Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
47 hours ago
In this weekly feature for LeagueUnlimited, our Armchair Expert runs 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 Manly, dropped bombs, muddy battles and all the action from the Golden West. All those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
Following a few lean weeks with the odd loss and unconvincing victories, Manly bounded back to form on Friday against a surprisingly poor Bulldogs side. The Doggies started strongly and even opened the scoring, before a late first-half flurry put the Eagles on the front foot. Daly Cherry-Evans lit the fuse with some enterprising play to set up Manly's first and they looked almost unbeatable from there.
The South Sydney side also rate a mention here following their courageous efforts in Perth on Saturday night - see the Surprise Packet section for more!
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
We hate singling out players, but two caught our eye this weekend. Monday night saw the Raiders trounced by Brisbane - and the Broncos made sure Canberra's Reece Robinson had the night from hell, peppering him with high ball after high ball.
Elsewhere we have to touch on Sam Kasiano's efforts on Friday night. The hulking giant of a prop forward has been in superb form since returning from injury for Canterbury several weeks ago, but Friday's clash with Manly was not his finest hour. The around-the-legs tackle on Sea Eagles half Daly Cherry-Evans was ugly - and many would argue Sam was lucky to escape suspension for the dangerous contact.
While we're talking about that game, Brookvale Oval itself gets an honourable mention. We understand that rain can fall and surfaces can get chopped up but the quagmire there on Friday would've been a concern for the coaches. Long gone are the days where all games were played like that during winter - our elite players deserve a bit better.
South Sydney. What a club. These boys were literally down to a one-man bench on fulltime, and such was the struggle with injuries that Dylan Walker played with what was later confirmed as a broken thumb for much of the second half. Bryson Goodwin and Greg Inglis left the field with what looked like reasonably serious injuries as well as Jason Clark getting carted off with concussion.
Nevertheless, the Bunnies trailed at halftime to an enthusiastic Warriors side who simply ran out of puff - and it was Souths who took full advantage, pulling energy reserves from God-knows-where to ensure they coasted home to a comfortable win.
These blokes actually had a reasonably decent weekend for once. The only criticism - one that's ongoing and forever will be - is sometimes there are just too many referrals upstairs. These men get a bit of praising for backing their instincts when they do get it right - it would be nice to see them do it more often - like at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
The Titans pushed their numbers to the right and they eventually found David Mead who tippy-toed, seemingly inside the field of play, down the touchline and put the ball JUST inside the chalk to score what seemed a fair try. The sideline official raised the flag, the referee took his call as gospel and a scrum was packed. The replay showed the correct call had been made - while Mead had not touched the sideline whilst with the ball, he'd actually come from outside the field of play to receive the ball in the first place. Good spot by the touchie on that one.
Bumps and Bruises
Chase Stanley (Bulldogs) - knee - Round 18
Aiden Tolman (Bulldogs) - hamstring - Round 15
Josh Papalii (Raiders) - ankle - Round 18
Mitch Garbutt (Storm) - knee - indefinite
Joey Leilua (Knights) - throat - indefinite
David Simmons (Panthers) - knee - indefinite
Adam Docker (Panthers) - rested - Round 16
Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs) - ankle - Origin II
Dylan Walker (Rabbitohs) - thumb - Round 20
Liam Fulton (Wests Tigers) - concussion - Round 16
The Naughty Chair
Kade Snowden (Knights) - TWO charges: Grade 2 Careless High Tackle, Grade 1 Careless High Tackle
Paul Vaughan (Raiders) - Grade 2 Dangerous Contact: Unnecessary Head/Neck Pressure
Around the Social Media Traps
Yep, didn't think we'd have to type those words in this column but the ol' Perth changerooms dished up something we didn't expect on Saturday night.
One of our now regular tweeters @pelder90 picked up this rather disturbing (or good, depending on your preferences) vision from the pre-game footage (we won't post the picture here, but here's the link again with, WARNING, NUDITY): click here to view the tweet.
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert