The Armchair Expert - 2017 Round 24

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This once weekly feature for LeagueUnlimited is back! 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 how those at the bottom of the ladder are faring, a couple of tricky moments for our officials on the weekend, and a great little social media moment this week.

All those, plus a wrap up of all the injuries and suspensions from the weekend. Let's get into it....

Performance of the Round

While Melbourne remain impressive as all hell on their way to claiming yet another J.J. Giltinan Shield (the minor premiership, for those playing at home), its their opponents this weekend who've picked up the gong for the best performance in Round 23.

Newcastle have found many ways to lose winnable games on their way to last place this season, but their tenacity over the last three weeks has been something else. After losses to Canterbury and the Roosters just a month ago, they've gone on to win their last three - upset wins over the Dragons and Eels bookending a comfortable win over the listless Warriors. It was the Eels victory that has turned heads and now has an equally spirited Wests Tigers side looking over their shoulder as the race to avoid the spoon really hots up.

The Paul Carige Award

This could almost be called the Greg Inglis award this week. The Cowboys have slid to eighth on the ladder with a growing injury toll in recent weeks, and it was fellow top-eight aspirants Penrith who orchestrated their downfall last Saturday... and their own fullback.

It went fairly unnoticed but Lachlan Coote had his own Terry Lamb-Greg Inglis moment in the 74th minute of their loss to the Panthers - down 18-16 with just six minutes on the clock, 'Cootey' put boot to ball... for a field goal attempt. We're sure it was fatigue, but ultimately it handed Penrith the win with Nathan Cleary heading up the other end shortly after to nail down the two points for the home side.

Surprise Packet

While the Knights certainly weren't expected to roll the Eels, it was the Wests Tigers who threw a spanner into the top-eight works on Sunday afternoon with a last-gasp win over Manly-Warringah. Refereeing controversies aside, The Tigers were able to overcome a poor first half and a strong opponent to score 22 second half points, the last minute match-winning try stunning the Sea Eagles and severely denting the top four hopes of the Northern Beaches club.

For the Tigers themselves, it meant getting off the bottom of the table where the Knights had put them - on percentages - after beating Parramatta on Friday night.

Ref Watch

Two big moments this week - the Vunivalu penalty try for the Storm on Saturday was the central talking point, with on-field referee Gerard Sutton sending a potential penalty try up to the Bunker in the 26th minute. Conjecture remains over whether the decision to approve Sutton's original ruling was correct, or whether a more conservative penalty and sin bin would have sufficed.

Every few weeks the NRL will come out and admit the Bunker or the on-field officials got it wrong - this was the case after Friday night's win for Newcastle over Parramatta. Ken Sio was not picked up for passing off the ground, despite refs boss Tony Archer coming out later that evening suggesting he certainly should have been.

Bumps and Bruises


Broncos: Andrew McCullough (knee)
Raiders: Dunamis Lui (knee)
Sharks: Tony Williams (knee)
Titans: Ryan Simpkins (knee), Chris McQueen (neck), Karl Lawton (shoulder)
Sea Eagles: Jorge Taufua (knee)
Storm: Christian Welch (ACL), Cheyse Blair (ankle)
Knights: Rory Kostjasyn (throat, retired), Dylan Phythian (knee), David Bhana (knee), Pauli Pauli (fibula)
Cowboys: Josh Chudleigh & Matt Scott (ACL), Johnathan Thurston (shoulder), Patrick Kaufusi (foot), Ben Spina (biceps)
Eels: Clint Gutherson & Kaysa Pritchard (knee), Beau Scott (biceps)
Panthers: Leilani Latu (jaw)
Dragons: Yaw Kiti Glymin (shoulder), Siliva Havili (pectoral)
Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis (ACL)
Warriors: Shaun Johnson (knee)
Wests Tigers: Matt Ballin (knee, retired), Jamal Idris (ACL)


Bulldogs: Josh Reynolds (calf), Sam Kasiano (sternum)
Titans: Chris Grevsmuhl (shoulder), Dan Sarginson (shoulder)
Knights: Jack Stockwell (shoulder), Anthony Tupou (knee), Nathan Ross (back)
Cowboys: Antonio Winterstein (hamstring), Gavin Cooper (calf), Justin O'Neill (elbow), Shaun Fenson (knee)
Eels: Isaac De Gois (concussion)
Dragons: Drew Hutchison (knee), Euan Aitken, shoulder)
Rabbitohs: Connor Tracey (ACL), Siosifa Talakai (ankle), Robert Jennings (knee)
Warriors: Matt Allwood (ribs), Nathaniel Roache (hamstring), Bodene Thompson (pectoral)
Wests Tigers: Josh Aloiai (knee), Jacob Liddle (shoulder)

Round 25, 26 or finals return

Sharks: Jayden Brailey (jaw), Jack Bird (shoulder)
Titans: Konrad Hurrell (hamstring)
Sea Eagles: Curtis Sironen (pectroal)
Storm: Brandon Smith (wrist), Tim Glasby (shoulder)
Panthers: Trent Merrin (knee), Peter Wallace (hand)
Warriors: Albert Vete (arm)

The Naughty Chair

1 match
Ben Matulino (Warriors) - Grade 1 Shoulder Charge

Suliasi Vunivalu (Storm) - Grade 1 Contrary Conduct. $1,100 (early plea).
Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles) - Grade 1 Careless High Tackle. $2,100 (early plea, 3 prior offences)


A News Limited tabloid posted a questionable article about NRL Footy Show host and journalist Erin Molan on Wednesday which raised plenty of questions, but as it invariably does, provoked a positive reaction from the NRL social media community.

The response has been something special:

Check back next week for more expert analysis from the seat of my pants.

- The Armchair Expert