Five talking points from Friday night’s games
After watching the Bulldogs put the Eels to the sword and the Broncos get over the Warriors in a thriller I couldn’t help but feel slightly sorry for both the losing teams and their respective coaches.
Both the Eels and Warriors faced uphill battles for different reasons and the matches created the following talking points.
1. Moi Moi’s KO
After Moi Moi was knocked out in the first 16 seconds of the match, reducing the Eels to three interchange payers for the remainder of the game, the Eels were always going to struggle.
While some might say that this incident in itself didn’t alter the outcome of the game, the Eels were no doubt at a disadvantage.
At half time, and even mid way through the second half, the Eels looked to be in the contest but ultimately fresh legs, via an extra interchange player, got the Bulldogs over the line. The 32-12 score line was not entirely reflective of how close the game was.
The talking point for me regarding this incident is whether a penalty and the reporting of Sam Kasiano was sufficient enough in the circumstances? In relation to the rules of the game I am not sure if the referees had any alternative, personally I would have preferred to see Kasiano either sin binned or sent from the field.
The justification for this is that the NRL has sent a strong message throughout the season that any contact with the head is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances. While this ruling may seem harsh given that Moi Moi was falling into the tackle and Kasiano didn’t go in with a swinging arm, at a minimum it would have been fairer to the Eels.
A more effective option, which the NRL commission needs to consider, would allow the referees to penalise the offending team in a manner that is consistent with the loss of an interchange player. I like the idea of having the offending teams interchange reduced by one also, but perhaps others have alternative options?
2. Kasiano’s Tackle
The talking point for me regarding Kasiano’s tackle on Moi Moi is whether or not he should be suspended? Having read my above discussion on the KO of Moi Moi you may be surprised that I believe Kasiano should not be suspended. Having watched several replays I am not sure that the outcome was avoidable.
Yes his arm makes contact with the head, yes any contact with the head is unacceptable, but in my view Kasiano was not necessarily at fault. Moi Moi clearly slips as he is hitting the ball up which happens to be at the same time Kasiano is trying to make an effective tackle.
While Kasiano’s arm was swinging, all tackles of high impact runs involve a swinging arm action to minimise the force of the collision. In this instance it just so happened that Moi Moi slipped and Kasiano’s arm which was preparing for Moi Moi’s original trajectory, contacted him across the head.
If suspending Kasiano would alter future illegal acts I would strongly advocate that he should be suspended. I am not however convinced that this will be the case and certainly won’t result in Kasiano or other players for that matter altering their tackling style. The only advantage to suspending Kasiano will be to those teams facing the Bulldogs in the coming weeks.
Where’s the justice in that for the Eels?
3. Bronco Favouritism
This issue has been raised in various forums but watching Friday nights game between the Broncos and Warriors made me again think about the significant advantage the Broncos obtain compared to other teams in the NRL, particularly the Warriors. Now before you turn this into an Australia v Kiwi thing or Queensland v the rest of the world hear me out.
The talking point for me is that the Broncos play all their home games at the same home ground week in week out and have the added advantage of playing a high proportion of their games on Friday night at the same time each week. Sure the Broncos are disadvantaged come State of Origin time when they lose a large number of players or their players are required to back up, but it doesn’t seem to affect their ability to make finals and/or win premierships. All I’m trying to say is that I bet the Warriors wish they were faced with the same predicament.
I would be interested to see if others see this as an advantage or disadvantaged to the Bronco’s? The main disadvantage, and a big one at that, is that come finals time the Broncos are then forced to travel and play in unfamiliar timeslots, imagine the impact this will have if they are forced to play a day game…….on a Sunday. This may not be a reality as finals footy is generally played in the evening but if they make the grand final who knows.
4. Coaching of Referees
After Corey Norman scored the first try of the night the Warriors were penalised at the re-start for having players in front of the kicker. Replays showed that perhaps one player was marginally in front of the kicker. Now strictly applying the rules of the game I am more than happy for a penalty to be awarded but is it really necessary?
The talking point for me is that I am more than happy to accept this decision as part of the game but my feeling is that the referee coaches had a large influence on this penalty. There is no doubt that the referees are asked to police certain areas of the game and are provided with vision of teams and their styles. If the referee’s are going to be so pedantic then lets see it in all facets of the game.
The main reason I raise this as a talking point is that later in the match when a Warriors player scrambled out of his own in-goal and was tackled in the field of play. The player was then lifted and dragged back into the in-goal area. The player appealed to the referee for a penalty but was summarily told to get up and play the ball. In my view this is a clear example of a professional foul and a penalty should have been awarded. No doubt if this was discussed pre-match with the referee coaches it would have been.
5. Bronco Penalty Counts
Finally sticking with the referees, there is no doubt that certain teams in the NRL are treated differently by the officialdom.
I was amazed to read in Friday’s Stats Central in the Telegraph that in 16 games this year the Broncos have won 11 penalty counts, lost four and tied one.
Is this because they are a disciplined team? Perhaps. Is it because they are perceived to be disciplined? Perhaps.
Or is it because they are a blue chip club and are refereed differently? Perhaps, but less likely.
For me the answer lies with a strong parochial crowd and the influence they have on referees.
Now before all you Queenslanders jump down my throat, no I don’t hate Queensland. I know I seem to be bashing the Broncos left right and centre but it is not my intention. 11 penalty count wins is massive.
It is four more than the next best of the Cowboys. Although the Broncos lost the penalty count 4-3 on Friday night, this is the exception to the rule.
Not surprisingly, and consistent with a team that attracts small crowds, the Raiders have won three penalty counts, lost 11 and tied two. My mates and I, as season ticket holders that support other teams, have been talking about this for years. It was good to finally have this confirmed. Am I reading too far into this? Perhaps, but consider this next time you watch the Broncos play.