Season 2009: Round 22

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

From The Couch

Melbourne Minus GI: The race for the 2009 NRL Premiership is down to a race in two if the suspension of Greg Inglis remains in place until the end of the season. The weakness of the Melbourne Storm this season has been their inability to score tries. The Storm rank tenth in the NRL in tries scored at 3.6 per match. Inglis is the Storm’s top try scorer with nine while he ranks third in try assists with eight. He is one of only two Storm backs with sixty plus tackle breaks.

With a three quarter line that will consist of Will Chambers (overrated), Joseph Tomane (talented but volatile in form), Steve Turner (serviceable but more a finisher than a creator) and most likely Dane Nielsen (rookie who doesn’t appear to be fast, strong or smart), Melbourne just aren’t going to score tries. This is their season done. And if that proves to be the case, the teammates of Inglis have every right to be livid at him for robbing the club of their last chance to win a title in this current period of supremacy. With the strong culture of player power at the Storm, it wouldn’t surprise at all if Inglis is asked to move on by the senior leadership group.

Tony Williams: The turning circle of the Knock Nevis and the hustle of an opium addicted three-toed sloth. It is doubtful that a player has had a worse game this season when scoring a double. Des Hasler made the right decision to drop him this week. You know you are struggling when you are the rubbish Williams winger…hell, the oaf forgot how to run at the beginning of the year. Manly have a huge white elephant on their hands with Tony Williams.

Deborah Mailman Squared: It was a case of seeing double on Monday night when Sam Thaiday (aka Deborah Mailman) came face-to-face with Jack Afamasaga (aka New Deborah Mailman). New Deborah Mailman didn’t miss Original Deborah Mailman at one point, collecting him right around the chops. New Deborah Mailman was in a bit of secret life but got off with only a report.

Playing Careers of NRL Coaches:

Wayne Bennett —0 games*— Played QRL for 4 clubs and 9 matches for QLD

Kevin Moore —37 games— Canterbury

John Cartwright —184 games— Penrith (Rep: NSW + Aus)

Craig Bellamy —145 games— Canberra

Matt Elliott —62 games— St. George

Neil Henry —0 games—

Tim Sheens —166 games— Penrith

Des Hasler —287 games— Penrith, Manly, Wests (Rep: NSW + Aus)

Brian Smith —31 games— St. George, Souths

Ivan Henjak —174 games— St. George, Canberra, Wests

Jason Taylor —276 games— Wests, Norths, Eagles, Parramatta (Rep: NSW)

Daniel Anderson —0 games—

David Furner —200 games— Canberra (Rep: NSW + Aus)

Ivan Cleary —186 games— Manly, Norths, Roosters, Warriors

Ricky Stuart —243 games— Canberra, Canterbury (Rep: NSW + Aus)

Brad Fittler —336 games— Penrith, Roosters (Rep: NSW + Aus)

Fun Fact #1: The coaches of the four bottom placed clubs have played a total of 965 first grade games, all have played in excess of 180 matches and three have represented New South Wales and Australia.

Fun Fact #2: Of those in charge of the top six teams, no coach played more than 200 games, only two played 100 plus, only one played State of Origin football and only one represented Australia.

Fun Fact #3: The primary playing positions of NRL coaches were:

Fullbacks: 1
Three-Quarters: 2
Halves: 7
Backrowers: 3
Props: 1
Hookers: 0

Fun Fact #4: The two wing three-quarters currently coaching in the NRL are Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy. They have won seven premierships, coached nine grand final teams and have the teams who are first and third on the ladder.

Fun Fact #5: The only two halves with teams in the top eight are Kevin Moore and Des Hasler. Hasler is generally regarded more of a utility player while Moore is one of only two halves coaching who played less than 150 games.

Fun Fact Comment: Clubs hiring coaches often make two mistakes: they look for big name halves and they look for players with plenty of first grade experience. Playing ability doesn’t necessarily equate to coaching ability. Newcastle should either give assistant Rick Stone or Storm assistant Michael Maguire the coaching job for 2010 (and preferably immediately).

Field Goal Corner: Two very cool drop goals over the weekend. The first was from Jamie Soward who kicked his 5th field goal of the year. The last player to kick five field goals in a season was Andrew Johns in 1998. One more and he will tie Jason Taylor from 1997 and two more and he will equal John Simon from the same year. Go for the gold Jimmy S. The second outstanding field goal of the round was that of Brett Kimmorley. Kimmorley took what, at the time, was a meaningless field goal just before the break to put the Bulldogs up 15-6. A play had broken down and the ball was hurled to Kimmorley, who nonchalantly snapped a one-pointer. It turned out to be critical as it was that field goal that gave the Bulldogs a one point lead over the last nine minutes. It was another victory for the meaningless field goal.

Rumour of the Week: The Bulldogs are set to sign two fellow youngsters to join Blake Green and Steve Turner at Belmore next season. Dragon Mickey Paea and Panther Junior Tia-Kilifi will be announced as signing with the Dogs by the end of the week to provide squad depth for 2010. There is also plenty of mail around that Scott Logan will join the squad from Canberra to provide some depth in the front row. The Bulldogs have been formidable in 2009 but will be near unstoppable in 2010.

Coaching Stocks:

Wayne Bennett [5] There probably aren’t enough superlatives to laud Bennett for the job he has done at the Dragons.

Kevin Moore [4.5] The Dogs were far from impressive in the second half against Canberra but held on grimly.

Craig Bellamy [4.5] Had few problems in disposing of the Cowboys. Bigger concern will be life without Inglis.

Tim Sheens [4] That is now five on the trot and they are expected to play finals footy. Ordinary win but a win.

John Cartwright [4] Big win in New Zealand won on gritty defence. Cartwright has tenure at the Titans.

Matt Elliott [3.5] Were tough as hell with no luck against the Dragons. Could cause some trouble in the finals.

Daniel Anderson [3] Wow. The Eels are firing and could make the finals. Anderson has the boys playing well.

Neil Henry [2] The Cowboys were ordinary against the Storm but few teams play well there. Big fortnight ahead.

Des Hasler [1.5] Absolutely Manly’s worst loss of 2009. They were pathetic. Orford is no captain. In-fighting.

Brian Smith [1] Another hideous display from the Knights. Once again his stocks are plummeting.

David Furner [0.5] The Raiders backed up their big win over the Broncos with a gutsy effort. Just weren’t good enough

Jason Taylor [0.5] Performances over the last four weeks may get Souths into the finals and save Taylor’s job.

Ivan Henjak [-1.5] Win over the Sharks offered nothing. Still on the precipice of missing the finals for 1st time since ’91

Ricky Stuart [-2] Sharks tried their guts out with no players. Very tough times down at the Shire at present.

Ivan Cleary [-7] I don’t see how he can keep his job for 2010. With a good squad he is on track for a bottom 4 spot.

Brad Fittler [-70] Does it really matter? Where were the spirited performances when it mattered?

NRL Game of the Year Nomination, Round 22: Bulldogs-Canberra, 23-20. The Bulldogs-Raiders game was a reasonable affair. The Bulldogs showed their class early and established a 15-6 lead at the break after a double to Goodwin and a try to Stagg with Goodwin’s second effort sensational. The Raiders fought back after the break and took the score to 21-20 with nine minutes remaining and very nearly got home before the bounce of the ball and the rub of the green went to Canterbury. More historical, however, was the Brisbane-Cronulla match on Monday night. It was absolutely the worst game of the season and perhaps the worst match of the decade. We were in for a long night when, after thirty seconds, Cronulla had let the ball go dead off the kick off and then Nick Kenny dropped the ball off the ensuing drop out. Thirty seconds, zero tackles, zero metres gained, two errors. The match contained 23 errors and 83 missed tackles. The kicking may as well have come right out of 1939 on a day of torrential rain. It was painful to watch. One of the great mediocre matches ever played.

The Colin Best Express Fan Revue: The Colin Best Express ticked up 20 games for South Sydney yet he still sits on only 2 tries at a ratio of a try every 10 games. Prior to arriving at the Bunnies, Best’s worst ration was a try every 2.75 matches at Canberra. Sitting on 89 career tries, Jason Taylor has ensured that the CBE won’t finish his career as a 100-plus try scorer.

What Did Shane Rodney Do This Week? Shane began the countdown to his 100th NRL game this week with, injuries allowing, Sugar set to bring up the ton in week one of the finals. At his current rate, he will rack up 200 matches by the end of 2016. Shane also badgered Matt Ballin, Glenn Hall and Ben Farrar about what they have bought him for his 26th birthday which falls this Saturday. A Polaroid camera and fruit flowers, apparently.

Beard Watch: A slow week in the facial hair stakes this week so we are forced to head north with the news that Terry Campese will be fuzzying up his thinning crop by undergoing some Advanced Hair treatment throughout the off-season. T-Camps seemingly believes he was dropped from the Blues because they just couldn’t respect a five-eighth with a patchy head. Don’t do it, TC! You are better than that. Embrace your baldness. And don’t let those douches McCarthy, Fulton, Daley and Gerard force you to mess with your style. The Q-Town “unimpressed and unconvinced” look is working a treat and is surely a hit down the Central Café.

Thems Were The Days: 1981 had been a long time coming for Parramatta fans. The Eels had been in the premiership since 1947 but had suffered more misery than merriment and thirty-four seasons in had produced not a single premiership. In the team’s first fifteen years, the Eels “won” nine” wooden spoons and had only one winning record. It wasn’t until 1962 that Parramatta made the finals and they did so four years in succession but even that caused nothing but pain with the Eels going 1-5 in finals football and failing to reach a decider. The Eels would win another three wooden spoons before they reached their first Grand Final in 1976 but despite also reaching the decider in 1977 the club was still without a premiership and after tough semi-final defeats in ’78 and ‘79 marked by a fierce rivalry with Manly where the club accused referee Greg Hartley of bias, the Terry Fearnley era ended in the same manner as the Ken Kearney period in the early sixties: without a title. Jack Gibson arrived in 1981, however, and times were about to change. And it wouldn’t only be the arrival of Parramatta’s first premiership, their first in a hat-trick. Cumberland Oval, the home of Parramatta since day one, was about to be knocked down with Parramatta Stadium built on the cleared area. The last match scheduled for the ground was against Manly in the final round of the season. It turned out to be a match for the ages and was regarded as one of the all-time classics and a genuine contender for match of the decade honours. In the words of Rugby League Week: “the game had everything…bone-jarring defence, chain passing and long distance tries.” In front of a packed house of 18,449 people Manly scored more tries than Parramatta but couldn’t claim the match with a Tony Melrose field goal four minutes from time leaving the score 20-20. “In the end both teams- bone weary and covered in Cumberland dust- trooped off the field to a wonderful reception from the big crowd who broke into Auld Lang Syne”. Less than four weeks later Cumberland Oval was in flames.

After such a tremendous farewell and the thrill of winning their first ever premiership after such a long wait, Parramatta fans in an act of drunken and delirious symbolism burned the Cumberland Oval Grandstand to the ground. While the Parramatta Leagues Club was filled with revellers next door, many more watched their home stand burn. It was the end of an era for Parramatta fans and one they all hoped would be a new dawn. And for five more seasons it was a great time. But the dawn proved false and the Parramatta faithful have waited twenty-three long seasons for that next premiership. Still, the day Cumberland burned, the world could not have been brighter for those who called the blue and the gold home.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. B.Slater (Mlb)
2. L.Burt (Par)
3. W.Tonga (NQ)
4. M.Rogers (GC)
5. N.Merritt (Sou)
6. B.Finch (Mlb)
7. B.Kimmorley (Bul)
13. P.Gallen (Cro)
12. D.Stagg (Bul)
11. J.Smith (Dra)
10. S.Tronc (NQ)
9. N.Friend (GC)
8. K.Snowden (Cro)

Geurie Greens Update: A moment of great history arrived over the weekend when David Stagg led the Geurie Greens to an unprecedented second FFL premiership. It only happened after a Friday of great concern due to the prospect of star player Jamie Soward being rested by Wayne Bennett. Frantic telephone calls were made and vicious threats were sent but it was eventually decided that Soward would play. From the moment he took the field on Friday night, the Geurie Greens maintained a comfortable lead over the gallant Tuncurry, cruising to a second premiership. The game was all but over on Saturday night after David Stagg turned in one of his biggest performances of the season, amassing 57 tackles and a try in only 70 minutes of action. His efforts won him the Barry Berrigan Medal for the highest Grand Final score, placing him in the company of Josh Perry, Sam Perrett and Junior Sau. Geurie became the first minor premier to win the premiership after winning more games than any other team in the history of the FFL. It was a victory considered the most deserving in FFL history and many other managers remarked on what a wonderful decider it was. One unnamed manager was heard to say on Sunday evening, while feasting on a Mexican parma, that the win of Geurie was “of greater significance than the moon landing” and that celebrations would last “until we beat that pussy record of the Dragons…eleven straight? Pansies…” Jamie Soward was again brilliant. Cooper Cronk turned in his second best performance of 2009. Josh Dugan may have won himself a contract for 2010. Luke Douglas was quiet but played in his third decider in four years. Tuncurry was courageous but couldn’t compete with the might of the Greens. Congratulations Geurie: you are now the kings of the world.

What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: Her complete and utter arrogance when discussing Twitter, Facebook and blogging. Obviously unable to come to grips with new technology forms, Bourbon Becky just brushes them off as “puerile, inane and a shocking waste of time” that “gives non-media people a chance to vent their spleen in a public environment”. It seems like she is really embracing the way of the future. Give it ten years and dinosaurs like her will be wondering where her job went. Non-media people? I hope she doesn’t consider herself any better than the hundreds who use the internet to hold her to account and expose her for the fool she is. She said about Twitterers that they are “vacuous people with too much time on their hands who like to believe we actually care what they are doing”. That sentence is certainly applicable but more to you Wilson. Anything and everything written on Twitter would more than likely hold more merit than any drivel you have churned out. And, of course, without Facebook we wouldn’t have a one stop shop to twenty odd groups hating, condemning and exposing her for the pathetic and vindictive gossipmonger she is.

Watch It: I came across the highlights of the 1993 Presidents Cup (U 21’s) Grand Final and enjoyed what I saw. Failed Liberal politician Graham Annesley was on the whistle and a few big names were on the field including “the steamroller with legs” Adam Ritson, wildman Nathan Long, crafty rake Robert Mears, journeymen forwards Clinton O’Brien and Brendan Hurst and long-time stalwart Dean Treister. A couple of elements really stood out: you had to love the numbering of the era that saw 27-39 used for the run-on team and numbers as high as 54 in play for bench players and the field goal at the 42nd minute to put the Roosters up 13-0 was brilliant but not nearly as good as the incredulous commentary that implied the Roosters should have attempted it earlier. Click here.

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