Five things we learned from NRL round 13
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What did we learn from round 13 of the 2012 NRL Season? Here’s the five big points, starting with David Furner.
The Raiders need a new voice
Despite possessing a host of young and talented players (Dugan, Ferguson, Croker, McCrone, Learoyd-Lahrs and Tilse) the Canberra Raiders performances have simply not been good enough this season. The Raiders need a change of coach.
David Furner has been a great servant for the Raiders (playing 200 games for the green machine over nine years) but he has simply failed to cut the mustard as a first grade NRL coach with his group of players – many of whom have only ever been coached by Furner in the NRL.
Furner has a winning percentage of just 40% coaching his Raiders team. In the 80 games he has been in charge of since 2009, Canberra have experienced just one finals appearance. Despite currently sitting just four points behind the eighth placed Cowboys, it’s safe to say that the Raiders will struggle to make this season’s finals series if Furner remains in charge.
It’s not just Furner’s results that should be questioned, but also his selections which have become more and more confusing. Two weeks ago he dropped fullback Josh Dugan and winger Blake Ferguson for the round 12 match against Souths for breaching the club’s alcohol policy. After the loss to Souths, both players were unsurprisingly selected for Saturday night’s game against the Tigers. Bizarrely though, both were picked out of position – Dugan at five-eighth and Ferguson in the centres. They were hammered 40-0 by the Tigers who ran traffic all night at Dugan (six missed tackles) and Ferguson.
The Raiders players appear to be going through the motions and it’s time that a new coach stepped into the role in order to harness the potential most of these Raiders players possess.
Konrad Hurrell will be named NRL Rookie of the Year
There are plenty of young NRL stars who have debuted in 2012, but none of them have had the impact that Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell has had at the Warriors. The Tongan born powerhouse has only played seven games for the Warriors in 2012 due to fitness concerns, but he has made every moment count in his first season in the NRL, including his performance in Sunday’s 22-12 loss to competition leaders the Melbourne Storm.
On Saturday night, the boom centre finished with an early try (proving too hard to stop close to Melbourne’s line), five tackle busts, one try assist and a line break assist from 12 runs, proving to be a menace each time he touched the ball against the best defence in the business.
He will face stiff opposition at the end of the season from Adam Reynolds (Souths), Parramatta trio Matt Ryan, Ken Sio and Cheyse Blair, and possibly Tigers five-eighth Curtis Sironen, but barring injury Hurricane Hurrel should blow away the competition for NRL Rookie of the Year honours .
The Dragons can’t score tries
Try as they might, the St George-Illawarra Dragons have this season displayed an impotence in attack that is harder to ignore than a rack of lamb at a vegetarian restaurant. In 2012 the Dragons have averaged less than three tries a game, a trend that continued on Friday night in the club’s 20-8 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, their third loss in their last four games.
Their problems in attack seem to stem from a lack of cohesion between halves Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby and fullback Brett Morris. Morris is a handful when running hard and straight, but he has struggled to shoulder his new ball-playing responsibilities since moving from the wing early this season to replace the equally blunt Kyle Stanley.
Not helping Morris has been the inconsistent Soward and Hornby, both of whom have had lacklustre seasons. After the round 14 bye, the Dragons need to sort out their attacking problems quickly as they take on one of the form teams of the competition – the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The Broncos are a different team when they have all of their cattle
In round 12 Broncos coach Anthony Griffith decided to rest three of his Origin stars – Sam Thaiday, Justin Hodges and Petro Civoniceva – and the his team were heavily defeated by a full strength Melbourne Storm outfit.
In round 13 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the Broncos big three were back and they didn’t disappoint. Civoniceva worked hard up front, Thaiday look dangerous on the edges (one try) and Hodges (two tries) was all class out wide in their team’s 50-24 victory over the Newcastle Knights.
The representative season has always knocked Brisbane about, but you get the feeling that the Broncos will be ready to fire again when they have their big guns consistently playing at the back end of the season.
Early penalty goals are pointless
This weekend two teams led their opposition 2-0 after deciding to take an early penalty goal rather than a try, and they both lost their encounters. St George-Illawarra (seven minutes) led 2-0 over Manly, as did Cronulla (three minutes) against Parramatta. The Dragons were beaten by 12, while Cronulla lost by 8 points to a fast finishing Hayne-inspired Eels. Not that long ago taking an early 2 point lead was seen as a positive move as it allowed a team to achieve a psychological advantage.
These days, with field position and territory such an important part of the game, kicking a penalty goal (which means you have to receive the ball from the kick-off and work hard to get out of your half) early on doesn’t appear to be quite so advantageous. In most cases a team needs to score 20 points to win an NRL game. Why some teams think that they can get there by scoring an early penalty goal is getting ever more pointless and confusing.
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