Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
To be honest, I found the first three rounds of this year?s NRL competition dull and boring because of the huge blowout scorelines being inflicted across the board. No game had caught my imagination and there haven?t been many grudge matches so far where the result is in doubt leading into the final stages.
Being a Canberra fan certainly hasn?t helped matters but six out of seven games this weekend were decided by eight points or less with one golden point thriller between the Raiders and Panthers (praise the Lord) and only one game with a double digit victory with the Dragons prevailing 26-12 over the aging Broncos at WIN Stadium this afternoon.
Apart from the Cowboys, Knights and Panthers, all the other teams have looked dreadful on occasions so far this season but my belief is we don?t start seeing the high quality footy until about round six. By then it?s cooler and teams have had time to work on combinations and players work themselves into match fitness ahead of the representative season.
Most teams at the wrong end of the table showed some resolve this week apart from Souths and the Eels with teams like the Warriors and Raiders showing while many think they will be cannon fodder, the glimmer of hope flickers just that little bit brighter than it did last week.
Let?s take the Warriors for example, you will never see a team more jubilant to be in the fourth week of the competition on 0 points. They have won two on the trot albeit against a depleted Tigers outfit and a Joey-less Knights this afternoon. However, in the modern game any coach will tell you that two points is worth more than the current price of gold and there are no easy beats (well Souths are the exception) and that anytime you can get two on the trot you are doing well. It gives you some breathing space and time to call off the dogs for a fleeting moment. Ivan Cleary must have felt like a West Papuan in sight of Arnhem Land when the hooter blew this afternoon.
Then you have the Raiders, walloped by record margins two weeks running and then they come out last night in freezing conditions and get by the undefeated Panthers in golden point to breathe a little life back into their premiership campaign. Being a Raiders fan, I thought April fools had been extended about 9.5 hours past the usual deadline and this time I and all Raiders fans were the proverbial butt of a cruel hoax but alas, this was no prank. The Raiders won a golden point thriller to have this poor sod shaking his fists in front of the TV and it wasn?t because I was watching the adult channel, although the joy was relative and it did last a little longer.
Sitting back in a relaxed mood this afternoon watching the Storm cop a hiding at the hands of the Premiers, I switched over to see what was happening during the formula one and to try and catch the action of the Liverpool? I mean Dragons and Broncos clash at Anfield? I mean WIN Stadium, only to learn the Storm finished within two points of the Tigers after holding a commanding lead midway through the second half. This proves one thing, whilst you may be beaten, for and against could decide your teams fate and your coaches fate so playing the full eighty minutes has never been so vital. Both the Storm and Bunnies showed this resolve and it may end up paying dividends down the track although with Souths I feel you may as well rip up your ticket right now and bet on something closer to a sure thing, like finding life on Mars or a Bulldogs fan not being named the next heavyweight champion of the world.
Next week may well see a return to the blowout scores that have plagued the league in the opening rounds, but for today and the rest of the coming week, your author will believe in the Utopian ideal of an even competition and that the Raiders do actually have a chance to show they can be competitive for more than a week at a time. It?s a hard sell I know, but it?s not Amway folks, so cough up and refer me to your friends as we can all enjoy the pyramid scheme that is the NRL.