Season 2010: Round 27

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

From The Couch

That Scrum: Robert Finch may be quitting in a few weeks but he should do the honourable thing and quit right now after his justification of officials Shayne Hayne and Matt Cecchin over the farcical scrum that allowed the Roosters to equalise the Tigers and subsequently defeat them in extra-time. He, of course, won’t do that. Robert Finch has never done the honourable thing.

Finch has astonishingly declared that the referees did everything correctly and then had the nerve to blame Tigers lock Chris Heighington for the turnover. It is now not acceptable that Finch be fired. I want to see him in physical pain. He is a goddamn moron.

We’ll start from the start. A scrum, simply, should not have been set. Jared Waerea-Hargraves got his bell rung by Simon Dwyer in a brilliant hit and the ball popped free in the tackle with Dwyer subsequently diving on the ball. Play stopped to check on the injured Waerea-Hargraves where after a scrum was packed when it should have been the Tigers ball on the zero tackle.

That was mistake number one.

Mistake two was allowing the scrum to continue when it was apparent the Roosters open-side prop had not bound properly. Finch said that thousands of scrums have been set like this all year but that is complete rubbish. Referees allow lackadaisical scrums out of laziness. More often than not they get pedantic if one team is trying to contest. Referees never allow a scrum to be won against the feed without it first being properly formed.

Mistake three was then allowing the Roosters hooker to dive on the ball. Hookers cannot break and be first on the scene to collect a ball after winning a scrum against the head in any legal or realistic sense. A penalty should have been immediately awarded to the Tigers.

The Tigers have themselves to blame for the loss as much as anyone: they didn’t put enough points on the board when they dominated the game early on and they played dumb at the death. Regardless, the supposed second best referee in the game fucked up immeasurably and worse, his performance was justified by his boss.

Refereeing in the NRL continues to astound with its ineptitude.

The McIntyre System is a Joke: Last week I wrote this piece for Crikey once again lambasting the McIntyre System. It has become a tiresome annual tradition. Once again the McIntyre System has let everyone down. Firstly, the Warriors are eliminated while sitting at home in a manner that is both cruel and stupid. Secondly, teams six and seven now have home games in week two while teams two and three play on the road. It is absurd. When is the NRL going to admit defeat and return to the old NRL system currently in use in the AFL?

How the Finals Should Have Played Out:

(1) The Dragons would have edged out the courageous (4) Gold Coast Titans

(2) The Panthers would have been rolled by the tough (3) Wests Tigers

(5) The Warriors would have thumped (8) Manly in New Zealand

(7) Canberra would have eliminated the (6) Roosters

Julia Gillard Hates Rugby League: Julia Gillard is a disgrace and she hates rugby league. Last Tuesday night, the Dally M Medal was presented to Todd Carney. Sadly, the Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen. Admittedly, she had only been installed as the PM some six hours beforehand but she was the caretaker and it is tradition that the Prime Minister presents the award. She should have been ready. John Howard certainly didn’t miss presenting the highest individual honour in rugby league and even Kevin Rudd made it last year. Gillard’s failure to show was another slap in the face to rugby league at the hands of the Labor Party.

Rob Oakeshott is a Cronulla Fan: As a nation looked on, awaiting the decision on who would govern Australia after 17 long and self-indulgent days from the three independents, MP for Lyne and one of the aforementioned self-indulgent independents revealed himself as a fan of the Cronulla Sharks. Engaging in some pre-announcement banter with an unseen journalist, Oakeshott said that one of his points was to get a Cronulla premiership but nobody could guarantee it. It should come as no surprise that Oakeshott is a Sharks fan. Oakeshott is a moron and it tends to only be morons who get behind the Cronulla Sharks.

Well Done Canterbury: Todd Greenberg has again come through with the goods with the signing of Greg Eastwood. The Dogs have lacked punch in the second row and declined dramatically this season after Eastwood fled overseas. It appeared as if Frank Pritchard was the solution and that was somewhat worrying. Combined with Eastwood, however, all is looking bright for the Bulldogs backrow in 2011. The fat, quite literally, has been trimmed with Buddy Gordon, Jarrad Hickey and Danny Williams all cut with their replacements much better value for money.

And Finally the Sharks have Come Around to Adam Cutbertson: I couldn’t help but chuckle when reading the papers this week and hearing Adam Cuthbertson has played his last game for Cronulla. New coach Shane Flanagan has been incensed at Cuthbertson continuing to ignore pre-game instructions to limit his offloads. Cuthbertson is selfish and idiotic and adds nothing to a football team. The smart money is that no club would take him on for free let alone pay the bastard.

The Worst Recruitment Class of 2011: That award goes to the Parramatta Eels who have signed Reni Maitua, Carl Webb and Jordan Atkins. Wow. I know that when I see a club beset by laziness, self-interest and division then I would go straight to Reni Maitua and Carl Webb. Maitua has been fired by two clubs, both for matters of great selfishness, and won’t return from a drugs ban until midyear. Webb is arguably the laziest forward in the history of top grade rugby league. They should combine well with the likes of Jarryd Hayne. Can somebody remind me why Paul Osborne is so highly rated again? Perhaps he will blame their signings on his faulty memory as he did his shoplifting when the 2011 recruitment class blows up, as it inevitably will.

What I Learned from Twitter this Week: I learned that Robbie Farah is a whining little bitch. I also learned that the Telegraph can construct an entire story from a Twitter back-and-forth, as seen here with this potential Walkley contender. Farah called a random stirrer a “nobody” while also telling him to “get a life”. Perhaps the Tigers should spend less time on Twitter and more time practicing not messing up unlosable matches.

Fun Fact #1: This week we have a look at what the premiership coaches of the last 30 years and what they did post-premiership and where they are at now.

Ted Glossop: Won a premiership with Canterbury in 1980 and stayed at the Bulldogs until then end of the ’83 season when replaced by Warren Ryan. Coached NSW Origin from ’80-’83 where he had a 2-4 record. Had a season with the Dragons in ’88 where he finished with a 9-13 record. Died in 1998.

Jack Gibson: Guided Parramatta to their first three titles in 1981, 1982 and 1983 before walking away at the end of the ’83 season. Went on to coach the Sharks from ’85 to ’87 with little success, famously declaring waiting for a Sharks premiership is like “leaving the porch light on for Harold Holt.” Coached City Origin to wins in 1989 and 1990 and coached NSW over the same period, making amends for a 3-0 loss in ’89 with a 2-1 series win in ’90. Gibson was named coach of the century in 2008. He died the same year.

Warren Ryan: Led Canterbury to titles in ’84 and ’85 and a Grand Final loss in ’86. Left the Bulldogs after the ’87 season after falling out with Steve Mortimer and Peter Moore. Coached the Tigers to Grand Finals in ’88 and ’89 and then guided Wests from ’91 to ’94, including two finals campaigns, and Newcastle from ’99 to ’00 where the Knights made back-to-back playoff runs. He led Country to five straight losses from ’87 to ’91. He now commentates on ABC Radio.

John Monie: Led Parramatta to a title in ’86 and stayed with the Eels until the end of the ’89 season. He then led Wigan to four straight League-Challenge Cup doubles in a feat unparalleled in English league. He coached the Warriors from ’95 to midway through the ’97 season with little success before returning for two season with Wigan in ’98-’99 and then moving to the London Broncos. He most recently coached France from 2005-08.

Bob Fulton: Won a title with Manly in ’87 before leaving after the ’88 season. He returned in ’93, winning a premiership in ’96 before quitting in ’99. He coached Australia 41 times from ’89 to ’98 winning World Cups in 1990 and 1995. He is now a radio personality on 2GB and a New South Wales and Australian selector. He remains one of the most powerful men in rugby league.

Phil Gould: Won a title at Canterbury in ’88 before leaving for Penrith in ’90 when forced out after a disagreement with Peter Moore. Led Penrith to their first title in ’91 before leaving the Panthers for the Roosters in ’95. Gould took the Roosters to the finals in each of his five seasons but quit after ’99 and has not coached club football since. He has coached NSW to six series wins. He is now an analyst who calls for Nine. He remains extremely influential at the Sydney Roosters.

Tim Sheens: Guided the Raiders to their maiden premiership in ’89 and subsequently premierships in ’90 and ’94. Led NSW to a series loss in ’91. Had an unsuccessful run at the Cowboys from ’97 to ’01 after leaving Canberra in ’96. Moved to the Wests Tigers in 2003 and won a premiership with them in ’05. He remains coach of the Tigers and is the current Australian coach, where he is undefeated.

Wayne Bennett: Bennett won titles with Brisbane in 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2006 and was the only coach in the club’s history until leaving after the 2008 season. He has since guided the Dragons to back-to-back minor premierships. Coached Queensland to victories in 1998 and 2001 and was Australian coach in 1998 and 2004-05 where he had a 12-3-1 record. Named co-coach of century. Remains contracted to the Dragons.

Chris Anderson: Led the Bulldogs to the unlikely ’95 premiership but left the club after the ’97 season to become the inaugural coach of the Melbourne Storm. He guided them to a premiership in his second year and stayed on until the 2001 season. He subsequently had unsuccessful stints at Cronulla from 2002-03 and the Roosters 2007. He coached Australia from 1999 to 2003 and won the 2000 World Cup. He is now retired after suffering heart problems throughout his coaching career.

Michael Hagan: Won a premiership in his first year as a head coach with Newcastle in ’01. Hagan remained at the Knights until the end of the ’06 season when he took over Parramatta for two years from 2007-08 but struggled to discipline the erratic personalities at the club. He coached Queensland to series losses in 2004-05. He currently writes for the Daily Telegraph and is an assistant coach for Queensland.

Ricky Stuart: Won a premiership with the Roosters in 2002 and then led them to Grand Final defeats in 2003 and 2004. Stuart was fired by the Roosters after the 2006 season and was subsequently hired by Cronulla, where he walked away after four mostly miserable seasons in charge. He led Country to a win in 2004 and NSW to a series win in 2005 but became the first Australian coach in over three decades to lose a World Cup when going down to NZ in 2008. He currently writes for the Sunday Telegraph and has been linked with moves to Brisbane and Parramatta.

John Lang: Lang led Penrith to their second title in 2003 and backed that up with a preliminary final in 2004 before two missed finals campaigns in 2005 and 2006 saw Lang moved on. He retired until returning as coach of Souths in 2010 where he could not guide the Bunnies to the finals. He has one year remaining on his contract at Souths.

Steve Folkes: Won a title with the Bulldogs in 2004 and remained on as coach of Canterbury until the end of the 2008 season with varying degrees of success but not subsequent Grand Final appearances. He went on to work as an assistant for the West Indies cricket team and is now head trainer at the Wests Tigers.

Craig Bellamy: Won premierships with Melbourne in 2007 and 2009, both of which have subsequently been officially stripped. Also led the Storm to the 2006 and 2008 deciders. Bellamy led NSW to three straight series defeats and is the current coach of the Blues. He is under a long-term contract with the Melbourne Storm.

Des Hasler: Won a premiership with Manly in ’08 and remains coach of the Sea Eagles.

Power Rankings:


Last Week
Gold Coast
Wests Tigers


How They Stand: A deeper look at how the remaining six teams shape up:

St George-Illawarra: The premiership is theirs to lose. The Dragons are the shortest priced premiership favourites in many a year and by any measure they should win their first NRL title in three decades. Anything short of a title will be the club’s greatest ever choke.

Gold Coast: The Titans tick all the boxes at present. They are not suffering any irreplaceable injuries. They have the week off. They have a champion playmaker, a tough pack loaded with class and plenty of depth. They are also arguably on the easiest side of the draw. They have a better record than any team in the eight against fellow top eight teams. It is tough to see the Gold Coast not making it to their first Grand Final.

Canberra: No team has more momentum than the Raiders right now. They became the first team this season to win six on the trot when defeating Penrith on Saturday with the final score hardly reflective of their dominance. Their youthful exuberance has carried them here and it shows no sign of abating. They get the Tigers at home this Friday before tackling the Dragons, who they have the wood on, in the preliminary final if they win.

Roosters: The Roosters are tough to get a gauge on. They were comprehensively outplayed for 65 minutes last week but they held on grimly and then launched an astonishing comeback. The physical toll of that game will be large but they will be buoyed by that amazing win and they do get a busted Penrith team this week. I still don’t think they have the pack to win it but you can’t question their toughness.

Wests Tigers: The emotional damage suffered by the Tigers in their brutal extra-time loss to the Roosters is going to be extraordinarily difficult to overcome. Throw in the 50-50 status of Benji Marshall, the question marks over his physical toughness and the monumental task of backing up six days later after such an epic affair has the Tigers firmly on the back foot now. A glandular fever scare is also running through the club.

Penrith: The Panthers are shot. The only finals team they could possibly have beaten was Manly. They are playing some terrible football and now have injuries to key backrowers Trent Waterhouse and Frank Pritchard with Waterhouse ruled out for the season. It is tough to see the Panthers bouncing back this week.

Rumour Mill: Everyone who is anyone in rugby league is pushing the story that Wayne Bennett will be coaching the Broncos from 2012 onwards. It seems like a perfect fit. Bennett loves the club and will be more inclined to return now Bruno Cullen is moving on while the club is demanding answers after missing the finals for the first time since 1991. Bennett has a year to go on his contract but a premiership this year with the Dragons would almost surely see him return to Queensland. It is believed Quade Cooper has already reached a deal with the Parramatta Eels and will join the club after the 2011 World Cup. In what will be a massive blow to Australian rugby, Cooper has decided he wants to play rugby league and will defect after making his reputation and money at the World Cup. There is believed to be some friction in the Wests Tigers camp over Benji Marshall’s decision to leave the Tigers with twelve players last Saturday. Some of the harder nuts believe he should have played on through the injury. The buzz about Matt Orford joining the Raiders gets louder by the day.

Game of the Year Nomination, Finals Week 1: Tigers-Roosters, 15-19. Put down your glasses. We have a game of the year. It is arguably the most exciting and most enjoyable game since the famous Canterbury-Parramatta preliminary final in 1998. The match can even be discussed in the same breath as the famous 1989 Grand Final, generally regarded as the finest club match of the television era. This match needs little recounting. The Tigers established a 10-2 half-time lead but should have led by plenty more after having all the running in the first half. Gareth Ellis crossed the line three times but couldn’t get a four-pointer. The most shocking was the decision to disallow his third time of the stripe when a fair try was ludicrously called back after Benji Marshall and Mitchell Pearce got into a blue. It was an act of grave stupidity by Marshall but one that was still unworthy of a disallowed try. The Tigers built their lead to 15-2 but then seemingly shut up shop with the Roosters looking out on their feet after a mammoth amount of defence that saw the Roosters make 46 more first half tackles. Then the brilliant Todd Carney, spurred by his Dally M Medal, put the Roosters back in the game, setting both Braith Anasta and Mitchell Pearce up for tries. Soon after Benji Marshall left the Tigers with twelve after failing to tough out an injury. The Roosters then remarkably equalised after winning a shoddy scrum against the head after Simon Dwyer flattened Jared Waera-Hargraves, who lost the ball. See above for notes on the controversy but needless to say it was as dramatic for fans as it was pathetic from the referees. Braith Anasta then slotted one of the great field goals. The game then played on for another 20 minutes of nail-biting rugby league, interspersed with some terrible field goal attempts before Liam Fulton threw a stupid pass he will never forget that was intercepted by Shaun Kenny-Dowall who went on to run 80 metres for the winner. The match was a classic in every sense of the word. It will long be remembered by Roosters fans for the courage and will of their lads while it was another brutal Tigers defeat that occurred because once more the Tigers were not tough enough.

Exchanges with Fisk:

Tedeschi on the Tigers: “Fisk, what happened to your Tigers?”

Fisk in response: “……”

Tedeschi: “Don’t hit The Gap big man.”

Obscure Score of the Week: Mendi 14-Capital City 6. Mendi stayed equal top of the PNGRFL Bemobile Cup with a gritty win over the sixth placed Capital City. Mendi have gone 11-3-1 this year with the Muruks now favoured to claim the prestigious premiership of Papua New Guinea.

The Queanbeyan Kangaroos 2010 Campaign: From The Couch is one win away from backing a winner in our first season of getting behind a country rugby league team with the Kangaroos marching into the Grand Final on the weekend with a dominant 29-20 win over defending champions Goulburn in the preliminary final. It was “one of the fastest and most physical games ever for this competition” according to Kangaroos President Mark Nichols. Scores were locked at 10-10 at the break but the Kangaroos blew it wide open after the break with three converted tries in 15 minutes to establish a 28-10 lead. Goulburn fought back to make it 28-20 while a meaningless last second field goal (we could not have chosen a better team!) left the final score 29-20. The Kangaroos will take on Scholars in the big one this Sunday with From The Couch readers able to listen to Tim Gavel broadcast the match live on ABC 666 Canberra from 3pm this Sunday.

Stats from the Special Needs Penguin: It is believed Ben Pomeroy dropped seven schooners with his club hands during Mad Monday celebrations while accidentally overturning a barbeque, breaking a child’s nose as he tried to unlock a door and getting stuck between a toilet and a wall when slipping over late in the evening.

Watch It: With the Raiders in such hot form and favourites to progress to their first preliminary final since 1997, lets go back to their first ever Grand Final and 1987 with this fine wrap. Highlights include Bob Hawke revving up John Howard at the Grand Final breakfast. The glorification of drinking beer. Bob Fulton in a short sleeved shirt. A very young Kane Cleal doing the lap of honour. Uber-nerd Farren Hotham. Wayne Bennett giving perhaps his longest speech. Ivan Henjak with hair. Peter Jackson saying it is “two quarters.” Gary Coyne’s combover. The young female fan with “Raiders” plastered over her melon who reminded everyone of Kylie Mole. And much, much more. Click Here.

Lazy Long Bay Days, Part 28: Chris has had his spirits raised by the news story that the Knights would reconsider signing him if he was found not guilty of drug distribution charges. Those spirits are quickly squashed, however, by the vindictive warden, who paid Houston a late night visit in his cell. “You’ll never play first grade again you germ,” the Warden said ominously. The Warden then gave the signal for the three guards to go to town on Houston.

Beard Watch: It was a beard clash for the ages last Friday night when the Titans and the Warriors clash at Skilled Park. The match featured the flowing red facial locks of Brad Meyers against a Warriors team flush with bearded goodness including Simon Mannering’s perfect Abe Lincoln. It was a facial follicle frenzy. Sadly for the Warriors, however, the playoff beard could bring no luck this year with the Warriors eliminated.

Correspondence Corner: Regular reader Rob Clark was very excited after the Raiders win on Saturday night and dropped me this quick line: “Nice and easy Terry Campese !! Take everything back I said about him….finally he stood up AND when it mattered.”
Well Rob, you ain’t wrong. Campese had arguably his finest ever match when he sliced and diced the Panthers with hard running and intelligent kicking. It is the kind of game Canberra fans have been hoping for since Campese signed a big deal at the end of the 2008 season. He has played himself into his best form and his resurgence has been critical to Canberra’s revival. As long as he keeps playing as is, the Raiders are going to be extremely hard to roll.

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