3 days ago
Where do you want to go today?
The Penthouse. The boys from the insular peninsula are doing their best to make this column look stupid, having not lost a game since punters were encouraged to get on the Sea-Eagles for the wooden spoon.
One noticeable trend in Manly's games, and this includes the club's losses in the first two rounds, is that they start very well. So far, the Sea-Eagles have racked up the following half time leads: 20-4, 14-0, 24-6, 6-0, 30-6 and 18-6. Take out the 14-6 win over the Warriors that was never in doubt, and Manly must still be troubled that two of those leads were overcome and a third ended in a nailbiter.
Manly is a good first half side, but if opponents hang in there, they do get tired and they will give them opportunities. Still, they've managed to turn a 0-2 start to the season into a 4-2 opening, and they now sit third: Manly is officially a team to beat.
Finishing School. It says something about the quality of the game that substitute Tim Mannah won the TV man of the match in this game. Parramatta weren't great, but even though they did their best to let Souths dominate, the Rabbitohs were even worse.
Much of the criticism of the refereeing in this match stems from the game being far from out of the officials' control. At no stage did this game look like slipping into foul play or a punch on, so two sin bins after a stern warning is harsh. But just as Shakira's hips don't lie, nor do the stats: there were 21 penalties in this game, and that's far too much. If Parramatta wants to compete seriously this year, they need to cut both the penalties and the 15 errors out of their game.
But still, good on the Eels players for getting a win for Nathan Hindmarsh's record game. Rugby league players aren't generally known for their intelligence, but Daniel Anderson is a smart man, so perhaps he should remind the team that from now on, every game that Hindmarsh plays, he breaks Parramatta's appearance record.
The Referees (especially Messrs Cummins and Sutton)
Rugby Union Ref School. This column is actually a big fan of the sin bin, especially for any player that gives away a penalty after a line break. Using the sin bin for repeat team offences, after giving a warning to both teams, however, seems redundant. Go back two rounds, when Luke O'Donnell gave away four penalties is a mind-blowing 90-second period, and his sin binning was without question. In this game, however, both teams were committing the same number of penalties, so why not let the players play out the match that way? The game was already near its close by the time the warning was given, so it's not as if it were done for the fans' sake.
Although this column is no fan of rugby union, one must admire how the referees are treated in the other code and, even more importantly, how they treat the players. They call the players Red 12 or Blue 9, and in return, the players call them Sir or (hopefully) Miss. And the game is better for that professional distance.
The Beautician. It's never a good day when you're mistaken for Nathan Cayless.