Round 3: Weekly Wrap-up
Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers
This game can be summed up in a few words really. The Benji Marshall show. Flicks, behind the back passes, precision kicks etc. You name it, and Benji had it up his sleeve. He received some great support from dummy half courtesy of Robbie Farah, and strong support from Todd Payten who was playing first game back from injury.
The Tigers previously weak-ish defence was also much improved from the week before, and if they keep it up, they could be a top 4 candidate.
With young players, Beau Ryan, Mitch Brown and Tim Moltzen all having solid games, we could see the emergence of a relatively young Tigers team going all the way.
The Eels on the other hand were relatively sloppy with the ball and flat at times. They miss a halfback who has the ability to organise the team and create something out of nothing, much like Tim Smith did before he left. Robson whilst strong in defence lacks the creativeness to really trouble opposition defences.
The main killer for the Eels though was their ball control. They seem to be making more errors of late, something of which DA will be fuming about, so itâ€™s something they need to fix up. Their completion rates as a result, also arenâ€™t that great nor is their metreage. The Eels need to dominate their upcoming games against the Sharks and the Raiders to send a message to the rest of the League.
St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys
Looks like the Dragons might just be the team to beat this year. They seem to be outclassing their opponents in every game theyâ€™ve played so far and the game against the Cowboys was no different. The halves combination between Hornby and Soward seems to be working better then ever, not to mention the increased load of Darius Boyd becoming more involved in the attack.
Their forwards continue to set the benchmark for the rest of team to follow with Weyman, Prior and Hunt all taking charge and making good metres to get the Dragons in a good position. With the potency on the wings in Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale, theyâ€™ll be a very tough side to beat.
The Cowboys, to be honest, are the Cowboys of old. The team that theyâ€™ve always been really. They have one great game, followed by a very poor game. Theyâ€™re far too inconsistent and clearly need new blood in the backline and the forward pack.
The impact of Mason hasnâ€™t seemed to help them all that much, as none of the other forwards apart from Bolton and Scott seem to be making any real gains. Itâ€™s also evident that they rely too heavily on JT. Rd 1, down by 16 odd points, who almost wins the game for them? JT. Rd 2, down by the same amount, who wins it for them? JT again.
The Cowboys are like a WWE Wrestler with their signature move. They wait until theyâ€™re down and out before finally being able to execute it. They donâ€™t always come out with the glory, but they go down with a fight. They need to start games well, rather than end games well.
Penrith Panthers v Melbourne Storm
It seems as if heart and spirit just isnâ€™t enough these days if a team canâ€™t convert opportunities into points, and thatâ€™s exactly what happened with the Panthers. Despite showing true signs of coverage, never-say-die attitudes, and a great deal of spirit, they lacked the execution to put the Storm to the sword. They need someone to step up and take charge. Someone who will put their hand up and ask for the ball to create that magic moment that the entire NRL world wants to see. Weâ€™re yet to see a moment like that from the Panthers, and you have to wonder just how long it will be before we see one. They have the team to challenge for the top positions, but they donâ€™t have the execution to do so at this stage.
Thereâ€™s not much that can be said about the Storm, but you have to give them credit where itâ€™s due. They know that regardless of whether theyâ€™re leading a game or trailing a game that they can never take their foot off the accelerator, and it was for that reason as to why they won. They never gave up, they worked hard for each other and were rewarded with the winning try due to some Brett Finch brilliance. It has to be a concern though that the lesser known sides are pushing them all the way. The big test comes this week against the Dragons. The big question though is, are the Storm ready for this game mentally?
Manly â€“Warringah Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights
Manly burst straight out of the blocks and recorded an easy win by NRL standards. They executed their opportunities well and new halves pairing Foran and Hodkinson seems to be doing the trick beautifully for them, so far at least. Whilst their forwards havenâ€™t been outstanding, theyâ€™ve been doing their job enabling the halves to get a roll-on and get the attacking advantage with the majority of their kicks. They still have a long way to go though with their defence still quite suspect at times, particularly on the wings and on the fringes of the ruck. Hasler will be looking for some improvement this week.
The Knights just couldnâ€™t match the intensity and the attitude. When Mullen doesnâ€™t fire, the Knights donâ€™t fire, simple as that. Even if Gidley had of been playing, their play would have been flat. It seems as if all of the off-field issues are starting to surface once again and heap the pressure back onto the players. Whether or not they can deal with is the question, but if they donâ€™t, then they could find themselves drifting away from the top 8 very soon.
Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders
Yes, the Titans won, but by gosh they were sloppy with the ball at times. All you hear is talk of them getting better every year, but to be honest, theyâ€™re playing some very average footy. With Prince out for at least a month, itâ€™s only going to be even harder to get the wins. Too many penalties, too many dropped balls, and far too much indiscipline, particularly from star recruit Greg Bird. The Titans really need to start bringing their A game, before other teams start bringing their A game to them.
A young side is never expected to achieve big things, but they sure never give up. The Raiders despite the loss, had the right attitude, and the right mindset, but they just lacked the finishing touch. The killer blow to get some points on the board. That will come with time, and they have the players to create something in experienced campaigners Terry Campese and Alan Tounge, so itâ€™s just a question of when. The young guns coming through are amazing as well. First Josh Dugan and now Shaun Fensom.
Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors
One has to worry about Brisbaneâ€™s player depth. Israel Folau, Denan Kemp, Justin Hodges, Jowral Yow Yeh, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett and Steve Michaels are all injured, and it makes you wonder just how much the young players are going to have to step up when they arenâ€™t normally used to doing so. Either theyâ€™ll man up and just get the win, or theyâ€™ll get blown off the park. They certainly donâ€™t want to be blown away. If theyâ€™re not careful, they too might find themselves out of the race early.
Perhaps a darkhorse nobody saw coming in the Warriors? They dominated last week, executed fantastically well and have many players stepping up and taking charge. It wonâ€™t be easy though with The Beast out for at least a few weeks, but they have the depth to replace him. Just how much will they miss him is anyoneâ€™s guess, so weâ€™ll just have to find out. James Maloney has been a revelation since his arrival at the Warriors. They finally seem to have found a halves combination that works and gets the job done.
Canterbury-Bansktown Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters
After two shockers, who would have thought the Dogs would play the way they did? No-one! And if you did, well then you must have had some luck along the way. Josh Morris was superb and virtually unstoppable close to the try-line thanks to some great lead-up work from the halves and fellow backs. The forwards set the platform for the team to get a roll-on.
The question is, was it a one-off, or are the Bulldogs back and ready to rumble?
If ever there was a time when a teamâ€™s confidence would be shattered, now would be that time for the Roosters. After being on a high for the first two weeks of the season, theyâ€™ve come crashing back down after being humiliated in a 46 point loss. Can they bounce back? Is player morale down? What will Brian Smith do during the week to get the playerâ€™s confidence back?
One thingâ€™s for sure, any more complacency or cockiness, and the Roosters could start the season the same way they finished 2009.
Cronulla Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and no. Couldnâ€™t help but use Phil Gouldâ€™s words to describe the Sharks performance. Perhaps the worst performance from any team this year. Albert Kelly is not a fullback, end of story. John Morris is not a halfback, end of story. Ricky Stuart, what are you doing?
Evidently, the positional changes flopped and big-time and so Stuart has some tough decisions to make over the next few days. Weâ€™ll have to see if he springs anymore surprises this week. Tim Smith is expected to feature, but will he start or come off the bench? Will he even have an impact against his former side? Or will he simply crack under the pressure, and as a result, the Sharks capitulate.
If they want to have any chance of winning, itâ€™s simple. Hold onto the ball, and complete your sets.
Perhaps the best game of the season from the Bunnies, particularly Issac Luke. The halves still arenâ€™t clicking the way they should though by any means. But you canâ€™t discount Lukeâ€™s effort as it was amazing. This is after he actually went to the wrong stadium before the game and only just made it onto the field in time before kick-off.
The Bunnies still have a long way to go though. They need Sandow in particular to step up and take charge. He seems to be intimidated by opposition defences when he has the ball-in-hand. He needs to change that and fast, before he coughs the ball up and costs his team the game.