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 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 the fallout from Origin, the Sharks needing to select Police, Fire or Ambulance, Parramatta's yellow fever and Vatuvei's hairy change. All those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
Laurie Daley - take a bow. The long, long, long winning streak for Queensland is finally over with the New South Wales Blues driving home a tight win last Wednesday against the might of the eight-straight series winners at ANZ Stadium. Daley's composure as coach - both his game plan and selection process - deserve a heap of credit. The core of a very good side now looks to be settled as the Blues head to Suncorp on July 9 seeking a clean sweep.
Just quietly - well done also to Queensland's players. Brilliant sportsmanship and very humble in defeat. They won't go down without a fight in the "dead rubber" two weeks from now.
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
Someone call Triple-0! The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have done what no other team before them has been able to, well, "achieve"! The Shire men are now scoreless in three consecutive matches after failing to register a point on Saturday against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles - who in turn jumped to the top of the ladder. The Knights' win over North Queensland on Monday now puts the Sharks back in last place, and with an apparent rift between the captain and coach, things could hardly get much worse down at Woolooware.
An honourable mention must also go to the Canberra Raiders - after starting strongly against an injury-hit Bulldogs and their tired-from-Origin halves pairing - they capitulated to be behind 22-8 until a late try to Anthony Milford. Speaking of Milford, what's doing Ricky? Benching your best strike weapon? Dear oh dear.
Parramatta. It's got to be the yellow jerseys. This side put the Bulldogs away just a week earlier, then marched south to take on an out-of-sorts Melbourne Storm side and found themselves getting towelled up. Now, the refereeing wasn't crash hot, but the Eels simply didn't get a roll on in this one, despite having strike weapon Jarryd Hayne on hand. Melbourne had a field day, eventually running roughshod with Chris Sandow being sinbinned for the visitors.
As for those yellow jerseys - that's now 13 games over two seasons in which the Eels are yet to record a win in that strip.
Lots of debate has flared this week about the sin bin after both Chris Sandow (Eels, v Storm) and Nate Myles (Titans, v Dragons) found themselves on a ten minute sabbatical during their corresponding games on Sunday. The argument is that some more minor "professional fouls" should be subject to a five-minute sin bin - still having an impact on the side but perhaps not for a full 1/8th of the match.
As for the reason for these two were binned? Good on the refs. Sandow reportedly asked "how much are they paying you" in order to receive his marching orders, while Myles dropped one too many F-bombs at the men in pink. Off you go boys, think twice, eh?
Bumps and Bruises
Matt Gillett (Broncos/QLD) - shoulder - Origin III
Brent Tate (Cowboys/QLD) - ACL - Season
Matt Scott (Cowboys/QLD) - cheekbone - Round 21
Ray Thompson (Cowboys) - hamstring - Round 19
Joel Riethmuller (Cowboys) - hamstring - Round 19
Lee Mossop (Eels) - shoulder - indefinite
Will Hopoate (Eels) - shoulder - Round 19
Andrew Fifita (Sharks) - wrist - Round 20
Trent Merrin (Dragons) - ankle - Origin III
Michael Witt (Dragons) - knee - Season
Michael Jennings (Roosters) - back - Round 2
The Naughty Chair
Anthony Watmough (NSW/Sea Eagles) - Grade 2 Dangerous Throw
Ngani Laumape (Warriors) - Grade 2 Dangerous Throw
Suaia Matagi (Warriors) - Grade 1 Dangerous Contact - with kicker
Around the Social Media Traps
Saturday saw Warriors' winger Manu Vatuvei make a stunning visual transformation...
— League Unlimited NRL (@LeagueUnlimited) June 21, 2014
Which prompted this comparison from Twitter follower Ben:
— Ben (@Bennyw82) June 21, 2014
Everyone loves a bit of Monkey Magic, don't they?
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert