The NRL Round 14 Rubdown Part 1 – The Phaking Menace Strikes

Referees outsmarted again and decide the outcome of a match

The cynical and unsportsmanlike Josh Reynolds ‘jumping somersault’ on Friday, or Kangaroo hop as his dad calls it, was the last straw for referees. Leaving aside the fact that the Reynolds call was woefully, obviously and unforgivably wrong (yes, I’m tiring of referee blunders …) and that it was piggy-backed to get it into kicking range for the Bulldogs, the penalty should have gone the other way.

That’s right – the other way. It was a clear professional foul.

The difference is monumental. Manly get the penalty, begin a set 30m out from the Bulldogs’ line, and have their choice of 3-4 tackles in which to kick a field goal from dead in front.

NSW selectors should pat him on the back for earning $30,000 from the Origin 1 bench, and not pick him for origin 2. Then turn around and sack all referees involved at Brookvale. It’s just too tiring …

Manly For & Against hits stall speed

After moving to +85 after six rounds, the conclusion of Round 14 sees Manly seriously flat lining.

Rounds seven to 14 have yielded just the two wins and a draw (and a bye). Manly For and Against

The good news is that the 4 losses during this period have been close, which is well illustrated in their For & Against falling only marginally to +73. And they get another bye next week. This means they remain in a good position with respect to the finals.

The bad news is that it’s still four losses in seven matches, and they have not defeated any of the sides in the top four. They face another of them next week too, the Roosters.

Pretty soon the media will be all over them citing the advancing years on their roster. Usually this would add pressure to a team. Maybe it’s the reverse for Manly?

Panthers get to base camp, but baulk at going for the peak

A little over a week ago after wins against the Storm, Warriors and Dragons, the Panthers had surged into 8th position on the NRL ladder. Their size and talent were beginning to show results.

Facing a severely under strength Tigers at home after a bye was supposed to be a walkover. And, for most of the first half, it was. Then the disease that every team fears – complacency – set in. The reason it is such an abhorrent attitude is that it is very difficult to reverse in a hurry. The Panthers were never a threat to the red hot Raiders as a result.

The Raiders are one team who seem to appreciate the value of a ‘roll’ far more than most.

All is not lost for the Panthers, though. They may have been dumped out of the top eight, but their draw is favourable for the next month. Repeating what I wrote about the Warriors a few weeks back, it’s really up to them how they respond from here. They can make it back to the top eight – it’s in their hands.

Round 14 by the numbers – so far

95% – Manly’s completion rate against the Bulldogs – and they lost

184 – Runs by both Manly and the Dragons – both lost

1.4% – The Raiders’ missed tackle percentage

14.2% – The Eels’ missed tackle percentage  

250 – Paul Gallen’s metres gained  (from 24 runs). The only other person getting close was Josh Dugan, with 221m from 22 runs – but who has the advantage of being a fullback and returning kicks. Wow!

Taking a tough stand on on-field violence

We all know rugby league is a tough game. The toughest. There’s enough violence in defence without standing for the type of thuggery made famous over the years.

Now, finally, the NRL is doing something about it with a zero tolerance approach to punching. An automatic sin bin for doing so is a rule very much akin to that seen in the AFL where it is just not tolerated.

In this sense, I’m quite happy to be following up last week’s praise for CEO David Smith by repeating it. The fact that he has no special interests to serve, or behind-the-scenes debts to pay within the NRL underworld is a significant positive in the effort to take the game to the stratosphere.

For too long it has been tethered and restricted by the supergravity unleashed by exceptionally poor decision-making, navel gazing and an immature and almost insane siege mentality.

It seems like we finally have someone unafraid to make change, and this is unmistakably good news.

The Dr’s prognosis has always advocated taking the best from the best.

Identifying the best rules in other codes and applying them to the NRL has been a core principle for what seems like … well, forever (even though this blog is an infant, and written by one, some might say).

The fact that the NRL has made this rule explicit is once again a damning indictment of the pink clowns we call referees – it is actually in the rules of the game!! Lo and behold, there it is in Section 15 – Player Misconduct. Section 16 explicitly tells referees what they can then do about it. Go and have a read. It’s amazing how many basic rules the referees don’t know.

The clear message in this new initiative is that the referees are not doing their job. The game has never been so poorly served by the on-field officials, and they are undermining the game from within.

And now that we are also being let down by clueless video referees, who seem to have no sense of the game itself (which is saying something if we take into account that former players are taking some of these roles), the NRL needs to take a scorched earth policy right to their door. The current approach is not working, and doesn’t stand a chance of doing so.

In the meantime, let’s re-address time offs and restarting play from where a ball was kicked should it go dead in-goal. This is the low hanging fruit.

 

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