Season 2008: Round 26

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on December 2, 2010

From The Couch

They Should Have Let Him Swing… Either the Penrith Panthers are broke, Matthew Elliott has photographic evidence of a majority of the board in some strange stripper orgy or the people running the club are as incompetent as the coach and the team. They are the only explanations for how Matthew Elliott kept his job as the Panthers coach. Not only have Elliott’s results been appalling in his two years in charge but the team has been in a state of total disarray. The chaotic nature of the club was no better exemplified than when Elliott asked Brad Tighe, on gameday, where his gear was. Tighe informed Elliott that he had been ruled out the day before by the club doctor. The Panthers then had to pluck a player from their Toyota Cup team…at half-time. How does a coach who is so out-of-touch keep his job as The Guy for next season? It defies belief. Elliott should have been left to swing at high noon. He is an overrated coach and the Panthers will never make the finals with him in charge. Penrith are the early selection for the 2009 wooden spoon.

A Grand Tradition… One of the great traditions of the last round of rugby league is to see a retiring player given the last shot at goal. This weekend Matt Geyer, Corey Hughes and Tonie Carroll all took a shot for two, continuing a truly touching rugby league custom that honours legends and rewards loyalty. Even though the game is becoming increasingly sanitized by professionalism and a desire for conformity, this tradition must live on.

Some Statistics You Should Probably Know…

Fewest Minutes: Eddie Su’a (8)

Most Penalties Conceded: Anthony Watmough (25)

Most Errors: Ben Pomeroy (37)…yet he is somehow deemed worthy of rep footy.

Most Missed Tackles: Brett Kimmorley (139)

Highest Average Missed Tackles: Chris Sandow (7.4)

Fewest Average Metres: Joe Williams and Jordan Rankin (0)

Fewest Average Tackles: Jason Nicolau (0 in 58 minutes)

Fewest Try Assists from a Halfback Who Played Fifteen-Plus Games: Daniel Holdsworth (8)

Fewest Tackle Breaks By Someone Who Played Ten-Plus Games: Frank Puletua (1 in 11) and Sam Faust (1 in 10)

Fewest Average Tackles By A State of Origin Starting Forward in 2008: Willie Mason (19.9)

Number of First Grade Players Used: 485

Oldest Player: Ruben Wiki (35 years, 7 months)

Team that used the Most Goalkickers: Gold Coast Titans (7)

Goalkickers who Failed: Ashley Graham, Ben Jeffery, Brad Davis, Brad Tighe, Matt Cooper, Jerome Ropati, Tonie Carroll, Luke Williamson (all 0/1)

Vale, Luke Rooney… You are buggering off to rugby because you are soft, useless and bereft of talent. Rugby league will not even notice your absence.

Vale, Tony Puletua… You can’t live off the 2003 premiership forever and it looks like your number has finally been called. Consider yourself lucky: Joe Galavau was sent to the knackery a good few years ago at a time when you both deserved to be there. The Fates looked kindly on you Tony and for that you should be eternally grateful.

Vale, Daniel Wagon… You somehow managed to play State of Origin and 200-plus games in the top grade. Not a bad effort for someone who never really seemed to offer much. Kudos on what has been a wonderful study in overachievement.

Vale, Mark Riddell… Whenever I think of a player using little hooks to win over the crowd to somehow hide his overwhelming stupidity and intense laziness, I will think of Mark Riddell. Thanks for the indelible impression.

Vale, Ray Cashmere… It has been a wild ride, Cashman. There were the fantasy highs and the lows of faking injury and everything in between. The Cashman was a pretty decent prop and the game will strangely miss him in 2009.

Vale, Greg Bird… I think we have seen the last of this miscreant for a good while. Good riddance. Hopefully his mate Paul Gallen won’t be far behind.

Vale, Corey Hughes… I have been waiting my entire life to enter a Bulldogs season without a Hughes on the playing roster. I will get my chance in 2009. I am, however, strangely melancholy about losing the last of the lot. An era has ended. Corey, of course, could not resist the chance to lay one more shot to the balls when he landed a meaningless conversion from the sideline with a minute to play that wrecked the day for all those on the Raiders giving away twenty. It was a strangely poetic way for Corey Hughes to walk away, a perfect summation of his frustrating decade in the blue and white.

Vale, Brett Hodgson… There are not enough superlatives in the English language for Brett Hodgson. He has been an outstanding contributor to rugby league, a player of slight build who proved that you could make it in the big time with nothing but guile and ticker. Hodgson had both in bucket loads. He is without doubt one of the most intelligent players in the game with the wiry fullback always scheming and plotting. It is his courage, however, that he will most be remembered for. He was always getting bashed and smashed but he always got up for more. The game is losing a true champion in Brett Hodgson: his type doesn’t come around too often. Hopefully we have not heard the last of Hodgson and a media or coaching career resides in his future.

Amusing Rugby Notes… Reports coming from the south of France have it that a former rugby league player known for his upstanding ways has broken his leg. The injury comes less than a month after said player arrived in the land and the code. He could be out for up to six weeks. Ho ho. Karma can be a real motherfucker if you spit upwind.

Coaching Stocks…

Coach Comment
Craig Bellamy A third consecutive minor premiership is an amazing feat. The Storm are deserved short priced faves for the title.
Neil Henry Has done an outstanding job getting Canberra a likely double chance. Can make a run if they stay healthy.
Wayne Bennett Benny has the Broncos ticking over for his final finals run with the team. They have the emotional push.
Des Hasler Another stellar season from Manly. They are closer to the Storm this season. Danger game this week.
Brian Smith The Knights were big improvers but still missed out. Smith will be given some time but needs results next year.
Ricky Stuart The real test for Stuart and the Sharks comes now. History is against them and I doubt Stuart's tactics will suit.
Nathan Brown Amazingly got the Dragons into the eight after being fired. The Saints have Manly's number so could go further.
John Cartwright Cartwright did a stellar job getting the Titans around the eight when hamstrung by injury. A very good coach.
Ivan Cleary He has done well getting the Warriors into the eight but must get them winning in Australia.
Tim Sheens Sheens needs to clean house at the Tigers and get some tougher players to support Farah and Heighington.
Brad Fittler The Roosters finished fourth but they have limped into the finals and won't last long unless it is a rainy September.
Jason Tayler Next year is crunch time for Taylor. Another failure and he won't have a job in Australia.
Michael Hagan The Eels have continued to underperform with a poor attitude and total disinterest. It is either the broom or the sack.
Ian Millward The good money will be on Millward never being put in charge of an NRL team again.
Steve Folkes It was a bitter farewell for a man who gave so much…he is deserving of another head coaching gig.
Matt Elliott Elliott will not see out the week. He has been a significant contributor to the diabolical mess that is the Panthers.

Colin Best Express Fan Revue… The 2008 numbers of a champion:

Games: 23
Tries: 13 (T-10th in NRL)
Try Assists: 7 (T-44th in NRL)
Line Breaks: 16 (T-5th in NRL)
Line Break Assists: 4 (T-67th in NRL)
Tackle Breaks: 105 (7th in NRL)
Offloads: 29 (T-24th in NRL)
Average Metres: 129.3 (17th in NRL)
Total Metres: 2,974 (7th in NRL)

Round Twenty-Six in 2004… The Roosters claimed the minor premiership in the last game of the round with a 48-10 victory over Parramatta on the back of a three-try haul from Craig Wing. The Bulldogs, who also played on the Sunday, defeated the Warriors 54-10 after Matt Utai scored four times but lost the minor premiership battle with the Roosters on differential. The Wests Tigers blew their chance to claim the last finals position when they lost to Newcastle 26-16 in a match that saw Craig Hall score a double. The Canberra Raiders, needing only to win after the Tigers loss to claim eighth spot, disemboweled an insipid South Sydney team 62-22. Marshall Chalk scored four tries while Jason “Toots” Croker scored two tries and kicked his only career goal. Penrith secured fourth spot with a 46-20 win over third placed Brisbane with Rooney, Lewis and Gower all scoring doubles. The Dragons, who had the bye, finished fifth, watching from the sidelines.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 26… Sydney Roosters-St. George-Illawarra Dragons, 10-0. This game gets the nod in part because it was such a dour slog and in part because the weekend offered very little in terms of quality contests with the match the only clash between two finals-bound teams. The highlight of this match was the half-time score: 0-0. That is always fun and should be savoured. The Roosters ended up grinding out a 10-0 lead which was more than enough in torrential conditions. The game wasn’t a classic but it offered a little something for those who like it old school.


Great Canterbury Outside Back of Yesteryear… Glen Nissen. Nissen was a highly-liked winger at Belmore from 1988-91 who gained a cult following at the club, particularly when he grew the fantastic beard seen below. He could generously be described as decent having scored 16 tries in 68 top grade games but it was the intangibles that made Nissen a player that the fans worshipped. He was always hustling away and bobbing up and that meant plenty in those dark post-’88 days. His finest hour came in the 1988 Grand Final when he scored a handy try. Glen Nissen’s name always bobs up when thinking of amusing characters of yesteryear.

2008 Fantasy Team of the Year

1. Billy Slater (Melbourne)
2. Darius Boyd (Brisbane)
3. Joel Monaghan (Canberra)
4. Israel Folau (Melbourne)
5. Colin Best (Canberra)
6. Feleti Mateo (Parramatta)
7. Scott Prince (Gold Coast)
8. Jason Ryles (St. George-Illawarra)
9. Cameron Smith (Melbourne)
10. Roy Asotasi (Souths)
11. Anthony Laffranchi (Gold Coast)
12. Chris Heighington (Wests Tigers)
13. Glenn Stewart (Manly)

Rebecca Wilson is No More of a Journalist Than a Bare-Assed Himalayan Helper Monkey is a Poet Laureate… Rebecca Wilson clearly did plenty of research for her gossip column this week. In her four rugby league blurbs, three were pushing her favourite team, the Sydney Roosters. Not one story bordered on anything resembling journalism. It was just two-bit barracking from a woman who advertises herself as an objective journalist. When she isn’t attacking the Bulldogs she is talking up the Roosters. She is a joke and News Limited would do well to get rid of her and save us all from her garbage.

And One Final Thought… The Dragons had want to hope their finals campaign does not follow the same tragic course as that of its number one fan, Morris Iemma. Iemma was unceremoniously ousted as Premier of New South Wales by his Labor Party cohorts in what was one of the most disastrous and controversy-filled reigns of any political leader in any region of Australia in recent history. Iemma’s fall comes less than a year after the Dragons previous number one fan, John Howard, was kicked to the turf by a bunch of ungrateful Bennelong punters. The Big V number one may be a little cursed, it would seem.

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