Season 2010: Round 18

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

From The Couch

If You Didn’t Love a Field Goal Before, You Sure Should Now: Those who love a field goal have spent the last week in heaven thanks to Benji Marshall and Darren Lockyer and two monster first-half field goals that were determining factors in two big games.

Firstly, the Darren Lockyer field goal. Just before the break with Queensland leading 12-6, under pressure and a fair way to the left of the uprights, Lockyer launched a 45-metre missile that not only sailed through the posts to give Queensland a 13-6 lead but flew over the dead-ball line. The Blues eventually fought back to lead 18-13 but that field goal proved the difference when Queensland’s Billy Slater put the Maroons up 19-18. Lockyer’s drop goal forced the Blues to toss it around in the dying seconds rather than settle for extra-time. It was the best field goal I had seen in many years.

I certainly didn’t expect that one-pointer to be superseded two nights later by Benji Marshall, who kicked the longest field goal any rugby league person can remember when he launched a 51-metre drop kick that hit the cross bar and bounced over in what was arguably the highlight of the season. It certainly was the longest field goal kicked in Australian rugby league at least in the 1-point era, according to statistician David Middleton in the Daily Telegraph and historian Sean Fagan in correspondence with this author. Here it is in all its glory Click Here along with this match winner from Andrew Willis, previously the best field goal in club football in my opinion Click Here. Phil Gould described it best with his guttural “wow…just wow”. There has not been a more impressive piece of individual brilliance on an NRL field this year. And not only was the kick amazing, it won the game for the Tigers, who held on against the Titans 15-14. Benji and the Tigers deserved to be rewarded for showing some initiative and taking the field goal early. It is the Tigers fifth field goal of the year and they have taken first half one-pointers repeatedly. Tim Sheens once again is showing his smarts by getting his playmakers thinking field goal early. That is enough for coach of the year as far as I’m concerned.

While Marshall’s field goal is the longest in living memory, Sean Fagan noted that Joe Lydon kicked a 60-yards field goal in England in the late eighties while Fagan has confirmed reports that Dally Messenger kicked three field goals in excess of 60 yards in representative matches including a 65-yarder and a 63-yarder in Wales in 1907 and 1908 along with a 65-yarder against Maoris at Wentworth Park. Fagan believes that it is almost certain that there have been longer field goals in club football than Marshall’s between 1908 and 1980 but there is no public evidence of such.

To top the weekend off, Jarrod Mullen kicked a completely pointless field goal to extend the Knights margin over the Sharks from 10 to 11 with two minutes remaining. What a remarkable time to be alive.

A Green Letter Day in the Capital: For once, the Canberra Raiders have come out on top. And they have picked the right battle to win as they have managed to keep their most exciting prospect since Brett Mullins in Canberra and away from the greasy mitts of the Sydney Roosters. Dugan announced on Saturday that he would sign an extension keeping him at Bruce Stadium until at least 2012. The Roosters were the front runners to land Dugan though the Bulldogs were expected to make a play at him with many in rugby league believing a deal was already done.

Dugan is one of the most exciting players in rugby league and it would have broken the hearts of the Canberra faithful had the hometown boy with the world at his feet left. Dugan has shone in a team bereft of playmakers and with little attacking structure yet the dynamic fullback has proven one of the most elusive, sharp, smart and courageous players in the game. He has a long representative career awaiting him.

The Canberra front office should be applauded for the way they handled the situation. When Dugan rejected an extension offer and the rumour mill had him going to the Roosters, the Raiders went to the NRL and informed them of their offer and that there was possibly a case of tampering going on. In the current climate, the NRL is vigilant of any perceived breaches of the cap and that gave the Raiders the upper hand.

While the Canberra faithful should be extremely pleased that they have kept Dugan, the Raiders need to find some degree of on-field success in the next few years. The team cannot keep treading water as they have done over the last decade and expect to keep Dugan. They need to truly compete for the title. They have a talented enough core with the likes of Campese, Fensom, Harrison and Thompson but that needs to translate to premiership contention. Failure to do so and Dugan is every chance of fleeing to a club with better prospects. His extension, of course, is only a year and there is a very real prospect that Dugan didn’t defect because of the current salary cap stigma and may have reached an in-principle agreement to go to the Roosters in 2013. I doubt this is true but it is a possibility so the Raiders need to ensure they are a desirable club to be at.

Fare Thee Well, Steven Price: When Steve Price left Canterbury at the end of the 2004 season, I was angry and scared and I wished him the worst. He had, of course, promised the Bullfrog on his deathbed that he would never leave the Bulldogs. I never thought I’d forgive him. But you cannot stay mad at Steve Price; such is his stature in the game and his contribution to the sport. He is a true ornament to rugby league.

Price had been a fixture at Canterbury since 1994 when Moore bought down the spindly kid from the Queensland bush to play under the guidance of Chris Anderson. Price played only six matches in his debut year but one was the Grand Final thrashing the Bulldogs received at the hands of Canberra and Price used that as a motivator as he went on to play in his only premiership winning team a year later. Price started in the second-row with Simon Gillies and scored the first try as the Bulldogs began their march towards a famous victory. Price’s try was, however, shrouded in controversy with the lead-up pass somewhat questionable. By the end of 1995 Price was a regular in the Bulldogs team as a starting second-rower/bench player and in the Super League year of 1997 Price got his first taste of the front row, where he would become one of the best players at the position over the next decade.

1998 was a mammoth year for Price. Price was a key player in the famous Canterbury semi-final run that saw the Bulldogs come from ninth to play in the Grand Final against Brisbane. The Toowoomba product also made his Origin and Test debuts that year with Price playing all three matches for Queensland and scoring a try on debut as well as playing two Tests against New Zealand. For the first time, Roy and HG got to shout “Woo Woo Woo” as the Price Attack bent the Blues line while Price would begin a fabulous representative career that would see him turn out for Queensland on 28 occasions and Australia on 16, representing both state and country for over a decade. Price played every match for Queensland between 2002 and 2009 except when missing matches in 2005 and 2008 due to injuries where, with Petero Civoniceva, he guided the Queensland pack as a smart and sublime prop who always broke the advantage line.

Price was handed the captaincy of the Bulldogs in 2002 by Steve Folkes upon the retirement of Darren Britt and Price led with aplomb the club during some of its darkest days including the salary cap scandal of 2002 and the rape scandal of 2004. Price was named captain of the year in 2002 and 2004 and in 2007 was honoured by the club by being named in the 70 year Team of Champions and inducted into the Bulldogs Ring of Honour. Price’s last game in Canterbury colours would be the preliminary final of the 2004 season where the Dogs defeated Penrith but Price picked up a serious injury that forced him to miss the Grand Final and Canterbury’s premiership. Price lifted the trophy but did not play.

In 2005, Price moved to the Warriors where he immediately assumed the captaincy as he continued on with Queensland and Australia. Price led the Warriors for five seasons and won captain of the year honours again in 2007 as well as leading the club to the finals in 2007 and 2008.

2010 was expected to be his farewell year but Price never made it onto the field. Price was stripped of the captaincy preseason in a controversial move by coach Ivan Cleary and a heel injury never allowed him the opportunity for a farewell match.

It was a sad end for a true champion of the game. Few players had the durability, effectiveness or leadership characteristics of Price. The game will not be the same without him. Steve Price will be sorely missed.

What I Learned from Twitter This Week: That Tim Mannah’s personal best Weetbix tally is 24 and according to Michael Jennings, Mannah is the worst ten pin bowler in the world.

Political Correctness Gone Mad: Somehow this humorous television ad Click Here. for the NRMA was taken off the air because it depicts “theft and stealing.” The ad features numerous Brisbane Broncos working at the NRMA in a farcical situation with Broncos tough man Sam Thaiday shaking a vending machine. The ad was banned after some douchebag vending machine owner wrote a complaint. It is astonishing that society has reached such a humourless point. I hope that bastard’s vending machines get busted up, he goes bankrupt, his wife leaves him and he is forced to steal food from a vending machine just so I can chuckle at the irony and piss all over his political correctness.

Unintentional Insult of the Week: When comparing the 2010 Panthers to the 2003 premiership winning Panthers, Scott Sattler said Tim Grant was “like a young Joel Clinton.” Tim Grant is an honest toiler who works hard and plays hard. Let’s hope his career is nothing like Joel Clinton’s, who was rightly regarded as one of the most overrated prop forwards of the last decade.

Eleven Rugby League Reputations I Would Not Want To Have:

11. Bob McCarthy: Utter imbecile who long ago lost legacy as a great player.

10. Joel Clinton: Soft as butter and a loud mouth with nothing to back it up.

9. Tim Smith: Reformed wild child who just doesn’t have the talent for the NRL.

8. Jason Taylor: Dumb as a ton of bricks and stubborn to boot.

7. Carl Webb: No skill or work ethic who lost tough image when KO’d boxing.

6. Robert Finch: Rightfully lambasted for changing rules of the game.

5. Willie Mason: A cancer on clubs and a loud mouth who can’t back it up on field.

4. Timana Tahu: Petulant and antagonistic with a penchant for grubby play.

3. Israel Folau: Traitor to the code and man-boy owned by his parents and church.

2. Luke O’Donnell: A cheap thug with no respect for rugby league.

1. Sonny Bill Williams: A money hungry dog who would sell his mother’s ass for a buck.

Cronulla are So Broke That: They cannot even afford elastic in their shorts. At least three players had their shorts pulled down in the Sharks inept performance against Newcastle. Times are tough at Toyota Park. There is a very good chance the Sharks may have to sell their jerseys off this week and play skins against Manly this weekend just so they can pay the electricity bill and afford the laser surgery required to remove Paul Gallen’s tramp stamp.

Never Trust a Parramatta Fan: Even their young are nothing more than swine as this punk kid proved when tossing away Johnathan Thurston’s headgear post-match. Click Here. The kid should have kept it because, as an Eels fan, that is the best memory that little punk is ever likely to have.

Beware the Polar Bear: Beware. The NRL is flush with polar bears at present. They are lurking everywhere. Big, burly and blonde. Canterbury. Melbourne. North Queensland. Ben Hannant. Aiden Tolman. And now young gun Dane Hogan. These are the whitest men in league and they do not believe in pigment.

Fun Fact #1: With Luke Burt surpassing the 500 goal mark for Parramatta against the Cowboys on Monday, the following 16 players have kicked 500 goals for a single club:

Balmain: Keith Barnes (742)
Canberra: David Furner (544)
Canterbury: Hazem El Masri (895), Daryl Halligan (665)
Cronulla: Steve Rogers (502)
Manly: Graham Eadie (847), Bob Batty (501)
Newcastle: Andrew Johns (920)
North Sydney: Jason Taylor (563)
Parramatta: Mick Cronin (865), Luke Burt (505*)
Penrith: Ryan Girdler (618)
St. George: Graeme Langlands (648)
Souths: Eric Simms (803), Bernie Purcell (509)
Roosters: Craig Fitzgibbon (664)

Fun Fact #2: Six players who have kicked 500 goals for a single club have played for another first grade club in Australia: Daryl Halligan, Steve Rogers, Jason Taylor, Ryan Girdler, Bernie Purcell and Craig Fitzgibbon.

Fun Fact #3: And to honour this wonderful time of field goals, the leading field goal kicker for each and every club^ in the history of the NRL and its predecessors.

Adelaide: Andrew Pierce, Kurt Wrigley (1)
Balmain: Ben Elias (33)
Brisbane: Darren Lockyer (17*)
Canberra: Ricky Stuart (25)
Canterbury: Terry Lamb (37)
Cronulla: Terry Hughes (11)
Gold Coast Giants/Seagulls/Chargers: Mike Eden (4)
Gold Coast Titans: Scott Prince (3*)
Hunter: None
Illawarra: John Simon (9)
Manly: Bob Fulton (57)
Melbourne: Cooper Cronk (5*)
Newcastle: Andrew Johns (22)
Newtown: Ken Wilson (28)
North Queensland: Andrew Dunnemann, Nathan Fien (4)
Norths: Jason Taylor (20)
Northern Eagles: Jason Taylor (2)
Parramatta: Dick Thornett (19)
Penrith: Greg Alexander, Neil Baker (14)
Roosters: Kevin Ashley (25)
St. George: Phil Hawthorne (54)
St. George-Illawarra: Jamie Soward (11)
South Queensland: Craig Wilson (3)
Souths: Eric Simms (86)
Warriors: Stacey Jones (14)
Western Reds: Julian O’Neill (4)
Wests: Barry Glasgow (44)
Wests Tigers: Robbie Farah (10*)

*Still active
^Clubs defunct before the modern era of 1940 not counted as record were sketchy at best.

The Willie M Medal: An award that, after last weekend, should probably be called The Carl Webb Medal.


Tigers v Gold Coast 3-Mark Minichiello (GC)
  2-Kevin Gordon (GC)
  1-Wade McKinnon (Tig)
Rooster v Souths 3-Beau Champion (Sou)
  2-Dave Taylor (Sou)
  1-Nick Kouparitsis (Roo)
Manly v Canberra 3-Jamie Lyon (Man)
  2-Trevor Thurling (Can)
  1-Michael Robertson (Man)
Canterbury v Melbourne 3-Ryan Hinchcliffe (Mel)
  2-Tim Winitana (Bul)
  1-Sika Manu (Mel)
Newcastle v Cronulla 3-Ben Pomeroy (Cro)
  2-Anthony Tupou (Cro)
  1-Tim Smith (Cro)
Penrith v Warriors 3-James Maloney (War)
  2-Luke Walsh (Pen)
  1-Michael Jennings (Pen)
Parramatta v Cowboys 3-Karl Webb (Cow)
  2-Anthony Watts (Cow)
  1-Krisnan Inu (Par)
Leaderboard 15-Preston Campbell (GC)
  13-James Maloney (War), Mark Minichiello (GC), Chris Sandow (Sou), Carl Webb (Cow)
  12-Scott Dureau (New), Josh McCrone (Can), Joseph Tomane (GC)
  11-Brett Kimmorley (Bul), Tim Smith (Cro)
  10-Trent Barrett (Cro)
  9-Todd Carney (Roo), Krisana Inu (Par), Ben Pomeroy (Cro)

Rumour Mill: There is increasing speculation that Brett Kimmorley is going to play one more season before taking on a coaching role at Canterbury. That season could be at Canberra, Cronulla or Parramatta with all three clubs in search of an experienced half. Mark Riddell last week announced he was returning from England due to family reasons saying that he wanted to sign with a Sydney club. The two leading candidates for Riddell’s services are likely his former clubs Parramatta and the Dragons with both clubs likely to need a backup/bench hooker with Luke Priddis set to retire (or be moved on) at the Dragons while Kris Keating is off to Canterbury leaving a hole at hooker at Parramatta. The best fit for Riddell, however, would be the Raiders and after the club missed out on Danny Buderus they are likely to chase Riddell hard. Former Manly and Melbourne centre Steve Bell is also set to return to the NRL with the Broncos the front runner for his services. Rumours circulated this week that Greg Inglis was off to the Broncos but he will be at Melbourne in 2011 with the Broncos unable to afford the price tag of Inglis. Word has it that Josh Dugan’s decision to re-sign with Canberra could keep Luke Patten at Canterbury next year. The decision will be left with Patten though. The latest rumour surrounding Trent Barrett is that he will have a farewell season at Parramatta. Apparently a deal is almost done. Former Prime Minister John Howard is once again in the frame for a key role on the Independent Commission with many involved believing his political nous will be critical in getting the commission set up. There is a very real possibility that any further delaying tactics by the QRL will result in the board being excluded completely from the new impendent commission and a new Queensland board being installed. There is little goodwill south of the border after the Israel Folau fiasco and with a majority of New South Welshman on the ARL board; the QRL should expect no favours from that end. Ashton Sims will be forced to play bush footy next year with no NRL club interested in him.

Power Rankings:

Last Week
Wests Tigers
Gold Coast


Where Would the Melbourne Storm Be If: They would not be on tenterhooks this week as they await the Deloitte investigation findings. On the premiership table, the Storm would be fourth and falling.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 18: Penrith-Warriors, 6-12. It was a stellar weekend of rugby league with five matches decided by less than a try, all games determined by less than 12 points and a total of six cracking games out of the seven on the schedule. The Tigers downed the Gold Coast on the back of an all-time classic field goal by Benji Marshall. The Roosters got to the front right on the buzzer against Souths. Canberra shocked Manly in a close one. The Bulldogs made it three straight against Melbourne in Adelaide in an outstanding exhibition of rugby league. Parra and the Cowboys put on a display of attacking footy. The grittiest display of the weekend and quite possibly the season, however, belonged to the New Zealand Warriors and their defence in the face of tremendous adversity to hold on for a 12-6 win at Penrith. It was an outstanding match to watch. Never before has a Warriors team shown such heart. The Warriors lost the penalty count 11-3, they made 61 more tackles than Penrith and they had only 46% of the ball but the Warriors stopped wave after wave of Panthers attack to win on Penrith soil. It was a win for the ages and trench warfare at its finest.

Exchanges with Fisk:

Fisk on Ben Pomeroy: “The Penguin strikes again.”

Tedeschi in response: “It is a regular episode of Batman down there at Cronulla.”

Fisk on Pomeroy: “You were right. He is Tommy Ten Thumbs.”

And as a special gift to, well, Mark Gasnier, the ever-wise and always-friendly Fisky was on hand to welcome back The Gaz to rugby league and offer him some words of advice on what the big boys do in a real code. Word has it that Gasnier takes more advice from Fisk than he does from Wayne Bennett.

Coaching Stocks:

Wayne Bennett [5] BYE

Craig Bellamy [4.5] He has such commitment from players they turned up after Origin to give the rising Dogs a game.

Matt Elliott [4] Surprising loss to the hot Warriors. Attack looked awful. Looked flat after getting up for Dragons.

John Lang [4] Desperately unlucky not to get the points over the Roosters. Some shocking refereeing cost them.

Tim Sheens [3.5] The Tigers keep digging deep with a smart 1 point win. Entitled to run top four with their draw.

John Cartwright [3] Honest performance on the road against Tigers. Needs to drum some sense into Minichiello.

Brian Smith [3] The Roosters snatched an improbable victory over Souths. Still not sure where they sit.

Des Hasler [2.5] Disappointing loss. Time for Manly to regroup and punch for a top four spot. Still in it.

Kevin Moore [2.5] Dogs now have three on the trot since moving Barba to six. Finals run on the cards.

Ivan Cleary [2.5] It has been a remarkable recovery for Cleary and win over Penrith was one for the ages.

Ivan Henjak [2] BYE

David Furner [0.5] Undeserving but gritty win over Manly. More importantly, saved job by keeping Dugan in Canberra.

Rick Stone [-0.5] Knights won another abhorrent match. Somehow in finals contention.

Daniel Anderson [-0.5] Hayne found some form but Parra were, arguably, worse than the Cowboys for 60 mins.

Ricky Stuart [-4] Cronulla were just awful with the ball in hand. Tried hard but execution again pathetic. Need a half.

Neil Henry [-6] How much does he wish he stayed in Canberra now?

The Queanbeyan Kangaroos 2010 Campaign: The trumpets rang loud, women and children cried true tears of joy, streamers dropped, champagne corks popped and the mayor of Q-Town declared Queanbeyan a Kangaroo city. Yes, in a bitter and spiteful local derby, the Queanbeyan Kangaroos once again reined supreme, recording a 36-28 win. The Pride of Queanbeyan downed the Scourge of Captain Flat and left the Blues outside the top four and struggling for a finals berth with the 2008 premiers relegated to town bitches. After an 18-18 draw in their opening clash of 2010, the Roos asserted their dominance in a hotly anticipated local derby. The Roos have now won seven straight and are on their way to a home final. More importantly, Queanbeyan is now a Kangaroos town where the Blues are shunned like lepers and the Roos revered like Phoenician Gods.

Obscure Score of the Week: NSW Country U16’s-Queensland, 26-18. The NSW Country U16’s did the state and the bush proud with a gritty 26-18 win over Queensland. The Country boys jumped to an 18-6 lead on the back of four tries before Queensland hit back to have the scores tied at 18-18. Then a fabulous try by Jayden Johnson and a late penalty secured the win.

Stats from the Penguin: The relevant number this week is three which was, of course, the number of text messages I received in the thirty seconds after Ben Pomeroy fired a ball directly at the touch judge.

Fantasy Team of the Week:

1. Jarryd Hayne (Par)
2. Sam Perrett (Roo)
3. Willie Tonga (Cow)
4. Steve Matai (Man)
5. Michael Robertson (Man)
6. Terry Campese (Can)
7. Johnathan Thurston (Cow)
13. Luke Lewis (Pen)
12. Liam Fulton (Tig)
11. Chris Heighington (Tig)
10. Adam Blair (Mel)
9. Matt Hilder (New)
8. Nathan Cayless (Par)

Waiver Wire Advice: The move to the second row of Bulldogs star Jamal Idris looks set to reap rewards both on the field and in fantasy circles with Idris warming to his new role with aplomb. Idris started in the second row three weeks back against the Raiders when he put up a 42 though he did spend much of the match on the bench and out in the centres. Against Cronulla he played 49 minutes and racked up a nice 47 points. He really came into his own last Saturday, however, when putting up some big numbers. He is well worth the $220k investment as an additional backrower in your team is sure to help.

Beard Watch: There are some wise heads out there and reader Steve is one of them. He took time out to inform me that Kevin Kingston had shaved his beard off, a beard that appeared as if he had “the bristles of an industrial broom stuck to his face”. The clean shaven Kingston apparently appeared on The Footy Show last Thursday with Steve declaring “he’s finished now; no one’s going to hang off a hooker that looks 18…he’ll get smashed.” Penrith yesterday went down to the Warriors 12-6 at home in a shock upset. It ended a four game winning streak and was Penrith’s first home loss since round three. Kingston had 2 handling errors, only his third multiple-error game of the year, while he had a rare ineffectual game in attack. Shave the beard off at your own peril.

Lazy Long Bay Days, Part 19: Chris Houston makes a surprise appearance at Waverly Court where he is seen chatting with Roosters hooker Jake Friend. Houston acts friendly enough but soon a brief scuffle ensues and Friend swings hard at Houston. Police quickly swoop on friend and pound him to the ground while Houston is quickly escorted into a waiting cab. Houston returned to Long Bay and was told by the Warden he had done a better job. “Next time make it Carney”.

Watch It: Way back in 1994, there was a very strange incident at Shark Park when Penrith coach Phil Gould was sent from the field Click Here. by referee Bill Harrigan. The incident occurred 16 years ago last weekend and came at the end of a slaughter where Cronulla flogged Penrith 32-0. Gould’s dismissal was not particularly surprising, however, given Penrith had been whipped 13-2 in the penalty count by a vindictive Harrigan who has never been one to let fairness and equity get in the way of revenge. The highlight of the clip was undoubtedly Phil Gould’s multi-coloured tracksuits. Dahdah Uniforms can be thanked for that one.

Correspondence Corner: Tony from Perth dropped me a note this week to vent his frustration over the selection of the New South Wales team. He found the right email address as I could not have been more sympathetic to Tony, who complained about the selection of Mick Ennis for all three games, the ineptitude of the New South Wales selectors, the captaincy appointment of Trent Barrett and the treachery of Israel Folau. I could not agree more with Tony on any point. 2010 was another debacle for New South Wales Origin and the finger of blame must be pointed inwards.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.