After some dusty performances as a collective, the standard has picked up for this round but it still needs a heap of improvement to get to first grade standard.
The thing I liked most about the past was the proper introduction to first grade of Tony De Las Heras. This shows that they are willing to experiment with younger referees and the next generation. However, the referees who should have been ?rested? were allowed a reprieve. I am of course talking about Hamsptead, Clark and Simpkins.
Sean Hampstead: Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
This would be one of the worst performances I have seen all year, and in a long time. This, from a referee of his standing is atrocious.
I could go on and write a book about his efforts but that would be a waste of time. Some of his calls were baffling to say the least. Some were like get squares. The players got a little frustrated and you could see his control was waning.
Overall, unacceptable game from him. The signs aren?t good. He keeps sliding and doesn?t show any signs of getting out of this rut.
Shayne Hayne: Raiders v Storm
I have been very vocal against this bloke but I have to say he has been pretty impressive since he came back to first grade.
He was very confident with his calls and he is showing that he has the control to make it in first grade. His signals were good and he showed good control.
Overall, I would have to say that Hayne has improved markedly and based on his performances of recent weeks, shows he is on the way up.
Steve Clark: Knights v Panthers
This bloke at the moment is the most experienced referee running around in the competition. Consistency has been the main drawback for him. Last week he pulled up a litany of forward passes in the Broncos game on Friday, most of which would have normally been let go. His performances have been up and down and he needed to get back to a level of consistency that was acceptable for his standards.
He definitely achieved that in this game. His calls were good, signals were on the mark and he managed to keep his control for the whole game and I think that Clark is starting to put himself above the pack.
Overall, he performed well and I would say that he is making his move for a GF berth.
Paul Simpkins: Dragons v Sharks
This was the local derby down at WIN Stadium where plenty of pride was on the line. It also meant that the Sharks were trying to arrest a 9 game losing streak.
With the rain pouring down tempers were bound to flare. They did and there were a couple of dust ups with Shaun Timmins playing the part of the ignition to the fire when he tapped Paul Gallen on the head. Simpkins could have lost the plot when the players were letting off steam but he didn?t. He used the sin bin to good effect and kept his control and showed to me that he is on the improve.
Signal wise and technically he was sound and I think he has shown he wants that finals spot.
Overall, he is getting back to where he was a couple of seasons ago and I think he get that finals spot.
Tony De Las Heras: Warriors v Roosters
However pitiful the Roosters were in this one, the job of the referee doesn?t change. He still has to apply the same standards across the board.
De Las Heras filled in for Simpkins earlier this season when he went down with an injury so this was really his run on debut.
I haven?t seen much of him but I like what I see so far. He keeps good control and his signals are proficient and I am impressed with his whistle.
Overall, still a bit rusty but has the tools to go further and shows that he can improve.
Russell Smith: Rabbitohs v Cowboys
I think the game was Manly v Wests Tigers earlier on in the season when Smith lost the plot completely. He showed he was not up to the rigours of the Australian game and has since been plying his trade in Premier League and been the fill in for first grade.
The bloke tends blow the pea out of the whistle and that makes for a poor flow of the game. He is a little rigid with his signals. It?s almost like he is fighting gravity when he waves for an offside penalty. The whistle itself is extremely poor.
Overall, still below Australian first grade standard. He over-utilises the video referee and to me doesn?t seem as if he has the respect of the players.
Tony Archer: Eels v Brisbane
Ah, good old ?Starch Shirt?. This bloke has won me over with his consistency.
He has good fitness and I feel he was in the right spots at the right time in this affair. He continues to show good control over the games and that?s why he gets rewarded with the big ones for the round.
Technically he was on song (barring the whistle). His signals were good, positioning was good and he showed to me that he has the attitude to make it in the finals.
Overall, another top effort from the most consistent referee at the moment. Continues to improve from week to week.