The NSWRL has confirmed Brad Fittler will take the reins as NSW Blues coach for 2018 and 2019!
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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 50+ scorelines, attendances, another hilarious hashtag and those bloody refs... all those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....
Performance of the Round
South Sydney took a home game to Cairns for the second consecutive season, and the move paid off again with the 20-time premiers putting the cleaners through the Newcastle Knights. The Bunnies put on a masterclass with hooker Issac Luke and fullback Greg Inglis playing starring roles, eventually posting a 50-10 win over the hapless boys from the Hunter. On the same afternoon the Warriors racked up 54 points before the Raiders finally found the line three times late at GIO Stadium in Canberra. The Trans-Tasman victory is the Warriors first at the venue since the 1997 Super League season and puts them firmly back in the eight with a handy for-and-against boost to boot.
The Paul Carige Award for the Worst Performance of the Round
Sorry fans, this one's on you this week. While we could easily take aim at the rubbish performances dished up by Newcastle and Canberra on Sunday, the attendances across all games this weekend left plenty to be decided. Barely 91,000 fans attended the eight matches, with an average of just 11,000 per game seeing empty stadia across the NRL. Granted - we didn't have a Suncorp crowd or any major blockbusters to boost the figures, but some matches deserved plenty more bums-on-seats than they got.
Whether it's to do with the weather (we did get a Polar Blast through NSW on Friday and Saturday) or fans becoming disillusioned with match officials, or something else... we're not sure. But the message is simple folks - get out to a game, and support your team!
The Penrith Panthers started Friday night's clash with fellow top-four aspirants Canterbury in shaky fashion, but after withstanding an attacking onslaught and lucking out with some decisions, the mountain men took full control of the match in the second half, capitalising on errors from the Bulldogs and executing some great simple plays to race to a 22-0 lead. While the Bulldogs did fight back late to post a 22-16 final scoreline, the win was special for the Panthers when you note their injury toll, which includes playmaker Peter Wallace missing for the season.
We're gonna keep this section short and sharp this week. Some of the decision making over the weekend was absolutely mind boggling - not just on the field but in the video referee box as well. The Bulldogs arguably had two fair tries denied by the men upstairs in the opening half and it's got fans asking serious questions about integrity and professionalism.
We won't bang on about it - we'll leave that to our weekly columnist in Andrew Ferguson. Click here to check out this week's Halftime Spray which takes firm aim at the faults in the system.
Bumps and Bruises
Justin Hodges (Broncos) - hamstring - Round 23
Chase Stanley (Bulldogs) - shoulder - indefinite
Shaun Fensom (Raiders) - knee - season
Kurt Baptiste (Raiders) - shoulder - season
David Shillington (Raiders) - pec - season
Terry Campese (Raiders) - external oblique - Round 24
Brenko Lee (Raiders) - hamstring - Round 23
Reece Robinson (Raiders) - back - Round 24
Sami Sauiluma (Raiders) - ankle - Round 24
Elijah Taylor (Panthers) - knee - season
Brent Kite (Panthers) - pec - Finals Week 1
Bryce Cartwright (Panthers) - ankle - season
Wade Graham (Sharks) - foot - season
Luke Lewis (Sharks) - hamstring - season
Jacob Gagan (Sharks) - hamstring - season
Anthony Tupou (Sharks) - hamstring - Round 23
Jake Friend (Roosters) - hamstring - Round 25
Konrad Hurrell (Warriors) - hamstring - Round 23
The Naughty Chair
Bodene Thompson (Tigers) - Grade 1 Dangerous Contact
Sitaleki Akauola (Tigers) - Grade 1 Shoulder Charge
Jesse Sene-Lefao (Sea Eagles) - Grade 1 Dangerous Contact (Head/Neck)
Junior Paulo (Eels) - Grade 1 Dangerous Contact
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) - Grade 1 Careless High Tackle
Josh Papalii (Raiders) - Grade 1 Dangerous Contact
Around the Social Media Traps
Looks like @Former_Legend is at it again! For another Tuesday night, the whole NRL Twittersphere took to a new hashtag with hilarious results. This week it was #NRLplayerTVshows - with fans coming up with all sorts of player-name integrations into current and old TV shows. Here's our pick of the bunch:
— Steven Russo (@russos1991) August 5, 2014
— Hamish Neal (@hamishneal) August 5, 2014
— Andrew Ferguson (@AndrewRLP) August 5, 2014
Rochow's Modern Life. #NRLplayerTVshows
— Steven Russo (@russos1991) August 5, 2014
Sramas in pyjamas #NRLplayerTVshows
— Uncle Bully (@MrHangiPants) August 6, 2014
Guerra They Now? #NRLplayerTVshows
— Mal Meninga (@BigMalMeninga) August 5, 2014
Want more? Hit #NRLplayerTVshows to read through the whole lot!
Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.
- The Armchair Expert