From The Couch: Round 19

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on July 19, 2011

The Axe Falls at Belmore: It came as no surprise. It was the decision that had to be made. As sad as it was, the Canterbury board had no choice but to tell Kevin Moore he would not be coaching Canterbury in 2012. This is a results-based game (despite claims by the Canberra board) and despite two spending sprees, Canterbury have been a club in free-fall, severely underachieving. Moore has clearly lost the locker room, something that no doubt began when the club failed to re-sign Jamal Idris.

Never mind what is said publicly. Be sure and certain that one high profile recruit renowned for his temperamental style requested a release saying he signed because he thought he was playing with Jamal Idris. These fractures weren’t all Moore’s doing but he was clearly unable to gel the squad together. After guiding the club to a preliminary final in 2009, winning coach of the year honours in the process, the club failed abysmally in 2010 and after a solid start, 2011 is headed for disaster.

With his position untenable, Moore decided to forego a lame-duck coaching spell and resigned. It was anything but pleasant. Moore isn’t speaking but it is apparent he is livid. He knows he has been knifed, by both his players and the board. And while I have been calling for his head, I do have sympathy for his position. He was knifed. As for the board, that was understandable. Canterbury were failing again and Moore did not have the reputation or the tactical nous to overcome losing the locker room. But the attitude of the playing staff over the last ten weeks has been nothing short of astounding and there are few players who have worn the blue and white this year who can hold their head up high. There are plenty with blood on their hands.

I have no problem with Jamal Idris signing elsewhere. That is the game and Canterbury have been big buyers. But his attitude this year has been disgusting and I could not be happier that he is leaving. He cares for nobody but himself. Frank Pritchard is stealing money from the club at present. Trent Hodkinson and Kris Keating have both tried hard but both have been disappointing. Josh Morris does not know how to tackle. Greg Eastwood may as well not be there. Michael Ennis may be our good luck charm but he is a player who simply doesn’t show up every week.

There is no doubt an era has ended with Moore’s departure. Moore has been club royalty. He is the son of the club’s patriarch and most important figure. He has been at the club since his birth. He has played in the blue and white. He is the third relative of Peter Moore to coach the club, a stretch that dates back to 1990 when Chris Anderson took over the club. Between Anderson, Moore and Steve Folkes, Canterbury have played in four Grand Finals, winning two premierships and making the finals on 12 occasions, playing in a preliminary final eight times. It has been a wonderful era for the club and it is sad that it has all come to such an unpleasant end.

But Todd Greenberg and the board really had no choice. The future was not Kevin Moore. Chris Anderson was understandably outraged. This is, of course, his brother in law. It is rare I disagree with Canterbury’s greatest coach but this time we sit on different sides of the fence.

So now it is onward and upward to the future. The in-fighting in the club seems to suggest it is not going to be an easy process.

There is a segment on the board, led by chairman Ray Dib and former player Barry Ward, who are pushing for Ricky Stuart. A more circumspect segment are, quite rightfully, opposed to hiring a coach who has been an epic failure at club level despite a premiership. His 57-82 record since Brad Fittler’s retirement tells a pretty strong story. His record of divisiveness and his lack of tactical nous, particularly on the attacking side, make him a poor candidate and one that will hopefully be overlooked. My first thoughts were he had already accepted but as of writing, I get the feeling the split board may lead to him being passed over.

Other candidates include interim coach Jim Dymock, former player Mick Potter, former Warriors and Eels coach Daniel Anderson, former Dragons coach Nathan Brown, Catalans coach Trent Robinson, Castleford coach Terry Matterson and Newcastle coach Rick Stone.

Dymock is most unlikely. Canterbury are going to find someone with experience and, hopefully, someone who hasn’t betrayed the club. Potter is an interesting candidate and is probably the leader among the Super League hopefuls. Daniel Anderson is highly regarded and is believed to have some board support. Rick Stone, despite signing on to be Bennett’s assistant, has re-emerged as a candidate and would be a fine selection.

Short of poaching Craig Bellamy or luring Michael Hagan out of retirement, Canterbury need to look towards Daniel Anderson or Rick Stone, two smart, even-tempered coaches. Though, at this point in time, I’ll take anyone not named Ricky Stuart or Jim Dymock.

Jim Dymock is Off to a Flyer: It was an embarrassing coaching start for Jim Dymock on Friday night when he caused the club to get fined $10,000 by starting Ben Roberts even though he did not indicate the change on the official team sheet. Personally, I would have fined Dymock $10,000 for starting Roberts in the first place and Todd Greenberg $10,000 for re-signing him in the last place but that is just me. Such a costly error is not the action of someone who is well organised.

The Bulldogs then got pumped 36-12. During the match, Dymock gave David Stagg only 54 minutes while Dene Halatau copped 69. This was after Dymock was alleged to have been at loggerheads with Kevin Moore. This, combined with his defection to Parramatta in the mid-nineties will surely make his time in charge of Canterbury temporary.

Welcome, Brisbane Bombers: When I first heard the name for the proposed new Brisbane franchise, it struck me as a ridiculous, dated, mean-nothing, vacuous name. The Bombers has little going for it outside of some nifty alliteration. Or so I thought until the bile-laden outrage from AFL types who saw the franchise as impinging upon its rights to the Bombers name due to its association with Essendon. These AFL types are disgusted. The Essendon lot are threatening legal action. More generally, fans of the southern code are disbelieving.

So with such pot-stirring, as they say, caused by the name, I could not be more supportive of it. The AFL seems pretty happy to set the tone for the inter-code war by pinching some of rugby league’s big names and setting up a team in the heartland of the Great Game but when league fights back with a shot of their own, the southern code runs to mummy.

And, as Roy Masters so eloquently noted with his very long memory, they did name the Brisbane team the Bears when North Sydney had that moniker for many a year.

So let’s just give the Bombers a licence now. It is that kind of fighting spirit that is needed in this time of battle. Welcome Bombers…it is good to have the preeminent Bomber franchise in Australia on our side.  

The Clock Must Stop During Deadball Situations: I have been hammering this drum for years and once more it has managed to severely impact a match due to the inconsistency that sees referees officiate differently at the end of a match than they do at the start. The clock, simply, must stop during all deadball situations for consistency.

Penrith had a magnificent win on Saturday night. The final play will be the play of the season, the last ditch Hail Mary that came off. But they never should have had the opportunity to do so, at least under the current rules. For some reason, with two seconds remaining on the clock and the Eels having to hand the ball over to Penrith, the referees blew time out. At no other point or situation in the match would a referee call time out. They simply got caught up in the excitement of the match.

This is not the first time this has happened. Nor will it be the last under the current rules. Referees get discretion when it comes to timekeeping, something that does not happen in nearly any other sport (most sports stop the clock, others have time on). It is a blight on the game. It is easy to see 30 seconds absorbed in the first 70 minutes of a match for something that will be given three seconds at the end of a match.

The only solution is to stop the clock when the ball goes out, when the ball goes dead, when the ball is caught on the full in-goal, when a try is scored, when a dropout must be taken and when a ball is turned over. If officials are concerned about the time this will add to a match, shorten the length of a match. But this blight cannot be allowed to continue. This is about consistency and it is something that must be introduced.

Another Classic Field Goal Attempt:There has been nothing about Jason Ryles’ career I have liked. Over the course of his 11-year, 195-game NRL career, there has been nothing I have enjoyed about his style or the results they have produced. More so, I actively dislike most parts of his game. The stupid penalties. The dumb passes. The selfish, inconsiderate attitude. The bitchy face. The playing like a skirt. But on Saturday night, I finally had reason to like Jason Ryles. With the full-time siren having already sounded and the scores level, a concussed Anthony Mitchell was in at dummy-half with Todd Carney and Braith Anasta situated either side of the ruck. The ball went to neither. Mitchell threw the ball to Jason Ryles, who snapped a shocking left-footer and then threw his hands in the air and said something to the tune of “why the fuck did you throw it to me”. Brilliant and the highlight of a wretched career.

And, Of Course, The Matchwinner: Let’s not forget Chris Sandow’s incredible matchwinner either. Sandow, who has become quite the field goal exponent, nailed a 50-metre special in the second half of extra-time. It was a sensational shot that never looked likely until it sailed over, at which point you realised, it never looked like missing. It is one of the best field goals ever landed. Sandow now has 12 field goals in 77 games including six this year, which has him tied with Jamie Soward (2009) and John Simon (1998).

Most Embarrassing Thing Seen on a Football Field in 2011: Jamal Idris taking a drop out and then falling flat on his ass. Why was he taking a drop out again? What has he shown in 2011 that suggests he will put any effort into anything?

Poor Old John Lang:The most satisfying thing about the season coming to an end will be the knowledge that I no longer have to spend my weekends worrying about the health and safety of John Lang. During Saturday night’s close win against the Roosters, he looked like he was about to have a stroke. John Lang is a treasure and I hope he gets through 2011 and enjoys a long, stress-free retirement.

Are the Titans the Worst Team of the NRL Era? A fair case can be mounted that the 2011 Gold Coast Titans are the worst team of the NRL era. They probably aren’t but they are certainly in the reckoning. The Titans have managed four wins this year and they can consider themselves lucky in three of those matches. They never would have rolled the Dragons if they didn’t draw them in the Origin period and they only scored wins against the Raiders and Tigers due to the ineptitude of their opponents rather than actually winning the matches themselves. They have allowed 22 points in 11 of 17 matches and broken 22 only three times themselves. They are 2-6 at home.

The 2008 Bulldogs, the 2006 Rabbitohs, the 2003 Rabbitohs and the 1999 Magpies are all probably worse but not my much. This Titans team is awful, right to its very core.

Nine Fucks Rugby League Over Again, Volume 196: I didn’t see The Footy Show on Sunday. That is unavailable to viewers in Melbourne and, Nine being the backwards junkboat that it is, doesn’t provide an Iview service. But from the advertising during Friday Night Football, it seemed that some rugby union schmuck by the name of Quade Cooper was going to be on the rugby league program. It is a further disgrace from a network who is using the popularity of rugby league to try and get some popularity for that other silly code where people fall down and dance over each other. The NRL needs to play hardball: if you buy the rights, all NRL programming will be used to promote the NRL and not other rival codes. The NRL needs to realise it actually has some power at the moment.

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Injury Update: Word emanating from the Bulldogs camp is that Michael Ennis has a serious neck injury and may not play again this season. That is shocking news for Canterbury, who lack a backup No.9 and have not won in their last seven outings without their talismanic hooker.

Jarrod Croker (Canberra): Missed the Raiders’ match with Melbourne with a back injury and was replaced by Danny Galea, giving the Raiders the horrible left-hand defence of Harrison-Galea-Vidot.

Michael Ennis (Canterbury): Went off in Origin III coughing up blood and the latest is he could miss the remainder of the season, the death blow to whatever small hopes the blue-and-whites had of finals football.

Paul Gallen (Cronulla): The Sharks skipper hurt his calf in the loss to the Dragons and spent plenty of time on the bench. Won’t miss any matches.

Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast): Looked in real pain with an elbow injury, which turned out to be a hyperextension. He will miss a couple of weeks, meaning the Titans have lost their best player.

Kris Keating (Canterbury): The Bulldogs five-eighth tore an MCL in his elbow and will miss the next month, meaning Ben Roberts is officially back in first grade.

Luke Lewis (Penrith): The Panthers lock sustained nerve damage in his shoulder in the win over the Eels but took an injection and will likely find his way back in the team this week.

Feleti Mateo (New Zealand): Hurt his neck against the Bulldogs and will await scans to see how serious the problem is.

James McManus (Newcastle): The gritty Knights winger damaged his rib cartilage before half-time but battled on to score two tries. Could miss a couple of weeks but will likely play through the pain.

Jarrod Mullen (Newcastle): Took a cut to his face, which was surprising, as it looked like he had no involvement in the game at all.

Wes Naiqama (Newcastle): Tore his triceps and seemed to be in plenty of pain before being substituted before half-time. The tear was not that bad but it is hard to see him playing for at least two weeks.

Nigel Plum (Penrith): Suffered a similar nerve injury to Luke Lewis but is a chance of playing this week against Manly.

Beau Ryan (Wests Tigers): Went down with a head injury but shouldn’t miss too much time and Lote Tuqiri is ready to return at any rate.

Junior Sa’u (Newcastle): The Knights centre was stretchered off in a neck brace and spent the night in hospital. He has been cleared of any serious injury but has done some nerve damage and will spend some time on the sidelines though optimistic Knights officials give him an outside chance of playing this week.

Matt Scott (North Queensland): Was a late scratching for the Tigers match with a back complaint  but will be back this week.

Shane Shackleton (Parramatta): The Shack Attack Attack Attack received a concussion and only played 13 minutes. Will be fine for this week.

Etu Uaisele (Parramatta): Flattened by Lachlan Coote in a monster shot that cost him a try and what looked like a nasty shoulder blow.

Anthony Watmough (Manly): The Manly backrower lasted only 21 minutes before leaving clutching his shoulder. It looked fairly serious and that could mean an AC joint and a month on the sidelines.

Matthew Wright (Cronulla): Hurt his neck when crunched in a tackle by Michael Weyman and was stretchered off and taken to hospital. Wright is expected to be fine but won’t play this weekend.

The Willie M Medal Voting:The votes for this week are in and another error-riddled performance from Blake Ferguson has pushed him clear at the top of the Willie M Medal count with bookmakers sure to wind him into odds-on for the least coveted title in rugby league.

New Zealand v Canterbury
3-Ben Barba (Bul)
2-Jamal Idris (Bul)
1-Jonathan Wright (Bul)

Brisbane v Gold Coast
3-David Mead (GC)
2-Clinton Toopi (GC)
1-Bodene Thompson (GC)

South Sydney v Sydney Roosters
3-BJ Leulia (Roo)
2-Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo)
1-John Sutton (Sou)

North Queensland v Wests Tigers
3-Ray Thompson (NQ)
2-Robert Lui (Tig)
1-Tariq Sims (NQ)

Penrith v Parramatta
3-Adrian Purtell (Pen)
2-Travis Burns (Pen)
1-Ryan Morgan (Par)

Canberra v Melbourne
3-Blake Ferguson
2-Daniel Vidot (Can)
1-Josh McCrone (Can)

Newcastle v Manly
3-Neville Costigan (New)
2-Jarrod Mullen (New)
1- Wes Naiqama (New)

St George-Illawarra v Cronulla
3-Jason Bukuya (Cro)
2-Anthony Tupou (Cro)
1-John Morris (Cro)

18: Blake Ferguson (Can)
14: Matt Orford (Can)
12: Jarryd Hayne (Par), Jarrod Mullen (New)
11: Greg Bird (GC), Krisnan Inu (NZ)
10: Preston Campbell (GC), Wade Graham (Cro), Michael Jennings (Pen), Antonio Kaufusi (New), Kris Keating (Cant), Clinton Toopi (GC), Matthew Wright (Cro)
9: Ben Barba (Cant), Lachlan Coote (Pen), BJ Leulia (Roo), Nate Myles (Roo), Ben Pomeroy (Cro)

Round 19 Voting Panel:Nick Tedeschi, Cliff Bingham, Grant Vickers, Adrian Flanagan, Rohan Kendall, Matt Tedeschi

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Fun Fact #1: The Canberra Raiders were held scoreless at Canberra Stadium for the first time against Melbourne. It was the ninth time the club has failed to register a point dating back to 1982.

Fun Fact #2: The Raiders have shutout opponents 11 times over the course of their history.

Fun Fact #3:The Storm have shut out opponents nine times including twice on the road and eight times since 2006.

Round 19 Selection Notes:

Canterbury:Jim Dymock has wasted no time in asserting his authority, dropping Josh Morris for Tim Lafai and, quite astonishingly, David Stagg to the bench for Dene Halatau. I hope Dymock enjoys his time coaching. He won't get it again. Joel Romelo is also in at hooker which is actually a positive change.

Parramatta: Stephen Kearney has finally bit the bullet and named Jarryd Hayne at five-eighth and Luke Burt at fullback.

Melbourne: Craig Bellamy won't be making too many changes while the wins keep on rolling.

Brisbane: No injuries so no major surprises from Anthony Griffin this week.

Gold Coast: Beau Henry finally gets his chance at five-eighth, a move that is long overdue. The injury to Ashley Harrison has forced William Zillman to move to the centres and Bodene Thompson to the more suitable backrow.

North Queensland: Matt Scott is back for the Cowboys though Johnathan Thurston remains out hurt. Ben Jones will wear the No.7 jersey. Brent Tate is in for his second game of the season. Tariq Sims will start instead of Glenn Hall.

Wests Tigers: Lote Tuqiri returns for the Tigers on the wing, giving the club the strongest backline they have had all year. Liam Fulton gets a bait in the backrow. Utility Mitch Brown rides the pine.

Sydney Roosters: Aiden Guerra joins the Roosters starting team and will provide plenty of life in the Roosters backrow. He rightfully comes in for Tom Symonds.

Cronulla: Paul Gallen has been named despite battling a calf injury. John Williams returns from injury in place of the injured Matthew Wright. Kade Snowden has been named on the bench. Jason Bukuya hasn't come up with Anthony Tupou lucky to be recalled to the starting team.

Newcastle: Kurt Gidley returns, named at fullback, much to the relief of Jarrod Mullen. He replaces the injured Wes Naiqama. Junior Sau has been named in the centres but is highly unlikely with Adam MacDougall likely to take his spot.

South Sydney: Nothing of note has come from South Sydney selection with Sam Burgess still not cleared to make his return.

New Zealand: Ivan Cleary has named Feleti Mateo ahead of Elijah Taylor to start in the backrow in the only tweak of the team that touched-up Canterbury.

Penrith: Luke Lewis and Nigel Plum have both been named even though both are battling shoulder injuries. Adrian Purtell has miraculously kept his spot on the wing.

Manly: The big news from the Northern Beaches is that Will Hopoate has been named to start on the wing, returning from injury at the expense of international David Williams. Jason King will be right to go after a few weeks off.

Canberra:Ouch. Danny Galea has again been named at right centre. Mark Gasnier is going to have a field day.

St George-Illawarra: Skipper Ben Hornby is still out and with Dean Young not named, Nathan Fien will play halfback, Kyle Stanley is a surprise selection at hooker and Matt Cooper is captain. Mitch Rein will share the dummy-half duties with Stanley.  

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

Rumour Mill: Since the decision of Kevin Moore to walk away on Thursday, there have been plenty of names thrown up to who will coach Canterbury next year. Ricky Stuart is the favourite but the board is split right down the middle on his credentials. Jim Dymock was viewed as a big part of the destabilisation under Kevin Moore and is long odds to get the job. Daniel Anderson remains in the mix though Mick Potter and Nathan Brown are two who could get the job. Rick Stone has re-emerged as a serious contender. My guess at the moment is that Mick Potter will get the job though Daniel Anderson is a big chance. In New Zealand, Brian McLennan will be named as Ivan Cleary’s replacement though there was a report he could be the coaching director above Justin Morgan. Ryan Cross is expected to sign with the Wests Tigers in the near future as Tim Sheens puts a broom through the club. The Independent Commission is bound to be announced in the next few weeks and the naming of John Singleton as being involved with the Central Coast bid is very much a political move as Singleton has a lot of way with the proposed commissioners and could push the Bears into the mix after they have slipped down to likely third spot in the last year. Rhys Wesser will play on next year but not at South Sydney with Wesser likely to end up in Super League.

Betting Market of the Week: Which of the following could get through John Sutton’s flimsy tackling:

Renowned loafer Krisnan Inu: $1.75
Johnathan Thurston, in the wheelchair: $1.60
Arthur Beetson, today: $1.90
The cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney: $1.70

What I Like About…Nathan Hindmarsh:I could count on one hand the amount of Parramatta players I have ever had any fondness for. It is a club I despise, from top to bottom. But Nathan Hindmarsh, well, he has overcome the colours of his club, the lack of quality in his team and the coaching traumas that have set the club backwards over the last decade to worm his way into my heart. The hardworking backrower with the bucket arse is one of my favourite all-time players, a tireless champion who never gives up, never shirks his workload, never causes trouble and never lets anyone down. On Saturday night, Hindmarsh played his 300th first grade game, the first Eel to reach the mark. It is a long way from Parkes and a long way from 1998, where and when he made his top grade debut against the long-dead Adelaide Rams in a team that included Jim Dymock, Dean Pay, Jarrod McCracken, Clinton Schifcofske and the incomparable Paul Carige. Hindmarsh has never been dropped since. He has yet to win a premiership but he has played in two Grand Finals, scored 58 tries, represented his state 17 times and country 23 times, made over 10,000 tackles and has even taken a shot at goal. He has rarely suffered a serious injury with 2003 the only season he has played less than 20 matches. He is an ornament to the sport and I would not be surprised if he retires the most capped player in the game. He can go another three years to 35 and he is a player who won’t be going to England. A true champion, congratulations on 300, Nathan Hindmarsh.

From Deep in the Bowels of Twitter:George Rose is perhaps looking for a move to the Western Suburbs NSW Cup team: “And for those asking yes I hate the white jerseys with the horizontal stripes. If I had it my way it'd be black everything”

Tim Sheens is as outraged by the never-ending Carbon Tax debate as me: “Piss off Julia Gillard i wanna watch the Sunday Roast”

Obscure Score of the Week: Norway-Germany, 32-28, European Shield. Tye Ingebrigsten scored two tries and was named man-of-the-match in a stunning display. Norway, in their first year in the competition, shocked the 2006 champions in Oslo in a huge boost for rugby league in Scandinavia. Germany will play Malta next week before Malta host Norway in early August.

Coaching Stocks:
5: Wayne Bennett: After a tough Origin period, the Dragons are back on song with a big win
5: Craig Bellamy: The Storm shutting out the Raiders in Canberra was an amazing feat
4.5: Des Hasler: The Eagles did a brilliant job in jumping the gun and annihilating the Knights away
4.5: Anthony Griffin: Has really shown a great deal of maturity and composure for debut season
3: Ivan Cleary: With future cleared, the Warriors are playing with renewed commitment
3: Neil Henry: The Cowboys tried hard against the Tigers but short turnaround/no Thurston hurt
2.5: Shane Flanagan: The Sharks were poor against the Dragons but there is a big class gulf there
2: Tim Sheens: Collected the two premiership points but there remains plenty of drama at the club
2: Steve Georgallis: An unlikely win that will long be remembered by the Panthers, who are back
1.5: Rick Stone: Knights turned in a rare lacklustre performance against Manly, injuries considered
1: John Lang: Disappointing that Roosters game almost lost but in race for finals spot now
0.5: Stephen Kearney: Was a heartbreaking loss to Penrith in Hindmarsh’s 300th game
-1: John Cartwright: Just can’t shake the Titans from their horrible 2011 blues
-1.5: Jim Dymock: Horrible start to his coaching career and he is up against it for rest of the year
-5: Brian Smith: The Roosters should have won but blew it again as 2011 hopes fade
-8: David Furner. Shut out at home and must surely be in danger of unemployment now

The Life and Times of the Special Needs Penguin:It was with great delight that I read in Rugby League Week last week that Ben Pomeroy has been sent to the optometrist to get his eyes checked out to possibly find an explanation for his poor ball-handling. I always thought it was because he had flippers for hands but apparently, some ordinary shutters has him incapable of catching the pill. It does seem astonishing that a professional athlete at a professional club who cannot catch cannot have his eyes tested for so long but this is Ben Pomeroy and it is the Cronulla Sharks.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 19: Penrith-Parramatta, 23-22. We had two cracking matches on Saturday night, both of which went to golden point and ended in spectacular circumstances. The Roosters seemed to have the Bunnies beat but things went horrible awry when Greg Inglis scored minutes from time and then Jason Ryles took the last field goal attempt but it took a 50-metre field goal from Chris Sandow to seal the deal. But the nomination goes to Penrith’s win over Parramatta thanks primarily to Penrith’s last second save. Trailing by six with only a second to play after a controversial refereeing call, after eight passes that stretched the width of the field twice and a Michael Jennings kick, Lachlan Coote scored the try and a Travis Burns conversion sent the match to extra-time, where Luke Walsh slotted the winner. A magnificent game, a magnificent night of football. The match also included a monster hit from Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote that led to a try, a savage shot that will long be remembered.

Fantasy Team of the Week:
1. Lachlan Coote (Pen)
2. Sam Perrett (Roo)
3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roo)
4. Michael Jennings (Pen)
5. Matt Duffie (Mel)
6. Benji Marshall (Tig)
7. Cooper Cronk (Mel)
13. Corey Parker (Bri)
12. Nathan Hindmarsh (Par)
11. Sam Thaiday (Bri)
10. Jon Green (Dra)
9. Issac Luke (Sou)
8. Sam McKendry (Pen)

14. Glenn Stewart (Man)
15. Adam Cuthbertson (Dra)
16. Jake Friend (Roo)
17. David Simmons (Pen)

Waiver Wire Advice: South Sydney centre and 2011 bust Greg Inglis may have dropped enough in price to pick him up for a last ditch run at the finals. It is a risky play but at $192,000-odd dollars, he can be considered value at the moment. He has been an ordinary fantasy player all year, breaking 52 only once while averaging 43. As such, he has dropped over $35,000 in price. But with his move to, as John Lang says, “a second fullback” and his increased fitness and involvement, he has some upside. You could do worse than spend $192,000 on Inglis for one of your centres.

Correspondence Corner: Dragons68, I was perhaps swept up in the Locky fanfare but I thought Soward was brilliant and Minichiello’s game was historically bad. To a degree you are right about Warren…he is just a company man…but I like his everyman style. His pushing for the World Cup, though, has turned me off plenty. And the political ranting must continue while we have an AFL type snubbing league in the Lodge.

Gareth, given Parramatta’s woes in the halves, I’m also surprised Luke Burt hasn’t been tried in the No.7 jersey. He has always been at his best at fullback and it is a shame he has been left stranded on the wing for so long. And you are right about Adam Blair. The move makes no sense and the Tigers will live to regret the call.

Ken, Woody very true, the point may well prove moot. But Cuthbertson is a terrible player, stupid and lazy, and certainly one of the most hopeless in the NRL and certainly in the mix for being the worst.

Rabby, yes, the NRL have given away first and last rights to Nine for a song, arguably the single worst decision made by the NRL since Ken Arthurson gave away pay-television rights to Kerry Packer for nothing in the early nineties. What is unclear though is how those first and last rights translate to the NRL package being divided up. With the package divided, Ten or Seven almost certainly will make a bid for one bundle of games more than 120% bigger than Nine.

The Rock, I like your team plenty though I think you are a little harsh on Andrew McCullough! I would run with Terrence Seuseu or John Morris at hooker.

Beard Watch: This week we move beyond sports and go to the world of music and perhaps the greatest bearded Australian singer, neigh human, singing about the greatest bearded country music superstar. Three words. Henry fuckng Wagons. Two more. Willie Nelson. Boom.

Watch It:Undoubtedly the most brutal Grand Final ever played was the 1973 decider between Manly and Cronulla, a brawl interspersed with some rugby league. The match was filled with stars. Manly had the wonderful Bobby Fulton, champion fullback Graham Eadie, tryscoring record holder Ken Irvine, British hardman Mal Reilly and former South Sydney duo John O’Neill and Ray Branighan. The Sharks were led by irascible British pairing Tommy Bishop and Cliff Watson and had a young centre star named Steve Rogers and top lock Greg Pierce in their team. It was a savage match with punching, kicking and elbowing but in the end, the class of Fulton told as his two-try effort allowed Manly to go back-to-back while the three-point loss the second closest Cronulla have ever gone to a premiership. Here and here.

Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images AsiaPac

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