State of Origin 2 Reviewed

In the NSW camp, a devestated NRL News reporter ‘The Grubber’ – casts his eye over State of Origin Game 2.

The Grubber is angry and he wants answers, here is his expert review:

In the interests of full disclosure I should start by saying that I didn’t attend the game. Origin is best watched on TV, where you get a real sense of the physicality of the contest. And I hate the Olympic Stadium. Never feels like Origin out there. Too far from the action, too quiet, too sterile. Is there any way we can get this event back to the SFS? Imagine how good that would be? 45,000 people crammed in, great atmosphere and plenty of pubs to fill before kick-off.

The Homebush Hoodoo is dead now anyway so that can’t be an excuse anymore. Sure, we’d have to raise prices a bit, but with the additional corporate interest that would be attracted by having one of the biggest games of the year right next to the CBD, I think a premium could be charged.

Anyway, on to the game itself. Gus let loose with his usual pre-game spiel. “Origin is special, it is the pinnacle of human achievement, mankind will never do any better” etc and Tim Gilbert (whoever that is) was assigned the job of interviewing Brett and Glenn Stuart’s old man. Mr Stewart looked pretty uncomfortable in his Volcom “Hoodie”, which surely must have been a loaner from one of the Stewart boys. Predictably Dad came up from the Gong on the day and having been unprepared for the chill of the western suburbs must have borrowed the offending garment from one of his boys. Unfortunately, he is too old a man to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt. In fact, no man should probably ever wear a hooded sweatshirt.

The Blues got a great reception when they ran out and I almost allowed myself to think that the crowd might be able to have an impact on this one. I certainly hoped that they’d inspire the Blues into an old-fashioned Donnybrook in the opening exchanges. Of course, I was sadly disappointed.

Where was the biffo? Couldn’t Willie have thrown a haymaker to wipe the grin off Petrols-seventy-cents-a-litre’s face? The lack of mongrel all seems to stem from a “lack of hate” in Origin. It stands to reason I suppose. These guys are professional athletes. Where is the incentive in trying to split some other bloke’s skull open anyway? It could mean a suspension, loss of contractual payments, and perhaps more importantly, a target on your head for every other Origin game you play. Worse still, you could cop a lucky punch and miss some club games yourself, which might impact on your next deal.

Maybe we need to start drafting in some talented CRL (that’s Country Rugby League for the ignorant) players. Just a couple of blokes who could come off the bench and open a can of whoop-ass on the QLD forwards. Right hook to Carl Webb, uppercut to Tony Carroll. And as for you Brent Tate? Well no one wears a neck brace in Group 6, harden up!

The Blues were pretty solid in the first ten. The kicking game was much improved under Kimmorley and the forwards seemed to be going forward this time. Possession started to favour Queensland after that, but still, NSW kept their resolve and continued to make some solid gains on each set. Kevin “Shayne” Hayne kept things flowing (as his mentor Billy Harrigan would have it), and some brilliant awareness from debutant Brett Stewart opened the scoring. Unlike his father, Brett looked more than comfortable in his Blue jersey. In fact, he owned it last night. He might as well change his surname to “Steward” such was his excellent custody of all matters back field. He only proved what Manly-Warringah fans have known for a long time, the kid is something special. With a little bit more time in camp (and with a halfback willing to push the pass) he might have been able to inject himself into the backline on offence and raise some real questions.”

The Queensland try to Inglis was softer than the NSW forwards in game one. It was a real creampuff. I don’t know whether it was King again rushing in too soon from his wing, or Lyon rushing up and leaving a gap. Either way, it smacked of pretty poor coaching (but that’s a whole column in itself) and there is probably not much point in dwelling on it.

I thought the Blues were pretty lucky to get out of the half at 6-6. They never really looked like scoring (and that includes the King effort in the corner) and they suffered from a lack of creativity that obviously dogged them in the second half. There were some positive signs in the first half for NSW. Carroll was well subdued by the Blues and now looks like he is really just in the QLD team for novelty purposes. A kind of historical anachronism to give the fans some hope that there might be a fight. Likewise Carl Webb was contained, who with his African style earrings looks like a bogan Central Coast fashion victim.I don’t know what Graham Murray said to his side at halftime, but it can’t have been all that inspiring.

They continued to make the same mistakes in the second stanza and were pushing passes that were never on. Hoffman was horrendous on that front. He looked completely overawed. Cameron Smith continued to run like Todd Carney evading the Police and showed Buderus up as an old hack trying desperately to cling on to his former glory. The Johns brothers naturally did their best to talk up their mate “Bedsy” but I think most people probably saw through that. Farrah needs to be tested for Game III. If we can’t roll the dice then, when can we? Plus I’d love to see the Tigers have to suffer some kind of burden during Origin. They seem to get away awfully easy with their team of “almost quite there but not yet” players.

Thankfully the half-time interview with Ben Ikin was brief. It was in fact very brief for me. I switched the channel as soon as I saw his dopey face. Notice how he looks like a criminal whose just been busted on COPS? He has that same, deer in headlights, “what am I doing here?” expression.”

Overall I found the second half to be a pretty dour contest. There wasn’t a lot of creativity amongst the halves and heaps of dummy-half running and one-out play. And that was just the Queenslanders. NSW were worse with their flat play and almost no lateral ball movement when it counted. That’s what happens when you shove a bloke who doesn’t even want to play 5/8 at his own club into the number 6. Bird wasn’t much better at 5/8 but with a bit more game time he might have an impact.

Kimmorley found plenty of space with his long range kicking, but his 5th tackle options (when he managed not to get caught with the ball on the 4th) were pretty unimaginative and I just got the feeling that he was so concerned with not screwing up and losing the game that he wasn’t prepared to take the risks necessary to win the game. That probably sums up the NSW effort from my perspective. No one really tried to win it. Even in the dying stages (and they had about three attempts to try and win), every single member of the side was just desperately offloading the ball so that they wouldn’t be caught with it when time or tackles ran out.

Steve Price should have been found guilty of a professional foul for just generally trying to kill momentum and waste time. And his swan dive when marking Luke Bailey was a stunning bit of hypocrisy for a man who prides himself on playing the game tough. Perhaps the most despicable moment of the entire evening came after the match. I couldn’t believe Meninga getting stuck into the ref – after they’d won! I half expected him to break down and claim “I can’t do this anymore” before storming out of the press conference the same way he ended his political career.

Changes will be made. They have to be. All I wanna see is a little more aggression and a bit of flamboyance. Is that too much to ask?

Yours in league,
The Grubber

NRL Round 13 Review and Power Rankings

(For Round 14 NRL Team LineupsClick Here)

It’s that time of the week again, when we introduce ‘The Grubber’ – the man even the media fear. The Grubber reviews and power ranks each team from last weekends games. From predicting riots in Townsville to giving Paul Gallen the new title of ‘Lay Down Sally’ – The Grubber gives us the lot. For those that haven’t sent their feedback to the Grubber already – feel free to send in your thoughts via email:

NRL Power Rankings Week 13
By The Grubber

1. Melbourne: Hung in without their stars to win a crucial away fixture. Have gone a long way toward securing the minor premiership with Sunday’s victory. Will only grow in confidence when Origin talent returns and still have bye up their sleeve. Power score: 9/10, Number of time delaying tactics employed by Clint Newton in first game with new club: 5.

2. Wests Tigers: Bounced back reasonably well to beat strong emotion from Newcastle in “feel good” encounter following weekend storms. Missing Hodgson at the back but on track for a top four finish. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Chris Lawrence cementing a regular start at 5/8: 40-1.

3. Cronulla: Showed poor discipline against Dragons in second half and so were unable to close out result against a 12 man outfit. Took a major step toward turning rugby league into soccer with spectular diving display. Power score: 7.5/10, Number of Sharks fans who have seen their side play in a venue other than “Shark Park”: 47 (all at Kogarah on Monday night).

4. Parramatta: Didn’t turn up to play against Canberra and were accordingly punished. Players seemed unwilling to put themselves on the line and hard-core-Cumberland-Oval-burning fans will be hoping this was a one off effort. Missed Hindmarsh. Power score: 7/10, Number of tackles missed by Luke Burt: 75.

5. Canberra: Were hot at home against weakened Parramatta side and took full advantage of their opportunities. Will be keen to break “away from home” hoodoo against inconsistent, Brian-Smith-coached and injury ravaged Knights on Monday night. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Michael Weyman ever playing a season free of serious injury or suspension: 100-1.

6. North Queensland: Were outclassed and outenthused by junior Roosters. Will relish return to Townsville, and return of Thurston in match of the round against Melbourne this weekend. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Townsville will be trashed “Macquarie Fields style” by locals if Thurston is injured by NSW forwards on Wednesday night: 2-1.

7. Roosters: Would normally take about 6 games to score as many points as they did on Saturday night. Were creative and hard working against the Cowboys but will need to be far better defensively to challenge the Panthers at Penrith. Power score: 6/10, Number of commentators who use every opportunity to say the full name of Shaun Kenny-Dowell: 20.

8. South Sydney: Turned up to play on Friday night and produced good wet weather football to beat the ill disciplined Panthers. Travel to Brookvale this Friday night and will draw inspriation from Penrith’s successful lateral ball movement which defeated Manly in their last start. Power score: 5.5/10, Odds of any council in Sydney giving planning approval for a new ground for Souths: 1000-1.

9. Newcastle: Hopeless around the ruck against Wests Tigers and now in tough middle of the table battle after promising start to season. Recovery sessions at “Nobby’s Beach” may need to be worked around grounded coal ship. Power score: 5/10, Odds that Jarrod Mullen will ever be picked for Origin again regardless of Kimmorley’s form on Wednesday: 60-1.

10. St George-Illawarra: Peek send off seemed to galvanise the Dragons when they looked in trouble. A gutsy effort and with a bit of luck could have at least forced the match into extra time. A good test of their credentials this weekend against Parramatta. Power score: 5/10, Odds that Nathan Brown will last out the season: 3-1.

11. Penrith: Offered another poor performance backing up from a decent win and may have suffered from over confidence. A chance of the wooden spoon if they cannot find some ball handling skills, wet or dry. Power score: 4.5/10, Likelihood of Luke Rooney being asked to join Clinton and Wallace at Brisbane: 80-1.

12. New Zealand: Probably the only side in the competition with less creative halves combination than the Dragons. Gave themselves a mountain of possession through good second phase play but barely looked close to scoring a try against Melbourne. Power score: 4/10, Odds that home crowd will rise about 10,000 (legitimately) again this season: 20-1.

Bye teams:

Ok, so I thought about including the bye teams in the regular power rankings, but there didn’t seem any point. With week to week form being what it is in the NRL – completely inconsistent – it was a waste of time trying to slot in the teams with a week off into what is becoming an extremely even competition. Almost reminiscent of 2005 really.

Manly: Face a serious test about Souths this Friday night. The Sea Eagles will have at least Kite, Lyon and Bell backing up. Souths, well, they’ll be “full strength”. The Rabbitohs will be keen to put two wins together and always seem to bring a bit extra against Manly.

Canterbury: Match against Broncos on Friday night at Homebush will surely produce headlines such as “Origin rematch” or “3-0?” (if Maroons have clinched the series by that point). May be keen to avenge loss to Brisbane which ended their 2006 campaign.

Gold Coast: Tend to travel very poorly and face Wests Tigers at Campbelltown. A kind of reverse exchange program whereby people will travel from the Gold Coast to the western suburbs of Sydney as opposed to the other way around. Forwards will need to muscle up against Wests enterprising ruck play.

Brisbane: Do the Bronco’s Origin stars just stay in Sydney after Wednesday night’s game? Surely they’d have to. What would be the point of going back to Brisbane only to return to Sydney two days later. Either way, it’s going to be pretty disruptive on them. May be riding high though if they can defeat NSW on Wednesday.

And…some quick “around the grounds”:

1. Paul Gallen – Before this issue gets completely done to death I want to have my say. On Monday night Gallen showed all the sportsmanship of an Italian soccer player with the way he layed down and then had the gall to wink after he milked the penalty. And his Lay Down Sally teammate Adam Dykes wasn’t much better. You could have fit a half of football into the time between the elbow he copped and the point that he hit the deck. Ricky Stuart has more blokes laying down for him than a gay man’s pimp. A lot of clubs were interested in signing Gallen when he came off contract. As far as I’m concerned the Sharks can keep him.

2. Rivalry scheduling – One issue that got a little bit of press last week was a proposal to amend the current scheduling system in the NRL. An idea that needs some serious consideration is that of a rivalry based conference system. Every team should have its five key rivals nominated and the draw should be structured so that each plays its rivals twice every year. This would result in higher crowds, more interest from fans and would end that annoying situation where you end up playing your worst enemy on their turf and not on yours.

3. Trouble in paradise One of the more interesting aspects of the Monday night game on Fox was witnessing cracks appearing in the usually loving relationship between Warren Smith and Laurie Daley. The dispute was over the clearly forward pass which set up Luke Covell’s try. Daley naturally toed his employer’s (St George) line and argued that it was forward (so I’m not saying Daley was right, he just happened to be on the side of right given that it was against the Dragons. Just so we’re sure here. I didn’t say Daley was ever correct about anything). Smith naturally took the side of the Super League side in the contest (the Sharks) and it was a frosty few moments while the two of them argued the toss. Smith tried to defuse the situation with a predictable “agree to disagree” line, but the damage was done. Daley’s silence (for a few seconds thank God) said it all.

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

State of Origin Game 2, 2007

Noddy the Key to NSW Firing, says Mini

NSW Origin fullback, Rooster Anthony Minichiello says returning NSW Blues halfback Brett Kimmorley will be the one to provide leadership and much needed experience in game two of State of Origin tomorrow night at Telstra Stadium.

Brett Kimmorley will play his first match for the Blues since his forgettable game one in 2005, when his spiral wide pass was intercepted by QLD fullback Matt Bowen who went on to score the winning try in golden point extra time.

Minichiello said the return of Kimmorley into the Origin squad had brought confident direction and leadership to the team.

“I’ve played with Brett a few times now, so I know what he’s all about,” Minichiello said.
“He brings a lot of talk to the field, which is what we need, so I’m sure he’ll be pushing us around.”

In other Origin news, NSW Blues interchange prop Luke Bailey said the NSW Blues would not rely purely on physical aggression alone to get over the top of the QLD Maroons tomorrow night.

Luke Bailey said yesterday that his team needed to play with much more spirit, but he warned his team-mates they need to do more than physically overpower the Queensland Origin side.

“I think there’s been a hell of a lot of talk about that (us playing with plenty of passion) but I think you can talk too much about that, we can rely on our talent to win the game” Bailey said.
“We’re not simply going to go out there and be crazy thugs and try to match it with them, we’re just going to go out there and play our own game, and I think we’ve got enough talent and experience and skill to win the game.”

The NSW Blues will train today at Telstra Stadium in Sydney in preparation for the big match, which they must win to level the series.

Sharks win soaked in softness

Cronulla Sharks 20 def St George Illawarra 16
The Cronulla Sharks defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons tonight under a cloud of controversy. In what should have been a much celebrated win for the Sharks, the victory was marred by Sharks players ‘feigning injury’ in an effort to get valuable penalties for their side.

The game reached boiling point, when 7 minutes into the second half – Dykes stayed down after copping an Adam Peek elbow after getting a kick away. Make no mistake, it was a brain explosion from Adam Peek and most certainly deserved a penalty and reporting of the incident.

As Adam Dykes continued to stay down, referee Tony Archer marched Adam Peek from the field. As stunned players from both sides looked on, Dykes soon got back to his feet and was continually booed by the OKI Jubilee Crowd – as the Dragons were left to play on with 12 men.

In the Canberra vs Parramatta game this weekend, we had Eel Josh Cordoba severely concussed by Raider Michael Weymann. Cordoba taken from the field, taking no further part due to injury – with Raider Weymann just copping a penalty. Tonight, we see Peek ‘clip’ Dykes on the way through and he is sent from the field. Simply dumbfounding.

Sadly, I feel this is a massive turning point for the game of NRL. For the remainder of tonights match, we saw players continuing to stay down and doing their best to get results from the officials. FOX TV Camera’s caught Paul Gallen red handed, when the Sharks forward feigned injury from a tackle and soon winked at players once the penalty had been given. This is a sad reflection on Paul Gallen, a tough and talented player – who will now be tarnished by this unsportsmanlike behavior. If the NRL doesn’t make urgent changes to the games rules, our game is surely going to suffer.

Moving back to the positives from tonights game, the Sharks defence ultimately won them the game. The Sharks have the second best defence in the NRL and the needed every ounce of their skill tonight. With the Dragons playing a man down, the referee continued to assist them with make up penalties, giving the Dragons plenty of possession in the second half. (Interestingly, NRL stats read that when a player is sent from the field – his team usually always win the penalty count)

The Dragons set completion was impressive, but they lacked good options on the last tackle. Too many times, the solid Sharks defence forced the Dragons to rush their kick plays and repeat sets were rarely achieved. Soward was involved in everything, and certainly looks to be a good signing for the Dragons. Ritchie Rich was welcomed back into the top grade and the motormouth let his skills do the talking, with some nice touches and an impressive try early.

The Sharks really missed Lance Thompson tonight, and after losing Phil Leuluai to injury early on – the signs looked ominous for the Shire boys. Adam Dykes played well in the absence of Kimmorley and organised the attack well. Dykes does seem to play much less inhibited when Kimmorley isn’t there. His commanding role settling the Sharks at crucial times.

Cronulla also got good service from Kevin Kingston and Issac De Gois – the two hookers pinching metres all night and forcing Saints on to the back foot. The Sharks have really steeled themselves under Ricky Stuart – their on line defence is top shelf. Each player knows their role, and is working overtime for each other.

The Sharks outside backs looked better for the positional reshuffle, with Luke Covell moving into the centres and having another solid night. Fullback ‘Tell your pappa’ again proving a real option for the Sharks, the new fullback is safe under the high ball and later pulling off a try saver by preventing Chase Stanley from scoring off a bomd – which would have tied the game for the Dragons. New boy Mitch Brown didn’t put a foot wrong for the Cronulla Sharks, at one stage pulling off a heart stopping intercept which stopped another Dragons surge.

Next week the Dragons travel to Parramatta Stadium in what should be a tough assignment for the Red Vee. Nathan Brown was understandably downcast in the press conference tonight and the pain looks like continuing for the young coach.

The Sharks are back at home to the Warriors, in what should be a very spicy game. As tonight Sharks coach Ricky Stuart told the waiting media of his frustration at Ivan Cleary – who believes that Stuart “Coaches his players to stay down.”

The Brian Smith Method

Today NRL News looks at Brian Smith, what makes him tick?

Brian Smith was always going to be a headline grabber when he signed up with the Knights. Brian Smith has always attracted media attention regardless of which club he was coaching. His raw, take no prisoners style sells papers and he is one of the most talked about coaches in the NRL.

Newcastle was always going to be a tough assignment for Smith. A club that has achieved much in it’s short lifespan and a club that was headed by one of the best Rugby League players of all time – Andrew Johns.

The influence Andrew Johns had and still has on the club is huge. Many say Johns was bigger than the game in Newcastle. Johns is not someone who sits back in the crowd, if he felt a training drill was not needed or done wrong – he would say so. If Johns wanted to skip a training session or had other committments, he made the decision himself on which was more important. Generally those around him in Newcastle including past coaches – took his opinion as gospel.

The second influence Johns had on Newcastle, was his sheer brilliance on the field. Andrew Johns had such a skill level in the NRL, that he could virtually make a team of average first graders seem like a top 4 side. Sprinkle in some raw talent, such as Newcastle had in 2001 (Kennedy, Tahu, Gidley, O’Davis) and you most certainly have a winning side.

Where this hurt Newcastle in recent times, is when Johns was injured or unavailable – the competency of the NRL club was compromised. You had a team of average Knights players, trying to compete against top line opposition without their no.1 playmaker. No disrespect to some Knights players, as they do have some other genuine stars in guys like Buderus and Gidley – however someone needed to be realistic and make the changes for the future.

Enter Brian Smith.

Smith doesn’t beat around the bush. He is known to have setup one of the best Rugby League coaching, monitoring and conditioning programs ever created during his time at Parramatta. When Smith walked into the Eels in 1997, they had been regular cellar dwellers since Sterling had retired half a decade before. Poor equipment, non existent conditioning and tracking tools and tiny staff numbers.

Smith introduced new talent, cut the deadwood, setup the neccessary systems and was known for his gameplans that went down to the most intricate details. The Brian Smith gameplans are legendary.

Love him or hate him, Brian Smith knows how to get the most from his players. Some say he ‘plays mind games’, or ‘makes you feel unwanted’ as a player and reports some years ago suggested he ‘peppered players with SMS tips’ in the lead up to games.

Smiths downfall is possibly his negative relationship with the media, more so than the players. His iron fist style was and is certainly needed at the Knights. They do need a cleanout of sorts and players at least need to once again ‘earn’ their spots at the famous club. It’s been proven that coaches acting as ‘mates’ to the players does not work. Smith’s ‘school teacher’ style of NRL coaching does get results.

However, as Smith implements change for Novacastrians, he needs to manage the public perception of the on-going events. For a continued failure here, may lead to events spiralling out of control.

As word leaked out about player revolts recently, with rumours of Woolnough, Perry and Newton possibly leaving due to bad relations – Smith was ambushed by Newton and his management as they called Smiths bluff and announced his departure from the club with reasons cited. Newton astutely called a press conference and ensured he got his point across.

As Brian Smith struggles to get a handle on the club, implement the systems, win backroom support and understand how each player ticks – he needs to be up front and open, to ensure local, and wider support from the NRL community is gained.

Why you say? Does Brian Smith really care what everyone thinks?

Well, maybe not. But if he wants to continue coaching into the future, he probably should think about it. If you look over Smiths time at Parramatta, there were obvious cracks in the relationship with Fitzgerald as time wore on – however had results not been favourable for Smith and the Eels over such a long period of time, Smith may have been chopped much sooner. Many sections of the public were crying out for his head, after events such as: poor player retention (Andrew Ryan, Willie Tonga, Brett Hodgeson, Jamie Lyon, Casey McGuire, Eric Grothe and PJ Marsh) to name a few, shirking junior players such as Feleti Mateo and Jarryd Hayne and ultimately his failure to secure a title in 2001 when the Eels lost only 4 of a total 28 games.

The style of Smith was typified prior to State of Origin 1, this year – when he was asked about Jarrod Mullen’s chances at halfback. Smith simply replied “I don’ know if Mullen is even the best halfback at Newcastle.”

To the naked ear, that kind of comment is outrageous. Here is Mullen on the verge of his first Origin jersey, and Smith lays the boot in. However, with further investigation, it can be seen that Smith was infact ‘not’ detracting from Mullens ability – more so that he thinks Mullen is ultimately a future pivot and that the Knights are blessed with an extremely talented no. 7 in Luke Walsh.

There is no question Brian Smith is an extremely talented and hardworking coach, however what would assist and complement his style – is the services of a media manager that can filter and hone his sometimes misunderstood personality. Another small word of advice, if Phil Gould or Wayne Bennett apply for this role – Brian, you should knock them back!

NRL Round 13 Summary

Tigers grind it out to put Knights away
Tigers 33 def Knights 14
The Wests Tigers overcame a slippery park and 60 minutes of grind, to finally put the Knights to the sword today at EnergyAustralia Stadium. The Knights fielding a tonne on rookies, did a fair job of making a contest of it and were right in the match until late. The Tigers were helped by a good Robbie Farrah showing, the hooker was dangerous all day and constructed play well with new boy Chris Lawrence still finding his feet at pivot. The Knights can be happy with the performance of Hinton at fullback and Brad Tighe who was probably their best player.

Storm just pip Warriors in low scoring affair
Storm 4 def Warriors 2
The NZ Warriors are now 0 from their last 6 matches and really in a world of pain ladder wise. The NZ outfit toiled well and nearly scraped through with a massive upset. The Storm didn’t score their try until the final 10 minutes with this match being the lowest scoring NRL match since 1993.

Roosters finally light up, thrashing Cowboys
Roosters 64 def Cowboys 30
The Bondi boys finally found some spark in attack, and despite a wet pitch – managed to rack up 64 points in a try fest against the starless Cowboys. The North Queenslanders were very sloppy and have obvious problems minus their Origin stars. This will be the medicine the Roosters need to get some confidence, only needing to improve focus in defence. Kenny-Dowell bagging a triple in an absolute try fest at Aussie Stadium

Canberra blitz Eels early to win in 11 minutes
Canberra 38 def Eels 10
It was the Green Machine in the first twenty minutes at Bruce Stadium on Saturday night, as the Raiders ran in 4 tries inside 11 minutes to crush the high flying Eels. A near perfect display of handling, play execution and some good bounces allowed the Raiders to put the game beyond doubt very early on. The game got spiteful as the teams knew it was over, and plenty of sin binning was to follow. Weymann lucky to not be sent, after smashing Cordoba high and then getting his freak on with fellow fat man Mark Piggy Riddell.

South Sydney break free

South Sydney tonight broke a 5 game losing run tonight in driving rain, with a gutsy and grinding 14-4 win over Penrith in their round 13 NRL clash at Telstra Stadium.
Both sides had to battle horrid conditions, the bathing conditions are rare these days and most struggled with the unfamiliar conditions. Souths went in to score early through Paul Mellor off a nice grubber, impressive considering the slippery surface.

Penrith were kept in the game through penalties, slotting 2 goals to equal the score mid way through the first half. Ironic seeing that Penrith were again ill-disciplined themselves and gave away a stack of penalties early.

The game turned into an arm wrestle for the middle period, with both sides struggling to play simple football – neither side played for territory and this should be a lesson to other teams playing in wet NRL conditions this weekend.

Souths forwards tonight really aimed up and kept the Bunnies well and truely in the contest. For the Panthers, it was Broncos bound five eight Peter Wallace who again stood out. Wallace again showed skill and experience above his years, one handed pickups and choice passing in horrific conditions. He is a future Origin five eight, there is simply no question.

Penrith at times did look disinterested, and unwilling to knucle down. It’s a habit they have shown ocassionally over the past few weeks. They can look like NRL world beaters one minute, then look like they are a suburban side that want to switch off and get to the pub early.

Tonight Penrith lost touch as Souths hit the lead with 15 minutes to go through a Merritt penalty goal, and did look to be stable in holding the fort.

Shortly after, Wesser failed a clean up and left the door open for chasers Merritt and Peachey – with the latter being awarded a try on a contentous call. I was simply amazed this try was awarded. There is no consistency in video refereeing at all. Several weeks ago we had tries to Matt Head (Saints) and Luke Burt (Eels) disallowed due to ‘bobbles’. A bobble is a so called millisecond period where the hand isn’t touching the ball. In the last two weeks we’ve had the Matt Cooper (Saints) and now David Peachey (Souths) tries allowed, where a hand has barely scraped / touched the ball let alone grounded it. It is simply amazing. And a worry for the upcoming State of Origin period.

Sure, it must be daunting up in the box as millions await your decision. But how can Joe Public and so many people watching the replay come to a common ground, yet – the man with the buttons is so far from reality?

Back to the game, full credit to Souths for getting back on track and nabbing the points in a tough one. Penrith must still be wondering what hit them this year, as Elliott struggles to get cohesion on a weekly basis.

The Rabbitohs next week meet Manly at Brookvale Oval in a round14 tough one, while the Panthers will look to break their shoddy form when they meet the Roosters at home.

South Sydney 14 (P Mellor, D Peachey tries; N Merritt 1 conversion, 2 penalty goals)
Penrith 4 (M Gordon 2 penalty goals)

NRL Round 13 Predictions

1. Tonight we have the South Sydney Rabbitohs hosting the Penrith Panthers.

Souths on a 5 game losing run, and the Panthers hitting some form last week. I think the Bunnies will be desperate tonight and should win.

2. Canberra host the hot Parramatta at Bruce Stadium tomorrow night. While Parramatta is hot at the moment, the Raiders at home are extremely tough. I think on form, tip Parramatta.

3. Roosters host Cowboys at Aussie Stadium. The Cowboys and Roosters are missing Origin stars here, but I think the Cowboys suffer most. This might be an upset game, tip the Roosters for some value.

4. Knights host Tigers at EngeryAus. Another tricky one to pick, Knights are inconsistent – but do have the homeground advantage. I think the Tigers will be desperate here, tip Tigers.

5. NZ Warriors host the Storm in NZ. A lot of mail for the Warriors here, however the Storm are still strong with many of their fill-in players capable performers. Tip Melbourne.

6. Dragons host Sharks on Monday night. This is always a great clash – the Southern derby. Dragons have nothing to lose here and the Sharks are missing some talent. Tip Dragons just.

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Karmichael Hunt Cover Up?

Broncos’ fullback, Karmichael Hunt – was allegedly involved in an incident outside a nightclub last year. Brisbane City Council knows why, but they are not going to tell you.

The council knows what happened because it has the footage from a closed-circuit TV camera. It had one aimed at the taxi rank where Hunt and a number of others were gathered about 1.30am, because it has had problems there in the past.

Everyone agrees there was an “incident” the police who arrested half a dozen people, the Broncos’ management and Hunt himself.

But the specifics of what the Australian rugby league fullback might or might not have done early on the morning of Sunday, July 30, remain decidedly murky.

The Broncos’ chief executive, Bruno Cullen, said Hunt was just waiting for a taxi when a woman was squirted with water. She just happened to recognise the star footballer, and so gave his name to police, he said. Any suggestions that Hunt was personally involved in an assault were “disgraceful and irresponsible”, Mr Cullen thundered, and had the potential to damage the reputation of someone who was merely an innocent bystander.

Hunt himself was slightly less indignant: “I was in the vicinity of a fight but I didn’t start it.” As you’d expect from a first-grade rugby league player, he took a taxi and left the scene at the first sign of trouble.

To find out whether there might be any discrepancy between the footage of the incident and the Bronco accounts, Channel Seven sought access to it from Brisbane City Council under freedom of information legislation in what is emerging as a test case on CCTV footage.

The council refused on two main grounds. The first was its own policy, which says CCTV footage is released only “for court evidence”. The second is that the footage is exempt from the act under a section which protects the release of information concerning the personal affairs of a person “unless its disclosure would, on balance, be in the public interest”.

Channel Seven’s FoI editor, Michael McKinnon, has appealed against the decision. He has argued that although Brisbane City Council can have whatever policy it likes on CCTVs, such policies must be subordinate to the Queensland FoI act. He seems on reasonable ground here. The second reason is more complicated. It boils down to this: what entitlement does a person, or Hunt, have to privacy on a public street at 1.30am?

In 1993 Queensland’s former information commissioner defined “personal” as meaning the “private affairs of a person’s life”.

He said this: “As an appropriate guiding principle, the phrase extends to the kinds of information concerning the affairs of a person which a notional reasonable bystander .hs.hs. would regard as information the dissemination of which the person (whose affairs the information concerns) ought to be entitled to control.”

Put another way, the test seems to be whether an ordinary person outside the nightclub would think Hunt should be able to decide whether or not the information on the camera tape is made public.

If someone was seen heading into a psychiatrist’s office, you could readily understand an entitlement to privacy. But in Hunt’s case it is harder.

If Hunt was just an innocent bystander, as the Broncos’ boss says, then surely Hunt or the club wouldn’t give a toss about whether the footage was made public. And if events were not quite as described, if there was bad behaviour by people who are public figures, then is there a public interest in knowing that?

NRL News Rugby League

Qld State of Origin Whitewash Wanted

The Queensland Origin crew aren’t worried about the Telstra Stadium curse and Queensland want to clinch their first Origin clean sweep since 1995.

The QLD Maroons don’t have to be reminded that they have never won at the Telstra Stadium venue since Origin matches were switched there from Aussie Stadium / SFS in 1999.

That’s an very poor record of no wins, one draw and 10 losses.

However, Queensland Origin tough guy Neville Costigan has revealed that in the sheds moments after their Origin I victory senior players not only discussed a Telstra Stadium win but then also touched on a first series whitewash in 12 years.

“Winning this first game there was a bit of talk around how it would be awesome to get the 3-0 result – Queensland hasn’t done it (clean sweep) for a while,” Costigan said.

“I have already spoken to a few of the young guys like (forward) Jacob Lillyman during the week and they are all fired up for it.

“We are as fired up as we were in the first one.”

Queensland last swept NSW in a best-of-three series in 1995 when a team devoid of Super League-affiliated players shocked a star-studded Blues outfit.

The Maroons have won a series 3-0 three times.

But to do that again, they first must accomplish a task that is as daunting as what faced Paul Vautin’s “no name” 1995 team – getting the Telstra Stadium monkey off their backs.

The last time Queensland won at Sydney was in game three in 1998, 19-4.

The Maroons won that series 2-1 by claiming both matches at Sydney’s SFS.

Indeed, Queensland enjoyed an 11-9 overall record in Sydney and won three straight games at the SFS before the NSW venue was switched to the Olympic stadium and the jinx kicked in.

But if their Telstra Stadium record was playing on Queensland’s minds, Maroons coach Mal Meninga wasn’t giving anything away on Wednesday.

“It’s a challenge … it’s something we may talk about but in the end it’s about us,” he said.

“For a change and for a long while, we’re actually going into game two 1-0 up and not 1-0 down.

“We’ve got ourselves in a good situation and it’s going to come down to our preparation and what happens on the night.

“We’re not going to put too much emphasis on going down there and breaking a hoodoo.

“We’re going to put the emphasis on us doing really well, individually and as a team.”

Queensland chairman of selectors Des Morris on Tuesday hinted that it was perhaps the “slippery” surface at Telstra Stadium that was behind their hoodoo.

But Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer was having nothing of it.

“It’s not the surface. We just haven’t performed as well as we would have liked on the night, particularly our starts,” he said.

“They have lacked that intensity. From my point of view it’s something that I would like the team to do well.

“But our preparation has got to be spot on and it’s about what we do when we cross the line on the night too.

“We can use it (hoodoo) as a motivational tool this week but at the same time we don’t want to use it as something that can psyche us out.”

Meninga will take the Queensland camp into enemy territory in the lead-up to next Wednesday’s Origin II, settling into Terrigal on Friday before moving to Sydney on Tuesday.

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