out for the year with a ruptured bicep.

Jamie Buhrer (Man): Strained his back late against the Dragons but will be right.

Sam Burgess (Sou): The injury-prone Souths bustler is out again, picking up a knee injury. Will have surgery and miss six weeks.

Glen Fisiahii (War): Hurt his knee but with Kevin Locke back, was likely to find himself out of the 17 anyway.

Matt King (Sou): Has had surgery to repair his groin and also has a hernia. Will be out until at least round 19 and likely round 21. Justin Hunt will keep his spot in first grade.

Tim Lafai (Bul): Dislocated his shoulder and is out for the year, leaving Canterbury short six outside backs. Andy Patmore may get recalled to first grade after 18 years out.

Eddy Pettybourne (Sou): Did his calf in the pregame against the Bulldogs. Is on crutches and may not play for another month.

Sam Rapira (War): Never got going this year and tore his tricep against Melbourne. Won't be seen until 2013.

James Segeyaro (Cow): The Cowboys hooker is now done for the year after busting his ankle. Aaron Payne should not get more time with Michael Morgan to act as backup hooker.

Anthony Watmough (Man): Didn't play the full 80 with a persistent neck worry against St George Illawarra but is back for the Blues.

Fun Fact #1: The most metres gained in a Grand Final in the Winfield Cup Era (1982-95):

1. Mick Potter (Canterbury) 324m in '84 v Parramatta
2. Garry Jack (Balmain) 296m in '89 v Canberra
3. Gary Belcher (Canberra) 265m '90 v Penrith
4. Julian O'Neill (Brisbane) 263m in '92 v St George
5. Brad Clyde (Canberra) 235m in '89 v Balmain

Fun Fact #2: The most tackles in a Grand Final in the Winfield Cup Era (1982-95):

1. Gary Coyne (Canberra) 50 in '90 v Penrith
2. Steve Edge (Parramatta) 48 in '84 v Canterbury
3. Ray Price (Parramatta) 47 in '84 v Canterbury
4. Jeff Hardy (St George) 44 in '93 v Brisbane
5. Pat Jarvis (St George) 43 in '85 v Canterbury
5. Brent Todd (Canberra) 43 in '90 v Penrith

Fun Fact #3: The most tackle breaks in a Grand Final in the Winfield Cup Era (1982-95):

1. John Ferguson (Canberra) 16 in '89 v Balmain
2. Noel Cleal  (Manly) 14 in '83 v Parramatta
2. Cliff Lyons (Manly) 14 in '87 v Canberra
4. Brad Clyde 12 (Canberra) in '89 v Balmain
4. Brad Fittler 12 (Penrith) in '90 v Canberra
4. Michael Hancock 12 (Brisbane) in '92 v St George

Fun Fact #4: The most errors in a Grand Final in the Winfield Cup Era (1982-95):

5: Wayne Pearce (Balmain – '89)
4: John Ribot (Manly – '83), Chris Close (Manly – '83), Alan Thompson (Manly – '83), Steve Mortimer (Canterbury – '84), Brett Kenny (Parramatta – '84), David Liddiard (Parramatta – '84), Sam Backo (Canberra – '87), Paul Smith (Penrith – '91)

The 2012 Willie M Medal:

Manly v St George Illawarra
3-Beau Scott (Dra)
2-Ben Hornby (Dra)
1-Jamie Soward (Dra)
Judge: Cliff Bingham

Gold Coast v North Queensland
3-Ashley Graham (Cow)
2-Antonio Winterstein (Cow)
1-Kane Linnett (Cow)
Judge: Cliff Bingham

Canberra v Wests Tigers
3-Blake Ferguson (Can)
2-Jarrod Croker (Can)
1-Edrick Lee (Can)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

Canterbury v South Sydney
3-Justin Hunt (Sou)
2-Sam Kasiano (Bul)
1-Ben Lowe (Sou)
Judge: Nick Tedeschi

New Zealand v Melbourne
3-Shaun Johnson (War)
2-Lewis Brown (War)
1-Jason Ryles (Mel)
Judge: Matt Fisk

Brisbane v Newcastle
3-Chris Houston (New)
2-Peter Wallace (Bri)
1-Jarrod Mullen (New)
Judge: Matt Fisk

Parramatta v Cronulla
3-Todd Carney (Cro)
2-Isaac Gordon (Cro)
1-Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
Judge: Nathan Boss

13: Ben Hornby (Dra)
12: Tim Moltzen (Tig), Ben Roberts (Par)
10: Jarrod Croker (Can), Mitch Rein (Dra)
9: Mitchell Pearce (Roo), Timana Tahu (New)
8: Braith Anasta (Roo), Chris Sandow (Par), Antonio Winterstein (Cow)

Rumour Mill: The situation at Penrith with Michael Jennings has become exceptionally ugly and don't expect Penrith to soften their stance anytime soon. They want Jennings out but they want to pay none of his contract. They are prepared to play him in NSW Cup until he voluntarily walks, getting fed up with the situation. Bill Harrigan will not be back as referees boss in 2013. Expect Tony Archer to take on the role, something that will be a big blow to the already thin refereeing ranks. Corey Parker was this week linked to Canterbury. The Broncos are strong in the backrow but it would be hard to believe Parker would make the move to the Bulldogs. David Williams has been linked to Canterbury. The Bulldogs would be better trying to lure Michael Oldfield. Braith Anasta and Brian Smith have fallen out and it would not surprise to see Anasta dropped sooner rather than later.

Power Rankings:
1. Melbourne 11-1 (1)
2. Brisbane 8-4 (2)
3. Canterbury 8-5 (6)
4. Manly 8-5 (5)
5. South Sydney 7-6 (3)
6. Wests Tigers 7-5 (8)
7. North Queensland 7-6 (7)
8. Cronulla 7-5 (4)
9. New Zealand 6-6 (9)
10. Gold Coast 5-7 (12)
11. Sydney Roosters 5-7 (10)
12. St George Illawarra 6-7 (11)
13. Penrith 4-8 (13)
14. Newcastle 4-8 (14)
15. Canberra 4-8 (15)
16. Parramatta 2-10 (16)

What I Like About … Sam Burgess: There is plenty to like about the rugged South Sydney forward: his love of the game, his fearless attitude, his ability to like both reality television and cooking and not have his masculinity questioned. But it was on NRL on Fox last week that he endeared himself to me even further by declaring he would never want to play State of Origin as he was committed to the English jumper. A player with some pride in his heritage, who is thinking of the greater good. It is sad that such a stance is so rare these days.

Betting Market of the Week: When Bill Harrigan gets fired as referees boss, his next career move will be:

– Cement truck driver: $3.50
– Labor Party apparatchik: $2.25
– The new black, disliked Wiggle: $2.00
–  Intelligent, knowledgeable, quality rugby league analyst: $5001

Moniker XIII of the Week:With the great Peter Sterling one of the nominees to become the eighth Immortal, we name the greatest Peters of all-time, a name that stretches  the long history of the code.

The Peters

1. Peter Jorgensen (103 games for Sydney Roosters/Penrith)
2. Peter Dimond (155 games for Western Suburbs)
3. Peter Jackson (103 games for Canberra/Brisbane/North Sydney)
4. Peter Gallagher (123 games for Eastern Suburbs/Manly)
5. Peter Mortimer (189 games for Canterbury)
6. Peter Burke (105 games for Manly)
7. Peter Sterling (227 games for Parramatta)
13. Peter Diversi (130 games for North Sydney/Manly)
12. Peter Provan (173 games for St George/Balmain)
11. Peter Tunks (229 games for Souths/Canterbury/Penrith)
10. Petero Civoniceva (299 games for Brisbane/Penrith)
9. Peter Madsen (9 Tests for Australia)
8. Peter Gallagher (17 Tests for Australia)

Analysis: The Peters team is top class. The forward pack has six internationals with fellow Australian reps Kelly and Wynn unable to force their way in. Gallagher and Civoniceva are as good a prop combo as you could hope to find. Sterling is one of the top 15-20 players of all-time. Dimond and Jackson were both very good.

The Coaching Crosshairs:Stephen Kearney has reportedly been given just two weeks to turn the Eels' season around. It seems a forlorn hope with even two wins leaving the Eels locked in last place. Jason Taylor shapes as his most likely replacement. Surely even the unmovable Canberra board has to be shocked by the 40-0 loss to the Wests Tigers in horrid conditions. The future of David Furner must be on the agenda this week.

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Missed four tackles against Parramatta in a typically inept showing. The best of those misses was when Fuifui Moimoi swatted him away like a monster truck plowing into a gollywog.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 13: Canterbury-South Sydney, 23-18. Perhaps the game of the year, an absolute beauty from beginning to end. The match was fast, intense, full of drama. With all the ball early, the Bunnies romped to a 12-0 lead. A swing in momentum just before the break, however, had Canterbury up 18-12 thanks primarily to the brilliances of Ben Barba. The second half was more of a grind but the Bunnies tied it all up with a lucky try, thank you Jonathan Wright. A Krisnan Inu field goal – for the second week he was the unlikely hero – put Canterbury up 19-18 and seemingly home until a Sam Burgess break sent Dylan Farrell flying to the corner. He was over, for all money, until he dived too early and Ben Barba caught him and swung him into touch. It was the try-saver, the match-saver, of the season. This match had the feeling that these two would see each other again further down the road.

Correspondence Corner: Dawn, it would have been great to sneak Robbie Muchmore in, no risk, but that was a pretty hot backline.

Keyboard Rambo, I don't think I've seen Pearce put anyone through a hole all season. I don't see how he is going to get through the Queensland defence. Too one-dimensional for mine.

Anonymous, the Inglis debacle was not a try. You and Bill Harrigan are out on your own. Paul Kent is right on the money. You should have paid attention.

Luke M, I was watching Manly-Penrith live and I thought he had to go for sure. He isn't a bloody altar boy either. The referees need to use the send off more. Laurie Daley used to get plenty of Dragons in the Blues teams … perhaps Ricky loves the Red V just as much, though he does hate Jimmy Soward.

Matt, I was only saying the other day to a mate that Jorge Taufua is one of the worst players in the NRL after he tried to flog him to me in a fantasy deal. The problem for him is Manly are winning too much.

Magpiemick, I think Magic Weekend would be perfect for an Origin weekend if the NRL knocked back my idea of holding a knockout cup on those weekends.

Calum, if he picked a decent side in the first place, I'd agree that the side should stay. But Stuart picked a side that can't beat Queensland. And won't.

Ferret, my complaints aren't so much with individual missed calls – it is about the direction they have pushed the game and the "smart-arseness" of the rules. The game is meant to be simple and has been over-complicated by snots like Bill Harrigan who thinks he is smarter than the rest of us. There is always going to be bitching about refereeing – but these morons should not be allowed to ruin the game.

Rabby, I wouldn't expect all eight games to be held in one venue but I would think a couple of venues would do nicely.

Jeff McGinn, I hadn't yet vented and as my doctor told me that I needed to sleep, it was important I got it out.

Col Quinn, I don’t know that I buy into this 'any publicity is good publicity' line but then I'm no marketing expert.

Woody, Manly play close to the line, that is for sure. I don't believe in pre-warnings but I think refs need to send off players –from any team – for bad high shots.

Dan, Wests have been given a real raw deal by the Balmain end of the deal. Produce the players, get no recognition. The move to end their NSW Cup association was disgraceful.

Darren, Ben Pomeroy is quite the thespian, no risk.

Arthur, I didn't see a lot of Sandow last week so can't comment but I think Soward is playing quite well in a very ordinary side.

Mav63, New South Wales' attack was totally inept and Ricky Stuart brings nothing to the side.

Davey G, open slather isn't the way to go with Origin. It diminishes international football and we can't have that. Eligibility needs to be tightened. And I accept your dare: I don't want Sam Burgess in a blue jersey … I want him in a white one.

TigersMS, I had to do a fair rewrite after that Inu game.

Beard Watch: Thanks to reader Amanda Long for enlightening me to 'The Trustworthiness of Beards', which provides a full list of what kind of beards trustworthy men have and what kind of beards douchebag liars have. Luckily, your valiant author has a very trustworthy beard. And you should never, ever trust a word David Williams says.

Watch It:This week we travel back to 1986 and get a recap of what was an interesting year. From the death of Dallas Donnelly to Geoffrey Edelsten's attempts to buy Cronulla as a birthday present and the farewell to the Sydney Sports Ground, 1986 was an interesting season. Watch it here.




Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mate, if, god forbid, Channel 9 keep the league rights, expect to see Harrigan on a panel of experts somewhere. Any channel that can hire Darryn "gravel and sandpaper tonsils" Lockyer to talk on TV can easily find a place for The Mullet.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Paul Kent was right that it was a no-try. He was wrong that Hampstead had "thrown the rule-book away".  Hampstead's call was accurate based on the facts as he saw them – he just got the facts wrong when he said Farah played at the ball.  Minor difference, but relevant.

    The only difference between that and the line-ball forward pass that a referee may or may not decide is forward is that it happened at 12-10 in an Origin match.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dogs an A? How many top 8 teams have they beaten? How many points did they score in those losses against top 8 teams?

  4. SemiiPro says:

    Mr Tedeschi, I rate that post an A.

    I eagerly await your take on the Gallop resignation.  I fear the NRL is headed toward the chook raffle end of the effective adminstration continuum.  I was a big Gallop fan.  He dealt with 'League Men' (think a continually stroppy Gus Gould as a prime example of such a human) with aplomb.

    Also, I really liked the Bunnies v Sharks game as a spectacle this year and I rate it the best.  However, watching both the Bulldogs and Bunnies is really fun this year and that game was a cracker.

  5. Anonymous says:

    i know you are a canterbury fan, but giving them A and top 3 so far? there has been some serious question marks over the first half of the season. B to B- is fair. Mr C