Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
19 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.
A little tardy this week, our Guru looks at the Sharks sudden on-field revival, the NRL draw stuff-up, Shayne Hayne's dropping and the Cowboys feature heavily.... all those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
Take a bow Cronulla! While the whole show unravelled in the days after their surprise win on Friday, the Sharkies did put on a stunning late show to upset Brisbane - at Suncorp no less. The Shire boys were down 22-0 well into the second half before they went on a pointscoring rampage which saw them steal the lead with five minutes remaining. They held on for that 24-22 win, and although Todd Carney and later Peter Sharp would part ways with the club (for very different reasons) in the days that followed, it certainly brought some inspiration to an otherwise downcast outfit who couldn't register a single point in their previous three outings.
The only question now? Who takes over...
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
We're late for a reason, folks. Normally this Guru would be here on a Wednesday delivering all the Armchair Expertise you would expect but someone at NRL HQ put that all on hold. See, we were expecting the NRL to issue a release earlier in the week with all those important fixtures for the final six rounds of the season (only four weeks til that "glory bound rounds" mumbo-jumbo!).
Somehow the NRL eventually confirmed an 11am Thursday release to fans... only for that to pass and an eventual correction issued. Those fixtures were finally released today (Friday) after it was discovered the initial planned release had two teams backing up on just four-day turnarounds between Rounds 23 and 24.
For the record folks - you can check out the full list of fixtures for those rounds right here.
Those Townsville boys did it again. They realised they really like playing footy at 1300SMILES Stadium, and turned on the flair accordingly. Yep, the Cowboys led Souths by 14-0 within the first ten minutes (and would've been ahead by up to 18 had Thurston's radar been more accurate), and kept the lead the whole game.
Enterprising play down the edges really troubled Souths' outside men and if the Cowboys can take a similar game plan to Kogarah on Saturday they might finally learn what it's like to win away in 2014. Surely they're due. Surely?
While there wasn't too much in the way of refereeing controversy on the field last weekend, there's been plenty of talk about the appointments made this week for State of Origin III. Shayne Hayne has been dropped as Head Referee, with Gerard Sutton to step in as assist referee. Ben Cummins gets a promotion from assist to head referee for the third "dead rubber" game. Both sides had plenty to say about the quality of refereeing in the first two games, with the Blues filthy on a number of incorrect calls in the dying stages of the series opener and both sides equally frustrated at the ten metres in the second game. Sutton was the man in charge for the Country v City Origin fixture earlier this year which attracted little controversy - let's hope this one is much the same. And it would be nice to see some more points scored,
Bumps and Bruises
Jack Wighton (Raiders) - thumb - Round 20-24
James Tedesco (Tigers) - kneecap - Season
The Naughty Chair
We love it when there's no naughty chair! No charges from Round 16 at all. There are just two players still serving a suspension as we type - Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) returns in Round 19 and Ngani Laumape (Warriors) is due back in Round 20.
Around the Social Media Traps
Social media is a great tool for clubs to interact with fans and get feedback - but from time to time the social media boffins at the clubs like to engage in a bit of banter. The waiting game on Thursday for the final release of the NRL Draw saw a couple of clubs engage...
@sydneyroosters Sitting here enjoying the beautiful weather and watching highlights of round 10
— NQ Cowboys (@nthqldcowboys) July 3, 2014
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert