England vs Exiles: Why some exes are worth visiting
The first England versus Exiles game of 2012 has produced more whinging then Ricky Stuart and big Mal stuck in peak-hour traffic listening to Ray Hadley on the radio.
Personally, I can’t help but find all the criticism just a wee bit unfair.
Yes; there were plenty of errors. Yes; the intensity wasn’t exactly origin-esque.
And sure; the weather conditions would have been enough to make Bear Grills stay home and drink cups of cocoa while watching “Hetty Wainthropp Investigates”.
Scratch below the water-logged surface, though, and there were plenty of things to have the fans looking forward to the second game on July fourth.
To keep the Moanatrons 3000′s at bay, here are some positives that England, and rugby league in general, should be taking out of the game:
• Sam Tomkins put in another class performance, fully living up to his billing as England’s answer to Billy Slater (minus the nasal voice and a hairdo that would put a mid-90′s boy-band to shame);
• Kevin Sinfield was rubbish at five-eighth, hopefully proving to Steve McNamara once and for all that Gareth Widdop is the better choice. The fact that Widdop actually is a five-eighth probably should have already tipped him off;
• After a two year drugs ban, Gareth “the galloping geezer” Hock made a strong return to test-match rugby league, getting through a load of work and scoring the opening try. In typical Gaz fashion, he also refused to go eighty minutes without trying to show his Incredible Hulk impersonation to a member of the opposition;
• England’s favourite adopted cuzzie bro Rangi Chase also tried to start a biff. Unfortunately, it was with Epalahame Lauaki, a player who looked as though he had just spent the last week eating the entire cast of “The Biggest Loser”;
• Defensive efforts were solid from both teams, with tight control around the rucks and a decent supply of big hits. Considering that both teams were plucked from a competition where teams who score forty points can still lose games, 18-10 probably wasn’t such a bad outcome;
• Neither team featured David Williams, James McManus, Jason King, Steve Turner or Kurt Gidley captaining from the bench. Rumours that Steve McNamara was seen making a quick Skype call to Stephen Kearney at half-time can neither be confirmed nor denied, though;
• In a moment of bizarre clarity, the video referee decided that a try probably shouldn’t be awarded when the ball was dropped over the line, no doubt sending Bill Harrigan flicking madly through his rulebook;
• The national anthem was given a stirring rendition, without a dropout cast member of “Annie” to be seen anywhere;
• Delta Goodrem, Seal and that ugly derro from Good Charlotte all lost their invitations in the mail, meaning the crowd could watch a game of representative rugby league without listening to Phil Gould bang on about just how much he loves “The Voice”, despite never having watched a piece of commercial television since “Hey Hey” got cancelled;
• Three words that every rugby league fan rejoices at hearing: no Ray Hadley.
Isn’t something that all of us can smile about?
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