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Monday, 18 July 2011

NRL 2011 - The Sunday Inquisition - Round 19 Edition

THE SUNDAY INQUISITION
By W D Nicolson 17/07/11
ROUND 19 - 2011 NRL SEASON

Welcome to the second edition of The Sunday Inquisition - a look at what the weekend of Rugby League threw up and why it should matter to you.

Every Sunday for the rest of the season on wdnicolson.com - these observations will be presented in note form for your consumption. If you think we have missed anything don't hesitate to email the author and you will be credited with your contribution. Alternatively let us know via The NRL Tweet on Twitter. If you want game highlights and Player of the Year Votes - click the link for the Results Blog (Monday).

If you have 5 minutes please fill out NOT The Footy Show's NRL Fan Survey http://www.wdnicolson.com/p/nrl-fan-survey.html and all results will be dissected on the LIVE broadcast of Episode 74 at 8:25pm on Wednesday July 20 via ustream or pick up a copy of the Podcast on Thursday via iTunes.

So here we go... the format may change as the weeks continue but we hope you enjoy the newest edition of The Sunday Inquisition.

The format has changed slightly - Game Highlights are added as links - the Press Conferences are being held over for the Results Blog - and the thoughts are a little more randomly added after the game notes are somewhat listed. And it is much shorter than last week. (Well that was the intent before it was finished).
Feedback welcome on what could be the best format - spread the word and comment with your own thoughts - this is a blog that is meant to get you thinking - so get to it.

THE ROUND 19 RESULTS BLOG IS
The NRLTweet's Results Blog covering Stats, Injuries, Game Summaries and Votes for The NRLTweet Player of the Year.
  • Since when did Daniel Vidot join the Rebel Alliance?
  • Matthew Bowen is BRILLIANT. If you haven't seen some highlights of his big plays for the Cowboys against the Tigers (in a losing effort) then hip hop to the barbershop, do yourself a favour and watch the highlights.. Genius. Game Highlights Tigers 38 Cowboys 18
  • Liam Fulton should be placed on an immediate 'no passing' policy by Tigers Coach Tim Sheens... if you recall he set up Shaun Kenny-Dowall for the match winner in the epic semi final last year and after a great first up set just after halftime on Saturday Night - he put the pill on Willie Tonga's chest to get the Cowboys back in game.
  • Feels dirty admitting it but Manly are a team I love watching play. Des Hasler has added pure attacking footy to the inherent toughness of the team and the presence of Daly Cherry-Evans at halfback and Brett Stewart at fullback means Manly can execute like few sides in the game.
  • Speaking of Manly - they scored on the first set of the game v Newcastle and never looked like getting beat thereafter. How many teams (or should I say coaches) have the confidence to attack like that on the OPENING set of the game. Not many... | Game Highlights Sea Eagles 32 Knights 10
  • Canberra and Melbourne continued their intense rivalry with the Storm winning for the 17th time in the last 19 games between the clubs. If all the NRL can hang this 'rivalry' on is the fact it is the 'Southern Rivaly' then the marketing team needs it's head read... last time I checked both teams have a history of Grand Final appearances... might want to start there NRL. | Game Highlights Storm 26 Raiders 0
  • As long as Melbourne have Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk on the field - they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Premiership favourites with St.George-Illawarra and Manly-Warringah.
  • The team that probably fits the #4 spot - the Brisbane Broncos have to improve considerably to threaten the Top 3. While the Broncos best is as good as any - they were in second gear for most of their win over the Titans and although they won by 20 points - they weren't overly convincing. Darren Lockyer can lift them though - but he'll have to in September. | Game Highlights Broncos 30 Titans 10
  • Ryan Hinchcliffe, Joe Galuvao, Kevin Kingston and Micheal Luck are all incredibly under-rated footballers. And all are to some extent journeymen. A reminder that young talent and potential isn't always better.
  • Chris Sandow's 50 metre field goal (ok 49m) to win South Sydney's clash with the Sydney Roosters in Golden Point ranks right up there with the sweet drop goal strikes from distance in living memory. Last year Benji Marshall's bomb v the Titans was a marvel but both fall just short (ironically) of the best ever field goal that wasn't - Craig Polla-Mounter's missile in 1998 Semi for Canterbury against Parramatta thanks to Paul Carige's brain melt (Link quality not great). | Game Highlights Rabbitohs 21 Roosters 20
  • The Raiders and Roosters joined the Titans as confirmed also-rans in the 2011 Premiership. But in truth we should've all written them off 10 weeks ago... only problem is in a Top 8 - teams that suck get about eight 'crunch/make or break/crucial/sudden death' games a season before they actually play that final cut-throat game... the Roosters and Raiders lost theirs this weekend.
  • Parramatta have played pretty good footy of late... for one win and a draw since Round 13. They lose against the Dogs and they are done for 2011 as the Panthers pipped them 23-22 in Penrith. | Game Highlights Panthers 23 Eels 22
  • Michael Jennings produced the game levelling try for Lachlan Coote with no time left on the clock after a sensational display by the team to keep the ball alive after Luke Burt had not only gone to ground on what referee Jarred Maxwell had deemed the final tackle, but foolishly he got up and retreated with the ball away from Jennings. Had he stood still and held the ball away from Jennings for a second longer - rather than deliberately moving away to waste time - Maxwell doesn't call time off for mine. Ben Smith's sneaky pickup from a Burt off-load just made it look worse. But I've got no doubt Maxwell called time off because of Burt's movement... and Burt really should've just run into touch or kicked the ball again - because if he does game over.
  • Jarryd Hayne may have kicked into Dayne Weston to create the play but he saved the Eels twice in the final five minutes with two try saving tackles - on Lachlan Coote from a bomb and Adrian Purtell out wide. All on one leg as he was carrying a sore knee and a bad ankle for most of the second half.
  • Nathan Hindmarsh racked up 300 First Grade Games for the Eels... LEGEND. I still recall standing on the wet and freezing Peter Sterling Hill in 2000 and saying to a mate when the Eels were playing the Storm in Round 14 that Hindmarsh would go on the Kangaroo tour - that's how high I rated the kid who at that stage had played 51 games but was still just 20 years old. My suggestion was laughed at... and yes he went on that tour.
  • It wouldn't be cheap but surely all players who have played significant game time by the halfway mark of a season should be given an MRI on their neck and back? Michael Ennis is likely done for 2011 after scans found a bulging disc was the cause of his throat/lung troubles that emerged in Origin 3. Better safe than sorry...
  • The Bulldogs were again average without him (they have been pretty average with him and it should come as no surprise that Kevin Moore is out as coach) as the Warriors coolly and calmly came from 12-0 down to win 36-12 in Auckland. | Game Highlights Warriors 36 Bulldogs 12
  • Phil Gould was at it again with the gold commentary... shortly after Brent Kite managed to avoid knocking the ball on with a desperate tap back, Anthony Watmough knocked on the very next play. In short Gould said "And there you go. Anthony just showed Brent how to do it (knock on) properly."
  • What will North Queensland do when all their backrowers are fit? On Saturday Tariq Sims joined Gavin Cooper and Dallas Johnson in the run on team. Cory Paterson and Glenn Hall (who played prop) came off the bench. And then there's Scott Bolton - their number one backrower in 2010 - who is still to return from a calf injury. There's no doubt the Cowboys look very good with Johnson and Sims playing big minutes - but Cooper has been great this season and although Hall can shift to prop to backup Matthew Scott, James Tamou and a resurgent Ashton Sims - that still leaves Bolton and Paterson fighting for playing time. And with Brent Tate and Willie Tonga back from injury - there's no room for Cooper in the centres. Bolton has played middle third as a prop this season so he could do that again and that leaves Paterson fighting Sims and Cooper for game time. Suggesting that sometimes depth has its disadvantages.
  • There was some incidental contact between Billy Slater and that referee (Matt Cecchin) in the 33rd minute of the Storm-Raiders game - might be waiting a while for someone to notice...
  • Back 'in the day' tackle counts over 40 were considered big days for defenders... on Saturday night alone three players cracked the 60 tackle mark - Nathan Hindmarsh (68 tackles), Kevin Kingston (65) and Jake Friend (61), while Matthew Keating had 55 and even FuiFui MoiMoi cracked the 40 tackle mark in 65 minutes - surely a personal best. On Friday Micheal Luck and Andrew Ryan had 51 each and Shaun Fensom had 54 on Sunday. Call me old fashioned but the numbers these days just don't seem 'real'... not saying the stat isn't correct (other stats however remain wildly inconsistent and borderline hilarious) but is the impact of the great defender is being watered down by these consistently large totals?
  • Greg Inglis scored the match-tying try for the Bunnies after a John Sutton offload (after he took the line on!) but he quite rightly received extra praise for how he read the play and came back on the inside of Sutton to seize the opportunity when it arose. Great players see things before they happen and then make them happen. Inglis is one of these...
  • Cameron Smith told Fox Sports he hates coming off the bench for the Storm... expect Craig Bellamy to revert back to Smith playing 80 minutes next week now the Origin period is well and truly over.
  • Jamal Idris had a slight boo boo against the Warriors when his attempted drop kick saw him land on his butt when he slipped kicking the ball. As has been pointed out - his technique holding the ball was way off and what was he doing taking the kick anyway with Trent Hodkinson in the team? It'll be on YouTube as a stand alone video soon enough - but you might be lucky and find it in the video highlights.
  • Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa (Fe Fi Fo Fum to NOT The Footy Show listeners) showed that for young players producing effort on effort week in week out isn't easy. He busted his gut to the point of exhaustion (he threw up late in the Round 18 game with the Knights) but was barely sighted in the loss to the Tigers. Had had half the number of carries and floated through the game. While his positives far outweigh any negatives - it was a good insight into how tough playing quality footy week in week out in the NRL is for a young player - no matter how talented. It's tough.
  • We all know the Roosters have struggled in 2011 but Braith Anasta may be the one Rooster who has struggled the most. He was arguably their best player in their playoff run last year in the backrow and he has been a shadow of that player this season. His one on one miss of Issac Luke on Saturday was not a moment to remember for a player who everyone thought had turned a corner from good player to great player in September 2010...
  • Jamie Lyon will not be volunteering for Clean-up Australian Day anytime soon... on the way out for the kick-off on Sunday he threw down a half full cup of water onto the ground for someone to pick up and then repeated the dose on his way out for the second half. This is obviously pointed out in jest but I wonder if this is a pre-game ritual by 'Grass'.
  • Storm winger Matt Duffie's try against Canberra was a thing of beauty... well until he face-planted after putting the ball down and almost knocked himself out.
  • Phil Gould suggested the NRL bring in a 50/10 rule to go alongside the 40/20 rule. That is if you kick behind halfway and the ball goes into touch within 10m of the try-line your team gets the feed. He'll get an opportunity to suggest that (and many more ideas) at an NRL CEO Conference this week now he's the head honcho at the Panthers. Your thoughts on the suggestion?
  • The value of Golden Point Extra Time in the Regular Season was a hot topic on The Sunday Footy Show - look out on www.wdnicolson.com later this week for our suggestion on how to fix it... if it needs fixing?
  • Bryan Norrie's hit on Shaun Fensom (thanks to Josh McCrone's lovely hospital pass) was a hit worthy of the end of year highlight reels. It's in the 46th minute.
  • Tim Moltzen looked very good in general play at fullback for the Tigers on Saturday Night... his kick returns still lack sting as he isn't that keen on taking the defence on but if he plays like that again next week - Wade McKinnon might finish his NRL career in the NSW Cup.
  • Bodene Thompson might have been penalised for a push on Corey Parker but Parker had no right to hit Thompson after the referee had called the play dead seconds earlier. Luckily for Thompson he pushed more than punched Parker and nothing more will come of it but that wasn't necessary from Parker.
  • James Maloney, Simon Mannering and Feleti Mateo will get the Warriors into the Finals but only a switched on Manu Vatuvei can help them do anything once they are there. Time to wake up Manu.
  • Canberra's loss was the first time in their history at a Canberra venue that they were held scoreless... they entered the league in 1982.
  • According to David Middleton on Channel Nine - Manly's 44 second try to open their clash with Newcastle was the fastest try of the season.
  • Finally I'm a bit perplexed as to why Fox Sports had to seriously cut down the replay of the Penrith-Parramatta clash to the point where some of the more cynical viewers could have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps 'this was headed to golden point'... I wasn't the only one to notice the delay for scrums were cut very short and a quick glance at the actual time left on the clock v the time left on the coverage suggested that Penrith - despite being down by 6 points with 10 minutes left - would tie it up. The only saving grace for Fox Sports was that the Panthers literally left it to the final second to score, so when they did level it up - it was a surprise. But if you're going to show the game 'live' or in this case as the second 7:30pm game (thus a 'live' replay) you make an effort to show the game naturally. Especially when all it was being cut down for was a replay of the already shown Rabbitohs-Roosters clash from earlier in the night.
  • Be sure to check out the Round 19 Results Blog for all the Injury News, Stats, Press Conferences and Player of the Year Votes from this weekend.
So there is the Sunday Inquisition for Round 19. If you enjoyed it please let us know how to improve it and we'll try to do just that. Make any suggestions in the comments below or via a reply and retweet on The NRL Tweet.

Still to come: Round 19 Monday Night Football
$1.38 V $3.10 Mon @ WIN Jubilee | LINE: CRO +8.0 GAME STATS
PS. Memo to the Dragons - for the first time this year I'm 7 from 7 in the tipping going into Monday Night Football... lose to the Sharks and I'll declare you certainties for the Premiership.
PPS. And thus the mock will come into full effect - nullifying any chance the Dragons have of going back to back.
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NOT The Footy Show Episode 73
- Round 19 Preview Released July 14, 2011 -

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