Well what a feast of Rugby League was served up in Round 3 of the NRL. We had two golden point cliff hangers on Friday night with the Eels and Panthers sneaking home.
Eels: Finally saw some luck fall their way. While no where near their best, a strictly refereed game by veteran Steve Clark – saw thousands of penalties given. This stop-start type of game suited the Eels much more than the Tigers. The Eels will gain some confidence from this win, and will need it as they face the newly fancied Raiders side this weekend.
Tigers: Played well in patches, with impressive attack sequences – albeit with poor final pass options. Their discipline will need a massive overhaul this week, on and off the field. Will be happy to get Paul Whatuira back into the side – but they face a massive task in taking on the Cowboys. They will need to hone their wrestling skills and stop the speed of Thurston and the Bowen boys or it’s shut the game for the game and makes their first win seem so much further away.
Penrith Panthers: Some hot attacking play over the past two weeks has seen the Panthers bury the Dogs and just clip the Broncos. Lacking a little ball control and patience, the Panthers seem to be developing well under Matty Elliott. Their defence is improved on last year and the new guns – Peter Wallace, Michael Gordon and Michael Jennings all looking to be viable future options for the club.
Brisbane Broncos: Simply amazing that last years premiers are winless after three rounds. Surely last weeks last second loss would kill any inkling of confidence. The Broncos look to be structured well in attack and defence but have dropped plenty of ball and lacked the usual discipline expected from a Bennett coached side. Lucky for the Broncos they face the wooden spoon specials, the Roosters this week. A perfect remedy for any side out of form.
Bulldogs: The Dogs won without being great in Round 3. Getting a grinding win under their belts against the Gold Coast Titans. Shrek is playing the house down, and he obviously wants his new contract badly. Will be happy to get Shifty back in the halves to assist with cohesion in attack. Will grow an extra leg each week
Souths: Well the Bunnie bandwagon rolls on. Simply stunning Rugby League from the new NRL powerhouse. The Irvine try was pure excitement as they turned it on against a shoddy Sharks side at Toyota Park. The previously staunch Cronulla defence instilled by Ricky Stuart was goneski’s – as the Sharks leaked like a beachfront house in the Solomon Islands. Souths are gaining massive momentum and will be up for the big Dogs clash this week. Willie v Kidwell / Asotasi will be champagne stuff.
Roosters: Hard to find any positives here. Did look to give up against the Sea Eagles. Never looked to test in attack. Have some good kids coming through in Kenny-Dowell and Pearce but some old heads need some spark. Some of the older bridgade here at the Roosters have become very 1 dimensional and are easy pickings for opposition defence lines.
Cowboys: The North Queensland boys kept their slick style up against the Dragons, and even without Jason Smith – looked to constantly break the line. Thurston is simply in a world of his own and unmatched in the NRL at present. The Cowboys did however go to sleep in the second half and lacked discipline. Some cracks for other teams to work on: O’Donnell is a firey chracter and in a ‘timebomb mode’ much like Danny Williams for Melbourne some years ago, it’s only a matter of time until this guy kills someone. If sledged, might prove useful to opposition. Thurston is also the centrepiece of the attack – stop him and you go a long way to slowing the machine.
Raiders: Well Well, everyone’s tip for the spoon. Neil Henry must be drinking champagne from his ACT Spa Room at present. The young lads from Canberra turned it on last night against the Knights. Not only beating them well, but some of the tries laid on looked like the Green Machine from yesteryear. Mullins and Daley eat your heart out stuff. Be interesting to see how they build on this. Forwards were rock solid, Logan and Costigan were downright scary and smashed the Knights around. In the backs, Zilman and Chalk were elusive and safe and of course Dobson ran the whole circus around very well. Watch with interest.
Manly: The good old Silvertails have been winning, but winning ugly. Haven’t really hit top gear year yet and other teams must be weary when they do. Monaghan has been brilliant for the Eagles and basically deserves credit for getting them 2 of the 3 wins. Lyon still finding his feet. Once Orford, Menzies and Matai back – look out! Only fault may lie in the forwards – Rose prone to dropping the pill and others may lack agression.
Warriors: Tasted only their first loss of the year, but played Melbourne at the Graveyard. A very hard ask of any Rugby League team. Will lick their wounds and hopefully bounce back. Big question mark remains over their ability to travel. If they can get comfy with flying everywhere, then we’ll see them in the top 8 if not top 4. Should be a good clash against Manly at Brooky – will test Warriors ability to sleep away from home again.
Titans: Still a few questions marks over the new boys. Some cracks appeared in their behaviour on the weekend, with Minichiello giving away some silly penalties. Need some more options in the forwards. Bailey carrying the team on his back. Face a tough task this weekend against Penrith at CUA stadium. In their games, they have been chasing points for a lot of the game – if they can get a leg up early, might see them play a more natural style. Rogers needs more involvement, as younger players will need his guidance and experience.
Cronulla Sharks: Some real concerns for the Sharks in the last two weeks. Throwing a lead away against the Titans and then throwing everything away against the Bunnies. Got burnt in all departments against the Rabbitohs. Need to rectify their defence and reduce pressure on Kimmorley. Dykes was missed. Simmon’s wasn’t the answer at fullback. Carney showing good signs but needs some support. Playing at home to the Saints this week, a good chance to find some form against the young Dragons.
St George Illawarra Dragons: The Dragons fought hard late against the Cowboys and some good signs were seen from Ritchie Rich Williams and the young brigade. Simply outgunned by the Cowboys with a more experienced and dangerous roster. Will get better with more game time, but face a desperate Sharks outfit at Toyota Park this weekend.
Knights: Big speed hump last night in Canberra – got railroaded by the young brigade that is Canberra. Will recover as Johns gets more ball time, Mullens and Gidley relaxed too much knowing Joey was back. Forwards lacked punch, and Davico was the wrong option up front. Brian Smith will be cooking up a masterplan for taking Melbourne down this week.
Melbourne: Not a lot to say here, the Melbourners keep doing everything right. Slater and Co keep pulling rabbits out of hats and every cog in the Melbourne machine is performing at their Rugby League peak. Have plenty of depth and their only concern is boredom as they win every game on their way to the finals. Big one this week against the Knights.