From The Couch
Finals Summary #1: Parramatta were hardly challenged by a disappointing Gold Coast team who threw very little at the Eels. The Gold Coast led 2-0 early but come the twenty minute mark and Parramatta had broken through. An early injury to Ashley Harrison and some questionable officiating hurt the Titans but it was no excuse for such an insipid display, particularly after Eels playmaker Daniel Mortimer left the field early with a hip injury. The Eels led 13-2 at half-time and come full-time it was 27-2. The match broke no records for quality. The Eels stars were quiet but the no-frills brigade of Todd Lowrie, Kevin Kingston and Matt Keating got the team home. Parramatta knocked up another win and defensively they were solid but they were lacking any real oomph with the ball and in all honesty they were hardly challenged defensively.
Parramatta Fans…They are no Students of History: Deep in the bowels of the Sydney Football Stadium last Friday night, with the game all but over and Parramatta on their way to a preliminary final, arrogant Eels fans began to chant “Bring on the Bulldogs”. Seriously? That’s what Parramatta fans want? They want the Bulldogs? Parramatta fans chanting for a preliminary final against the Bulldogs is like France calling the Germans out circa 1938 or Tiny Pinder calling out Michael Jordan for a game of one-on-one. Stupid. Two words Eels fans: Paul Carige. That should wipe the filthy smirks off your filthy faces.
Jarryd Hayne Moment of the Year: Hayne has added plenty to his highlight reel in 2009 but my personal favourite Hayne moment was his field goal on the stroke of half-time against the Titans. It was from a fair distance and it took the score to 13-2. Outstanding meaningless field goal.
Finals Summary #2: While Brisbane claimed a home semi-final win against their old coach on Saturday night; the real story was about the Dragons. They became the first minor premier in the post top-five era to go out in straight sets and the premiership favourite for much of the season with the master coach in charge peaked too early and could never regain their form when they lost it. On Saturday, Brisbane played it smart early. They got in the Dragons face with big hits and forced early errors. When they had the ball they played mistake free and targeted the Dragons fringes with their big men. It worked. They got an early 12-0 lead. The Dragons then panicked and were never in the hunt. Dumb passes, poor kicking, a lack of penetration and selfish play finished the Saints season. It was a miserable way to go. Soward has taken much of the blame but he wasn’t the man to blame: the Dragons forwards got pummeled and Soward had no room to move. The Saints big boppers cost them at the back end of the year. It is as simple as that. For Brisbane, they will live and die on the form of Dave Taylor and Karmichael Hunt. If they continue to frighten opponents, they will keep kicking. If they don’t then they will be beaten by plenty.
Strangest Decision of the Year: Channel Nine viewers almost choked on their beers on Saturday evening when Ashton Sims was awarded the Man of the Match award in Brisbane’s semi-final win over the Dragons. Sims played 32 minutes, less than every other Bronco bar Joel Clinton, and made 51 metres from 8 runs and 20 tackles. He put a few shots on Justin Poore and to the naked eye that was all he did. Somehow those geniuses at Nine saw something else in those magical 32 minutes, however, deciding he was the match winner. What they saw, dare I say, was a winning bet. Sims was rubbish and was not in the best ten players on the field yet gets the gong. Disgraceful. And very odd. It would be interesting to know if any employee at Nine bet Sims to win the Man of the Match award.
How They Stand: A quick look at how the four remaining teams are shaping up for preliminary final weekend…
Surprised with a solid win over the Dragons on Saturday night. Were far from outstanding but forced the Dragons into plenty of errors which led them to panic. Loss of Peter Wallace is huge to their structure. With Lockyer also carrying a hamstring injury, Brisbane are going to struggle against Melbourne in Melbourne.
Refreshed after a week off though they did hold a full contact hit out over the weekend where they reportedly looked sharp. Noddy returns fit and healthy. Bulldogs hold a major mental edge over Parramatta. And now underdogs for preliminary final. All is looking good at Belmore.
Stumbled into a week off and a home prelim and now get a banged up team they hold a major class edge over. The Storm fly on Ethiad and should get over the top of a Broncos team short on health. Biggest concern will be lack of a big hit out leading into the Grand Final. Deserve title favouritism.
Have now won nine of ten and are carrying all the momentum into the backend of the finals. Fitness of Daniel Mortimer is critical: I doubt Parramatta can beat the Bulldogs without Mortimer. Hayne was quiet last week. Dogs will look to keep him out of action again.
Souths Coaching Change #1: For the first time since Ron Willey was appointed back in 1983, South Sydney have given themselves a chance of success by appointing an experienced and successful first grade coach. Jason Taylor, under the pretence of his off-field misbehaviour, was sacked with former Sharks and Panthers boss John Lang immediately appointed (as first suggested in last week’s From The Couch). Souths had to fire Taylor: not because his behaviour was criminal but because his behaviour was a reflection of his stupidity and proved he wasn’t fit to coach in the NRL at this stage. The out was too good for Souths to pass up and the brains trust sent Taylor packing. His attempts to garner public support since have been sad and pathetic. He should just man up and move on and stop crying like a little bitch. The club is certainly better off with Lang, a premiership winning coach who is regarded as Cronulla’s finest coach and one of Penrith’s best as well. No longer are Souths hamstrung by inexperienced fools like Craig Coleman or Paul Langmack, no names like Arthur Kitinas or Ken Shine or Frank Curry, club legends bereft of experience like Bob McCarthy or George Piggins or over-hyped mentors like Steve Martin or Shaun McRae. Lang will hopefully get rid of Sandow and put in motion a more traditional style of play that has a far greater success rate than the hit and miss style of the Taylor-Sandow era.
Souths Coaching Change #2: David Kidwell has been appointed the new coach of the Souths Toyota Cup team. The rugby league journeyman is hardly regarded as one of the game’s great thinkers. Hopefully he is being groomed for the top job at South Sydney, a continuation of the long standing policy of bringing in dumb asses to coach the team. That policy has temporarily been suspended with the hiring of John Lang but may soon be back in place if David Kidwell lucks his way into some success.
Lookalike Corner #1: Daniel Mortimer did the right thing by keeping his mouth shut after being nailed by Sam “Snoop Dogg” Tagataese in last Friday’s semi-final. Tagataese may well have “put a cap in Mortimer’s ass” if there had of been any complaining.
Sam Tagataese and Snoop Dogg…or is it the other way around?
Lookalike Corner #2: A long time favourite…one was on The Secret Life of Us…the other digs eating turtles…presenting Sam Thaiday and Deborah Mailman.
Rumour of the Week: Darren Lockyer’s hamstring is worse than is being reported. Lockyer has hardly trained this week and would be in severe doubt if it wasn’t for Wallace’s injury. The Brisbane five-eighth may not see out the match in Melbourne. He is tough but those in the know are questioning whether he will play eighty minutes. Be careful when betting Brisbane this week.
Fun Fact #1: Paul Carige played 61 NRL games including 45 for Parramatta.
Fun Fact #2: Paul Carige’s last NRL game was the infamous 1998 preliminary final where Parramatta blew an 18-2 lead with 11 minutes to go to lose 32-20 in extra-time.
Fun Fact #3: That match is affectionately remembered as the Paul Carige Match after Carige made a series of monumental errors in the dying minutes of the match that allowed the Bulldogs to win in extra-time. His errors include: twice catching the ball when over the sideline, once collecting the ball from his own in-goal with his foot dead and kicking the ball to the Bulldogs on the first tackle.
Fun Fact #4: Carige had another year to go on his contract with Parramatta but never played first grade again.
Fun Fact #5: Parramatta have lost four preliminary finals and a grand final in the eleven years since.
What Did Shane Rodney Do This Week? Shane Rodney came to the realization that he has played 100 top grade matches: 98 NRL matches for Penrith and Manly and two World Club Challenge games with Penrith and Manly over seven seasons. At his current rate he will pass Terry Lamb and Steve Menzies in 2027 at the age of 44.
The Colin Best Express Fan Revue: Our man Colin Best could not be more pleased: Jason Taylor is gone and the man he went to Souths for, John Lang, is now in charge. The Colin Best Express is set to thrive in 2010 under Lang. In 68 games under Lang, CBE has scored 37 tries. Next year Best will likely move to the wing and thrive with a decent halfback running the show.
Fantasy Team of the Year:
1. Jarryd Hayne (Par)
2. Taniela Tuiaki (Tig)
3. Josh Morris (Bul)
4. Greg Inglis (Mlb)
5. Manu Vatuvei (War)
6. Jamie Soward (Dra)
7. Johnathan Thurston (NQ)
13. David Stagg (Bul)
12. Bronson Harrison (Can)
11. Nathan Hindmarsh (Par)
10. Shane Tronc (NQ)
9. Robbie Farah (Tig)
8. Ben Hannant (Bul)
Beard of the Year: 2009 has been a wonderful year for the beard but there has been one man who has stood above all others in terms of beards and that man is Brad Meyers. The rugged Titans beast has devoted all of 2009 to his big ginger Viking beard. While other fine beards have come and gone, Meyers has stuck firm. Even in the face of an impending wedding he refuses to commit to shaving it off. He loves his beard. He has owned it. And it has owned him. It has wildness, thickness, personality and charm. Brad Meyers, congratulations…you are the proud owner of the 2009 Beard of the Year.
What I Hate About Rebecca Wilson This Week: Her joviality in relation to Phil Rothfield’s exposure of Lote Tuqiri’s infidelity was sickening. She said “Buzz could have done without the death stares” and that he “kept his 10 metres all night”. Not surprisingly she didn’t bring up the matter of a player’s privacy or the irrelevance of his infidelity to the public. She is such a two-bit journalist it is almost humorous.
Watch It: There is nothing quite as amusing as a Dragons September implosion. While the Sharks lot will often dive into a deep funk, they recognise that fate is not their friend. And Parramatta failure always provides a laugh but the bandwagon has usually been abandoned by the time you can get your shots in. The Dragons implosion, however, is total. They turn on their own. Scapegoats are found. Their delusions of entitlement are shattered. A Dragons choke is a real delight. And now, for this amusing video…Click Here
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