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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, our Guru looks at the generosity of the NRL community, one idiot, two poor showings and too much information. All those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
Everyone gets a pat on the back this week. The #RiseForAlex Round was an outstanding success - 146,000-odd turned up across the weekend to honour injured Newcastle player and Aberdeen junior Alex McKinnon - with well over $1million raised to assist with his ongoing recovery and lifestyle. It all started with the NRL Footy Show on Thursday night at Newcastle's Entertainment Centre and kept momentum throughout the weekend, with each game seeing the clubs walk out side by side, standing with their RiseForAlex wristbands on followed by a moment of silence for those lost in the tragic MH17 incident late last week. Off the field, clubs, sponsors and fans dug deep to contribute, with some matches selling out of the RiseForAlex wristbands that proved popular across the weekend.
Just quietly, how good does it look watching the teams and officials all march out together? Should the NRL make it a permanent thing?
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
We'll start this one off the field - we read reports on Friday of someone stealing a donation box for the Rise For Alex fund at Broadmeadow McDonald's. Let's hope the culprit has been identified... unbelievable!
On the field it's hard to go past Sunday's defeated sides. The Knights were expected to lift for the occasion as 26,000 fans packed an emotional Hunter Stadium, but the Titans stayed cool calm and collected while Newcastle just seemed to have no answers. Back in Sydney the Bulldogs led at halftime but seemingly must've left their tackling arms in the dressing rooms, conceding 30 unanswered points in the second half, eventually conceding a 46-18 thrashing from the Wests Tigers.
After a few losses had their hold on a top-eight spot looking rocky (not to mention destablising reports surrounding Anthony Griffin's future), the Brisbane Broncos stood proud to overcome a Warriors side with plenty of momentum on Saturday night. The demotion of Corey Oates, Jack Reed and Daniel Vidot after a boozy incident mid-week seemed to galvanise the players left to fight the battle and an exciting match eventually saw the home side come away victors and cement their spot in the eight for another weekend. The loss for the Warriors still begs the question of their travelling credentials though...
Speaking of travelling - a surprise on Friday night saw the Cowboys win their first away match this season against the Sharks. The last time the Cowboys had won away from Townsville before that match? September 1 last year, against... you guessed it, Cronulla, at Remondis Stadium.
This one's dedicated to Des and we might have to agree. Mr Hasler was rightfully upset after his side, Canterbury, were walloped by the Tigers on Sunday at ANZ Stadium, claiming it's frustrating with the two referee system to see each side of the ruck refereed differently. Watching the full weekend of games it certainly seems he's right, with each referee's interpretation often different. This results in different sides being policed differently - and even comes down to basic decisions where each referee may not agree - and then has the coaches blowing up. We wonder if Des will chuck a "Tooves" and demand an investigation?
Bumps and Bruises
Tim Browne (Bulldogs) - depressed skull fracture - indefinite
Luke Bailey (Titans) - hamstring, hand - Round 21
Kurt Gidley (Knights) - groin - Round 21
The Naughty Chair
Lote Tuqiri (Rabbitohs) - Grade 2 Dangerous Contact, unnecessary head/neck pressure
Joseph Paulo (Eels) - Grade 1 High Tackle
Sika Manu (Panthers) - Grade 1 High Tackle
Manu Vatuvei (Warriors) - Grade 1 High Tackle
Blake Austin (Tigers) - Grade 1 High Tackle
Trent Hodkinson (Bulldogs) - Grade 1 Dangerous Throw
Josh Jackson (Bulldogs) - Grade 1 Tripping
Corey Thompson (Bulldogs) - Grade 1 Dangerous Throw
Around the Social Media Traps
Every Digital Media Manager at every club has had one of these moments - leaving your profile logged into the work account and inadvertently sending out a personal tweet. Last week one of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs' staffers went for their regular run...
Getting faster and feeling better. I just ran 7.23 km @ a 5'16"/km pace with Nike+. #nikeplus
— NRL Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) July 15, 2014
The ensuing hijinks were hilarious - click on the timestamp above for some of the replies the club received, as well as some of the hilarious responses the Bulldogs offered in reply as they took the incident in their stride.
And one more thing...
This morning we were hit with the news that Newcastle Knights' fullback and Queensland & Australian winger Darius Boyd has been checked into a mental health facility as he battles depression. Very sad news for a very talented bloke - the team here at LeagueUnlimited.com pass on our wishes to Darius as he begins his treatment and recovery.
If you need help - seek it, and don't be afraid. Lifeline is there on 13 11 14, and there are countless resources on sites like Beyond Blue, RUOK, Black Dog Institute, Reach Out and more.
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert