Five things we learned from NRL round 11
What did we learn from round 11 of the 2012 NRL Season? Here’s the five big points, starting with Benji Marshall.
Benji proves he can Marshall his troops
Describing West Tigers play-maker Benji Marshall is usually easy. Just use words such as flamboyant, unpredictable and magical.
Controlled is one word that probably wouldn’t be at the front of your mind, but on Friday night the Tigers stand-in skipper was just that.
He came up with one of his most controlled and mature performances to date (and certainly for the season) as the West Tigers narrowly held off an in-form and determined Warriors outfit 24-22 at Leichardt Oval.
Behind hard-working forwards Matt Bell, Liam Fulton and Aaron Woods, Marshall guided the Tigers to their first NRL victory without State of Origin rake and Tigers captain Robbie Farah in six attempts.
While Marshall’s overall performance was far from his dazzling best, his kicking performance was outstanding all night.
He consistently turned the Warriors big men around and also set up a try with his boot.
It was the Tigers’ third consecutive victory by two or less points and Marshall proved to be the difference on Friday night.
Rugby league is a cruel game
North Queensland Cowboys second rower Tariq Sims found this out the hard way on Saturday night, after he broke his left leg for the second season in a row.
The 22-year old, who barely had enough time to appreciate his call-up to Ricky Stuart’s NSW State of Origin squad as 18th man, broke his leg in two places after innocuously colliding legs with Penrith forward Cameron Ciraldo.
“I’ve broken it again,” the forlorn forward said as he was consoled by teammate Glen Hall, while waiting for the Medicab to make its way onto Dairy Farmers Stadium.
The 193cm and 106kg wrecking ball will be a huge loss for the Cowboys, who aren’t sure if Sims will recovery from his latest injury in time for a possible Cowboys finals push.
The injury to Sims is also a blow for the NSW Blues, who would have almost certainly utilised Sims in their quest to avoid a record seventh-straight State of Origin series loss to Queensland.
Here is the long and short of it – short kick-offs do work
NRL coaches and players, please listen up – give the short kick-off a chance!
With just minutes on the clock and the Warriors down by eight against the Tigers on Friday night, the Warriors short kick-off led to a late try.
It was far from a one-off occurrence this season.
In the ANZAC Day clash earlier this season, Dragons winger Jason Nightingale leaped the highest to set up a game-changing try against the Roosters.
In both instances the short kick-off worked, even though it was a predictable tactic at that moment of the game.
In round nine the Roosters re-gathered from a surprising short kick-off in the first minute.
Short kick-offs don’t always work, but the opportunity is certainly there for more teams to vary their kick-off options.
With kickers never more skilful than they are today and wingers soaring through the air like eagles – you only have note the amount of tries scored from players running onto bombs against stationary opposition wingers – the time has never been more right for the short kick-off.
A case of paralysis by analysis
When Roosters half-back Daniel Mortimer strolled over the line to score his second try against Manly at Brookvale Oval on Sunday, most fans were perplexed by the referee’s decision to refer the try to video ref Pat Reynolds.
We were even more confused when Reynolds ruled that Roosters second-rower Brad Takairangi, who was placed on report.
Takairangi had used his elbow in a dangerous manner against Manly’s Daniel Harrison when attempting the offload that led to Mortimer’s try.
Roosters skipper Braith Anasta was seen remonstrating with one of the on-field referees after the baffling decision.
“I’ve seen that happen a million times. It wasn’t aggressive and it wasn’t intentional,” a clearly frustrated Anasta said.
Anasta isn’t the only one frustrated.
While it didn’t cost the Roosters the match, Manly won 16-10.
The decision smacked of another NRL official over-analysing an incident.
Forgotten man fires
NSW selectors, his name is Jamie Soward.
He wears head gear and sports a surly facial expression when playing for the St George-Illawarra Dragons.
Despite playing all three games for NSW in last year’s State of Origin series, Soward was completely overlooked by Country rugby-league selectors earlier this season, in favour of halves Todd Carney and Jarrod Mullen.
Even Josh McCrone made the Country squad ahead of Soward.
It was no surprise that Soward wasn’t able to retain his Blues five-eighth spot in front of the in-form Carney.
But who would be next in line if Carney was to suffer an injury – Mullen or Soward?
After Sunday’s performance against Souths, surely Soward holds the upper hand.
The Dragons are missing almost their entire starting forward pack of Michael Weyman, Beau Scott, Nathan Fein, Matt Prior, Ben Creagh and Trent Merrin through injury, suspension or rep duty.
Soward – seemingly NSW’s forgotten man – has reminded NSW selectors of his capabilities with an impressive display in their golden-point loss to the in-form Rabbitohs.
Individual Performance of the Round: Benji Marshall
Match of the Round: Dragons v Rabbitohs
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