From The Couch
The Worst Decision in the History of Rugby League: On Friday night I was ready to round up a lynch mob and run down Steven Clark and Robert Finch. I have hardly calmed down since. Numbers would not be hard to find and the lynching of those two clowns would set a good example for other officials. It is the only acceptable punishment. Both should swing from the old tree at North Sydney oval and should be left there as a permanent reminder of where pedantic rulings and a complete disregard for the game of rugby league will get you.
There would not be one person in rugby league outside the refereeing fraternity who would have ruled Jamal Idris’s last minute winner against the Dragons a no try. Clark disregarded all forms of logic and decency and penalised the Bulldogs Greg Eastwood for obstructing Jamie Soward forty metres upfield. Eastwood did not lay a hand on Soward and Soward had the inside position. It was a disgraceful ruling and possibly the worst ever made. If Steven Clark isn’t barred from ever acting as a video referee again, it shows just how protected these fools are. There is no accountability with referees and Clark and his kind can get away with whatever they like. I shouldn’t be surprised, however. It was Heritage Round and Steven Clark has made a habit of raping the Bulldogs at every opportunity since Terry Lamb gave it to him in a preseason semi-final nearly twenty years ago.
One of the Great Field Goals: Nathan Merritt landed one of the all-time great field goals to propel South Sydney to a 23-22 victory on the hallowed turf of the SCG as the shadows stretched across the field and the ghosts of yesteryear watched on proudly. With only three seconds on the clock, Merritt received the ball thirty metres out and about twenty metres to the right of the uprights after five-eighth Craig Wing fumbled a pass. Merritt, with the calmness of a Valium wife, opted not to run the ball as most wingers in his situation would have. He merely rocked back and slotted a field goal from an astounding angle to give Souths one of their most thrilling victories. It would have been a great field goal for Eric Simms, Neil Baker or Ricky Stuart. For Nathan Merritt to kick it, words fail to do the play justice. It will long be remembered as one of the all-time great field goals, an unlikely match-winner that was a fitting end to a brilliant match.
Some Thoughts on Zeb Taia: Zeb Taia is an outstanding talent and could turn out to be the best ball-running backrower in the NRL within three years. He runs hard and upright and has a deft pair of hands to go with surprising speed. He was outstanding on Saturday night in scoring two tries against the Roosters and breaking seven tackles. Keep an eye out for Taia…he is going to be a wrecking ball in a few seasons. He reminds one of a young Stephen Kearney and that is quite the compliment.
Michael Crocker Update: Before he had even played one game for South Sydney, Gorden Tallis had already called for Michael Crocker to be put straight into the Queensland State of Origin team. Seemingly club football isn’t important when it comes to Michael Crocker: he should just be picked for representative teams. Most players retire from rep football before pulling the pin on club football but all indications are that Mick Crocker will go the other way. He will retire from first grade in a couple of years (the part-time first grade career he currently enjoys being too strenuous) but should be in the Queensland and Australian teams until at least 2020.
Congratulations: Hazem El Masri. 300 games is a wonderful achievement and to do so for the greatest club of all is something special. El Masri deserves his place in the annals as one of rugby league’s finest ambassadors, a nexceptional goal-kicking talent who rarely let the Bulldogs down out wide.
Rumour of the Week: That either Brian Noble or John Lang will be coaching the Roosters in 2010. Brad Fittler has been an epic failure as the Roosters coach and the Roosters don’t tolerate failure long. Noble is keen to coach in the NRL and has a good record in England while Lang is a popular coach who did an exceptional job at Cronulla and Penrith. The Roosters will most likely look to ease Fittler out and bring in one of the two big names mentioned.
Fun Fact #1: John Skandalis returns to the NRL this weekend for the first time since round 26, 2006.
Fun Fact #2: Skandalis scored the Wests Tigers first ever try. He also scored a try in his last NRL match.
Fun Fact #3: Skandalis was selected to play for City three times from 2004-06. He started from the bench on every occasion.
Fun Fact #4: Skandalis captained the Greek rugby league team and is probably the greatest Greek rugby league player ever.
Kevin Moore  – The Bulldogs were the Bulldogs of old on Friday night with their stoic defence. Moore lost no admirers after the screwjob.
Wayne Bennett – Attack would be a concern but there was no doubtBennett's pack was brilliant. Re-signing Creagh and Young big.
Brian Smith – The Knights whipped the Roosters in the brutal fashion you would expect of a contender. Backline is top 4 in the NRL.
Craig Bellamy – The Storm are well and truly back. Finch adds crispness to the backline and the defence continues to be first rate.
Ivan Henjak – Brisbane recovered well after their embarassing loss to Manly. Critical times for the Broncos pack over next month.
John Cartwright – Titans struggled over the last 20 mins against Brisbane. Still, solid effort without their two best forwards.
Tim Sheens – The Tigers were courageous on Sunday only to just lose the points. Must take some blame for no FG sealer.
Jason Taylor – Souths were hot and cold on Sunday but showed tremendous spirit to come back and win. Ready to make a run.
Matt Elliott – The Panthers were ordinary against the Sharks but they got the win. Massive improvers from preseason predictions.
Neil Henry – A huge win across the Tasman. Kudos for taking the shackles off Thurston, who is in a real purple patch.
Des Hasler – Manly are starting to hit form. Good call to bring Tony Williams back on the wing and starting Rodney.
Ivan Cleary – Simply awful loss to the Cowboys on the road. The Warriors are falling into old habits and playing too side-to-side.
David Furner – Dreadful Monday. Panicking with team selections in dropping Dugan. Seems out of his depth with his tactics.
Daniel Anderson – Parra continue to embarrass themselves. Genuine spoon contenders. Things aren't getting any better with injuries either.
Brad Fittler – The Roosters are absolute rubbish. They have no heart and no game plan. They need to start again. Fittler should go.
Ricky Stuart – Is doing nothing to stop their awful run. Starting Luke Douglas from the bench was disgraceful.
Game of the Year Nomination, Round 10: St. George-Illawarra-Canterbury, 20-18. This match had it all and would rate among the top five matches of the decade. In front of a sell-out crowd at a fine suburban ground, two traditional arch-rivals and the two competition front-runners met in a thrilling and meaning-laden encounter. In the first twenty minutes the running was all with the Dragons but the Dogs of old were out and they were stoic in defending their line. The Dragons led 8-0 after 25 minutes but they should have been up by more. Then the outstanding Ben Creagh broke the line once more and it was 14-0 and the Dogs looked in trouble. If this was 2008 they would have lost by 50. But in the Kevin Moore era, the old pride in the jersey returned and at the break the Dogs were down only 14-6 after the ever-thinking Brett Kimmorley darted over. The second half picked off where the first left off but not without controversy when Brett Kimmorley was ridiculously sent to the sin bin despite not touching Matt Cooper. Once again the Dogs held firm and fought back to 14-12 not long after Kimmorley’s return through a magnificent bullocking run from Ben Hannant. That run was topped nine minutes later by Justin Poore, who ran straight over the top of Michael Ennis to sprint twenty metres for a fine try. The Dogs once again fought back when the exciting Jamal Idris pulled down a bomb and wrestled his way over the line. 20-18 with nine minutes to go and the Dogs had the momentum. The Dragons held on resolutely until the last minute when Luke Patten broke free and offloaded to Idris who scored a remarkable try. And then the game was ruined by video referee Steven Clark, who ruled that Jamie Soward had been interfered with 40 metres upfield despite Soward having the inside position on Greg Eastwood and Eastwood not touching him. It was a decision that virtually no rugby league fan would have made. It was a disgraceful ending to a classic match. Hopefully some good will come out of it, however, with Clark being dismissed and the powers of the video referee reduced to groundings and offside calls. You could watch rugby league for a decade and not see a match as good as the Bulldogs and Dragons.
The Colin Best Express Fan Revue: The Colin Best Express was back to his scintillating best at the SCG on Sunday with a CBE special setting up South Sydney’s second try. In true CBE fashion, Best made a break from his own half, outpacing the chasing pack before drawing the Tigers fullback and sending Fetuli Talanoa crashing over. The long distance try is a Colin Best special and it was pleasing to see him bring it out after his representative snubbing.
What Did Shane Rodney Do This Week? “Sugar” Shane Rodney scored a try! It was a moment of high class frivolity when our favourite fanta pants scored his first try in the maroon and white and only his second try since 2006. Rodney finally got the opportunity to start for Manly, Des Hasler obviously laying off the crack pipe for a week, and Sugar let nobody down with a barnstorming try. Now he has a taste of it, Rodney should be ready to go on a try scoring spree in the coming weeks.
Beard Watch: Glen Hall did Heritage Round proud with an outstanding moustache wielded for the clash with Parramatta on Sunday. With Manly in their early-eighties jerseys, Hall really looked the part with a hairy upper lip. Gold Coast winger Chris Walker is also looking the goods at present with the shaved-head and beard look. It certainly seems to be helping his form as he hasn’t played this well in five years.
Thems Were The Days: At the turn of the century there was a cult referee that took the game by storm: Mogsheen Jadwat. A South African of sub-continental descent, Jadwat became an instant hero to rugby league trainspotters. While he was never regarded as a great referee, his interesting heritage made him instantly recognisable and from 1997-2000 Jadwat had his own following. Though he only refereed 53 first grade games, Jadwat is remembered by most footy fanatics of the time. His most memorable moment came when he sent off Ali Lauititi in a 18-14 win for Manly at Brookvale Oval, the second time Lauititi was dismissed for the season. As quickly as Jadwat arrived on the scene, however, he disappeared. Jadwat quit the refereeing gig after the 2000 season when the NRL failed to offer him enough money to stay on, Jadwat returning to a life in high finance. The last word on him was that Jadwat left Westpac to work for Commsec, his life in the trading game seemingly a lot more profitable than rugby league.
Fantasy Team of the Week:
1. K.Gidley (New)
2. D.Williams (Man)
3. J.Lyon (Man)
4. I.Folau (Brs)
5. T.Tuiaki (Tig)
6. T.Barrett (Cro)
7. J.Thurston (NQ)
13. L.O’Donnell (NQ)
12. A.Tupou (Cro)
11. Z.Taia (New)
10. M.Weyman (Stg)
9. R.Farah (Tig)
8. B.Hannant (Bul)
Geurie Greens Update: Some unpleasant phone calls were directed at the Raiders last night after David Furner’s ridiculous decision to drop fullback Josh Dugan for David Milne. That left the Greens without a fullback for their clash with the 0-9 Dunedoo Dunnarts but the Greens still left Long Drop Oval with the premiership points. Taniela Tuiaki was outstanding, Jamal Idris was brilliant and little Pauly Aiton surprised in the comfortable Geurie win that takes the team to 10-0. A disappointing performance by Steve Simpson has his position in doubt while Shane Rodney’s fine performance has him pushing for a starting job.
What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: Everything. I find her hypocritical moralism, her black-and-white outlook, her refusal to accept criticism and her refusal to answer legitimate questions despicable. Everything about her disgusts me. Her belief that group sex is “wrong” is fine but her attempts to impose her moral standards on the rest of society is just loathsome, particularly when she drink drives and drives without a licence, both of which pose more of a danger to the community than group sex. Her belief that Matthew Johns should have been fired and her role in the pack hunt for him proves she has no ability to grasp complex issues. Her belief that anyone who disagrees with her is morally corrupt just goes to show her simplicity and how she is always the first to get on board the witch-hunt. Her associating group sex with homosexuality shows she has no understanding of sexuality and her position would have been an insult to the homosexual community. Her outrage at group sex is also a little strange seeing as she has never once campaigned against it before despite her knowledge of its existence in both rugby league and society. Her failure to do so shows an extraordinary lack of courage. Her “tales” of how she was treated when she first started “reporting” on rugby league fail to account for the fact she was probably treated like a fool not because she was a woman but because she knew nothing about the game. She needs to be rubbed out of rugby league forever.
Watch It: This fantastic try for the Western Suburbs Magpies. The ball went through sixteen sets of hands including halfback Josh White, bustling prop Bill Dunn and a young Manoa Thompson. Stephen Kearney plays a hand with a great offload, Darren Willis gets involved before Jim Sedaris scoots across field and puts the ball on the chest of Ken McGuiness. An outstanding try that will no doubt be remembered by all Magpies fans. An added bonus was Warren Boland in the commentary box, bringing back memories of those old Saturday afternoon games on the ABC. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OljHtWe3fSQ)