Home Sports Absolutely no one likes split rounds

Absolutely no one likes split rounds


Most of the NRL’s best players sat out the weekend ahead of Wednesday’s first State of Origin, the bad teams couldn’t take advantage while the Green Machine is purring along.

Here are your talking points from NRL Round 13.

Only playing four games is no good
I set the scene for a good sook about this last week and I don’t intend to let up. Having only four NRL games on a weekend is rubbish fixturing.

I understand the rationale of giving each club a pre-Origin bye and the week off for the stand-alone game, but I’d even accept a longer stretch of bye allocations if it meant an extra game or two each week.

Like it or not, sport these days is about providing content for your audience and even if you’re going to sacrifice your competition at the State of Origin altar, you can still play more than four games on a weekend.

Joseph Tapine

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Especially if the games are bludgers
It’s not unreasonable to say three of the four games were underwhelming at best, started by the Gold Coast’s absolutely woeful effort against the Cowboys and supplemented by New Zealand turning in yet another diabolical effort against Manly.

The Titans actually ran out with recent yet unselected Origin players, leading to some thought they could get over North Queensland, but again we saw good coaching is worth its weight in gold.

Canterbury played a great ten-minute spell in the second half on Friday night, but unfortunately for them Penrith’s second-string line-up were pretty good during the other 70.

Best game of the four was without question the Raiders’ 22-16 win over the Roosters on Sunday afternoon in freezing Canberra but while it was a good back and forth game, I dare say Roosters fans didn’t enjoy it much having to play without James Tedesco, Lindsay Collins, Daniel Tupou and the injured Jared Waerea-Hargeaves.

The average margin for the weekend was 19 points and if the Raiders and Roosters hadn’t played out that belter, things would have been much worse.

Losing by 30 seven weeks ago was the best thing to happen to Canberra
In Round 7, Canberra went to Penrith and were ploughed by the premiers 36-6, having only 39 per cent of possession, being out-gained by over a kilometre and having to make 402 tackles. So why would that be a good thing?

To that point of the season Canberra had been sloppy, ill-disciplined and lazy in defence. But the Panthers’ barrage forced the Raiders into a kind of defensive hard reset and since then, they’ve tightened up considerably on their way to wins over South Sydney, Cronulla and now the Roosters.

You would have been institutionalised for saying this after they followed up the Penrith loss with a horrific second-half fadeout against New Zealand, but there’s a realistic chance Canberra can pinch a spot in the lower half of the eight, and bother the better teams along the way.

Would sacking Nathan Brown really make a difference for New Zealand?
Again, the Warriors were smashed up early, and again they had no answers as Manly dawdled their way to a 32-point win.

It’s easy to rip into the Kiwi side at the moment because they’ve been diabolical on the field and they did make the decision to appoint Nathan Brown.

But again we must remind ourselves about the situation the club has been put in, essentially forced into putting themselves second behind the NRL being able to get those sweet, sweet broadcast dollars and trashing three seasons worth of the Warriors’ club and player development.

Some rough words from Paul Kent during the week about how the Warriors’ players shouldn’t complain because ‘they get to live in houses, not hotels’ in Redcliffe with their immediate family shows a school of thought that just doesn’t get it.

Reece Walsh summed up the state of the team after the loss speaking to Fox League.

“It’s not good enough. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. There’s just patches where we just don’t get it right. We just make it so easy for the other team – it’s really frustrating.

“We’ve just got to go home, look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘do we want to be here, do we want to be trying for our mates’.

“At the moment, the things we’re tossing up, we’re just not working for our mates beside us. It’s first grade, and it’s not good enough.”

Even if the Warriors sack coach Nathan Brown, it’s hard to see anything changing while they have to stay in Australia.

Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown.

(Tony Feder/Getty Images)

2022 is another write-off when every other club gets to carry on as normal. Again we say – let them go home before even more damage is done to the game in New Zealand and before the Warriors are lucky to still be around, let alone before adding another Kiwi team.

Quick hits
– NRL Chair Peter V’landys appoints himself chair of selectors for the Australian Kangaroos men’s team. Is there anyone in NRL head office who’s got the grit to ask ‘are you sure about this, Pete?’

– The Roosters’ next three games are a murderer’s row of Melbourne, Penrith then Parramatta.

– I was wrong last week about Canberra’s Joe Tapine. He’s not in the top five NRL front rowers, he’s in the top two. Pay him heaps of money, Raiders. ‘Cos someone else will.

– Apparently Josh Addo-Carr and Jake Trbojevic ‘sent messages’ to the New South Wales selectors with strong performances… against a Penrith side missing six regulars and the New Zealand Warriors.

– Manly should have won by 26 because Marty Taupau’s 25th-minute try was grounded closer to the ten-metre line than the goal line.

– Scott Drinkwater’s form at fullback for the Cowboys is reminding us all why the Melbourne Storm were grooming him to take over from Billy Slater, until he hurt his pectoral muscle in the 2019 pre-season and a fella called Ryan Papenhuyzen got his shot…

To the next
With State of Origin participants 50/50 to turn out for Round 14, we wait and see which teams will be able to go at full tilt.

The Cowboys host the Dragons on Friday looking to stick in the top three, then we’ve got a pretty fun Saturday.

Souths travel to Robina for the Titans with a bevy of suitors for that eighth spot, followed by the Roosters versus Storm at the SCG (for some reason a 5.30 kickoff) and the Raiders head to Brisbane aiming to reverse a poor record up there against the Broncos.

Sunday seems full of bludgers, so fuel up the lawnmower and set up the wireless for Wests Tigers and Manly, Newcastle and Penrith and the Warriors hosting Cronulla.

Then it’s a Canterbury versus Parramatta Monday afternoon game to celebrate the Queen’s birthday holiday, showing her majesty just what the NRL thinks of her.

What did you think of the weekend’s NRL matches, Roarers? I’ll see you Wednesday night for Queensland’s player ratings!


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