From The Couch: Round 17

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on July 7, 2011

Let the Heavens Open and the Wrath Begin: In over 20 years of watching rugby league, rarely have I been as angered as much as I was on Saturday night. And let’s make this perfectly clear: I am an angry man when it comes to matters rugby league.

The decision to bench David Stagg for Ben Roberts in the starting side for Canterbury’s humiliating loss to Penrith was the most ridiculous selection call I have ever seen. Let’s replace one of the best players in the competition for a goddamn moron who offers nothing to any team.

Kevin Moore should have been fired immediately. If I were running Canterbury, Moore wouldn’t have made it to game time. Jim Dymock would have had the clipboard after that monstrosity of a decision had been made.

Roberts, naturally, repaid the decision by having a traditional Ben Roberts game. There were three errors and a penalty conceded, a terrible kicking game, a complete inability to spark anything in attack.

David Stagg, of course, played like he always does. He made his metres, made more than his share of tackles, was dangerous both sides of the ball. And when the fulltime hooter sounded, Stagg still had plenty of energy left.

It was a disgrace that the man who most likely will be the next captain of the club is being treated with such shabbiness, such disrespect.

More pathetically though, the decision gave Canterbury little chance to win the match. It was the decision of a man out of ideas. Kevin Moore just has nothing left. Over the last two seasons, the Dogs are 16-23 despite two big recruitment drives. We are stacked with a multitude of stars yet Moore can get nothing out of them. There are severe attitude concerns with plenty of players. Moore consistently buries his head in the sand.

It will be a mighty shame to see Moore last even another week. This rot cannot continue. Phil Gould saved the Panthers’ season. Someone at Canterbury needs to save the Bulldogs’ otherwise another year has been wasted.

The die has been cast. The wheels are in motion. Moore has brought this upon himself and now he must pay the price.

State of Origin III Thoughts:For mine, Origin III is New South Wales’ to win or loss. The balance of power rests with them now, as does the momentum and the mental edge. Who would have thought that three months ago?

There is no doubt Queensland are desperate for this match. For their winning streak, for themselves, for the state. But this is Darren Lockyer’s last game, a player as revered as any Queenslander who has ever pulled on the maroon. Few players deserve a winning farewell as much and few whose farewell would attract such undying devotion from his teammates.

So be sure and certain that Queensland will be ready. They will turn up. They will play close to their best. They will be as jacked up for this as in any game they have ever played.

But I’m not sure it will be enough.

I can’t overemphasise enough the importance of the shift Ricky Stuart’s small-ball strategy in Origin II has had on the dynamics of this series. For the first time in the last six years, Queensland are on the back foot. They no longer control the point, they no longer have the steering hand. And how they respond to that will be critical to the outcome.

Personnel-wise, Queensland have opted to make no major changes. They have kept essentially the same team.

So that means Queensland will either change their strategy or they have simply convinced themselves that they were off their game in Origin II and that a return to their traditional style is all that is required.

This, for mine, this is where Queensland will fall down. The second option is fraught with danger but is the one most likely to be adopted. Queensland’s vulnerability has been exposed and if the Maroons go back to playing heavy, they will be beaten. The selected Blues team will make sure of that.

And I don’t know if Queensland want to get into a tactical battle with the Blues staff this year as the New South Wales lot have a stronger tactical edge. Michael Hagan is bright but Mal Meninga isn’t going to offer much.

I get the feeling Queensland will go back to what they know. They will try and bully the Blues, hammer them up front, wrestle them, engage them before letting the class of their backline take control.

That won’t work unless New South Wales let it work because the Blues can tire the big boys out. They need to use a lot of second phase play, cutback running and inside balls but if they do, they will have the running come the last twenty minutes. They need to be quick out of dummy half. They need to control the tempo. They need to work the Maroons big boys. They need to kick smart and long.

The three most important players for the Blues are Kurt Gidley, Jamie Soward and Paul Gallen.

Gidley controls the tempo. He brings so much spark when he comes on. He really works the big men over and his multi-dimensional play force middle defenders to consider all options.

Jamie Soward is the primary kicker. He needs to drill it long, finding the grass and chasing hard. But he needs to find some run, something he did in the second half of game two.

Paul Gallen is a beast and his toughness and fight can really hurt the impact of Scott, Civoniceva and Hannant.

If Queensland are to stop New South Wales, they are going to need to play a lot less Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday and a lot more Corey Parker and Cooper Cronk. They will also need to go small. But this seems highly unlikely.

The signs coming out of Queensland though aren’t strong. Mal is engaging in low-rent talk about himself. There is a media ban on. There is the usual conspiracy bollocks.

For mine, the upset is on. Darren Lockyer deserves a winning farewell but sadly he won’t get it. History is about to be made. New South Wales 18, Queensland 10

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Mediocrity, Mediocrity to South Sydney: This Wednesday fans of the Cardinal and Myrtle will toast. They will raise their glasses, they will whisper quietly to their deity of choice, they will gather with friends and reflect and they will look with fondness towards a picture of George Piggins with a good deal of fondness.

Wednesday will be the 10-year anniversary that South Sydney were readmitted to the NRL. The Bunnies, after 92 years, the self-proclaimed “pride of the league”, were expelled from the competition at the end of the 1999 season. Two years later, they were re-admitted. Those days were dark and rationalisation was the buzzword. South Sydney were set to be the highest profile casualty.

In the end, it turned out it was the North Sydney Bears who were the great fatality but in the closing days of 1999, Souths were gone and outrage reigned supreme. Souths fans took to the street. They met at Town Hall, 35,000 of them, weeping, yelling. They marched. 80,000 of them. This was about local rugby league, about community assets, about big business and the little guy.

And if ever there was a man for his time, it was George Piggins, Souths’ courageous, stubborn, pig-headed leader, the man who took the expulsion call from Neil Whittaker and simply said: “see you in court”.

He was not bluffing. South Sydney went to court. They would not merge. They would not relocate. They would fight. They would fight for their names, their colours, their preservation. They got some big wigs: Ray Martin, Mike Whitney, Andrew Denton, Nick Greiner, Nick Pappas, Don Lane, to go with the money of Kerry Stokes to back them. The fight was on.

Seasons 2000 and 2001 were somewhat strange. Souths weren’t playing. The spectre of Super League still loomed large. The backpages were filled with court reports. The Bunnies lost their first attempt. They lost their second.

But then, on July 6, 2001, the Bunnies were back in. The Federal Court upheld their appeal. They drank long and hard at South Sydney Leagues Club for days. This was the dawn of a new era, a new beginning. Fresh hope.

But what was it all for? The fight of the Bunnies cannot be denied and personally, I am pleased that the tradition that is South Sydney remains. The death of the North Sydney Bears has filled me with a great deal of sadness and I am pleased the Bunnies have been around the last decade. Rugby league is too quick to dispense of tradition, of the old ways.

Mates of mine, like Flash and Dalligan, both South Sydney to the core, as devoted as any rugby league fans…I can only imagine that period of exclusion must have been awful.

So I begrudge them nothing.

But they fought so hard, fought for readmission, fought for survival…but what has the club achieved over the last 10 years? How has it all gone so wrong? How has so little been made of this second life? How was such momentum lost?

It has not been pretty and the numbers really speak for themselves.

In the ten seasons since, the Bunnies have not had a winning season, their best record being 12-12 in 2007. To go with a solitary finals appearance where they were beaten 30-6, Paul Mellor scoring South Sydney’s only finals try in the last 22 years, the Bunnies have three wooden spoons (and four lowest win seasons).

Their overall record since readmission is 73-154-4 at a strike rate of 31.6%.

The club has gone through six coaches. There have been endless boardroom dramas. George Piggins no longer feels welcome at the club he saved, continuing to feud with owners Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes A Court, the latter two reportedly now fighting with each other. Despite being net buyers of talent, the club has consistently underachieved.

In average home crowds, South Sydney have ranked, from 2002: 4th, 14th, 14th, 14th, 13th, 7th, 7th, 9th and 5th. It is not disgraceful and they are trending upwards but they are hardly the numbers that walked the streets and demanded their reinstatement.

One can’t help but feel South Sydney have wasted their last ten years. But at least ground has been made. They are now run in a seemingly professional manner. They have owners with money. They are drawing again. They have hired a quality young coach. They are signing talent.

The last decade has been marked by mediocrity, failure and underachievement though. Souths have been, if anything, the joke of the league. Surely the next ten years can only get better. And perhaps even old bridges will be mended and new finals dreams fulfilled. Hell, you get a second chance, you need to make the most of it.

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Reni Maitua Knows Little of the Truth: Reni Maitua is back in first grade but his time on the sidelines has done little to improve his honesty. As deceitful as ever, Maitua claimed a try that clearly wasn’t one and then he was involved in another blatant lie when claiming a knock on. Reni’s reputation doesn’t stand for much so while I am all for a little bit of sportsmanship, the former Bulldog and Shark would be well advised to stick with the truth for a while considering how he has spent his last two years.

Welcome Back, Reece: “Welcome back, Welcome back, Your dreams were your ticket out. Welcome back, To that same old place that you laughed about. Well the names have all changed since you hung around, But those dreams have remained and they're turned around. Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya) Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back, Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.” How wonderful it was to have Reece Simmonds back scoring tries in the NRL, putting together a double, his fourth ever with his last coming back in 2005 when playing for the Saints in the local derby against the Sharks. Danny Nutley captained the Stuart Raper coached Sharks while Trent Barrett and Matthew Head were the Dragons halves. Nathan Merritt was a Shark. Mark Riddell a Saint. Good to have you back Reece…

Ouch: I am a big fan of Brisbane centre Jack Reed but he surely broke some kind of record on Friday night with seven handling errors. Reed couldn’t catch a cold against Parramatta, dropping everything that came his way. He will bounce back but he won’t forget his worst first grade game ever.

Blake Ferguson, Learn to Carry the Ball: Blake Ferguson annoys the hell out of me. He has so much talent, so much skill, so much potential. He can run like the wind and can do amazing things. But he has this horrible ball carry where he just leaves it loose in one arm and is virtually begging to have the ball knocked out. No wonder he makes so many errors. He needs to show more respect for the ball if he is ever going to be anything outside of a Willie M medallist.

Injury Update:Jacob Loko suffered the worst injury of the weekend with a dislocated kneecap ruling him out for the year.

Isaac De Gois (Newcastle): The luckless Newcastle hooker has torn his medial ligament in his knee and will miss a month. It is rotten luck for him as he is critical to the Knights’ finals chances.

Wade Graham (Cronulla): Hyperextended his elbow, hurt his left knee and took a shot to the sternum

Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Canberra): Appeared to tear his bicep in a nasty looking injury that could well keep him out for the rest of the season.

Jacob Loko (Parramatta): Dislocated his knee cap when attempting to fend off a Broncos tackler and got caught in a real awkward position. Has played his last game for the year.

Keith Lulia (Newcastle): Received a concussion when scoring a try but won’t miss any time.

Kyle Stanley (St George-Illawarra): Had a groin complaint but finished the match and it isn’t expected to be serious. The worry is though, with these recurring groin injuries, is that he has a bout of oestitis pubis, a long-term health worry.

Daniel Tolar (Newcastle): Took a big shot and received a concussion but he will shake it off.

Dayne Weston (Penrith): Busted up a treat with an old-school 1980s wrestling cut. Shouldn’t miss any time.

The 2011 Willie M Medal:John Sutton was back to his milk drinking best on Sunday with a horrid performance that will go down in the annals of modern day South Sydney rugby league as one of the worst ever. That is saying quite a bit.

Parramatta v Brisbane
3-Jack Reed (Bri)
2-Justin Horo (Par)
1-Casey McGuire (Par)

Penrith v Canterbury
3-Ben Barba (Bul)
2-Ben Roberts (Bul)
1-Frank Pritchard (Bul)

Cronulla v South Sydney
3-John Sutton (Sou)
2-Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
1-Chris Sandow (Sou)

St George-Illawarra v Newcastle
3-Kyle Stanley (Dra)
2-Trent Merrin (Dra)
1-Nathan Fien (Dra)

Sydney Roosters v Canberra
3-Braith Anasta (Roo)
2-Jason Ryles (Roo)
1-Mark Khierallah (Roo)

14-Matt Orford (Can)
13-Blake Ferguson (Can)
12-Jarryd Hayne (Par)
11-Greg Bird (GC), Krisnan Inu (Par)
10-Preston Campbell (GC), Wade Graham (Cro), Michael Jennings (Pen), Kris Keating (Bul), Jarrod Mullen (New), Matt Wright (Cro)
9-Antonio Kaufusi (New), Nate Myles (Roo), Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
8-Justin Carney (Roo), Robbie Farah (Tig), Feleti Mateo (NZ), Steve Michaels (GC)

Round 17 Voting Panel: Nick Tedeschi, Rohan Kendall, Luke Jamieson

Fun Fact #1: There are only three players to have played in the NRL this season who played in the 1997 Super League season: Darren Lockyer, Todd Payten and Chris Hicks. If Mat Rogers, who signed this week for the Titans plays, that will make it four.

Fun Fact #2: Adam MacDougall is the only player from the 1997 ARL season to play in the NRL this year though, to be fair, MacDougall has only played part-time for the last decade.

Round 18 Selection Notes:

New Zealand:Micheal Luck is a major surprise after he was expected to be out until mid-August. He starts at lock with Elijah Taylor making way. Sam Rapira is also back with the big prop set to play his first game since round 8. Lewis Brown has been retained in the centres, a smart move from Ivan Cleary. Shaun Johnson comes in at halfback for the injured Brett Seymour, a definite upgrade.

Gold Coast:Five-eighth Mat Rogers has made a surprising comeback for the Titans but he won't play this week, not being named and not expected to be a late call-up. Origin players Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison will both be assessed post-Origin but given the Titans ladder position, it would be no surprise if both missed the trip. Esi Tonga is in the centres for union-bound Joseph Tomane.

Parramatta:Jarryd Hayne is back from Origin, shifting Luke Burt to the wing and knocking Chris Walker back to NSW Cup. Ryan Morgan is in for the injured Jacob Loko while Jordan Atkins returns from a mishap. Reni Maitua has been dropped back to the bench for Jeff Robson though could start. Justin Horo looks settled in the lock position.

Wests Tigers:Chris Lawrence has been named to make his return after a dislocated hip in what has been a mighty quick recovery. There is no Benji though with Jacob Miller and Robert Lui again named in the halves. Ben Murdoch-Masila has taken the spot of Simon Dwyer.

Cronulla:Kade Snowden has been named again for Cronulla but is likely to play. Paul Gallen will back up from Origin. Chad Townsend has locked down the halfback spot while Wade Graham, despite a string of injuries, is set to play in the No.6 jersey.

Canberra:The Raiders played on Monday night and David Furner has named exactly the same team. So no Josh Dugan yet but a comeback would not be a surprise.

Canterbury:By some small blessing, Ben Roberts has been dropped. It won’t be enough to save Kevin Moore but it is something. The promising Martin Taupau has been named on the bench. Michael Hodgson is out.

Melbourne:Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk have all been named and will most likely make the trek to Adelaide for the Dogs clash. Anthony Quinn was named on the bench and Craig Bellamy loves making late changes with his wingers so don't be surprised to see either Quinn or Justin O'Neill play. Beau Champion is still on the outer and sits on an extended bench.

Sydney Roosters:No real surprises from Brian Smith with Mitch Pearce, Nate Myles and Anthony Minichiello all back. Jason Ryles can consider himself very lucky to still be in first grade after such a limp effort last week.

Penrith:Steve Georgallis hasn't named any of Penrith's three Origin players. How he decides to go with Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis and Michael Jennings is yet to be seen. They should play but Georgallis could well do an Anthony Griffin here. Junior Vaivai, Dayne Weston and Sarafu Fatiaki are the favourites to make way if the Origin players do return.

Manly:Michael Oldfield replaces the suspended Steve Matai in the centres. Brent Kite returns to the front row while Shane Rodney is set to play his first game of the season after recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Rodney is an outstanding, if unlucky, talent and he certainly strengthens the Eagles team. Joe Galuvao is a surprise inclusion, with his broken hand and all.

South Sydney:Ben Lowe has been named on the bench which is a major boon for the injury-ravaged Bunnies. He is reportedly 50-50 though. Chris McQueen has been shifted out to the wing. Jason Clark will start in the backrow. Luke Burgess looked good on his NRL debut last week.

Newcastle:Stop the presses, stop the presses: Adam MacDougall is back. It is astonishing. I thought he had retired! He has somehow taken Keith Lulia’s spot. Jarrod Mullen is back from injury and with Kurt Gidley set to backup, Ryan Stig has unluckily found himself on the bench.

North Queensland:Willie Tonga returns in the centres, forcing Gavin Cooper back to the second row. There are no other surprises from Neil Henry.

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

Rumour Mill: There is a fairly strong rumour doing the rounds that Todd Carney will not be at the Roosters next year. How much truth on it remains to be seen but he is believed to have fallen out with Brian Smith. Sadly, Ricky Stuart is one of two in the race to coach Canterbury next year with Daniel Anderson being the other contender. The Nathan Tinkler takeover bid has received plenty of bad press lately but there is strong mail not all was revealed financially when the deal was made with Tinkler stumped for a much bigger bill than expected. Expect to see Beau Ryan in Penrith colours next year.

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Betting Market of the Week: George Piggins will celebrate South Sydney’s 10-year anniversary back in the NRL by:

Getting drunk with his old mates Rusty and Pete, letting bygones be bygones: $101
Watching the Bunnies win and singing Glory, Glory to South Sydney: $34
Acting like a reasonable adult and realising the sale was the best thing for Souths: $201
Sulking alone in a sea of bitterness: $1.25

What I Like About…Matt Gillett: I fancy that Matt Gillett will be a total superstar and it is great to see him return from his first serious injury with a devastating performance against Parramatta on Friday. Gillett is like a rich man’s Dave Taylor; big and skilful and versatile but fit and intelligent.  Gillett played 80 minutes, made 35 tackles, 90 metres and scored the match winning try in a man of the match showing. Gillett is everything you want in a backrower.

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter: David Simmons chimes in for what he likes about Penrith: “Go team Mez! Small Business Saviours – Cottage Lane Cafe Gourmet”

Royce Simmons having some fun: “Was chatting with a bloke at the pub. told me he was a bookie & he wanted some inside info, but he doesn't follow league, so i had some fun. I told him @pwello80was going to score 2 goals against blackburn rovers this weekend and that @louiems14would get a red card against man u”

The Oh Errol girls give Nathan Hindmarsh his proper due: “pretty sure angry hindy can control the weather, so take a cab if you're going out.”

Obscure Score of the Week: Barla U19s-Hull and District, 26-20. In a tough match at Haworth Park, Miles Fairbank led the British Amateur Rugby League Association U19s to victory. The 19s raced to a 26-10 lead but were given a scare late, holding on desperately to secure the win.

Coaching Stocks:

5: Wayne Bennett: Disappointing loss but plenty of excuses with Origin and ’12 move
4.5: Craig Bellamy: BYE
4.5: Des Hasler: BYE
4.5: Anthony Griffin: He has the Broncos flying and keeps getting the most out of team
3.5: Neil Henry: BYE
3.5: Rick Stone: The Knights now have three in a row and he has found a halves combo
3: Tim Sheens: BYE
2: Ivan Cleary: BYE
2: Steve Georgallis: Is making the most of his time as a coach though lost the Penny gig
1,5: Shane Flanagan: The Sharks have won three on the trot for the first time in forever
0.5: John Lang: Leg weary Bunnies were beaten at the start after Perth trip
0.5: Stephen Kearney: Another opportunity lost as the Eels again slip into oblivion
0: John Cartwright: BYE
-1: Kevin Moore: His time at Canterbury is completed after another horror showing
-4: David Furner: A much needed win against Roosters with halves settled now
-4.5: Brian Smith: Embarrassing showing against the Raiders, lucky to still have job

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin: Ben Pomeroy’s favourite band is Korn, which makes his taste in music nearly as poor as his ball handling.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 17:Parramatta-Brisbane, 12-16. Despite the low scoring nature of the match, it was a free-flowing and open affair full of quality play. Despite eight players being off on Origin duty, the match was full of life. The Eels had the run of it early but couldn’t bust the Broncos and soon Dane Gagai scored a double and the Broncs were cruising. It looked all but over until the Eels started to work the inside and Luke Burt had miraculously put the Eels back in it. In the end, it took the class of Matt Gillett, a surefire Australian player one day, who in only his second game back from injury, pushed off an Eels defender before racing to the line. A tremendous play to finish off a tremendous game.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Luke Burt (Par)
2. Dane Gagai (Bri)
3. Jarrod Croker (Can)
4. Kyle Stanley (Dra)
5. Matthew Wright (Cro)
6. Travis Burns (Pen)
7. Ryan Stig (New)
13. Shaun Fensom (Can)
12. Matt Gillett (Bri)
11. Nathan Hindmarsh (Par)
10. Luke Douglas (Cro)
9. Matt Keating (Par)
8. Aiden Tolman (Bul)

14. Issac Luke (Sou)
15. Anthony Tupou (Cro)
16. Reece Simmonds (Dra)
17. Jason Nightingale (Dra)

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Waiver Wire Advice: If you have Nate Myles, the time to sell is now. Myles has stopped putting in. That much is abundantly clear. He has scored reasonably well, averaging 55 this year, but in two his last three outings he hasn’t hit that number and against Newcastle a fortnight back he was a disgrace. I wouldn’t expect much of an effort post-Origin with the Roosters floundering and Myles on his way to the Titans. It just isn’t in his style. Take the $257,800 and invest it in a much safer option.

Correspondence Corner: Andrew, I certainly didn’t mean to offend you andyour  fellow South Australians and I certainly wasn’t disparaging of diehard fans like yourself. As someone who lives in Melbourne, I completely understand how difficult it is and I think it is wonderful there are diehard fans like you in SA. I just think in the greater scheme of things, other areas (West Australia, Brisbane, Central Coast) have stronger claims to a team. But I would never be opposed to a return of the Rams and I am heartened that you “step up to the plate” every week. It isn’t easy. I know. Trust me on that one.

Injury Update, John Williams isn’t far away. He was seen as a possible inclusion last week but probably won’t get the call up while the Sharks keep winning. He has been named in NSW Cup this week Ben Lowe has stress fractures in his feet and they simply need time. He has been named this week but I wouldn’t count on it.

Zig, yes, I can recall that game with much joy. The time was running out. 11 minutes to go. Dogs down 18-2 to the loathsome Parramatta Eels. All hope seemed lost. And then came the comeback. Craig Polla-Mounter had the game of his life. Robert Relf made the long bust. Daryl Halligan slotting the conversion from the sideline. Polly’s oh-so-close field goal. And, of course, Paul Carige, who never played again after his horrid performance. Here are a few fun highlights, dedicated to Parramatta fans everywhere: here and here.

Mike from Tari, the team of the week is the “Fantasy Team of the Week”, based on Supercoach scores. It has nothing to do with spectacle. And that game was only good because it was played in such unusual conditions.

Dragons68, I couldn’t agree more. We need to support teams and make sure they stay strong and have a chance to survive.

JCVD, you are spot on about the need to gain more national exposure. Two weeks back, the Storm-Tigers game, shown live into Melbourne (a rarity) rated higher than the Sydney Swans game beamed live into Sydney. This kind of potential is there to be exploited and national exposure is critical.

Joey, spot on about Ten treating the game with the respect it deserves.

Redman, I can’t agree with you anymore on Heighington and what Tim Sheens is doing to rip the heart out of the club.

Mitch, looks like your boy Ben Roberts turned in another cracker on Saturday night. And Glen Hughes and Daniel Holdsworth both struggled…but were both much better players than Ben Roberts.

Daz, you are right about Chris Heighington…he will be at Penrith. And congrats no the new baby.

Beard Watch: I have spent many years being very harsh on Chris Walker. He has never been one of mine, usually fluttering around on the wing, prone to some act of stupidity. But I can’t argue with his old west style beard that he presented on Friday night. It was a real dandy.

Watch It: Field goals don’t come much better than this. A brilliant kick from the incomparable Terry Lamb, on a Saturday afternoon with Warren Boland in the box, to break a 14-14 deadlock between the Bulldogs and the Tigers. The Dogs would win 19-14. Watch it here.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac

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