NRL finals folly: Get back to the ‘burbs!

Will Knight Columnist

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    Is there sufficient evidence to overturn the NRL’s finals stadiums policy? I’ve got a decision and I’m going to the boardroom.

    Try.

    Try contemplating how Manly’s reward, after slogging it out over 24 bruising regular-season matches to finish a creditable sixth on the ladder, was a ‘home’ elimination final at the Sydney Football Stadium, not at Brookvale?

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    Try pondering why an underwhelming crowd of 15,408 attended a ground with a 40,000-seat capacity. There’s no benefit of the doubt required – there would’ve been a full house of 22,000 at Brooky.

    Try explaining to Manly fans, Penrith fans and indeed all NRL fans why the backdrop of bays of empty seats made it feel like anything but the first week of finals.

    Try making home-ground advantage something meaningful. Something worth fighting for. End the season in third or fourth and you get two bites. Finish in fifth or sixth and no one gives a rat’s.

    Cronulla were similarly dudded a home elimination final when they were also forced to face North Queensland at the SFS. There’s a fair chance a rabid Shark Park crowd would’ve got them over the line on Sunday. The crowd figure at the SFS was 16,115. Like Brookvale, Shark Park’s capacity is about 22,000.

    Try reflecting on why there’s a buzz around rugby league when there’s a packed house at Leichhardt, Belmore, Kogarah and Brookvale. It’s because the ‘burbs are the heartbeat of the game. It’s potentially a notion of romanticism above financial and logistical sense, but surely fairness needs to win out, if only for the first two weeks of the finals.

    Try examining why Manly players, fans, coach Trent Barrett and chairman Scott Penn feel this is an injustice – that they can hammer the Panthers in front of a bumper home crowd in Round 26 at Brooky and their prize is what? A trip to the SFS. To get pipped by the same side.

    Try wondering how it’s taken this farce for me to show my first sliver of sympathy for Manly in about 30 years.

    Manly Sea Eagles NRL coach Trent Barrett

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    It’s madness that under the NRL rules finals matches must be played in the major stadiums in the home cities of the higher-ranked team in Week 1.

    NRL finals haven’t been played at suburban grounds since 2010, when thousands of St George Illawarra fans missed the clash at a clogged Kogarah for their qualifying final against Manly.

    I’d dare say the clubs affected by this policy – the Dragons, Sea Eagles, Sharks and Panthers – have consistently delivered below-par crowds for finals matches played away from their traditional home grounds.

    As the NSW government and NRL negotiate how over $1 billion will be spent on upgrading or rebuilding the major stadiums, perhaps a bit of botox on some of the suburban grounds would be far from the worst idea. Only a nip and tuck here and there, of course, as the charm of those grounds is often in their ruggedness.

    Penn isn’t happy now that the defeat will translate into lost revenue given there’s no more finals action for the Sea Eagles. Of course, it’s fair to suggest they stood a much better chance of rolling the Panthers if they were back at Brookvale on Saturday night.

    So even though it might make sense financially – often because of the better corporate facilities and hope that a crowd will exceed the 22,000-odd capacity of the home venue – the reality is often starkly different.

    Apparently, there was insufficient evidence for the bunker to overturn Tyrone Peachey’s match-winning try for Penrith on Saturday night.

    The combined 49,000 empty seats at the SFS is evidence enough for the NRL’s semi-finals stadium policy to be eliminated. And that needs no qualifying.

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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    The Crowd Says (177)

    • September 11th 2017 @ 6:27am
      Bill larkin said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      I don’t agree with this article at all. Playing a final at a ground with a capacity of 20,000 is waving the white flag. Acknowledging that league can’t draw a crowd, so just don’t try.

      The NRL has to work harder with grass roots and finals ticket pricing to start with. Maybe have a look down south here a team was denied a home ground final because its ground could only hold about 40,000.

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 7:14am
        Will Knight said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report

        The reality is that Parramatta, Brisbane, Canterbury, St George-Illawarra and South Sydney can draw 20,000-plus crowds in the first two weeks of the finals – and that’s usually if they play eachother.
        Nonetheless, the hosting teams deserve better. If that game is on at Brooky on Sat night, it’s a memorable night for all. All jammed in. 22,000. Manly get the advantage they deserve by finishing higher on the ladder. There’s nothing emotive to lure Manly fans to the SFS. Nor the Penrith fans.

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 8:20am
          Will Sinclair said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          Throw the Tigers into your list there too, Will. The great sleeping giant of the NRL.

          In 2005 Finals they drew crowds of 27K, 37K (against an out of town team) and 42K (a sold out SFS).

          In 2010 it was 34K, 27K (sell out in Canberra) and 71K.

          Despite everything that’s happened, the Tigers remain one of the best supported teams in the NRL (which is why suggestions of moving them to Perth are so incredibly laughable.)

          • September 11th 2017 @ 5:57pm
            Jesse said | September 11th 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

            They’re figures Phil Rothfield would ignore! The hack journo has been leading a campaign to get rid of the tigers- kicking while they’re down and the sharks are doing well. Glad they’re out of the finals.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 11:20am
          Big Daddy said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

          Will I would hardly use South’s as an example.
          Home average 10k away average 17k for season ave 14k.
          Yet they supposedly have biggest Sydney membership (30k)
          Go figure ?!!!

        • September 11th 2017 @ 11:34am
          scoop said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          You can add the Roosters to that list as well. They got more than 20,000 for their match against Brisbane on Friday night.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 2:41pm
            steve said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            I don’t believe that at all. No way was there more than 20,000 at the Roosters game.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 2:53pm
              Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

              Were you there? The top section of western stand had lots of members, and lower section in eastern stand was very full, that 22k figure is pretty spot on from someone who attended the game.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 3:20pm
                steve said | September 11th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Yes I was there. I still don’t believe the ” official ” figure.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 2:53pm
              Agent11 said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

              The Roosters have fudged some crowds over the years but it definitely looked over 20K at that game.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 8:10am
        Shaun said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        99 times out of 100 a packed out small ground is a better allround game, atmosphere and advert for the game that a 20% full ANZ

      • Roar Guru

        September 11th 2017 @ 8:17am
        eagleJack said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        But why don’t the NRL put up the white flag? What is wrong with admitting defeat and giving the fans what they want? And it’s clear from the data that fans will go to ANZ or the SFS for Preliminary Finals and the Grand Final. But not for the first week of finals.

        Be flexible. Run a horses for courses scenario. If for instance St George draw the Bulldogs or Parra in Week 1 then move it to a bigger stadium. If not then have it at Kogarah.

        Manly deserved the game at Brookvale. People complain about the facilities but Manly fans don’t care. They would have packed it out. Even if the SFS had drawn 25k, I reckon 18-20k at Brookie would have made for a far greater spectacle. For the players and for those at home.

        The NRL need to give up trying to compete with the AFL. They will never, ever match their crowd numbers. Move on and go back to their roots. After all TV dollars are all that matter to the administration. And is is far better viewing to see a packed, vocal crowd in a small stadium. Then thousands and thousands of empty seats in a bigger one.

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 8:22am
          Will Sinclair said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          WAY too much common sense in this post, Jack!

        • September 11th 2017 @ 10:27am
          Perry Bridge said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          re the NRL having to give up competing against the AFL – well, yes and no.

          The NRL can’t ‘give up competing’ – but the problem is the age old competition in Sydney against soccer and union along with Aust Footy. The ‘competition’ isn’t just the week to week H&A season. It’s the year to year and generational investment in a club. It seems to me much has been relied upon ‘localised’ support – and that was the case in the old VFL days in Melb – but the game out grew that. The suburbs demographics have changed – inner city working class ‘burbs became gentrified.

          The comparison to the AFL vs competition with the AFL. The comparisons perhaps drive the growth aspirations – and that has been clear with an increased focus of the last decade on club (not pokies venue) memberships and trying to drive attendance. And this is a key to the generational investment in a club – perhaps more so in the modern world than pure localised support.

          My feeling is that the NRL though needs to work out it’s offering. Presently the supporter paying at the gate is ripped off – too much dead time (with the clock NOT stopped). The more tries the less play time. A lot of standing around after a try, a lot of wasted time with pointless scrums. The TV viewer gets replays. And of course the now incessant video referrals slowing down the game and killing the excitement.

          I don’t blame people from sitting at home. But it looks ordinary – the game yesterday – 12,000 of the crowd must have been sitting on the side of the ground the cameras were on. The rest – sparse – very sparse.

          Anyway – first step I’d do is stop the clock more – give nearer to 40 mins of play time each half. Give the punter better value.

          And – the comparison to the AFL – where you get 4 quarters and a true 80 mins play time that has generally another 40 mins of ‘stoppage’ time. You have 3 breaks between quarters to go to the bar, the loos, grab a pie or chips. It may seem a burden that the total time at the venue might be nudging 3 hours – however – for the effort of getting there you don’t walk out feeling you didn’t get value for admission cost.

          Otherwise – give up on the aspirations, forget big spending on big stadiums (unless the recognition that the SoO is king and that’s what everything is geared towards) – and go back to more ’boutique’ venues. Golly though – for the SFS with a 45k capacity to be looking cavernous for first week finals matches – – that really, really is a big red X.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 2:16pm
            Craig said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

            I agree. The clock should be stopped for every outage IMO. Sure kick it into touch to give your blokes a rest, but you shouldn’t also get to wind down the clock.

        • Roar Rookie

          September 11th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          Joe said | September 11th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          100% agree E.J….but as Will said, way too much common sense for the NRL.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 1:34pm
          P Air said | September 11th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

          Intelligent post EJ. I switched off one of the games on the weekend due to the total lack of atmosphere that would have been there in abundance had it been played at a smaller ground.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 11:57am
        Janislopez said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        Will, it was against Parra not Manly in 2010

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2017 @ 1:15pm
          apaway said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          Wasn’t that 2009? And the Eels, who finished 8th, beat the 1st placed Dragons?

    • September 11th 2017 @ 6:47am
      AR said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      In one sense, it’s a completely fair point – if Manly slog it out all season to earn a home final, that final should be played at their home ground in front of their fans. Ditto the other clubs.

      But the finals belong to the NRL (just as the AFL owns its finals, as do the FFA and so on), so the little money the NRL makes, it keeps.

      Also, the NRL has been steadily (but rather sheepishly) moving games away from suburban grounds in favour of larger ‘centralised’ stadiums. It doesn’t often admit this out loud to the public, but it certainly does to the government, which is spending a whopping $1.6 billion + on shiny new stadiums – surely the most absurd use of public money in recent memory. The NRL have to use these new stadiums as the government and councils simply can’t afford to keep plopping millions into suburban facilities that are used by one club each winter.

      Of major concern for the NRL is that it apparently gave away 3 free tickets to each member for the finals games at SFS – that is a truly dismal return and a cheapening of what should be a cash windfall from a premium event in Sydney.

      The truth is that most NRL fans in Sydney are just not very passionate about their sport/club and they’ve been programmed to be tv watchers. I don’t see that ever changing.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 7:52am
        Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        “Of major concern for the NRL is that it apparently gave away 3 free tickets to each member for the finals games at SFS”,
        Well as a ticketed Broncos member I certainly was not privy to this largesse for Roosters vs Broncos and bought mine in the ticketed members pre-sale on Monday. There were discounts offered on Monday and via SMS later in the week, but not free.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 7:57am
          AR said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

          Others will be better able to comment, but there was certainly a lot of chatter about freebies to SFS on the wknd.

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 8:22am
          eagleJack said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          Members of the SCG got 4 x Free passes to every NRL Finals game at the SFS over the weekend. That’s 12 free tickets per member.

          I guess the NRL thought that after the Swans game finished they’d attract another 15-20k who’d duck in to catch the Manly v Penrith game.

          That wasn’t the case. Time for the NRL to give up on the SFS and ANZ in week 1.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 11:33am
            spruce moose said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

            Did we?

            I thought i only had 4 tickets for the NRL.

            Side note… the treatment of SCG members by the AFL on Saturday was a disgusting joke.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 1:18pm
              Perry Bridge said | September 11th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              #spruce moose

              What was the treatment??

              • September 11th 2017 @ 4:28pm
                Christo the Daddyo said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

                Standard practice for members is to be able to access the Ladies, Members and Noble Stands. For this game the access was restricted to the Ladies and Members stands only (with a small number of seats in the Noble available for booking – at an extra cost).The vast majority of the Noble was sold to the public.

                Although to be fair, I think it’s the SCG Trust shafting the Members rather than the AFL.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 6:08pm
                Dier-ba-zor said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

                So they let actual fans into the ground instead of members of some random cricket club? Good on em.

      • Roar Guru

        September 11th 2017 @ 8:02am
        The Barry said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Its an interesting point you raise about the finals belonging to the NRL.

        But the NRL does little to nothing to advertise or market these games. I haven’t seen an ad or message reach me at all about semi finals that I haven’t gone looking for. The NRL makes no effort to attract fans whose teams are involved in the game, let alone neutral or non fans.

        So, on one hand they’re taking games away from grounds like Brooky and Shark Park because they want to attract larger crowds, but then do nothing whatsoever to actually attract more fans to the game, other than providing an extra 18,000 chairs.

        But this in turn is potentially driving crowds and revenue down by alienating fans that would have attended the suburban grounds.

        So the stadiums strategy (and starting times) actually seems to be driving crowds down but the NRL is doing nothing to replace these alienated fans let alone fill the additional 18,000 seats.

        It seems clear to me that if the NRL wants greater crowds at semi finals it needs to do more than just move the games to bigger grounds. But if they don’t want (or have) to spend the money on marketing or advertising then leave the games at the suburban grounds and cop the extra 2k -7k fans.

        Current strategy is not logical.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 8:13am
          Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

          I had multiple emails from NRL and Broncos about Semis last week, and an SMS from NRL, have already had an email this week for Broncos vs Penrith from Broncos club. They could probably do more for neutrals, as living in Sydney as a Broncos supporter and a Rugby League supporter I attend almost a game per round on average over the season most as a neutral.

          • Roar Guru

            September 11th 2017 @ 8:29am
            The Barry said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            But Andy I’m assuming you’re getting those emails because you’ve signed up as a member or signed up for something. In other words you’ve done something proactively to have those message delivered to you.

            Also sounds like you’re a pretty committed fan anyway. I’m sure you’d be finding out about games and schedules and tickets regardless. So the emails that you get are to make getting to the game easier and more convenient. It’s not really about actually attracting someon who wouldn’t normally consider going to the game.

            My point is more about getting the word to the casual or non fans and making it an appealing way for them to spend their entertainment dollar.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 8:35am
              Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

              It is hard for clubs and NRL to market at you directly without contact details though. 🙂

              That said I know I have been emailed by Parra and Manly over the years as I bought tickets to their games, and they could only have got my details via Ticketek/TicketMaster. Manly have been most persistent on this front, and the ticket I bought to their game was in the Brisbane supporters area for a Gosford game…

              • Roar Guru

                September 11th 2017 @ 9:01am
                The Barry said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

                Same…I’ve had emails from the Panthers 18 months from going to a round one game in 2016.

                But I’m not talking about direct advertising to fans. I’m talking about marketing more to the general public. Get the person who’s not sure what to do with the kids this weekend to think about the NRL over the movies or the acquarium or whatever.

                The NRL does next to zero of that.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 11:11am
                Big Daddy said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                I have had text and email for Sydney matches but only on Thursday nites and Friday matches at 6 pm.
                Its part of NRL strategy to get more people to these unpopular time slots.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 9:08am
                Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

                I don’t watch much free to air TV live to see if they advertise, but hard to avoid it when watching a lot of Fox League. Similarly I read news mostly online and rarely from The Daily Terror (I figure Fox League is enough Murdoch influence for me!), so again not sure how much print advertising is done either.

                There is advertising on this site, but again as you say the casual fan won’t see that. Not sure what can be done really, except maybe to convince the Sydney clubs the policy won’t change so they should get behind it and push it as well. As I’m sure some are stonewalling to hope it reverts back, the NRL should not support this behaviour.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 9:11am
                Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

                Lol, just got an SMS from Broncos re Friday night vs Panthers!

        • September 11th 2017 @ 10:24am
          Big Will TBU said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          That’s a very good point – where is the advertising for these games? No space left because we’re blanketed by the advertising for gambling, which makes me sick to the stomach.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 8:15am
        AGO74 said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        It’s interesting that this issue somewhat plays to the afl as well. Eg – would Geelong who finished above Richmond rather have played in Geelong? Or at the mcg where it looked and sounded like a tigers home game? Same applies if gws were to host swans at anz.

        You can argue strategy/corporates/finances etc but it’s a matter of equity really and both these leagues pride themselves on equity and parity. What was the reward for Geelong/sharks/Manly on weekend for finishing above their opponent? Not much apparently.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 10:43am
          Boban Fett said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          It’s all about money. Four years ago the Cats played a home final at Simonds against the Dockers because Freo don’t draw big crowds in Melbourne.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 1:27pm
          Perry Bridge said | September 11th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

          #AGO74

          You’re absolutely correct.

          The AFL tend to try to locate the game at the best available – about money yes – but, also about maximising attendances. 95K at the MCG is more fans in attendance than 38K at Geelong.

          Geelong do get a fair bit of experience at the ‘G – but certainly as a co-tenant it’s very ‘homely’ for Richmond. The reality however is that you DO need to be able to win there to win the GF. And for Geelong – they get more of their fans able to access a seat than if the game were held at Kardinia Park.

          There is also the MCG contract. This year it will host 4 finals – 1 per week. That allows series tickets and this is a factor that works towards the larger attendance – AFL and MCC members only have one game as an option to attend in Melb. When there are 3 games across the weekend – there’s normally at least one that is the poor relation. And if that game is say Geelong v GWS, then Kardinia Park comes right back into contention – and rightly so.

          I don’t see a North Melb ‘home final’ being held in Hobart any time soon though.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 7:56pm
          AR said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

          AGO, its very true that both AFL/NRL fix the finals schedule to suit themselves, rather than reward the team that has ‘earned’ the home Final.

          When Geelong ran out onto the MCG, they were booed by the Tiger-dominated crowd. Nice ‘home advantage’, eh?

          But there’s one key difference…

          The AFL game had over 95,000 in attendance.

          The AFL’s decision massively *increased* the event by sixty thousand people (as well as those watching from home), whereas the NRL initiative *decreased* the potential home crowd…perhaps by 3 to 4K.

          So the AFL can sit back and say “yep, nailed it”.
          The NRL sits back and says “bugger – that looked sh*t”.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 8:47am
        tv owns league said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        The NRL don’t give a rats arse about the fans its all yes mr gyngell yes rupert(the game destroying)murdoch the nrl are an absolute rabble

        • September 12th 2017 @ 9:09am
          LuckyEddie said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          Yes FOX has destroyed Union, is doing a job on NRL, not helping soccer and even the AFL give out freebies to get people to season games. Cricket, well the Ashes might help, but no one really cares to much about that greedy sausage factory. All players, officials and administrators in all of the above have one major priority, keep FOX happy. They all line their pocket, while real wages stagnate, but only care about their inflated wages via pay TV. If it all falls in a heap most of the above will retire to the beach with little or no regard to what actually happens to their sport. It’s all about one thing – GREED, and sucking money out of the punters and workers, sad really. The media will not help the debate because they are part of the ‘system’.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 6:50am
      Paul Chapman said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      The Sydney clubs are suburban clubs & they should play at their “home grounds” if they qualify on the ladder standing. Suburban RL clubs in Sydney don’t seem to have the support that they had years ago??

    • September 11th 2017 @ 6:51am
      Tom said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:51am | ! Report

      Best article I’ve read on this site in ages. How the NRL can justify this policy I have no idea. There’s not a major sporting code in the world other than the NRL who cares less for team’s home grounds and loyal fanbases.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 7:10am
        Soda said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

        Is it better to have little bit of a lot or a lot of nothing? It’s a shame those cliffhangers where played in front of empty chairs. I think for the first week of finals, the higher placed team deserves a home game. There should be some reward for the season efforts up to this point. the fans will turn out in droves to a home game because they feel they can give their team a home town advantage. For the quarters and prelim, finals momentum and growing belief will get fans into the big stadiums.

        We have had one of the better Opening finals round ever and yet, due to poor crowds it’s felt like a fizzer.

        • Columnist

          September 11th 2017 @ 7:36am
          Will Knight said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:36am | ! Report

          Absolutely. The footy was brilliant. Every game went down until the last five minutes. Including an extra-time game. Three out of the four AFL finals were duds. But the AFL crowds are always going to be far superior. Keep the finals local in the NRL. The TV ratings I reckon would be healthy for the NRL for the four week-one finals. Must be reward for home teams.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 1:52pm
            Perry Bridge said | September 11th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

            re the 3 out of 4 AFL finals being duds – – not quite. The Friday night Rich v Geel saw Geelong fight back to level the scores in the 3rd term. 13 pts in it at 3/4 time was not insurmountable and that Richmond flexed some muscle and ran away with it in the last quarter was not ‘dud’ footy – it was championship footy against a quality opponent. Perhaps the last 10 minutes was ‘dud’ territory as Geelong effectively conceded and saved themselves for the next week and Richmond at the end had 4 of their biggest stars on the bench.

            The other games – done and dusted by half time but sure as heck the home fans didn’t regard them as ‘dud’ games!!! Most of the 46K at the SCG would’ve gone home very pleased, along with the vast majority of the almost 53K at Adelaide oval on Thursday night.

            The irony is that the only game you regarded not a dud – left the ‘home’ side faithful the most disappointed!!

            Now – watching the Sharks v Cowboys yesterday – it ended up very close – but for much of the game it was a pretty uninspiring match. Error riddled, lacking in highlights – in particular the first half – it was hard watching (granted I was not glued to the tele).

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 8:04am
          The Barry said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

          Good point Soda. This was an absolutely cracking round of first week finals. All four games were tough, tense and intriguing with quality footy.

      • Roar Rookie

        September 11th 2017 @ 8:17am
        Don said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        You might want to check why Geelong played Richmond at the MCG on Friday night.

        Geelong finished higher on the ladder but the AFL has committed to playing a number of finals at the G.
        So we saw Geelong playing their “home” final at their opponents home ground.

        The NRL has had a policy around not playing finals at suburban grounds. So we saw “home” finals at neutral grounds.

        So not only is there another code in the world with a similar policy, there is another one in Aus.

        Now, why some side’s fans won’t attend away games? Well, that’s what the NRL needs to overcome with better match day event offers and forward planning.

        • Roar Rookie

          September 11th 2017 @ 8:08pm
          Bunney said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

          Well said

        • Roar Guru

          September 12th 2017 @ 1:03pm
          Cadfael said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          Not reallly. Easts played at Allianz, their home ground. So they get a home ground finalas game and the others don’t?

      • Roar Guru

        September 11th 2017 @ 4:33pm
        Cadfael said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

        The first round games should never have been taken away from a team’s home ground. It was a poor reaction from the NRL over crowd at Dragon’s home final at Kogarah Jubilee a few years back. Yes, it was a big crowd but looking at this years Sydney games, the crowds were poor in the large stadiums. Transport to the two main grounds remains a problem and one I can’t see being resolved.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 6:58am
      Andrew said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      Playing a final of a professional league at a ground as dreadful as Brookvale is just as embarrassing as playing in a Stadium less than half full.

      Manly fans are the ones who are the embarrassment. They have had enough chances. Time to relocate them.

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 7:42am
        Will Knight said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Well I love Brooky because it’s everything Homebush isn’t. It’s a link to decades of rugby league gone – shabby stands, shoulder-to-shoulder on the hill, grimy, grab a hot dog walking into the ground. Grab a beer at Brookvale Hotel early. Old school mentality and not in tune with the finance and marketing department. But that’s what I like about the suburban grounds.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 7:58am
          Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

          And that is exactly why it shouldn’t host finals “shabby stands, shoulder-to-shoulder on the hill, grimy”.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 3:33pm
            John Erichsen said | September 11th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

            And those are the highlights…. I’ve seen their marketing brochure

      • September 11th 2017 @ 7:42am
        Tom said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        This comment is ridiculous. The NRL cannot relocate one of the privately owned teams. Manly is the only team North of the Harbour before Newcastle in an area with a huge population. They’re one of the most storied and historic teams in the game and rival fan’s hatred for them creates a lot of interest. A lot of people will tune in to watch Manly lose just the same as they would to support their own teams.

        The NRL doesn’t need to relocate any teams from Sydney.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 8:25am
          Andrew said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          Privately owned means little. They still have to apply for a licence to the NRL and if the NRl deem there is no commercial value in having them or they don’t meet a criteria, why keep them? I get it is a large section of Sydney you would be leaving without a team, but clearly people don’t care about Manly, or they would go to their games. From the lack of away attendance and the inability for Manly to draw a crowd away from Brookvale, it suggests the reason many people go to a Manly game is to hang out at a local community event. That isn’t going to drive commercial dollars nationally or boost junior participation.

          Sooner or later, someone in Sydney has to go and Manly with no ground and a questionable supporter base are making themselves an easier target. – But lets not hjack the topic.

          Here is the fact – Manly and Cronulla can’t complain. It is because of clubs like Manly and the Sharks – I.e One’s that don’t have a decent home ground, that the NRL is FORCED to have the stadium policy for Finals that it does. If Manly, got its crap together, built some relationships with Government and sorted out Brookvale Oval, you wouldn’t have this problem.

          • Roar Guru

            September 11th 2017 @ 8:51am
            eagleJack said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

            Would love to hear your view on the current government talks with Manly on the building of the new stadium at Brookvale. It appears you are well across the topic so would be interested in your thoughts.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 9:13am
              Andrew said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

              They are basically non-existent. The Local Govt can’t afford it and it doesn’t resonate with enough voters for the State or Fed’s to warrent investing in the ground in the sums that would make it meet the standards we are talking about. The old Council had a modest redevelopment plan, but it got shelved about 5 years ago.
              End of the day it is going to need private investment and we know that isn’t going to happen.

              Sooner or later the game needs to make a decision and stop ignoring a problem which isn’t going to go away.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 8:46pm
          Big Daddy said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

          Manly had their opportunity north of the hawkesbury years ago with the northern eagles but opted out of that.
          Newcastle have tried desperately to grab central coast but roosters have shown some foresight in picking up that area so they really should be promoting that area.
          If NRL had shown match between roosters and Brisbane at gosford which would have been a sellout and created more atmosphere and also help promote the game.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 7:11am
      Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      Ridiculous, tickets are from $30 for adults and $60 for families with plenty of emails going around offering discounts. If AFL supporters can get into the Melb CBD for finals, so to can Sydney NRL supporters. Only the Friday game should have been difficult, and as someone who works in the ‘burbs I was able to get home from work, pick up my ticket, drive to train station, catch train/bus to stadium and still get there before end of u20s, a great win for my Broncos that they sadly couldn’t match in main game!

      You watch Brisbane get 40k plus this week, and Parra probably will too.

      Those small suburban grounds are fine for regular rounds, but finals deserve big crowds at big venues.

      The NRL needs to stick with the policy and recalcitrant clubs need to get on board and better promote it to their so-called “fans”.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 7:25am
        AR said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        “If AFL supporters can get into the Melb CBD for finals, so to can Sydney NRL supporters.”

        Yeah I think the Geelong supporters who drive an hour from Geelong into the city look on with some bemusement at all this.

        As do the Swans fans I imagine.

        • Columnist

          September 11th 2017 @ 7:45am
          Will Knight said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

          Yeah, AFL fans are a committed bunch. Incredible every week.

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 7:49am
        Will Knight said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

        Yeah there aren’t a heap of excuses. But I suppose the crux of my article was about the teams hosting deservedly getting an advantage. None for the Eagles and Sharks in week one. Shafted.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 7:54am
          Andy said | September 11th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

          They know from start of season home finals in Sydney will be at Allianz or ANZ, Allianz is far closer to home for Sharks than it is for Cowboys…

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 1:30pm
          Michael Keeffe said | September 11th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          I could understand if you finish 1st or 2nd feeling shafted but they finished 5th and 6th so hardly shafted. In the early 90’s all semi’s were played at the SFS and they had really good crowds to even for games involving non Sydney based teams. in 1992 a Semi between Broncos and Steelers drew 38k and the smallest semi had over 28k. In 93 the smallest crowd was 31k. In 94 the lowest semi final crowd was 34k.

          I don’t know why the crowds are worse today could be a combination of tv, night vs daytime finals, ticket prices etc, but let’s not fly the white flag, the Nrl needs to think and find a way to fix it.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 12:43pm
        Your kidding said | September 11th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

        You could get adult NRL finals tickets from $15. Now that is dirt cheap. Plus there were so many free tickets given out its not funny, as reported in the media.
        TV ratings weren’t that great either.
        Weird!

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