While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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In a new weekly feature for LeagueUnlimited, our Armchair Expert will run his lazy eye over the weekend that was. Each round he'll look at the happenings of the previous weekend, and keep you up to date with the big issues like refereeing, social media and the current controversies.
This week he looks at the electric Eels, rubbish Roosters, lottery Laurie and stewing Stuart. All those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
How good are Parramatta going? The Eels executed a near-perfect second half against the Dragons on Saturday and as a result of their 36-0 shutout of the Red V, they're now sitting pretty in fourth spot on the NRL ladder. Jarryd Hayne showed why he's since been confirmed as the NSW Origin halfback with a stellar performance for the blue-and-golds, outshining his opposite in Josh Dugan in all facets of the game. Semi Radradra continues to be a destructive presence for opponents down the left side, and the forward pack is finally standing up after countless years of softness.
Eels fans, are you starting to believe this could be more than just an improved year? Daring to dream of finals footy?
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
The Dragons would've had this wrapped up if the award was issued at 5pm on Saturday - lucky for them, later the same night the reigning premiers turned in their worst performance in several years. The Sydney Roosters were utterly woeful against a well-drilled and exciting North Queensland Cowboys outfit on Saturday night in Townsville, with too many dropped balls, poor execution and a lack of direction - obviously a result of Mitchell Pearce's absence through his previous weekend's drinking incident. The SBW to five-eighth directive was a failed experiment, forcing James Maloney to the wrong side of the ruck and throwing the side's entire attack into disarray.
Luckily for the Roosters, Pearce has been overlooked for Origin I, meaning their halfback returns to face, strangely enough, the Bulldogs - whose halves pairing have taken the Blue jerseys off both he and Maloney.
Laurie Daley! What a shake-up that NSW side is! A new set of halves as mentioned above is just scratching the surface in a side with changes largely forced upon big "Loz". Gallen's second-row partners this year are Ryan Hoffman and Beau Scott - with Greg Bird and a host of others ineligible through injury, suspension and so on. Tony Williams' recent form for Canterbury has seen him grab a spot on the bench together with incumbents Anthony Watmough, Luke Lewis and Trent Merrin.
No surprises of course with the Maroons - the same sturdy lineup seems to have been selected, but questions will soon be asked about the ageing squad as old heads slowly retire and new blood is needed.
The big controversy this week surrounded the Canberra Raiders, with Ricky Stuart blowing his top in a post-match press conference. The Raiders delivered a much more balanced and interested performance at home to the Panthers this week, but it wasn't quite enough to topple their opposition. The issue seemed to be a complete loss of control by referees Gavin Badger (let's not mention his haircut) and Grant Atkins, particularly as the second half progressed. Tensions bubbled over after David Simmons scored his second try, with players coming from anywhere and everywhere. Canberra half Terry Campese complained of a headbutt while expletives flew in front of Badger. Badger eventually blew his stack and told both sides to calm their farms or they'd be sitting down... twice.
Of course, the feeling continued and nobody got sat down. Surprised?
Bumps and Bruises
Gavin Cooper (Cowboys) - hip - Round 22
Cameron King (Cowboys) - ACL - Season
Aidan Sezer (Titans) - pectoral - Round 23
Ashley Harrison (Titans) - neck - Round 17
Sione Lousi (Warriors) - knee - Round 15
Todd Carney (Sharks) - hamstring - Indefinite
Beau Ryan (Sharks) - neck - indefinite
Boyd Cordner (Roosters) - ankle - indefinite
The Naughty Chair
Move along, nothing to see here!
There were no charges from Round 10 of the NRL, so no suspensions to speak of.
Around the Social Media Traps
Once we got hold of the confirmed times for the announcements of each Origin 1 lineup, we made sure we tweeted them to our followers. One of them couldn't help but make a wisecrack...
— Matthew McInerney (@MMcInerney89) May 18, 2014
Don't give up your day job, Matty.
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert